The National Park Foundation has awarded a $45,000 grant to Marysville’s Pony Express Barn Museum in support of its barn roof stabilization project and a $10,000 grant to the Alcove Spring Historical Trust to enhance visitor experience and for education.
The grant awards are in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the National Trails and National Wild & Scenic Rivers Systems in 2018. The Marshall County projects are two of 20 across the country being funded by the National Park Foundation.
Strengthening the roof of the historic Pony Express barn is the primary purpose of the grant for the Marysville project, with additional support for repointing the mortar in the old stone walls and improving parking for the museum, which has seen an increasing number of visitors in recent years.
Charles Weickert, Marysville, president of the museum board, said, the National Park Foundation has allowed the museum to address restoration efforts that have long been needed.
“Thanks to this partnership, we are able to preserve the integrity of a structure that was an important part of America’s past,” he said. “Seismic activity is an increasing problem in Kansas and makes it even more important to keep that barn secure for the future.”
Marilyn Sweet, Oketo, said that when she was in Santa Fe, N.M., in May, she stopped in the offices of the National Park Service to thank the team who had contacted the Pony Express Museum about these 50th anniversary grant opportunities.
“It was great to see a deep commitment to places across the country like our ‘pony barn,’” she said. “We think of it as a local treasure but the NPS considers its place in the whole history of our nation, and this team has been to Marysville more than once.
Sweet praised museum administrator Jan De Groot, who “keeps things going well” and guides tourists from around the globe in telling the barn’s story of early American adventure.
Alcove Spring grant
The grant to the Alcove Spring Historical Trust is in support of enhancing visitor experience with development and education on the California and Oregon National Historic Trails.
The grant will assist the trust to buy an authentic new covered wagon that will be used for rides in the park, parades, displays and general promotional use for the park.
In addition, the wagon will be made available to schools and educational organizations for students to have hands-on work with an authentic wagon.
The trust will provide access to educational advisers and products of partners through the Oregon-California Trails Association and the local chapter, KANZA.
The nearly five miles of trails at the park are being increased and created with an eye to making them a safe, fun adventure for walkers, runners, trail bicyclists and other users, trust officials said.
Alcove Spring official Duane Iles, Holton, said the trust also is having a trailer made to haul the wagon. Items that are associated with an emigrant wagon will be acquired, such as an ox yoke, he said.
“Also we will try to either obtain original or replica items that the emigrant would have taken along,” Iles said. “This will assist in the use of the wagon as a learning device. The wagon is being constructed by Werner Wagon Works of Horton and will be available late summer.”
He said education is part of the goal of teaching about the trail experience.
Also in the grant are funds to upgrade and mark the trails and create new maps to include new trails, he said.
“We will be holding an informational get-together soon to inform and recruit folks to join in,” Iles said. “Everyone is welcome to be a part of the park.”
The grant will be part of the effort to increase the experience of the park as part of its year-long celebrations of not just the 175th anniversary of the Oregon Trail and the 50th anniversary of the National Trails Act, but also the 25th anniversary of Alcove Spring Park.
Will Shafroth, president of the National Park Foundation, said trails and rivers bring people together for shared experiences that last a lifetime.
“The National Park Foundation’s grants help maintain these treasured resources and enable more people to connect with them and each other,” he said.
To date, Centennial Campaign for America’s National Parks fundraising campaign to strengthen and enhance the future of America’s treasured national parks has raised more than $500 million in private donations from individuals, foundations and companies.
The stone barn in Marysville was one of the 40 home stations on the Pony Express route westward from St. Joseph, Mo., to Sacramento, Calif., and is now the only original barn on its original site.
The barn was built by a local blacksmith in 1859 and proved to be an ideal location to provide a stable for fresh horses and a changeover point for a new rider for the next segment of the trail. The busy station was in continual use night and day.
In the 1960s the barn was acquired by local historians, and a museum annex was added in 1991 to tell the history of the early mail service and the later westward migration trails and expansion of the railroad. Marysville has been a hub in all these transportation ventures.
Visitors come from the United States and from points around the world, fascinated by the vivid story of young men and fast horses doing what seemed impossible across the vast open territory of the West.
National Park Foundation
The National Park Foundation is the official charity of America’s national parks and nonprofit partner to the National Park Service.
The foundation was chartered by Congress in 1967 and raises private funds to help protect more than 84 million acres of national parks through critical conservation and preservation efforts, connect all Americans with their incomparable natural landscapes, vibrant culture and rich history, and engage the next generation of park stewards.
Information is at www.nationalparks.org.