Deer Creek Station & Pony Express Station
In the town of Glenrock

In 1857 a major trading post, consisting of a stage coach station, a store, a blacksmith shop and a post office, was established at the point where the trails crossed Deer Creek just above the creek’s junction with the North Platte River. This was a very popular emigrant camping and resting place and an important stop on the stage line to Salt Lake City. The Station served the Pony Express and the telegraph before being burned by Indians in 1866.

Originally a pioneer and Indian trading post during the 1850s, the settlement first took the name of “Deer Creek Station” as a relay terminal for the Overland Stage system. In 1860, it became a “home station” for the Pony Express.

A remarkable feat of courage by pony rider Henry Avis took place here, resulting in the Pony Express Co. paying him a bonus of $300 for exceptional bravery. Upon reaching Horseshoe Station (about a mile south of present-day Glendo, Wyoming) Avis found the relay rider unwilling to carry the mail. Up ahead marauding Sioux Indians were on the warpath, making the trail a veritable death trap. Undaunted, Avis changed horses … and rode into the night. He reached Deer Creek only to find the station abandoned, the station keeper missing and all relay mounts stolen. To compound matters, the eastbound pony rider arrived, he too refusing to ride further. So, once more Avis took the saddle, returning to Horseshoe Station. Without a rest, he had covered 220 dangerous and bone-weary miles.

Telegraph Station
During 1861, construction crews raced to string a single strand of wire, which when completed would link the eastern states with far-off California. Completed on Oct. 18, the first telegraphic message was sent from Salt Lake City. It read: “Utah has not seceded, but is firm for the Constitution and laws of our once happy country.” Oscar Collister, telegrapher at Deer Creek Station (1861-1864) relayed the message to the Pacific Telegraph Company’s office in Cleveland, Ohio. (Electrical current for transmitting messages was so weak that signals could only travel short distances, requiring many relay stations across the continent.) Shortly, a message came back, signed by President “A. Lincoln:” “The completion of the telegraph to Salt Lake City is auspicious … and the government reciprocates your congratulations.”

The telegraph was in business. And just as quickly, the fate of the Pony Express was sealed.

Military Outpost
As Indian depredations grew worse, the U.S. government found it necessary to station military troops at strategic locations along the Oregon, California and Mormon trails. From Fort Laramie west, troops were garrisoned at several of the old Overland Stage Stations including Deer Creek Station (1862-65). Military duties included guarding wagon trains, keeping the telegraph line in repair, and chasing after bad Indians.

Attacks grew worse. By 1865, the Indians were engaged in open warfare. More troops were brought in. Nine companies of the 11th Kansas Cavalry were at Deer Creek on April 18 when Collister received a message telling of the assassination of President Lincoln. On July 27, following the attack on Platte Bridge Station, two companies of troops were dispatched from Deer Creek to reinforce its sister station to the west (shortly renamed “Fort Caspar, where Casper, Wyoming now stands).

In August of 1866, Indians burned the telegraph station to the ground. It was never rebuilt. Traffic on the old trails dwindled. And Deer Creek Station became a part of the past.

Excerpted from Glenrock Historical Commission brochure.

Copyright © 2011 New Times Media Corporation - All Rights Reserved