02 October 2022

Salt Lake House Pony Express Station

Speaking of the Pony Express and Overland Stage, Salt Lake City was home to one of the main stations where travelers could rest, mail was distributed, and news from the rest of the nation was received.

Detail of the Pony Express Marker, Main St Salt Lake City, April 2022

Pony Express Marker, Main St Salt Lake City, April 2022

Pony Express Marker, Main St Salt Lake City, April 2022

The Pony Express utilized the existing hotel Salt Lake House as its home station in SLC. This was a “mixed-use property” (hahaha) composed of a two-story building and had a restaurant, hotel rooms, ticket office, administrative offices, various businesses (dry goods, barber, cigars), and room for boarding of horses and livestock in the back.

The Salt Lake House was located on the east side of Main Street between 100 and 200 South (Block 70) and it is now marked by Pony Express Monument that was placed in 1931, the first marker erected along the Utah Pony Express stations. The Pony Express barns were located across the street in the central part of Block 69 and accessed by an alley at about 130 S Main St.
Main Street of Salt Lake City, mid 1860s. Image from UDSH, modified by the author.

Composite image. Top: illustration of Salt Lake Hotel with Wasatch Mountains in the distance, Image from UDSH. Bottom: Salt Lake House with stagecoach at 167 S Main, from UDSH.

The address of the old Salt Lake House varies depending on the source and the 1931 marker has been moved south of its original placement. So, I’m not completely sure of the address of the old Salt Lake House but I’m going to go with the Sons of the Utah Pioneers Aug 2022 article that indicates it is where the Neumont College - College of Computer Science building is now located at 143 S Main St SLC. Of note, plaques were reinstalled in Jan 2022 on the south side of this building.

The first arrival of the Pony Express in SLC was Wed April 11 1860 and was described by the Deseret News as a day of heavy rain.
The first arrival of the Pony Express in SLC. Deseret News April 11 1860.

The Salt Lake House was where Mormons and non-Mormons alike would congregate, eat, talk, and buy hard-to-get items like jewelry imported from outside of Utah. Mark Twain/Samuel Clemens stayed here during the 1870 overland journey that he wrote about (and embellished) for his book, Roughing It.

Composite image. Advertisements from Deseret News Feb 16 1859 and May 8 1861.

Although the Pony Express did not last long, the Salt Lake House endured through the Overland Stage days. In 1930 an old-timer recalled “how we would stand around the old Salt Lake House waiting for the stage, with its six horses, to come tearing down the street, and how the driver, with his long whip, would swing it around his head as he yelled, “Whoa!” It was a pretty sight to see the stage come in loaded to the guards with mail express and passengers.”

The Salt Lake House was demolished in 1887 by the Auerbach brothers.
Diamond Jubilee Pony Express celebration, Salt Lake Tribune Aug 11 1935

Salt Lake Evening Democrat May 6 1887;
Salt Lake Telegram July 20 1930;
Salt Lake Tribune March 31 1935;
Sons of the Utah Pioneers Trail Marker Aug 2022

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