St. Joseph takes on the mantra of “where the west officially started getting wild,” and rightfully so, as this Missouri city is where the infamous Jesse James was murdered.

However, the city is known for much more, including the beginnings of the Pony Express. History comes into focus with a visit to the Pony Express National Museum — the actual building where Pony Express riders would bring their horses, get saddlebags of mail and a fresh horse, and ride back out.

It all began April 3, 1860. Riders like Buffalo Bill Cody (possibly), Johnny Fry and Broncho Charlie Miller would travel 2,000 miles, reaching Sacramento, California, in 10 days with mail that connected people in the east to those in the west.

It might pique the interest of today’s children to know that Miller was just 11 years old when he began riding for the Pony Express. No smartphone, GPS or McDonald’s — just an 11-year-old boy on a horse with the duty and responsibility to get the mail to the west.

Originally the building that houses the museum was known as the St. Joseph Pikes Peak Stables and could hold up to 200 horses. The Pony Express and nearby Patee House hotel — also now a museum — used the building as their livery stables. The Jesse James Home is also in this part of town.

Within the Patee House Museum is a street of shops, as they were in the days of the James brothers, including a blacksmith, forge and wheelwright, the gallows from the Buchanan County Jail, and the dental office of broadcaster Walter Cronkite’s father. Cronkite was a native of St. Joseph.

Visitors will find art collections, vintage fire trucks from the 1920s, cameras from the 1960s and the set from a local television station. The museum offers a fun seek-and-find game for kids and adults alike. There are 20 exhibits that have objects that do not belong in them. Guess the correct answer for 16 items and receive a prize. Some items date from the Civil War and World War I.

Take a break after seeing the full-size locomotive, covered wagons and stagecoach, and belly up to the bar at the Buffalo Saloon to enjoy a snack and listen to piano music, just like the cowboys did.

Don’t miss taking a ride on the 1941 Wild Thing carousel. The animals on the carousel were made by artist Bruce White and include lions, tigers and bears — oh my!

It is a must to take the elevator to the former hotel rooms, to get a look at what was then a high-end, modern hotel.

Kids have an opportunity to dress up in the clothing of the time. A rubbings table is available for those wanting to take home a souvenir.

With so much history in this county seat of 76,000-plus residents, St. Joseph has a lot to offer, including a food scene, wineries, interesting architecture and outdoor adventures.

For more information on places to stay, eat and visit, go to stjomo.com. Check ponyexpress.org for updated museum hours of operation. St. Joseph is about an hour north of Kansas City.