Independence, Missouri: A Glimpse of Pioneer Life

    Independence is rich with wonderful museums. We often remember it as the home of President Truman, but before Truman there were pioneers! 

First Stop: National Frontier Trails Museum

National Frontier Trails MuseumNational Frontier Trails Museum: 318 W. Pacific Ave., Independence, MO. 816.325.7575

Admission: Adults $5.00, Seniors (62 and older) $4.50, Youth (6-17) $3.00, Children 5 and younger are free. Bonus: They also offer a wagon ride/ museum combo ticket!
Hours: 9 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Monday - Saturday, 12:30 - 4:30 p.m. Sunday. 

The National Frontier Trails Museum tells the story of Lewis & Clark and Westward Expansion on the Oregon, California, and Santa Fe Trails through artifacts, and the journals of early pioneers. When we travel to Grandma's house for the weekend, my girls want to take their entire collection of beloved toys and books. It's hard for them to imagine a pioneer family moving across states leaving precious belongings behind without even the option of renting a U-Haul. The journey west came to life most of all through the "Load a Wagon" exhibit. We entered a room with an empty wagon where we discovered shelves stocked with provisions. Everything was labeled with its weight and description. The signs caution not to overload the wagon as it would burden the animals and destroy the wagon itself. The girls had to determine what they needed for the journey, and soon realized many of their wants were left behind. As you load the wagon, a red light brightens to indicate a heavy load... tough choices must be made. In addition to this exhibit, the girls also enjoyed building their own log cabin with Lincoln Logs, determining their fate had they participated in the California Gold Rush, exploring the General Store and Blacksmith's shop, and comparing the Conestoga and Prairie Schooner Covered Wagons. This site is a MUST SEE!

Second Stop: Wagon Swales and Walking Trail

 Across the street from the National Frontier Trails Museum on the south side of the Bingham Waggoner Estate 313 W. Pacific , Independence, MO. FREEWagon Swales Independence Missouri

Third Stop: Pioneer Spring Cabin

Pioneer Spring CabinPioneer Spring Cabin: In front of the Roger T. Sermon Center, E corner of Noland & Truman Rd., Independence, MO. 816.325.7111

Hours: Mon-Fri 10am-2pm (April -Oct). FREE

This fully furnished log cabin occupied by an entire family with no running water, no furnace, no electricity.. is a great example of an early pioneer home.

Fourth Stop: 1827 Log Courthouse

1827 Log Cabin1827 Log Courthouse: 107 W. Kansas, Independence, MO. 816.325.7111

Hours: Mon-Fri 10am-2pm (April -Oct). FREE

We took a tour of the two-room log courthouse. Much of its story centers around early disputes in Jackson County, but the courthouse was also used at one time as a family home. .

Fifth Stop: Pioneer Trails Adventures

Pioneer Trails Adventures Pioneer Trails Adventures: On the Square in Independence: April - October from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. 816.456.4991

Pioneer Trails Adventures features wagon rides with historic interpretation. Learn the about the town where three trails began, two Civil War battles, and of course, Harry Truman. Ride a mule-drawn covered wagon to see Independence as a pioneer would. Tickets range from $7-25 depending on the tour you choose to take.

Sixth Stop: Independence Square


Clinton's Soda FountainAfter visiting historic sites, enjoy shopping and dining or a movie or game of bowling. Two of the square’s most unique shops are Blue and Grey (106 E. Walnut, 816.252.9909), selling Civil War books and collectibles, and Scandinavia Place (209 N. Main, 816.461.6633), with gifts from around the world. For lunch, pay tribute to the king of rock ‘n roll as you eat an “Elvis,” the signature grilled peanut butter and banana sandwich at Clinton’s Soda Fountain (100 W. Maple, 816.833.2046), the location of the original Crown Drug Store, Truman’s first boyhood employer. Or, dine below street level at The Courthouse Exchange (113 W. Lexington, 816.252.0344), where rock walls create a cozy atmosphere as you enjoy pub-style dining. 

And, of course Truman!! 


Truman Sites:

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