The trails to the west started here in Independence MO

National Frontier Trails Museum logoThe Oregon Trail, the Santa Fe Trail, and the California Trail were the critical routes for the American pioneers who settled the “Wild West”. Independence, MO was the principal starting point for these three major routes west. Learn about these special passages at the National Frontier Trails Museum located at 318 West Pacific Ave., Independence, MO. Spend several hours learning about the pioneers themselves, the trails the pioneers followed, and the challenges they faced along the way to their new life in the western wilderness. The museum is open daily from 9am to 4:30 pm Monday through Saturday, and 12:30pm to 4:30pm on Sundays. Admission is $6 for adults, $5 for seniors, and $3 for ages 6-17.

Independence was just a frontier village when the Santa Fe Trail was beginning in 1821. This trail was established to be a foreign trade route going over the western prairies and mountains for 900 miles. The young village was the starting point where the pioneers bought provisions for the long journey ahead of them. The town of Independence became official in 1827 and during the 1840s and1850s, the town became known as the “Queen City of the Trails”. As the pioneers, sometimes called “emigrants”, started on the dream of obtaining free land or making their fortune in gold, Independence sent them off on one of three major routes.Covered Wagon on display at the Nation Frontier Trail Museum

This year Independence, MO is celebrating the 175th Anniversary of the Oregon Trail. During the weekend of May 18-20, 2018 the town will party like it’s 1843 with Pioneer Fashions shows, Pioneer crafts for kids, “Live Action Oregon Trail” Competition (Trail Trivia) and the premier of new music by Dana Mengal titled “The Oregon Trail Suites for Strings and Percussion. Come celebrate with us!

The National Frontier Trails Museum gives a comprehensive overview of westward expansion by emigrants using the Santa Fe, Oregon, or California Trail. The museum boasts a full-size replica of one the covered wagons used by many of the pioneers. There are artifacts of the items taken on the journey of a lifetime and quotes and excerpts of journals from the travelers as they began this trip.

Supplies for the journey to the westThe museum has produced a 17-minute video that tells the overall story of the westward expansion. It tells of the economic impact of the Louisiana Purchase and the opportunities for the pioneers who were willing to start a new life in a desolate land. The video also details the plight a of wagon traveler and explains some interesting and little-known facts about the journey to the west. Watching this presentation is a perfect way to start your tour through the various galleries in the museum.

See wagon wheel ruts right outside the museum. Thousands of wagons traveled down the hill from Courthouse Square and right over the property where the museum is located. The “swales” or wheel ruts are still visible today.

The museum also offers Covered Wagon Tours for an additional fee. Tour some of the historic parts of Independence. The tour guide will point out important historic structures or locations of businesses or homes that had significance at the time of the westward movement. These wagon tours are offered by Pioneer Trails Adventure, are seasonal, and subject to change due to weather conditions.

Pen and Ink sketch of a wagon train

The Merrill J. Mattes Research Library at the National Frontier Museum is the largest resource center for the study of the Trails to the west and the acquisition and settlement of the American West. This is the place to go to read letters or journals from the travelers on Santa Fe, California, or Oregon Trails.

The National Frontier Trails Museum is located an easy and direct 7-minute drive from Hawthorn B&B. For a great triangular tour, go from the B&B to the National Frontier Trails Museum and add the Harry S. Truman Library & Museum and enjoy a full day of learning and entertainment. Plan your visit to Independence, MO today.

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