Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Visiting Independence and Kansas City, Missouri (Sept. 27-28, 2009)

After completing the Santa Fe Symposium in Arrow Rock, the next morning I continued west. I visited and photographed more SFT sites from Grand Pass to Independence, Missouri. When I arrived in the area on Sunday afternoon, I drove through Independence into Kansas City, Missouri to visit the Arabia Steamboat Museum. On earlier journeys I had visited steamboat museums in Keokuk, Iowa; Sioux City, Iowa;
DeSoto Wildlife Refuge near Blair, Nebraska: Brownville, Nebraska; Louisville, Kentucky; and Cincinnati, Ohio.
The Arabia Museum was by far my favorite.

The museum discusses the recovery of the wreckage of the Steamboat Arabia. It displays much of the cargo which was on board when in sank in 1856 along with some of the actual remains of the steamboat itself. It is all displayed in a very interesting educational way. I strongly recommend this museum!!

While there I asked for directions to a Lewis and Clark monument was installed on a high bluff overlooking the confluence of the Missouri and Kansas Rivers near where Lewis and Clark camped on their journey to the west. I located and photographed that site before returning to Independence for the night.

In Independence I stopped by the National Frontier Trails Museum. Since I was scheduled to visit the site the next morning, I visited the Chicago and Alton Railroad Station located just behind the Trails Museum. It was open and I took an interesting tour of this 1879 station. My volunteer guide was informative and enthusiastic and made the tour very enjoyable.

The next day I was to tour Independence, Missouri historic sites. As a result of my article on the "Sante Fe in Missouri" article mentioned in an earlier blog, I was contacted by the Media Relations Director for the Independence Tourism department (I won't mention the names of my guide because I did NOT ask their permission to do so). She arranged for some local one-on-one tours with the directors of the sites for Monday morning, Sept. 28).

First I visited the National Frontier Trails Museum. I had visited on my own two or three times in the past and found it to be a source of a tremendous amount of information of the trails which passed through Independence (which included Lewis and Clark, the Sante Fe Trail, the Oregon-California Trail, and the Mormon Trail). The director took me around the facility and discussed its history, how it is organized, and even took me to an area housing collections that are not always accessible to the public.

From there I traveled to the 1859 Jail, Marshall's Home and Museum near Independence Square. Again the Director (who was also Executive Director ofthe Jackson County Historic Society) gave a wonderful tour telling the history of the facility which included housing Frank James and William Quantrill for brief times.

Outside of the Jail and Marshall's Office I boarded a covered wagon for a historic tour of Independence offered by the Pioneer Trail Adventures. I had taken the tour in the past and highly recommend it for anyone visiting Independence. On the journey around Independence Square and beyond we passed Truman sites, historic trail sites, Independence Civil War battle sites, and heard stories about the fascinating history of this community. It was a great tour. They offer a CD of the narrative of the tour; I bought one on my last visit and again I strongly recommend it for history buffs.

Following my Covered Wagon trip, I was treated for lunch at Ophelia's on the Square, a wonderful bistro on Independence Square. During the wonderful lunch the Director offered to take me to the Truman Library for a personal tour. While I had not originally planned to visist Truman sites on this visit, I could not refuse. She did a wonderful job of showing me though the museum and its grounds.

It was a WONDERFUL day. Independence, Missouri has so much to offer. I have visited three times previously, but there are still many interesting sites that I look forward to visiting. Believe me, I will be returning to Independence early and often. THANKS to all who contributed!!

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