Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Independence, Trails, KC

After learning the SKP park in Branson was half under water we changed our plans again and extended our stay in Independence. There is plenty to do here and it is very close to downtown Kansas City. We made a couple of trips into the city and enjoyed some of the sights and, of course, the food. The Midwest is not a great place to be a vegan like Nanc but for a meat eater like me it was wonderful. KC is known for its barbecue and after a combo of pork, beef ribs and burnt tips at Jack Stack Barbecue I can attest to the quality, mmmmmmmmm!

A few of sights in Independence.

Clockwise from the top left is the 1827 Log Courthouse that for forty years was the last courthouse between here and the Pacific and where Harry Truman held court in the 1930's. Middle is the Truman Depot that was the final stop of Truman's 1948 Whistlestop Campaign and where 8500 people welcomed Harry and Bess home at the end of his term in 1953. Next is the Auditorium and Temple of the Community of Christ, a Mormon sect, that towers over the city. The two stones at the bottom mark the beginning of the Santa Fe and Oregon Trails and a statue of President Andrew Jackson for whom Jackson County is named.
Here are a few of the many large, grand homes in Independence. Top left is the Bingham Waggoner Estate, Center is the Vaile Mansion and bottom right is the home where Bess Truman was born. The other two are just a couple of neat houses we liked. There is a Truman Historic Walking Trail around the city that includes many of these places.

We visited the National Frontier Trails Museum that celebrates Independence as the "Queen City of the Trails". The Santa Fe, Oregon and California Trails all started here in the 1800's. The museum starts with the story of Lewis and Clark's Expedition and then the trappers and traders who opened the early paths that lead to America's Western Expansion. It has separate exhibits on each trail and the role Independence played as the staring point. Above is a statue of Jim Bridger an early mountain man and trapper. The top wagon is a Pennsylvania built Conestoga Wagon like those used by traders on the Santa Fe Trail. The bottom smaller wagon is more like the ones used by the pioneers. You can take a oral history tour around the city in this wagon. The rattler shows only one of the many dangers these travelers encountered along the trail. The background is a quilt with each block done in a different pattern made by local groups to celebrate the opening of the museum.

Top right is how Independence looked as a trail head town and left is the plaza in Santa Fe, Mexico. The Santa Fe Trail was more of a trade route than a road used by people moving west to settle. Bottom center is a Independence wheelwright shop with trail trash travellers discarded to lighten their loads on either side. The Oregon Trail was used by those going to settle on the fertile farm land of that territory. The California trail opened with the discovery of gold there in 1848 and followed the Oregon trail to a cut off point in Idaho. One of the stories in the museum was about Ezra Meeker who worked in the early 1900's to preserve the Oregon Trail. Meeker traveled the trail to Oregon in 1852. Then, to promote the trail's preservation traveled it Eastward in 1906. Before he died in 1928 he made three more trips, one in a wagon, then by automobile, and finally by airplane in 1924. This museum is a great stop to learn about those early pioneers who settled the West.

KC is known for its jazz and blues music so we went to the Blue Room in the 18th & Vine Historic Jazz District for a great session. Two museums we will have to check out in the future are the American Jazz Museum and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. We also made a stop at the corner made famous in the song, Goin to Kansas City, 12th Street & Vine. Because of urban renewal the corner is now in a park where sculptures reflecting the music heritage of the city are still being added.

In the 1920's KC was known as the Paris of the Plains and as you can see from this Peep Show going on downtown there today that tradition continues. Today the city is famous for its many fountains. Some we found were not working but here are a couple that were. Kansas City and surrounding areas have much to offer for everyone.


Jim and Bobbie said...

Very, very interesting post, Jim. You are seeing some great places.

Doing It On the Road(Part II) said...

Nice history lesson! Wow a vegan, we thought she was a veggie. Does she eat any seafood?