While staying in Saint Joseph, we took a day trip south to visit Independence (where the majority of the western travelers hit the trails) and Kansas City.
We started the day with a visit to the National Frontier Trails Museum in Independence. This museum was much smaller than some of the others we have visited in Missouri, but it did allow some perspective on the differences and similarities between the Oregon Trail, the Mormon Trail and the Santa Fe Trail.
They had a beautiful map showing the trails. You can see how the Mormon Trail tied in to the Oregon Trail. The Oregon Trail follows the Platte River through Nebraska, which we will be doing, and continues on to Oregon.
At the museum, you also have an opportunity to walk through a nearby field that retains swales with some evidence of the wagon train ruts left behind. These are said to be from the Santa Fe Trail. I know, it is kind of hard to tell with the grass, but the ruts run from right to left as the people left Independence. We will be seeing more ruts farther on in our travels, but this shows you the beginnings.
We then headed to Kansas City! Our impression (we were only there for half a day, keep in mind) was that the city was very laid back (compared to eastern cities) and clean, and was very easy to drive around and take in the sights. We both wished we had more time to visit the World War I Museum, but it just didn’t work out for us. We also wished we could be there after dark, as the lights in this place are incredible. For other travelers, plan a few days stay near Kansas City, before heading North to Saint Joseph. Oh, and I almost forgot, yes, KC has amazing water fountains everywhere (I think I read around 200 in the city)!
After a hot afternoon in the city, we took Lynn’s advice and ate at Joe’s Kansas City BBQ! They claim to have the best in KC, and we quickly agreed. We were there at 3:30, and there was still a wait. Others told us usually the line is out the door! Pretty cool for a gas station! We can 100% recommend it to anyone visiting KC. Thank you, Lynn!