Bringing history back to life
Independence, Missouri, has played an incredible role in American history. Countless pioneers started their journeys West here. Two Civil War battles were fought in the streets here. President Harry S. Truman grew up, raised a family and made his home here.
For many of these stories, more than 150 years have passed by. Now preserved and protected as museums, many of the places still remain, like the Vaile Mansion, the Bingham-Waggoner Estate or the 1859 Jail and Marshal’s Home. But the people are gone.
Independence Living History is an experiential history program that aims to bring our history back to life. On Saturdays from May to September, step back into the 1800s and discover historic Independence with a professional history interpreter as your guide.
It’s not time travel, but it’s close
Swap stories with a Westward-bound pioneer at the National Frontier Trails Museum. Meet the mysterious Sophia Vaile at the towering Vaile Mansion. Hear tales from the station master at the Chicago & Alton Depot, one of the oldest train stations in the state.
Independence Living History is the most immersive experience there is of historic Independence. We offer two programs, detailed below.
Pioneering People winds back the clock to 1849, when the Independence Square was bustling with optimistic pioneers, talented craftsman, wily outlaws and more.
- Enjoy a mule-drawn wagon tour of the Square led by one of our historic interpreters.
- Make a stop at the 1827 Log Courthouse and the National Frontier Trails Museum, where your visit is awaited by additional historic interpreters.
The Pioneering People program is offered free of charge every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Tours are scheduled every hour, with the final wagon departing at 3 p.m. (The mules can be a little stubborn, so times may vary slightly).
The tour begins on the northwest corner of the Independence Square.
Special thanks to Pioneer Trails Adventures for providing the wagon tours.
Path to Progress
By the late 1800s and early 1900s, Independence was a well-established town. Path to Progress explores how wealth came into Independence and how that wealth looked.
- Visit the opulent Vaile Mansion for a one-of-a-kind tour guided by our first-person historic interpreters. Meet Sophia Vaile as well as some of her house servants.
- Tour the historic Chicago & Alton Train Depot, where the station master and a woman with eyes set on Chicago await you.
Regular tour fees apply to Independence Living History tours of the Vaile Mansion. Tours begin every half-hour on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Chicago & Alton Depot tours are offered free of charge on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Arrive at your leisure.
Transportation is not provided between tours within the Path to Progress program.
We’re excited to see you
The story of Independence is one that spawned countless others, and we’re excited to bring some of those stories back to life in 2019.
Independence Living History is a program by the City of Independence.