National Frontier Trails Museum
The National Frontier Trails Museum is the only museum in the nation devoted to the three great western routes: the Santa Fe, Oregon and California Trails. Located in Independence, MO, the principal “jumping off” point for all three trails, the museum highlights the unique features of each trail and their dramatic impact on American History. Additional exhibits focus on the explorations of Lewis and Clark, the early fur trappers and traders, and the reasons why people heeded the call to “Go West!” Visitors can enjoy an award winning film, authentic covered wagons, trail artifacts, original diaries and letters, and an interactive exhibit allowing children to pack their wagon for the long journey west. Exhibit text includes many diary passages written by trail travelers, describing their hopes and fears, hardships and tragedies, despair and perseverance. The museum also boasts the largest public research library in the nation devoted to the western trails, including over 2,600 first person trail accounts.The museum gift shop has many unique western-themed items for sale. Covered wagon rides with narration of local history are also available at the museum upon request. Nearby is a spring, once used by the pioneers, which still flows, and trail ruts or “swales” still visible from the 1830’s. The 1879 Chicago and Alton railroad depot next door signifies how the transcontinental railroad closed out the overland trails. Also on the grounds of the museum is the national headquarters of the Oregon-California Trails Association, the premier organization for preserving, mapping, and marking the trails, and educating the public about their impact on the development of America.