The streets of the Independence Square are closed Labor Day weekend for the SantaCaliGon Days Festival. SantaCaliGon is a festival celebrating Independence's rich history, specifically as the beginning of the Santa Fe, California and Oregon Trails.
There are booths for almost everything: art work, food, crafts, clothing, jewlery, and of course, kettle corn! Live music, a carnival with rides and a beer garden for adults are also highlights.
Expect to spend a whole day at the festival. The streets are always crowded and Labor Day weekend is always hot in Independence. Be sure to dress light and wear sunscreen!
From the outside, this mansion is imposing in appearance because of its size, but nothing out of the ordinary in regards to beauty. However, a tour through this 1855 home is another story. One of its earliest inhabitants was the noted artist George Caleb Bingham. In 1879, the owner of the Waggoner-Gates Milling Company purchased this house located across the street from the mill, then expanded it to its present size. I highly recommend a tour of this 26 room residence. It is reputed to be at its most spectacular during the Christmas season. I hope to visit during the holidays later this year.
Additional pictures of this attraction shown in travelogue.
Exhibit features wagon like those used on Santa Fe Trail with many of the goods transported from Independence and Kansas City to Santa Fe. Also shown is a portion of the Santa Fe town square market mural by Charles Goslin.
Found here are four buildings - the county jail which has held such notables as William Quantrill and Frank James, the marshal's restored home, the country historical museum, and a one-room schoolhouse.
I have not yet had the opportunity to tour these facilities, but hope to do so soon, and will add more photos and commentary at that time.
"Give 'em Hell Harry" never forgot his midwestern roots. When retiring from office after the tumultuous years of his Presidency, he gladly returned to the Missouri home that he and Bess loved. Until shortly before his death, he could be seen taking his daily walks around Independence, usually followed by a number of reporters who could count on Harry for a juicy quotation.
The home is now open to the public. (I have been by the house on a number of occasions, but have never been inside.) In order to take the 15 minute guided tour, you must make reservations in person on a first-come, first served basis on the same day of the tour at the Truman Home Ticket and Information Center. The center is located at 223 North Main Street, just off the Independence Square.
Reigning over the courthouse square in downtown Independence, Missouri, is the Jackson County Courthouse. It is here that Harry S. Truman began a political career leading him to become the 33rd president of the United States. Visit room 109 to see Judge Truman's restored office (open Friday and Saturday, or by appointment).
The Harry S. Truman Library houses more than research facilities, it is home to a number of exhibits and memorabilia of the Truman years. History buffs, especially those with an interest in the two World Wars, will find this to be an exciting visit. An exceptional mural by Thomas Hart Benton greets entering visitors. The graves of President and his beloved wife, Bess, are in the library's courtyard. There is an admission fee to the library.
This interesting site is best described as an interpretive center. In fact, it is the only such center devoted to the three major frontier trails leading to the west - the Santa Fe, Oregon, and California Trails. Independence was the principal "jumping-off" point for all three.
The main attractions here are not the relics and artifacts on display, but the displays outlining life on these trails, with most of the written narratives taken from diaries and letters written by the settlers. This is an extraordinary opportunity to become acquainted with the extreme hardships endured by those seeking new lives in the American west.
(Personal note - I have a special interest in this center because of the contributions of several acquaintences. Two men I know were heavily involved in the production of the prize-winning introductory film, and Charles Goslin contributed two outstanding murals as well as a painting.)
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the Mormons) owns a visitor's center here. Back in the early 1830's, missionaries from the church came here to proselyte. Eventually, the church's founder, Joseph Smith, Jr., said that the church was susposed to be based in Independence, Missouri. So, the majority of the church moved from Kirtland, Ohio to here. Because of the large number of church members moving in, the local people were not pleased. Religious persecution followed, driving the Mormons out of Independence, and eventually out of the state of Missouri. The visitor's center focuses on the history of the church in Missouri, as well as aspects of their beliefs. During Christmas, the place is lit up with thousands of lights, and a gingerbread display with hundreds of gingerbread houses is shown inside. Admission is free and is open from 9am to 9pm.
The Community of Christ (formally the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) has their world headquarters here. The religion has about a quarter of a million followers. Their temple is located across the street from the LDS visitors center, and is an interesting structure, winning numerous awards for it's unusual architecture. They do offer tours of the building, as well as some information on their beliefs
During their westward trek to find religious freedom the Latter Day Saints, led by Joseph Smith Jr., stopped in Independence in 1831 and proclaimed it "Zion." A bustling community was founded but after two years, angry locals drove the Mormons from the area. Following the death of Smith a split in church ranks occured. Most followed Brigham Young to the area now known as Salt Lake City, other returned to Indendence as the Reorganzied Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, now called the Community of Christ.
Completed in 1993, the 300 foot, seashell dome is something to see. The nearby visitor center has exhbits and arranges tours.
I love visiting old jails, and this one did not disappoint. This two-story building, with limestone walls, double iron doors and barred windows housed murders, rapists, minor offenders and even the notorious Frank James, brother of the infamous Jesse James. The connected Federalist style house was home to country marshals and their familes. The small museum in the back is very interesting, notice some of the offenses that got people locked up here.
April through October hours are Monday through Saturday, 10 to 5, Sunday, 1 to 4, the rest of the year it is close Monday and open until 4 pm the rest of the week. There is an admission charge.
On March 1, the Truman Presidential Museum reopened with two new temporary exhibits. Mount Vernon in Miniature from the Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens and Portraits of the Presidents from the Smithsonian Institution's National Portrait Gallery.
Charles Goslin mural depicts Nebraska landmarks familiar to those traveling to California and to the Willamette Valley of Oregon by wagon.
This exhibit traces the explorations of the Lewis and Clark expedition of 1804-1806. Upon orders from President Thomas Jefferson, they were hoping to find a water passageway to the great northwest.