Independence is a separate city from Kansas City, but many people consider it to be just an extension of the greater Kansas City metropolitan area. Independence has been around since 1827, making it one of the oldest settlements west of the Mississippi. It has a long history as being the place where the trails to the west started, namely the Oregon and the Santa Fe. Missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the Mormons) arrived here, although because of religion persecution, were eventually driven from the state. Independence was involved in the Civil War, as Missouri was a swing state, with both the Union and Confederacy wanting it for it's own. The 33rd President of the United States, Harry S. Truman, resided here as well. The city is rich in history, a great place to explore for a day
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
The National Frontier Trails Center is at 318 W. Pacific Ave. in Independence. All over Kansas City you will see signs on the road showing where the old trails crossed the area. Here you can learn about that. One display had diary and journal entries from people who crossed the prairie. A display for children had a small wagon so they could see how pioneers packed goods for the long journey. The kids would pack the little wagon with food and things they felt they would need as pioneers.
The Bingham_Waggoner Estate is right across the street from the Frontier Trail center in Independence. This picture is actually the carriage house. I took a photo of it because it is bigger and nicer than a house I once lived in. The actual mansion is huge. In a park in back of the house are 'swales'. Swales are rutted out low spots from places wagons once crossed on the Oregon Trail. They are some what difficult to spot. You notice them but at first don't realize what they are.
This is the building where you can buy tickets to see the Truman home. It is about a block from the courthouse on Main. Next door to this building is the Marshall home and jail museum. Across the street is a small parking lot that is handy place to leave your car and walk around down town for shopping. On opposite street corner is a historic marker from the Civil War.