Founded in 1827 Independence, Missouri was the jump off point for merchants at the beginning of a long journey west on the Santa Fe Trail. Independence was the starting point for the Santa Fe Trail, California Trail and Oregon Trail and was selected as the county seat for Jackson County Missouri. By 1830 Independence was becoming a religious mecca for missionaries from the Mormon Church and the Latter Day Saints of Zion.
Independence is the second largest city in Jackson County and can be accessed by several highways and interstate systems. The Historic Town Square is best reached from I-70 at Noland Road. North on Noland will take visitors to the eastern edge of the square at Truman road. Due to the size of the city this article will concentrate on activities available south of the square.
Numerous museums are located within the area south of the square and north of I-70. The first frontier courthouse, built in 1827 is on the south side of the square; continue south to the National Frontier Trails Museum and the Chicago Alton Railroad Depot located at 318 W. Pacific, just south of the square. Across from these museums is the Bingham Waggoner Estate, built in 1857, the home of Civil War artist George Bingham. Stories tell of being able to watch battles of the war from the upper floor of the mansion.
West of these museums you will find the Amtrak Station which houses the Jackson County Genealogical Society Research Lab. This depot was the final stop on Harry S. Truman’s Whistle Stop Presidential Campaign in 1948. The depot is still an active rail station with departures and arrivals twice a day.
Within walking distance of the depot are the Community of Christ Temple and the Community of Christ Auditorium. Across from the temple in the old chapel is the visitor’s center for the Community of Christ Church. Just west of these buildings is the Mormon Visitors Center at 937 W. Walnut.
After taking in local history the family can enjoy a fun filled time at Cool Crest Family Fun Center on 40 Highway. The center offers miniature golf, an arcade, go carts and batting cages. If you’re looking for something more physical try the Independence Events Center. The center is the home of the Missouri Mavericks of the Central Hockey League and offers community ice skating.
Independence has several shopping districts including Englewood Plaza and Independence Center. The Englewood Plaza is the home of the Puppetry Arts Institute, offering performances, a puppet museum and workshops. The Englewood Theater has recently reopened and is currently featuring The Sound of Music.
In the next article I’ll explore the sites of interest north of the square. If you have an idea for a story please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.