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National Frontier Trails

Page history last edited by Bob-RJ Burkhart 10 years, 8 months ago

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National Frontier Trails Museum …


Museum, interpretive center and research library telling
the history of the Santa Fe, Oregon and California trails.



The scope of the collection covers nearly every subject imaginable in the American West, from Lewis and Clark to the transcontinental railroad. Other collection categories include western artists, forts, American Indians, transportation, Mormons, archaeology, women, fur trade, Pony Express, mining, the Hispanic Southwest, trail guides, buffalo, military, and books on the tools and material culture of 19th century America.

trail postcard


Geographically, the library ranges from the Missouri River to the Pacific Ocean,
and covers the years of approximately 1800 to 1880. The major focus, however,
is on the
Oregon, California and Santa Fe Trails.


To this end the collection includes nearly 2,500 trail diaries, letters and recollections

including several original diaries and letters.


  • Capt. John Sutter lived at Westport, MO before fleeing from creditors and going to California, where his mill and name forever became attached to the 1848 gold discovery.
  • The languages heard along the culturally diverse Santa Fe Trail included
    English, Spanish, German, French, Dutch, and those of several American Indian tribes.
  • An estimated 400,000 people went on the western migration trails between 1840 and 1860.
  • Hiram Young was a prominent African-American blacksmith in Independence, MO
    who bought slaves to work in his wagon shops and let them earn their freedom.
  • Sapling Grove Park in Overland Park, KS was the starting point for the first overland wagon train to California.
  • “Kelly’s”, today a popular bar in Westport, MO, was an outfitting store during the trail days.
  • About one in ten trail travelers, or about 40,000 people, died along the western trails in America.
  • Alexander Majors, whose home is open for tours in Kansas City, was an important frontier freighter.
  • Unlike the Hollywood film versions, very few deaths on the overland trails were related to Indian hostilities.


Traveling Trunk Program


“Life on the Trails” Teacher Resource Trunk, grades 4-8

Investigate life on the trails with artifacts, videos, C.D., games, and other resources for classroom use.

The fee for trunk use is $25.00 for two weeks.


“Exploring with Lewis and Clark” Teacher Resource Trunk, grades 4-8

Reproduction artifacts, prints, maps, furs and lesson plans help bring the experiences of the Corp of Discovery to life.

The fee for trunk use is $25.00 for two weeks.

Secretary of Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation

A set of standards intended to guide both professionals and laypersons

in the proper methods for the rehabilitation of historic properties. 

National Park Service Preservation Briefs

A series of 47 easy to use reference guides for historic property owners, preservation professionals, organizations, and government agencies. The Briefs offer guidance on preserving, rehabilitating, and restoring everything from historic windows to terra cotta to stained glass. 

Missouri Department of Natural Resources (SHPO)

The Missouri State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) is the state agency responsible for promoting the historical and archaeological resources in Missouri. Go to the link above for more on the staff and services this state office provides.  




The Kansas State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) fosters the preservation of the archeological, architectural, and cultural heritage of Kansas. We do this by administering historic preservation programs and offering technical assistance to those restoring or rehabilitating historic properties or engaging in archeological research. Our offices are located in the Kansas History Center in Topeka.


What is the SHPO?



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