Independence/St. Joseph, MO   2 comments

Independence, Missouri

Day 7, We toured the town of Independence, Missouri, where we also visited the Truman Presidential Library.

The flag, pictured above right, was made by the troops from parachutes for President Truman.

It was very interesting to find that he was just an ordinary farmer, who was never really accepted by his mother-in-law because he was not from a wealthy family, nor did Bess’s (his wife) friends accept him. He joined the service to fight the war overseas and was elected by his peers (that’s how they did it back then) to led the men into battle. He came home a hero, became a judge in his small town, eventually was elected to the Senate and ultimately the President of the United States.

While President, the White House was renovated and Truman acquired the “buffalo” fireplace mantel. It is said that Jackie Kennedy asked for the return of the mantle when she redecorated the White House, but Truman refused. The mantle is no longer on display (or at least it wasn’t while we were there), but we were told that it is in storage. When he died, he asked to be buried in the gardens of the library so that he didn’t have to walk far to his office, pictured below left. The office looks exactly as it did the day President Truman died. The clock is stopped at 7:50, the time he died on December 26th His wife was also eventually laid to rest beside him.

“Clinton Soda Fountain” is where Truman worked as a young boy. It is still operating today, so of course we had to visit it. We stopped by for some ice cream, but most of their flavors were sold out, so we were on the hunt through town looking for some good ice cream.

We also saw the home that the Truman’s lived (Bess was born there) as well as Truman’s aunt’s house, which was just across the street, where he visited during his youth.

The National Frontier Trails Center has many artifacts on display. I could not pass up taking a picture of a rocking chair that someone who had gone out to California to discover gold, but failed to find any, returned ON FOOT back home. He found this rocker enroute and decided to carry it home for his wife.

A short walking distance was the swales , or wagon ruts, which are a lasting witness to the enormous flood of trail activity that flowed in and out of town. You’ll probably have to trust me on seeing the ruts in the photo below.

As we were driving thru town, we saw this really strange stainless steel like structure in the sky. It was the Community of Christ Temple. It is actually the church that the Mormons broke away from. I could not help taking a picture of the inside view of that strange sculptured roof.

There was beautiful art throughout the church.

We were very lucky during our tour that the organist was there to practice so we were able to witness how beautiful the organ sounded like with its thousands of pipes.

If you have never toured an underground vault, you have certainly missed something. The Hunt Midwest Subtropolis is basically storage, warehouses, offices inside a hill or a mountain. Because it is a controlled temperature area under the ground, it stays the same temperature all the time, people rent space to store whatever. I would hate to work in there with all the cars & delivery trucks coming and going. I don’t know how they ventilate it, and I would never like to work there!

We were able to scout out the Bingham Waggoner Estate located on the Santa Fe Trail. Wagon trains of pioneers, fur traders, missionaries, mountain men, gold-seekers are just a few who passed by the Bingham-Waggoner Estate. Hundreds of thousands traveled west to seek their fortune and establish a new life. A quick tour of the estate showed us an absolutely beautiful “mansion.” Looking closely at the walls and ceiling, we found that it was not wallpaper at all, IT WAS HAND PAINTED.

St. Joseph, MO

Day 8, Pony Express Museum was our first stop. The famous mail delivery service started right here in St. Joseph, Missouri on April 3, 1860. The three founders set out to earn a $1 million government mail contract. In order to accomplish that, they had to prove that the central route was the faster and more reliable route from the East Coast to California.

The Government at that time was routing the mail around South America, which took 2 years, eventually thru the Panama Canal (before the Canal) and that wasn’t reliable either. 400-500 horses had to be purchased before the first ride. The relay stations were stationed every 10-15 miles apart. Riders had about 2 minutes to get a drink, go to the bathroom, and change the mochila (the apparatus they used to hold the mail) over to a fresh horse. The riders changed about every 75-100 miles. They had a plaque listing the riders with the name of Billy Hamilton listed – could it be a relative?

The Pony Express ceased operations with the completion of the transcontinental telegraph on October 26, 1961. The Pony made its last run on November 20, 1861. Strange, that it only ran 1 ½ years, but in that time, it completed over 300 runs each way over 600,000 miles and carried more than 33,000 pieces of mail. Every year, the National Pony Express Association rides the trail in a 10 day, round-the-clock, non-stop event. More than 500 riders follow a 1,943 mile route that is close as possible to the original trail.

Then onto the Patee House, the headquarters of the Pony Express in 1860, and the finest hotel west of the Mississippi, and Jesse James Museum, the house where James was shot & killed. If you ever get to St. Joseph, Missouri, the Patee House is well worth visiting. We could have spent the whole day there & everyone would have been happy. It was loaded with the history of communications in the United States. In fact, they had a replica of the switchboard the Teamsters Union used when I was first hired in 1972! In this museum was a replica of Walter Cronkite’s father’s dental office. Walter visited in 2006.

Bill and I got our photo taken with a life size poster of the tallest man, measuring 8 ft. 11.

Jesse James’ house was just next door where you could still see where the bullet lodged into the wall just under the picture that he was trying to straighten when he was shot from behind.

We arrived at the Wyeth Tottle, a gothic styled mansion from the 1880’s, displaying local history, Lewis & Clark, and the Civil War. Many of the rooms have been restored to original elegance for a look at life in the Victorian age.

Lunch at Bandanas Restaurant, a barbecue specialty place, was of course wonderful. While dining, a visit from Miss Lizzie exploded into action.

She was so humorous and engaging. What a hoot!

We ended our day at the Stetson Hat outlet. Almost everyone on the bus now sports a brand new Stetson. WE ARE READY FOR THE CALGARY STAMPEDE.

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2 responses to “Independence/St. Joseph, MO

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  1. Oh the memories! Loved the pics!

    Kitty Stafford
  2. Thanks Kitty. This is a great trip!

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