The place right at the start of the Oregon Trail, Independence, Missouri. It was this town that was the frontier, a place as far as steamboat and rail could come, the place that the pioneers came to but from then on in had to travel the wild 2000 miles plus westwards by wagon. It is hard to imagine now when you visit, the throngs of hopeful families, their whole lives packed into wagons ready to head into the unknown. All for want of a better life.
In the mid 1800s, a railway was starting to be built up that by 1879 provided rail services between three places, Chicago, Kansas City and St Louis. The history of the railroad actually stems right back to Abraham Lincoln as a young legislator in Springfield. He proposed a railroad from Springfield to the Mississippi. It was a long time before others took the mantle and made it happen but his final passage back home from Chicago to Springfield was by funeral car on the Chicago and Alston Railroad.
Whilst in Independence I took the opportunity to step back in time, for you can view today a perfectly restored railroad depot of the Chicago and Alston era. Built in 1879 it was restored and moved a short distance to its current location between 1992 and 2002… So much care has been taken to keep its originality both inside and out. A historic monument that once you step inside gives a true feel of life as a station master back then… with actual relics within. From original Kellogg wall telephone all the way to hair curlers, bells and gramophone.
Each room has been restored to period completely. From waiting room/ticket office through to upstairs in the kitchen/living area. In those days the stationmaster lived and breathed in the building.
If you are a fan of trains and models there is a great old model railway in one of the rooms accompanied by some old classic rail toys of yesteryear, hornby, the lot.
It was one of those little gems that you accidentally come across on your travels. I had come to visit the start of the old Oregon Trail but this little building full of history, charm and wonder became a place I shall remember fondly in my learning of all things America and beyond.
I must take this opportunity to thank the people volunteering to show us around. So sincerely kind and humorous. So wanting to pass on information and answer all our questions
Outside there are the signs that you are at the start of the Oregon Trail….. Wagons with their horses to give a small taste of the rides ahead.