The Oregon Trail in Missouri-Kansas:
Beginning the Adventure
The arc traveled by pioneers through
northeastern Kansas on their way to
Platte River is the
shortest of the five state Oregon Trail segments.
Pioneers headed west from numerous jumping-off
points along the eastern bank of the Missouri River, including St. Joseph,
Missouri and Council Bluffs, Iowa.
Missouri is generally
considered the main departure point for the
Oregon Trail, at least during the early
years when pioneer families seeking to homestead western land comprised the
At Courthouse Square
in downtown Independence visitors can view a
marker near where the emigrants gathered to rest, repair their wagons,
acquire provisions, and locate other pioneers interested in traveling
together to the promised land in Oregon.
This is a good point to begin your trip west.
Nearby Courthouse Square is former president Harry S Truman’s
home (223 N. Main St.) that is managed by the National Park Service and open
daily for tours (closed Mondays Labor Day through Memorial Day).
Tickets for a tour of the home must be purchased at
the visitor center.
The home is part of the Harry S Truman National
Modern-day roads zigzag in the
general direction of the trail established by the pioneers, but are often
some distance from the actual trail.
This is true through much of northeastern
Kansas where the emigrants looped over
and up to Nebraska
Crossing the Missouri River and entering
Kansas via I-435, a series of highways
including U.S. 56, U.S. 59, and U.S. 40 follow the general route of the
Oregon Trail through present-day towns of
The Kansas Museum of History in Topeka
(6425 SW Sixth Avenue)
offers exhibits and information about the trail.
Further northwest, not far from the
Nebraska border, Marysville is near the
junction of trails originating at
It is also where the two trails met up with the Pony
Express Trail that originated in St.
Joseph, but took a slightly different route
across northeast Kansas.
Just south of Marysville wagon trains
on the trail crossed the Big Blue.
A short distance northwest of Marysville, near the
border, Hollenberg Station is the only Pony Express station in Kansas that remains
in its original location.
The site is now a national historic landmark.
Interesting sites related to the Oregon Trail in
(318 W. Pacific) - Near Independence Courthouse Square, the museum offers
exhibits, information, and trail guides for individuals planning their own
2) Oregon Trail
Park - Located
between the towns of Belvue and Marysville, this small park allows travelers
to walk short nature trails, stand on a hill overlooking a gravel road that
overlays the old Oregon Trail, and marvel at a funky silo enhanced with
A photo of the silo is a must for any
Oregon Trail traveler.
Also near Belvue is the cemetery where entrepreneur
Louis Vieux is buried.
Vieux established a nearby toll bridge used by wagon
trains on the trail.
Spring - Just south of the
present-day town of Westmoreland,
Scott Spring served as
a stopping point for pioneers on the trail.
A small park just north of the spring has
informational signs and a full-scale covered wagon.
4) Alcove Spring - Near the town of Marysville,
this well-known spring enticed pioneers to camp nearby.
The infamous Donner Party camped here for several
days in 1846.
This is the point where the pioneers left the tallgrass
prairie and entered the plains.