National Frontier Trails Museum
Price: $6 adults, $5 seniors age 62 & older, $3 ages 6-17
Hours: Open 9am-4:30pm Mon.-Sat., 12:30-4:30pm Sun. Please call to confirm hours.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Vaile Mansion will be closed through the 2020 season. The National Frontier Trails Museum is the only museum in the nation devoted to the three great western routes: the Santa Fe, Oregon and California Trails. Located in Independence, MO, the principal "jumping off" point for all three trails, the museum highlights the unique features of each trail and their dramatic impact on American history. Additional exhibits focus on the explorations of Lewis and Clark, the early fur trappers and traders, and the reasons why people heeded the call to "Go West!" Visitors can enjoy an educational film, authentic covered wagons, trail artifacts, original trail diaries and letters, and a children's activity room. Exhibit text includes many diary passages written by trail travelers, describing their hopes and fears, hardships and tragedies, despair and perseverance. The museum also boasts the largest public research library in the nation devoted to the western trails, including over 2,600 first-person trail accounts. The museum gift shop has many unique, western-themed items for sale. Covered wagon rides with narration of local history are also available at the museum upon request. The 1879 Chicago and Alton railroad depot next door signifies how the transcontinental railroad closed out the overland trails. Also on the grounds of the museum is the national headquarters of the Oregon-California Trails Association, the premier organization for preserving, mapping, and marking the trails, and educating the public about their impact on the development of America.