One of the many things Independence, MO is known for is being home to the 33rd President of the United States, Harry S. Truman. He and his wife Bess loved living here.
A story entitled, Wagons Ho! by Dennis R. Heinze can be found in the AAA Midwest Traveler, September/October 2010 issue. In this article, he writes about an exciting attraction for residents and tourists alike.
Independence is rich in pioneer history. Museums and attractions tell the story of this town quite well. “Queen City of the Trails” is often a term used when referring to Independence. It is here where the Santa Fe, Oregon and California trails etched their way in our history. It was considered the outfitting post for these three trails. Independence was a place of bustling activity.
Eleven years ago, Ralph Goldsmith embarked on a journey of sorts. In treading new waters with a desire to better tell the story of Independence, he founded the Pioneer Trails Adventures. It is a touring company that provides a unique look at this area’s history from the seat of a replicated covered wagon drawn by mules.
According to Goldsmith, “It’s a challenge to get people to understand we are not just an amusing ride, but we are an actual historical tour that takes you further than the museums and deeper than a history book. The tours complement what visitors learn in the city’s museums about Truman, outlaw Jesse James, the Civil War and especially the frontier trails”.
In the early-mid 1800’s people carried so many of their belongings with them in their wagons. It placed an additional burden on the roads. To this day, as a result of their travels, depressions commonly called swales are still seen in the ground. It was as if the early residential pioneers wanted to literally leave their imprint on American history and in Independence, MO.
This tour will give you a better grasp of what life was like back then. History buffs are sure to enjoy its unique approach.
Initially Mr. Goldsmith just focused his tours for school groups. That has now changed. Because of the tour’s popularity, his services have expanded to include wedding, birthday and a variety of several events.
The tours run between 15 minutes to more than 1 hour. Prices are contingent upon the type of tour given.
As to why Ralph Goldsmith uses mules instead of horses, the article states, “Mules are more historically accurate for the tours. Most of the pioneers used either mules or oxen on their overland trip because horses sweat too much, drink too much and dehydrate too quickly. Mules are part horse and part donkey, which gives them the size and strength of a horse but the characteristics of a donkey, which has adapted to thriving in desert conditions”.
And for those really fancy and very special occasions he uses his three Clydesdales.
For more information about Pioneer Trails Adventures call 816-456-4991 or 816-254-2466. You can also visit their website at www.pioneertrailsadventures.com.
Tours are offered from about 9:30 to 4:30 Monday through Saturday from April to November. Although reservations aren’t required, they are recommended. For the rest of the year, tours can be arranged by appointment only.
So if you’re looking for something to do that is a tad different, check them out. And when you get there, tell them Harry sent you.
Midwest Traveler, September/October 2010 issue, pg. 13