Our location on the Missouri River naturally positioned Kansas City as a starting point for the American West. The city became a stopping point, however brief, during the western migration of emigrants to the bounties, both real and imagined, promised in the unsettled land.

Beginning with the Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1804–1806, four national trails heading west pass through Kansas City, including the Santa Fe, California and Oregon trails. America’s Western heritage begins in Kansas City.

Jesse James Farm & Museum

The home where Jesse was born and he and his brother Frank were raised in the mid-1800s has been authentically restored. The museum contains the largest collection of James family artifacts in the world. Jesse’s gravesite at Kearney’s Mount Olivet Cemetery draws thousands of visitors yearly, as does the Jesse James Festival, which takes place at the farm each September.

Fort Osage National Historic Landmark

The point overlooking the Missouri River where Fort Osage stands today was noted in William Clark’s journal in June 1804 as a good location for a trading post. Clark returned in 1808 to build the fort, which was reconstructed in 1941. Today, you can tour the blockhouses, officers’ quarters and soldiers’ barracks, which frequently come to life in living-history programs depicting the period.

Arabia Steamboat Museum

In 1856, the steamboat Arabia was on its way upriver to Montana with all of the supplies needed for a small town on the Western frontier. The boat hit a snag in the Missouri River and sank near Parkville. In 1988, the Arabia was recovered with all of its cargo intact. It now stands as a one-of-a-kind museum offering a fascinating display of early Western life.

Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop & Farm

Tour the three original buildings of this last remaining stagecoach stop on the Santa Fe Trail. Take a stagecoach ride and participate in the activities travelers of the 1860s did when they stopped here on their way west.

National Frontier Trails Center

The massiveness of the American West that opens up from the doorway of Kansas City will all but overwhelm in the floor-to-ceiling displays here that map each of the trails west. Interactive exhibits test your knowledge of the trails and allow you to see some of the supplies that explorers and pioneers brought through this region.

Alexander Majors Historic House & Museum

Alexander Majors and his freighting firms helped build many of the small towns that popped up along the Santa Fe Trail. Tour his home and barn, which for a short time served as the headquarters of Majors’ best-known venture, the Pony Express.

Contact Visit KC