National Frontier Trails Museum

Friday, March 18, 2016

Giddy up! Since we are done with our Middle Ages and Renaissance study I decided to gather some inspiration for some unit studies from some of our literature books. This week we read Apples to Oregon from our Center for Lit Ready Readers book. I will talk more about that in our weekly update. The story is about a fruit farmer who traveled from Iowa to Oregon on the Oregon Trail. There are so many great lessons to gather from that book that we will be in that unit for a couple of weeks. We read a ton of other pioneer books as well. I thought a field trip was in order!

We live about 20 minutes from Independence, Missouri where all the trails to the west began. I decided to take the boys to the National Frontier Trails Museum to experience what it was like to travel in a wagon.

We love to do trips with friends whenever possible. This gentleman was so kind to show up in the off season to give us a ride.

Of course the real pioneers wouldn't have had the luxury to travel on concrete.

Most of the wagons were pulled by mules or oxen on the trails. Horses weren't as good for pulling wagons as they would overheat themselves. Mules just sit down if they are overworked.

This gentlemen was one of the finest wagon drivers a group of homeschoolers could have had the pleasure to meet. It was just us 6, but he treated us like we were a full wagon. He took all the time in the world to answer our questions and to really engage the boys. He knew so much of the history, and you could tell he had a love for the stories of the west and for his animals. He does a longer tour I'm going to have to check out sometime. If you are local I would highly recommend taking a tour with Pioneer Trails Adventures. This guy was a class act.

There is also a Railroad Depot on the location that has a lot of fantastic relics, but it was closed the day we went. I had been before another time.

Surprisingly these mules could carry this wagon pretty fast! We pulled out a little close to an ongoing car. We survived ha!

We got to travel along actual routes that wagons would have taken through town.

We got to see a few landmarks on our journey.

This was Bess Truman's house. When we get to modern history next year we will have to visit the Harry Truman Library and Museum as well.

This home belonged to the artist George Caleb Bingham. He used his artist skills to represent and reject what was happenened in Lawrence, KS. Kansas and Missouri were fighting one another before the Civil War began over slavery.

The last part of our ride was to ride down through the real wagon swails that can be seen still on these word roads.

As you go further along you can see how the road gets deeper.

At the end of our ride Silas fed Becky the Mule a carrot.

He wasn't sure if she would bite him or not.

She was very sweet though.

Then we got to tour the museum.

Every part of the country has its own history. It's neat to live where so much happened.

One of the exhibits was to pack a wagon.

All the boys had at it!

They piled in lots of goods until the warning light told us we only had a few more things we could add.

It helped them to realize how you really had to think through the decisions you made and what was most important.

We were then at final capacity and the boys realized that had to pu

There are some really neat artifacts at the museum.

Some have to do with the Gold rush. This was a display of a Gold Rush widow.

There were several different kinds of wagons represented.

While some wagons were carried by mules the others would have been carried by oxen.

We are enjoying our pioneer study and may do a Prairie Primer unit. It was neat to see a Conestoga wagon like Laura would have ridden in.

There was much work to be done in Independence back then. Blacksmiths were always kept busy.

There was a general store to see what kind of supplies you could buy.

Well that about wraps it up! I hope you are enjoying field trips and the history that happened in your part of the world!


  1. What a fun field trip!! Yall always go on the nearest excursions!

    1. I love this kind of stuff. Hopefully the kids will remember it fondly and do the same for their kids too :)

  2. I agree - you have the neatest places for field trips. :) Next to the wagon ride, the pack the wagon activity looks the coolest - a great hands-on lesson for how much they were able to take with them - very little indeed!

  3. I bet you have some really neat history where you live too!


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