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Independence, Missouri

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Independence in Missouri.

 

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Independence is the fourth largest city in the U.S. state of Missouri, and is contained within the counties of Jackson (primarily) and Clay. It is part of the Kansas City Metropolitan Area. In 2010, The city had a total population of 116,830 and is the county seat of Jackson County, and is known as the "Queen City of the Trails" because it was a point of departure of the California, Oregon and Santa Fe Trails.

Culture

Santa-Cali-Gon Days is an annual Labor Day festival held in Independence intermittently since 1940 and continuously since 1973, celebrating the city's heritage as a starting point of three major frontier trails: the Santa Fe, California and Oregon. Another popular annual festival is the Vaile Strawberry Festival, which is held on the first Saturday of June at the Vaile Mansion, 1500 N. Liberty, five blocks north of the historic Square. The Independence Heritage Festival is a celebration of the diverse culture that exist in Independence. The Independence town square features numerous family-owned shops surrounding the old main courthouse in Independence, which was modeled after Philadelphia's Independence Hall. This courthouse houses Harry S. Truman's former courtroom and office, and his home.

Museums

National Frontier Trails Museum, 318 W. Pacific: Museum and interpretive center dedicated to the history of the Overland Trails and the settlement of the American West. Independence, also known as the Queen City of the Trails, hosted thousands of settlers, pioneers, soldiers and merchants as they prepared to cross the plans along one of three trails: the Santa Fe, California, and Oregon. The museum offers film, a children's activity room, artifacts, journal entries, maps, and covered wagons, among other highlights.
Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum: Official library of the 33rd U.S. President located at 500 U. S. 24 Highway. Hailed as America's "best presidential museum" by the Dallas Morning News, the Truman Library offers theaters, a museum, store, and interactive hands-on exhibits together with a Decision Theater. The museum contains a colorful mural by Thomas Hart Benton, together with a reproduction of the Oval Office. The courtyard contains the graves of Harry, Bess and their daughter Margaret. The museum seeks to educate patrons about the major world-shaping decisions that Truman was involved in as President, together with details of his personal life. The lower level offers an area where children can dress up like Harry and Bess, explore "feely" boxes, engage in an interactive computerized race, sort mail, make campaign buttons and posters and play a trivia game.
Leila's Hair Museum, 1333 S. Noland Road: Museum of Victorian-era art of hair jewelry and wreaths. The Hair Museum, believed to be the only one of its kind in the world, houses over 350 hair "wreaths" and 1,500 pieces of artwork or jewelry made partially or completely out of human hair.
Puppetry Arts Institute, 11025 E. Winner Road: Home to hundreds of puppets and marionettes from around the world and features a collection from the world's largest puppet factory in neighboring Kansas City, owned and operated by famous puppeteer Hazelle Rollins. Visitors can also watch a movie, use the puppet resource library and see changing displays. Children can choose a puppet head from the now-closed factory inventory, paint it with professional puppet paint, attach a body, and stage an impromptu performance on one of the institute's stages. Monthly professional puppet shows are also offered.
Harry S Truman Home National Historic Site, 223 N. Main. The Truman home is operated by the National Park Service. It allows visitors to see how President Truman and his wife, Bess, lived in their simple but comfortable "Summer White House". Left just as it was when the Trumans lived there, you'll see their dishes on the table, books and records on the shelf, and Harry's hat, coat and cane in the front entry.
1859 Jail, Marshal's Home and Museum, 217 N. Main. The dungeon-like cells of the 1859 Jail housed thousands of prisoners during the bloodiest period of Jackson County's history. Some of its famous guests included Frank James and William Clark Quantrill. Part of the exhibit details how the local marshal and his family lived in the adjoining Federal brick two-story home. An 1870's-era schoolhouse and museum completes the site. A "historic homes combo" discount ticket is available for use with the Bingham-Waggoner Estate and the Vaile Mansion. Closed for the winter from January through March.
Bingham-Waggoner Estate, 313 W. Pacific. Built in 1852 along the Santa Fe Trail, this magnificent home was owned by famous American Civil War artist George Caleb Bingham and later belonged to the Waggoner family, founders of the Waggoner-Gates Mill. Extensively renovated in the 1890s, many furnishings and accessories from the era may be seen in the home. A gift shop is located in the carriage house. Closed for the winter from January through March. *Chicago and Alton Depot, 318 W. Pacific. Built in 1879, this wooden depot is believed to be the oldest two-story frame railroad depot remaining in Missouri. Filled with hundreds of railroad artifacts, it also served as the living quarters for the station master and his family on the upper level, which is furnished with period treasures. Closed January–March.
Vaile Mansion, 1500 N. Liberty. This thirty-room mansion was built by frontier business tycon Harvey Vaile in 1881. Recognized as one of the finest examples of Second Empire Victorian architecture in the U.S., the opulent estate boasted conveniences such as flushing toilets, a built-in 6,000 gallon water tank, painted woodwork and ceilings and nine different marble fireplaces. Closed for the winter from January through March.
Community of Christ International Headquarters. The Temple, at 201 S. River, and The Auditorium, across the street at 1001 W. Walnut, serve as world headquarters for this Christian denomination of a quarter-million members. Tours of the Temple and Auditorium are free, and organ concerts on world class organs are held daily in summer, and on Sundays from Labor day through Memorial Day. The site also offers a theater, sacred artwork and a meditation garden. The Children's Peace Pavilion in the Auditorium is a free hands-on interactive museum for children.
LDS Visitors Center, 937 W. Walnut. Describes the roles played by Latter-day Saints during the early and tempestuous history of Independence. Offers flat screen visual presentations showing the arrival of early Saints, revelations, and their pioneer lives. Also offers rare artifacts and exhibits documenting the history and beliefs of modern Saints, known as Mormons. Free guided tours daily.

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