Truman Library/National Frontier Trails Museum – Independence, MO

Independence, MO

On Friday evening, our last in tiny Paxico, KS, we spotted some small, vintage (old) travel trailers on the other side of the park, so we decided to take a walk and investigate.  The first trailer had the letters SOTF on the side.  We made all kinds of guesses as to what that stood for, but a Google search revealed none of our guesses  were correct.  It stands for Sisters on the Fly.  Who would have guessed that?

It turns out that SOTF is an organization founded in 1999 by two sisters who liked to fish.  They were having so much fun they decided to form a group of women to share in the enjoyment of outdoor activities like fishing, kayaking, wine tasting, and anything else that sounds fun.

Some of the women decided to buy vintage trailers and do a bit of decorating with them.

The organization now has more than 2,400 members from the U.S., Canada, England, and Australia.

On Saturday we packed up and prepared to leave Paxico.  It was the day of their annual Meat Loaf Festival so we wanted to avoid the crowds.   But we got talking with the couple next to us and didn’t get going until a bit later in the morning.  Fortunately, we were able to  get out without too much of a problem as a festival in a town of 200 doesn’t create much of a traffic jam.

We drove about a hundred miles to just east of Kansas City, MO and quickly settled into a spot at Blue Springs Campground, about two miles south of Independence.

Our main reason for stopping in Independence is to visit the Harry Truman Presidential Library and Museum.  John really enjoys Presidential history and Truman is one of his favorites, so this was a must stop for him.

On Sunday we decided to take a drive around the area to check out where things were located, as Monday is usually a better day to visit places like this.  It turns out this was a good move as most of the historical sites in Independence are not open on Sunday.

We did make a stop in front of 219 N. Delaware Street to see the house where Truman lived most of his adult life.  The house was built by the grandfather of his wife, Bess.  She was raised there and she and Harry lived in it all of their married life.

In the main downtown Square of Independence there is a county court house with a statue of Truman on the east lawn.  Truman had an office there when he was a county commissioner.  He was instrumental in it’s renovation in 1932.  It is closed now as it is undergoing another renovation.

Pam had her fill of presidential history at the Eisenhower Museum last week so she visited another museum in Independence while John visited with Harry.  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.

Independence was the principal  “jumping off” point for all three trails and the museum highlights the unique features of each trail and their 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 moved west.

While Pam was at the Frontier Trails Museum, John enjoyed a brief (three hour) visit at the Truman Library and Museum.

A life size statue of Truman

Truman had the sign below on his desk in the White House off and on during his Presidency.  The sign was a gift from a friend who thought the plain speaking Truman would appreciate it.

On the reverse side, i.e. the side that Truman saw, it was inscribed, “I’m from Missouri.” That’s a short form of “I’m from Missouri. Show me”. Natives of that state (a.k.a. the Show Me State), which included Truman, were known for their skeptical nature.

From the opening of the facility in 1957 until his death in 1972 Truman maintained an office at the Library, often working there six days a week.  He was an early riser and would walk from his home on Delaware Street to the library, sometimes arriving before the staff. If the phone rang, he would answer it and invite the caller to stop by for a visit.

Truman and his wife, Bess, are buried in a courtyard in the center of the facility.

Truman’s first job was working at Clinton’s Soda Fountain at age fourteen.  The store, across the street from the county court house, is still in operation today.

The soda fountain is said to be very similar to what it was like when Truman first worked there.

Another famous American stopped by to enjoy a chocolate sundae.

Okay, that’s it for presidential history for now.  Tomorrow we continue our journey east as we head for St. Louis.  We have reservations at a nice park in the nearby town of St. Charles for the next few days.

More on that later . . .

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11 Responses to Truman Library/National Frontier Trails Museum – Independence, MO

  1. Pam says:

    Vic visited The Little White House, Truman’s vacation home in Key West, and learned that after his two mile walk every morning, Truman, according to his doctor’s recommendation, had a shot of bourbon. Truman said the bourbon “kick-started his system in the morning.” Not quite the way we start our day, but may be worth trying on those days when a stop at Starbucks doesn’t seem to do it!

  2. rjrvtravels says:

    Hi Pam, we have traveled you route many many times and never made it to the Truman Museum – it is now on our list for the next time we head east to visit our son and family who live in St. Louis. BTW – the Dr. Edmund A. Babler Memorial SP is a very nice and very convenient place to stay while visiting St. Louis.

    • placestheygo says:

      Thanks, Rick and Joann!

      We are staying in St. Charles. We found a park with large concrete pads. We are ready for to get rid of the dirt and stone sites. St. Charles seems like a nice town.

      We stayed at the Blue Springs County Park while in Independence. It was a wonderful park with many FHU sites. Sites are gravel but very nicely spaced. Very quick drive to Truman’s Museum and Library.

  3. This place is calling our name. Thanks for the sneak peak at the Truman Library.
    I enjoyed looking at those decorated trailers those are cool.
    I responded to where we will be this summer, hope our path will cross.

  4. Erin says:

    Another great tour! I have a soft spot for Truman for some reason, so I’d want to visit it as well as the museum Pam went to. Don’t know if your travels east are going to take you anywhere near Shenandoah NP/Skyline Drive, but if so, you should try to visit Rapidan Camp, the Hoovers’ summer retreat. You need to book early for the ranger-led tour to go inside … unless there is a volunteer on site who might be able to let you in, otherwise you can hike to it to see the cabin. I would not recommend driving the MH into the park, but you can stay at Shenandoah River State Park and do a day-trip to Skyline Drive from there.

    That ice cream looks like a mighty good treat!

    • placestheygo says:

      Thanks, Erin! We won’t be going that way this trip. We are headed to Indiana, Ohio, and then northern NY to visit my mother. I’ll keep the recommendation in mind for the future:)

  5. I love the vintage trailers…you go girls!
    I also enjoyed the tours…I would have tagged along with Pam to the National Frontiers Trail Museum, and with John to the soda fountain! What a great day you had!
    Safe travels!

  6. I love those trailers. The Cowgirls in Paradise is my favorite. Tell them I want to join their wine tasting tour. Oh crap…I see you already left.

    Meat Loaf Festival…we will be there next year. Paul LOVES meatloaf!

    I would want to see both of these museums. Can’t speak for Paul.

    If that is Truman’s library, what is a photo of Kennedy doing on the wall?

    What a cute soda fountain shoppe. Did John eat that huge thing by himself?

    Do Not leave St.Louis without hitting the dueling piano bar…Howl At The Moon. It is the best one we have ever been at!!!

  7. Janna says:

    Those SOTF trailers were parked in Big Timber, MT one summer for a few days–fun to see.

  8. Sheila says:

    SOTF – what a fun way for a group of women to get together for whatever mischief they can manage to get themselves in to!! Safe travels.

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