Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Seeking Independence

Hi Kids,
I hope you got my postcard from Independence, Missouri. This town is just east of Kansas City and is important for a number of historical reasons. Lewis and Clark came through here when they explored the Louisiana Purchase territory in 1804.

By 1821, it was the beginning of the Santa Fe Trail, a trading route that went to Santa Fe which was then part of Mexico. As the trail went west through western Kansas, it split briefly into two routes. One went across the corner of Colorado then south to Santa Fe. The other was called the Cimarron Cutoff and went across the panhandle of Oklahoma. Both trails wound up in Santa Fe. My cousin Teddy went to Santa Fe last year -- if you look back in the blog, you'll find a picture of him at the end of the trail.

Later, as pioneers traveled west, they split off the Santa Fe Trail and headed northwest on the Oregon Trail. Another split happened when gold was discovered in California in 1849. Gold seekers split off the Oregon Trail to head southwest to the gold fields. But most everyone started in Independence.

While we were in Independence, we took a wagon ride. The horses' names were Ruby and Pearl. Most wagons west weren't pulled by horses. Mules and oxen were stronger and could last longer. And most pioneers didn't ride in the wagons -- they walked beside the wagons. Think about that when you take a long ride in the car. I bet the kids knew better than to ask "Are we there yet?"

We also went to the National Frontier Trails Museum where we learned about the trails and the pioneers. It has a neat area where kids can load a little wagon. They have to think of all the things they'll need on the trail. Lots of times pioneers tried to take their favorite things with them but discovered they needed the wagon space for food and tools to survive on the trail. If you were going west in a wagon and could only take one favorite thing, what would it be? I travel very light -- but I'd like to take some honey!

Miss Elaine has to go now so I have to say good-bye. I'll try to write some more this afternoon. I have lots more to tell you.



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