Independence, Missouri

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  • Independence is a typical early-twenty-first-century suburban community, located ten miles east of downtown Kansas City, Missouri. Historically, however, it was nationally significant as the best-known “jumping-off point” to the western plains and mountains. The mid-nineteenth century featured a number of significant trading and emigrant trails, not all of which included Independence. To the public, however, Independence was the quintessential nexus between the civilized Midwest and the wild, unknown West.

    In 1821, Missouri became a state, and the western edge of settlement was generally regarded to be Franklin, Missouri. It was from Franklin that the first traders headed west to blaze what became known as the Santa Fe Trail. Franklin, on the north bank of the Missouri River, was reached primarily by flatboat, but by the mid-1820s, ...

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