Interesting Trail Facts
Interesting "Trail Facts" From the Kansas City, Missouri Region
- The ill-fated Donner Party left from Independence, MO in 1846 for California.
- Of the more than 250,000 emigrants to California during the decade of the gold rush,
only 5,000 were African-American.
- The trading route of the Santa Fe Trail was used as a military route during the
Mexican War, 1846-48.
- Noted mountain man Jim Bridger lived and died in present-day south Kansas City and
is buried in Independence, MO.
- The explosion of the steamboat “Saluda” at Lexington, MO in 1852 killed many Mormon
emigrants bound for Salt Lake City.
- The first white women to cross North America, Narcissa Whitman and Eliza Spalding,
left from Liberty, MO in 1836 with their husbands.
- The first railroad west of the Mississippi River linked Independence, MO with its
- Capt. John Sutter lived at Westport, MO before fleeing from creditors and going
to California, where his mill and name forever became attached to the 1848 gold
- The languages heard along the culturally diverse Santa Fe Trail included English,
Spanish, German, French, Dutch, and those of several American Indian tribes.
- An estimated 400,000 people went on the western migration trails between 1840 and
- Hiram Young was a prominent African-American blacksmith in Independence, MO who
bought slaves to work in his wagon shops and let them earn their freedom.
- Sapling Grove Park in Overland Park, KS was the starting point for the first overland
wagon train to California.
- “Kelly’s”, today a popular bar in Westport, MO, was an outfitting store during the
- About one in ten trail travelers, or about 40,000 people, died along the western
trails in America.
- Alexander Majors, whose home is open for tours in Kansas City, was an important
- Mayor Tyree of Independence went west on the trails and was reportedly never heard
- The Bent-Ward House in Kansas City was home to two important figures on the frontier,
William Bent and Seth Ward.
- Unlike the Hollywood film versions, very few deaths on the overland trails were
related to Indian hostilities.
- Mr. Ray’s blacksmith shop on the trail was the start of Raytown, MO.
- Major John Dougherty, later of Liberty, MO, was an early fur trader and Indian agent.
- The natural springs at Blue Springs, MO were used by Indians, then early Santa Fe