1018. National Frontier Trails Museum

Museum entrance with several banners hanging from the side.
National Frontier Trails Museum

Installed in the former Waggoner Gates Milling Company flour mill, the National Frontier Trails Museum, open daily year-round, interprets four major trail systems that traversed this area: Lewis and Clark; Santa Fe; Oregon; and, California.

This is also the site of a significant public spring that once provided needed fresh water to overland travelers passing through.

Authenticated trail ruts, or swales, are preserved and available to visitors across the street on the Bingham-Waggoner Estate.


North of the museum is an authentic train depot interpreting the trails, saved from demolition and relocated to this site. Beyond the depot and across the railroad tracks, lies the headwaters of a mighty fresh-water spring that 19th century travelers could partake as they rolled on their southwesterly route. Independence may even have been founded here because of the access to fresh water. The spring, buried by rubble from a tragic fire when the Waggoner-Gates Mill exploded in the 1960s, is planned to be re-excavated for future interpretation.

For more information:

National Frontier Trails Museum

Santa Fe Trail Research