Located directly across from the National Frontier Trails Museum is a “blink and you missed it” rebuilt train station dating back to the late nineteenth century. You can gain admission for it along with a visit to the previous museum, so it’s a bad call NOT to stop by seeing that you get more bang for your buck. While not explicitly designed for children, most kids have somewhat of a fondness for trains, so this would be a perfect place to take the kiddies, just as long as you can ensure they don’t try to play with the antique toys in the upstairs exhibit rooms. I recommended planning a three stop day trip with my previous review, and that still stands.
Chicago & Alton Depot; Independence, MO
I was greeted by a volunteer tour guide that was more than happy to show me around, easily making this stop very special.
From their website:
“Believed to be the only completely restored two story train depot in Missouri, the Chicago & Alton Depot was built in 1879.
In 1996, the Depot was moved from its original location in spectaular fashion, being lifted from its original foundation and paraded down the street in front of hundreds of spectators and news media, to its current location on West Pacific Ave. From 1992 to 2002 members of the community worked hard to bring the decaying historical wonder back to life.
The two-story depot contains three rooms on the first floor which are the waiting room, stationmaster’s room, and baggage room. On the second floor, four rooms, which were formerly the stationmaster’s residence, are the kitchen, dining room, bedroom, and the parlor. An additional bedroom and storage room have been converted to an artifacts room. The entire Depot is furnished to appear as it did in the late 1800’s.”
From my review:
“This book not only tells the history and background of the actual physical building that has become the museum, but also the overall history of railroads in Independence, and even the of The Chicago and Alton Company. The book is quite small, so these blobs of information are just general overviews, but establish a foundation if the reader would want to seek further information elsewhere. I honestly could not say whether there is more scholarship of the topic at hand, but it might be interesting to look around. All-in-all this is by no means much more than a souvenir book, but I enjoyed the information found within and wanted to support the museum in whatever meager way I could that day.”
My recommendation for this trip is to bundle it with two other museums. The Chicago & Alton Depot is situated right next to The National Frontier Trails Museum, a museum devoted to the three trails that make Independence so famous. It is also directly across the street from an old turn of the century mansion called the Bingham Waggoner Estate. All three should take a total of four hours and will be a great idea for kids.
This is a quick little museum that is definitely different to the usual suspects in Western Missouri history. Seeing all of the old artifacts was cool, and getting a chance to look at some old switchboards and telegraph systems was interesting. There is a decently stocked gift shop, just make sure to bring cash with you as they do not have a cash register – all purchases are technically gifts you get from doing donations.
This is part of my series for 2021, History Boy Summer, to read more click HERE.
For more information on the site itself, click HERE.