Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Platte City, Missouri


We have driven west across Missouri and are settled in Platte City, named after the river that flows into the Missouri at this point.

The land is rolling hills and well treed. The winding Missouri is our trail and we have crossed its brown water several times. The water runs quickly though we haven’t seen much white water yet. It makes swooping curves where the rushing water pulls large quantities of soil from the banks and later deposits it in sand bars. 

The travelers commented on the muddiness of the river as it made a poor source for drinking water being so full of silt.

“The water we drink or the Comm water of the Missourie at this time, contains a half a Comm Wine Glass of ooze or mud to every pint-” William Clark

Reading this made me very thankful for the emergency water that we carry and the survival straws in our go bag.

Can you imagine drinking the brown mud filled water of the Missouri?
When the river has flooded in the past and changed its course some of the wide curves are cut off from it and become small lakes. Missouri has a lot of crescent shaped lakes called horseshoes.
We passed Glasgow where the Corps spent a night on the river with French fur traders in June of 1804. A hunting party killed a bear for fresh meat. William Clark described the place in his journal.

“A high commanding position more than 70 feet above the high water mark, and overlooking the river, which is here but of little depth.”

He returned here in 1808 in his position as Head of Indian Affairs in St. Louis, to build a fort at the high ground previously identified here. Fort Clark was the first US Outpost on the frontier built within the lands obtained from France through the Louisiana Purchase. It became an important trading post as well as a significant military presence in the region. Fort Clark also called Fort Osage or Fort Sibley is a National Historic Landmark.

Bronze of Lewis and Clark with Sacagawea, York and Seamon.
There is a small park in Kansas City (the Missouri one) that sits on high ground overlooking the river.   Case Park at Clark’s Point has an impressive bronze of the explorers with Sacagawea (their Shoshone guide) and York (William Clark’s slave). This site presents information about the French fur traders that had explored the land before the expedition. Auguste and Pierre Chouteau in particular assisted Lewis and Clark with supplies shelter and information about the lands they would soon travel.

My favorite figures on the statue York and Seamon looking into the distance.
On June 26th 1804 William Clark wrote about this place:

“We set out early the river falling a little...passed the mouth of the Blue water river...passed a bad Sand bar where our tow rope broke twice, & with great exertions we rowed around it and Came to & Camped in the Point above the Kansas River  I observed a great number of Parrot queets”

Indian Mound at Independence Creek
The group stayed 3 nights along the river in what is now Kansas City, charting the area, making repairs, hunting and having to mete out military discipline to two corpsmen who helped themselves to the liquor supply.

Independence Creek
The expedition continued moving up the Missouri stopping overnight in what is now Atchison Kansas. The Atchison area is where they spent July 4th, 1804, celebrating the 28th anniversary of the country’s independence by firing their swivel cannon at dawn and again in the evening. They traveled 10 miles that day and were 6 weeks into the journey.
The group named 2 creeks in Atchison, Independence creek and 4th of July Creek, both of which we located.
4th of July Creek

There are several places within a 50 mile radius of Platte City that have Lewis and Clark exhibits. Our favorite was the National Frontier Trails Museum in Independence.

Jim Bridger statue at the National Frontier Trails Museum
It is a city museum that features exhibits about the great trails west and the intrepid pioneers that braved the hardships of travel.
The museum staff were having a difficult day as strong storms had passed through Independence the night before. The building was without power but they were open and invited us in if we didn’t “mind a little heat”   We used our phones as flashlights and had a look.
The museum has an exhibit featuring the trail of Lewis and Clark expedition. What we found more fascinating were the displays featuring the western trails that were to follow. The Sante Fe Trail, the California Trail, the Oregon Trail, and the Mormon Trail.
It is estimated that between 1840 and 1860 nearly 400,000 people headed west with hopes for a better life. 1 in 10 of them would not survive the journey.
There is a wall dedicated to the fate of the Donner party as well as quotes from pioneers that kept diaries. The quotes made the stories real.
These words from Lavinia Honeyman Porter as she said goodbye to her sister said it all.
“But in a few moments I rallied my forces, and waving a last adieu to my beloved sister, turned my dim and tear stained eyes westward and soon overtook the slowly moving oxen who were bearing my husband and child over the green prairie. Climbing into the wagon beside them, with everything we possessed piled high behind us, we turned our faces toward the land of golden promise that lay far beyond the Rocky Mountains. Little idea had I of the hardships, the perils, the deprivation that awaited me”

Tomorrow we turn the wheels toward Nebraska.

National Frontier Trails Museum
318 W Pacific Ave
Independence, MO

Case Park at Clarks Point
611 W 8th St
Kansas City, MO

Lewis and Clark Historic Park
1 River City Dr
Kansas City, KS

Independence Creek Site
19917 314 Rd
Atchison, KS

4th of July Creek Site
990 Skyway Highway
Atchison, KS


  1. wish the lights had been on for you at the National Frontier Trails Museum. You guys are real troopers to tour it with a flashlight. I'd never heard of the museum and it's now on our list for a tour! Was good to visit with you guys last night at the restaurant.

    Karen is currently folding a load of laundry and just told me how Bonnie was describing how they handle clothing on the road and laundry.

    I'm looking forward to following your journey.


  2. It sure is fun to follow your trip, Bonnie! Love that you were able to meet up with Mark and Karen!

  3. Thanks Jim we sure are having fun.