Downtown Independence Square is easily walk-able, but a ride with Pioneer Trails Adventures is a great way to get a new perspective. We have visited this historic locale on many occasions, but never like this time. We had just completed a tour of the old jail, and now we were ready to experience a trail ride.
A Historic Trail Ride
Our tour started when we stepped aboard Ralph’s wagon. Now Ralph is certainly a memorable character. First impressions are that he is a holdover from another age, some time in an olden day. His voice is solid, and carries a country twang. His smile is mischievous, yet friendly. He beckoned us to move toward the front of the wagon, so we would better enjoy the trail ride. Our visit took place on a cool, moist day, so we had the wagon, and Ralph, to ourselves. The wagon is pulled by a pair of mules, which is appropriate for Missouri. Ralph made the decision long ago to use this animal, since it is the best choice for wagon pulling. After a short introduction, we began our journey through the streets of downtown Independence, Missouri.
Now most people from the region know that Independence is the hometown of Harry S. Truman, the 33rd President of the United States. Being from Kansas City, we had a small grasp of the history of Harry, but Ralph quickly filled in many tidbits that we had never realized. The great part of this type of learning is the atmosphere. There is something nostalgic about a trail ride through a historic district. We heard about Harry’s first job, which took place in a shop on the square. As we continued on our ride, we came to an old court house, that Harry helped get rebuilt. There were a few other stories about Harry, but he is not the only historical name to come up in conversation.
A Historical Encyclopedia
Ralph seems to know something about just about every hero, outlaw or local legend. As we traveled, we also heard about Wild Bill Hickok, and how he got his unique nickname. Perhaps you have heard of Frank James, Jesse’s brother. Ralph tells stories about him as well. It was amazing the vast amount of historical information that he has locked up in his head. Now since our schedule for the day was so full, we only had time to enjoy “The Square Tour”, which still took 20 minutes. They offer a city limits increases your time onboard to around 45 minutes, and includes sights outside of the square. You will also hear about more interesting characters for Independence’s past. For those wanting to truly immerse themselves, there is a full city tour. This takes over an hour, and includes several Civil War sites. We are sure that Ralph has plenty of gusto to keep up the lively entertainment for at least that long.
For a parting gift, Ralph showed us the proper way to parallel park a mule team driven wagon. It was so unusual, that we felt the need to share it with all of you. I can say I have seen a lot of things in my life, but this was a first. It certainly adds a bonus to a great time. So if you are looking for a fun and entertaining adventure, haul it down to the Independence Square and find Ralph. He’s hard to miss, since he’s sitting in a covered wagon. Be sure to tell him you read about him here, and ask him to show you how to park a wagon at the end of your trail ride. So what are you waiting for?
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