Did the true “Gateway to the West” start in St. Louis or Independence, Missouri?

Chris Graefser
St. Peters, Missouri

That’s a good question and needs a little ’splainin’.

For Meriwether Lewis and William Clark’s 1804-06 expedition, the gateway was Boone’s Settlement in Missouri, along the Missouri River, just west of St. Louis. The capricious river washed out the town in 1828. Soon after, Westport Landing became the new starting point.

Then Independence, Missouri, became the farthest point west on the Missouri River where cargo ships and steamboats could travel. It was the jumping-off point for the Santa Fe, California and Oregon Trails.

Kansas City, founded in 1850 on the western border at the confluence of the Kansas and Missouri Rivers, eventually outgrew Independence.

Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian and vice president of the Wild West History Association. . His latest book is Arizona’s Outlaws and Lawmen; History Press, 2015. If you have a question, write:  Ask the Marshall, P.O. Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327 or e-mail him at

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