Kansas City

“The complex of sites around Kansas City is the best known, partly because this area was the principal jump-off for the Oregon migration, partly because it was in the business of outfitting explorers, fur traders, and emigrants longer than any of its rivals. Kansas City was important because of a simple accident of geography. It was located as the point where the Missouri River, after its westward course through the state of Missouri, makes a sharp bend northward to Nebraska; hence the seemingly logical point to get out of a boat and pursue westward objectives overland. . . . there were once four focal points of emigration.

The earliest of these was Fort Osage, a government post established in 1808 at a point recommended by William Clark several miles downstream from present Kansas City . . .Next came Cyprian Chouteau’s trading post in 1821, below the mouth of the Kansas, or Kaw, River . . .In time Chouteau’s Landing, moved frequently because of floods, evolved into historically obscure settlements variously tagged Kanzas, Kansasmouth, Kanzasville, Westport, and Westport Landing.

Independence became the third and most important point of overland departure. . . .Since Independence was a few miles inland, it was served by various steamboat landings rearranged annually by Missouri River floods.In 1849 there were two: old Independence Landing, and a new excrescence of shacks by the glorified name of Wayne City. . . .D. Jagger refers to this as the Independence Upper Landing.

The town of Westport [the fourth point of departure] was on the uplands between Turkey Creek and Bush Creek, a few miles north of Westport Landing and just inside the state line. . . .Westport and Westport Landing eventually merged to become the metropolis of Kansas City; but like Independence, after 1849 they also yielded to towns upriver as primary jumping-off places for the Platte.”