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The Raytown Historical Society and Museum is located in the heart of this Missouri community within this former fire station that was constructed during World War II. Since 1966, members and volunteers with the historical society have made it their mission to preserve and share the history of the community. In addition to displays of original artifacts, the museum contains the society’s research library with an extensive collection of archival material. The Raytown Historical Society also regularly hosts events that are open to the public.

  • The Raytown Historical Society & Museum
  • Logo of the Raytown Historical Society, showing William Ray at work
  • William Ray's Blacksmith Shop display
  • Schoolhouse display
  • Temporary display on the art of quilt-making
  • A spinning wheel on display
  • More displays
  • Members celebrate the 50th anniversary of the historical society in 2016

History of Raytown

Raytown is believed to have been named after William Ray. Ray came to the area in 1848 and set up a blacksmith shop along the Santa Fe Trail. He outfitted pioneering travelers with horseshoes, oxen yoke, wagon wheels, cookware, and other iron parts before setting out on the long journey. The blacksmith shop became a landmark along the trail, located about one day’s journey from Independence. It was mentioned in letters, diaries, and other contemporary accounts. A recreated version of Ray’s blacksmith shop and his portrait are on display in the Raytown Museum. A historical marker at the corner of Raytown Road and 63rd Street marks the original location of his blacksmith shop.

History of the Historical Society

The Raytown Historical Society was chartered in 1966. The brick building that the society occupies was once the Fire Station #1, built in 1944. The society acquired the building in 1982 to house its growing collection of artifacts and archival material. Its mission includes “selecting important sites where historical markers are placed to inform and educate our community as to the key locations of our history; holding group discussions and programs to further the knowledge of the past as well as the present; maintaining a depository for all pertinent records concerning Raytown and its people. Historic tours, excellent rotating displays, dinners programs, hosting alumni groups, conducting special tours for students and various organizations are all part of the life at the Raytown Historical Museum.” [4]

The Museum

The Raytown Museum is staffed entirely by volunteers. Some of the permanent displays include a general store and a schoolhouse. The museum also hosts special temporary displays. However, exhibits are not the only reason to visit the museum. The Raytown Historical Society has a significant archival collection on the history of Raytown’s residents, businesses, and organizations. Historical documents, photographs, and artifacts are available for researching the area’s local history. Researchers are encouraged to take advantage of its many resources and to share their own. Local history books are also available for purchase in the museum's gift shop.

1.      “History.” Raytown Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Website. Accessed October 15, 2019.

2.      Jackson, David W. “Raytown Historical Society Museum.” 3-Trails Village Community Improvement District Website. Accessed October 15, 2019.

3.      “Permanent Displays.” Raytown Historical Society and Museum Website. Accessed October 15, 2019.

4.      “The Raytown Historical Society & Museum.” Raytown Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Website. Accessed October 15, 2019.

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