Kansas City Metro Area Pioneer Monuments
Visit pioneer-themed monuments throughout the Kansas City metropolitan area. The tour begins in Independence, Missouri, and ends in Olathe, Kansas.
Two sculptures by Mischell Riley -- one depicting a young Native American man, and the other a young pioneer woman -- stand in front of the Roger T. Sermon Community Center. Nearby, a pioneer cabin and historical marker mark the location of an old spring used by both indigenous peoples and settlers. A Trail of Death memorial commemorates the forced removal of the Potawatomi (Neshnabe) people to this area in 1838.
Avard Fairbanks sculpted this covered wagon scene in 1924. Plans to use Fairbanks' image to mark the route of the Oregon Trail from Independence, Missouri, to Seaside, Oregon, floundered in the 1920s, resulting in only two markers in Oregon. But in the 21st century, Fairbanks' descendants have worked to erect additional castings of the bronze medallion, including this one in the jumping-off point of Independence. The medallion was installed on a stone marker first installed in 1948.
A "Pioneer Woman" statue by Mexican sculptor Juan Lombardo-Rivera was placed in the courtyard of the National Frontier Trails Museum when it opened in 1990. In 2013 that sculpture was stolen from the museum. The thieves took apart the statue and tried to sell it for scrap. It was replaced by this statue by local artist Charles Goslin in 2016.
Development of the François Chouteau & Native American Heritage Fountain coincided with the 2021 Kansas City bicentennial. Francois and many members of the Chouteau family were early French traders and trappers who operated west of St. Louis during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Francois established a trading post and residency in what would become modern-day Kansas City, and his wife became known by some as "the Mother of Kansas City." The fountain and park commemorate Native Americans who predated the French trader along with the new arrivals of European descent. While the fountain was designed to celebrate Native peoples and settlers alike, it is important to note that the arrival of European settlers set in place a series of events that culminated with tens of thousands of Native Americans in Missouri and eastern Kansas being in a position where they were forced from the area. Starting with treaties and missions in the 1830s, the establishment of the Town of Kansas, the eventual creation of Kansas Territory and the growth of Kansas City, the arrival of French traders started a process that had occurred in St. Louis and other former "frontier" communities. At the same time, it appears the Chouteau family enjoyed a friendly relationship with Native Americans based on trade.
1927 statue by famed western artist A. Phimister Proctor. Modeled after artist's own mother to honor women who migrated West on the overland trails in the mid-19th century. The monument was celebrated at its dedication, but soon forgotten. The nearby village of Westport sought to claim the statue in the 1980s. Westport claims to be the birthplace of Kansas City.
Sculptor Cyrus Dallin displayed this statue of a mounted Sioux Indian at San Francisco's 1915 International Exhibition. Kansas City residents arranged for a temporary installation of the statue following the exhibition. In response to the statue's popularity, area school children helped to collect small donations, including nickels and dimes, in hopes of raising funds to purchase and permanently display the sculpture. The effort was successful and The Scout has been one of the symbols of Kansas City since its public dedication in 1922.
Westport businessmen wanted to put up a life-sized stone wagon train to mark the centennial of the Santa Fe Trail. Instead, local women raised the funds for this 1920 tribute "To the Pioneer Mother." It was one of the first pioneer mother monuments erected in the United States.
This 1986 tribute to John C. McCoy, Alexander Majors, and Jim Bridger is the culmination of 75 years of pioneer commemoration efforts by Westport business leaders and residents.
Bronze sculpture of a wagon train leader sculpted by Gus Shafer. It is one of several monuments in the Kansas City area that commemorate the region's connections to the Santa Fe, Oregon and California trails during the mid-19th century.
Dedicated in 1952, this statue was purchased by J. C. Nichols Company and originally placed at the entrance to the Prairie Village Shopping Center as part of an effort to build a connection between the postwar Kansas City suburb and the area's pioneer history. The statue was later moved and placed within a fountain at the entrance to the town in 2002.
Park created the town of Shawnee's 150th anniversary in 2006. It commemorates Shawnee’s place on the mid-19th-century Santa Fe, Oregon, and California wagon trails and Fort Leavenworth Military Road. It features two sculptures by local artist Charles Goslin depicting that history.
This stagecoach sculpture designed by local Chinese-born artist Kwan Wu, reflects the ethnic diversity of the 19th-century American West. The sculpture was funded by private donations to mark Olathe’s 150th anniversary.
This bronze sculpture is dedicated to all of the children whose lives were lost due to the harsh conditions on the overland journeys westward. A pioneer boy, a girl and their dog run through an arch. It was sculpted by Kansas City artist Kwan Wu. Rocks in the fountain beneath them represent the streams that children crossed on the overland trail. Sculptor Kwan Wu was born and trained in China, but since immigrating to the United States and settling in the Kansas City area he has sculpted two major works depicting the western trails for Olathe, Kansas.
Statue of pioneer family marks the junction of the Santa Fe and Oregon Trails. It depicts a man in frontier clothing kneeling in prayer. He holds a Bible in one hand, and his other hand rests on a walking plow. His wife stands beside him with her head bowed in prayer. She cradles their young son in one arm and rests the other hand on her husband's shoulder. This statue became a centerpoint of MidAmerica Nazarene University when erected in the campus Prayer Circle in 1994.