The Missouri Valley region, encompassing the Kansas City metropolitan area, sits squarely in the center of the United States. This strategic location has generated a vibrant and colorful history .
The Osage Indians  roamed the territory when Lewis and Clark  came through on their expedition. Some of the earliest settlers were a religious group  who believed Jackson County, especially Independence, was sacred ground.
Independence, Westport, and St. Joseph developed into bustling outfitting posts for the three major trails going west : Oregon, California, and Santa Fe.
And while many believe the raid on Harper's Ferry ignited the Civil War , it really began here, or what is often called the heart of America.
The Civil War spawned outlaws, like the Jesse James gang and Quantrill's band of guerrillas, that caused chaos in the area.
Many people and events continued to impact the development and growth of Kansas City, and even the nation. The Missouri Valley Special Collections preserves and makes available to the public the history of all these events and the stories of the people. Explore our Special Topics links on the left to discover more.