Established in 1808, Fort Osage was the first white settlement in western Missouri.  The fort served as a trading post for the Osage Indian tribe that lived nearby. The fort’s position on a 70ft bluff overlooking a bend in the Missouri River provided protection to the riverboats that would bring supplies from St. Louis to what would later become Kansas City. Today we explore the fort and the trading post that for many years was a vital link on the move westward.

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The flag being flown at the fort has eighteen stars, the number of states that were in the Union at the time.  They included the original 13, plus Vermont, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Ohio.

 

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The Missouri River facing east from the Fort’s lookout post.

 

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The fort consisted of two areas a civilian area that had a guesthouse and trading post and the military side which housed 100 soldiers and officers. The fort was abandoned during the War of 1812 but was remanned at the war’s end. The Fort was active until 1820 were when most of the Osage lands were entirely ceded into federal territory that would become the state of Missouri. The grounds fell in to ruin but were rebuilt in the 1940’s.

Clothing of the Military officers and enlisted men, and dress of the Osage. The Osage tribe was a warrior tribe had an ongoing conflict with the Iroquois nation and migrated west of their original ancestral lands in what is now Ohio to the Missouri River valley. They were skilled hunters and had overall good relations with the Europeans they traded with especially the French. They were statuesque with the men almost always being over six foot tall.

 

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A dugout canoe used by the Osage. It is mostly a tree trunk hollowed and burned out. Most of the bark is still intact.
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The Osage trading post and guesthouse in the civilian quarter of the fort grounds.
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Dining room of the guesthouse

Inside the trading post:

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The views from of the inside of the trading post. The most popular items the Osage traded for were pelts of beaver, deer, raccoon, opossum and the occasional bear, The most things they would request in trade were whiskey, guns, colored beads, bells, and silverware.
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The Osage encampment. At its height, there were almost eighteen thousand Osage who lived with a three-mile radius of the fort.  The fort offered protection from incurring tribes and a source of revenue from trading.
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The Military post
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The military post proper was square shaped with guard towers on each side.

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Military barracks. The Fort stationed 100 men and officer, There were barracks inside the garrison and outside in the civilian area.

 

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Woodshop. The state park still has re-enactors who do woodworking here.
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Blacksmith shop
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The officer’s quarters. Usually housed two or three at a time.

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Entrance to the park is $8.00. The park is about an hour drive east of Kansas City. There is also an information center and small museum. The State Park has reenactors and period military drills on weekends and holidays. 

 

 

 

 

 

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