In the northernmost part of Kansas City, Missouri, is an 80-acre museum operated by the Kansas City Parks, Recreations, and Boulevards. The Shoal Creek Living History Museum, part of Hodge Park, has seventeen authentic 19th-century buildings that make the park feel like stepping back in time. These buildings were relocated from their original villages or homestead and placed in this park.
Ranging from a schoolhouse to an old Mill, these structures date from 1807 to 1885. The walking trails and grounds are open from dawn to dusk free of charge unless they are holding a special event. These special events can range from 1st Saturdays to the Annual Harvest Festival. During a regular visit, the buildings can be seen from the outside but not entered.
One of my bucket list items is to start visiting sites that are not usually listed on the big city itinerary. I discovered the museum while searching for something different and thought it would be great to visit. I love history and nature and thought it would be fun to see during one of its special events.
We left City Market in Kansas City and headed north to visit the museum. Way north. I almost thought we were lost as we passed through Liberty, Missouri. With a few twists and turns, we found ourselves heading by the Hodge Park Amphitheater and golf course. We had free parking, a free special event, and free access to 1868.
Shoal Creek’s free 1st Saturday event in June re-created what Missouri was like during the 1860s. We were able to tour the buildings and visit with historical re-enactors such as lawmen, gunfighters, and spinners. There were a variety of skits throughout the day, and we walked into a gunfight in the town square. [I stood next to a dog who began panicking during the shooting. I couldn’t blame him these days. I will skip the re-enactment next time.]
Some of the buildings include a mercantile, doctor’s office, schoolhouse, a mill, a barn, a church, and a mansion.
There is also a Bison range where you can view the small herd that they are trying to conserve. We did not see any that day, but they are trying to provide a safe area for them to roam. There are also chickens in the park during certain times of the year. I appreciate that the Shoal Creek Association is trying to revitalize the shrinking Bison population. Maybe I will get to see one the next time I visit.
The museum feels more like a park or historical area than some other living history sites. For example, Williamsburg, Virginia (that I adore!) is a mixture of the historical and modern. If you need a quiet and peaceful place to walk around in the city, Shoal Creek is an excellent place for peace and quiet (special events excluded).
Also, horses! Did I mention the horses? I adore horses and love the chance to get up close to them. After the re-enactments, you are free to go up to the horses, pet them, and feed them treats. It was mainly little kids feeding the horses. However, I had no problem jumping right in and talking with the one gunfighter on top of a horse that was about 17 or 18 hands tall.
In non-horse geek terms, he was about six feet tall measuring to his shoulder and then his house added about another foot. I am 5’8 and I still had to reach up to pat his neck. He was stunning! There are several other horses, such as Roxy, that you can visit. During regular days, I think the animals are not publically avaiable, although you can still see the bison.
One word of caution is that it is quite a walk from the parking lot back to the main area. It wasn’t so much the distance (maybe two miles to the main village) as the fact that the roads are rocky and go up and down some steep inclines. However, the walk makes you feel like you are taking a step back in time. You’ll barely notice how far you’ve walked.
Where is it? (Map)
Shoal Creek Living History Museum in Kansas City, Missouri