13 Excellent President Truman Attractions in Missouri | A Harry Truman Trail Road trip

Last updated on March 27th, 2024 at 10:48 pm.

The only president born in Missouri, Harry S. Truman attractions can be found throughout the Show-Me State. Truman called Independence, Missouri home and this historic small town, just 15 minutes from Kansas City is where the majority of Truman sites are located. This article lists some of the best Truman attractions in Missouri that are definitely worth a visit.

President Harry S Truman served as the 33rd president of the United States; from Franklin Roosevelt’s death in 1945 until 1953, having previously served as Roosevelt’s vice president and as a United States Senator representing Missouri.

Harry Truman with Secret Service

He is remembered as one of the nation’s most important and well-known presidents, having been in office for all or part of a number of important conflicts and events, including World War II, the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Korean War, the Berlin Airlift, the Marshall Plan, and the beginning of the Cold War.

He was also a veteran, having served as a captain in the Field Artillery in France during World War I.

Photo of Truman from War at the Truman Library

He is also notable for advancing civil rights in the United States in spite of his personal prejudices, which historical research suggests he was able to partially overcome over the course of his life through self-education and reflection.

In spite of his achievements, Truman was not a universally beloved president in his own time—Eisenhower’s presidential campaign leaned heavily on criticisms of Truman’s administration.

However, subsequent political inquiry into Truman’s presidency has led to a revised appreciation of his political career, and he is now regarded as one of America’s greatest presidents.

Truman’s legacy and popularity are commemorated by a number of historic landmarks related to his life and career, as well as a variety of institutions that bear his name.

President Truman Attractions In Missouri

Harry Truman

We are highlighting some of the most important Harry Truman places in Missouri. This could easily be a two-day road trip or you can simply visit the majority of the locations in and near Independence, Missouri in one day.

So, here we go with our list of the best Truman landmarks and tourist attractions in Missouri.

1. Truman’s Birthplace in Lamar

Future president Harry S Truman was born in a small, 1 ½-story farmhouse in Lamar, Missouri, on May 8, 1884. The house in which he was born has since become a historic site that is open to the public. The house was purchased by the state of Missouri in 1957, and in 1959, Truman himself attended its dedication as a state historic site.

The Harry Truman birthplace is now maintained by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. Visitors can tour the home, which is restored and furnished to appear as it would have when Truman was growing up there in the late 1800s.

The family lived in Lamar until Harry was ten months old, when they moved to a farm near Harrisonville, Missouri. They next moved to Belton and in 1887 to his grandparents’ 600-acre farm in Grandview.

While he lived on the farm for less than a year, it’s a great stop as the first part of the Truman trail.

Address: 1009 Truman St #1543, Lamar, MO 64759

2. Truman Farm in Grandview

Truman Farm in Grandview, MO

Harry Truman spent 11 years on the farm in Grandview. The farm was originally 600 acres. Today, the Truman Farm home and surrounding 10 acres are preserved and part of the Harry S Truman National Historic Site.

The house had no electricity or indoor plumbing. Truman worked the farm with his family and it’s said they worked 12-14 hour days that began at 5am.

Life on Truman farm information
circa-era Sewing Machine at home
circa-era Sewing Machine at home
Heater at main level of Truman home

“While we would have liked very much to have kept the farm as home and have used it and run it as a farm, we know very well that process pays too much attention to the individual,”

… said Truman after leaving the White House.

In June 1917, Truman enlisted in the National Guard and he left the farm for service in France. He returned to the farm when his duty in Army ended on May 6, 1919, and lived there until he married Bess Wallace on June 28, 1919.

The Truman farm home is run by the national park service.

Address: 12301 Blue Ridge Ext, Grandview, MO 64030-1159

Truman Attractions in Independence

Independence is home to many spots on the Truman presidential trail; most notably the Truman Presidential Library.

Below, I have highlighted some of my favorite Harry Truman locations in Independence.

Historic Truman Depot in Independence sign

The city of Independence is the most important place in Missouri to visit and learn about Harry and his wife, Bess Truman. The town is also home to a large number of additional Missouri landmarks and tourist attractions.

Truman mural in Independence, MO

3. Truman Walking Trail

Truman Walking Trail

Throughout his life, President Truman enjoyed a fast-paced walk everywhere he went. To honor his enduring love of walking and history, the town of Independence put together the Truman Historic Walking Trail. It starts at the Truman Home Visitor Center at Main Street and Truman Road.

The 2.7-mile Truman trail includes 43 stops, featuring important places in the life of President Harry S. Truman. Included along the way are landmarks and homes of Truman’s friends and associates, each marked by a plaque noting its significance.

4. Independence Visitor Center

Independence Visitor Center

Your first stop should be the Independence Visitor Center. You can pick up a free ticket for a ranger-led guided tour of the Truman home as well as watch a short film on President Truman and his wife Bess.

Visitor Experience Center Truman display

The Visitor Experience Center also has a display of Truman family and artifacts as well as maps about the Lewis and Clark Trail as well as the Santa Fe Trail.

Address: 223 N Main St, Independence, MO 64050

Note: If you put “Independence Visitor Center” into your GPS/phone it will most likely take you to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Walnut Street. So, make sure to use the above address.

5. Truman’s Home in Independence

Truman’s Home in Independence at 219 North Delaware Street

The home in Independence is where Harry Truman lived for much of his life and is preserved as a national historic site. Truman lived in the home before, during, and after his presidency with his wife, Bess, from the time of their marriage in 1919 to his death in 1972.

The beautiful Victorian home was also the site of the Trumans’ wedding reception.

Even while living in the White House during Truman’s presidency, the couple frequently visited the Missouri property, which was sometimes referred to as their “Summer White House” or the Harry S Truman little white house.

Visitors to the Harry S Truman National Historic Site home can view a host of Truman Family artifacts and get a sense of the simple life Truman and his family endeavored to maintain even after his tenure as president.

The site offers free guided tours on a first-come, first-served basis (but you must get a ticket in advance from the visitor’s center).

Address: 219 North Delaware Street, Independence, MO 64050

6. The Noland Home

The Noland Home

Just across from the Truman home is The Noland Home. This is where Harry Truman’s aunt and uncle lived, as well as some of his favorite cousins. If they didn’t live there, he may have never met his future wife.

The story goes that Harry walked across the street to return a borrowed cake pan for his aunt and met Bess at the door and fell for her on the spot. He frequently visited this home after that so he could see Bess.

The Noland Home plaque

The home is part of the Harry S Truman National Historic Site. The home was built in 1858 and is open to the public for self-guided tours.

There is also information on Truman’s family life, political life and a few iconic items such as a replica of a home phone, his hat, and cane.

The Noland Home front room

Each room of the house has been turned into a gallery that showcases photos with boards sharing information from Truman’s life in Washington D.C. as well as Independence.

Noland House display of Truman
Noland House display of Truman

The home also plays a video of Truman’s daughter Margaret interviewing Harry and Bess on May 27, 1955, on the television show “Person to Person”. During the interview, Margaret is in New York and the Trumans are at their home on Delaware Street.

Margaret interviewing Harry and Bess on May 27, 1955 on the television show "Person to Person"
Margaret Truman interviewing her parents, Harry and Bess on the television show “Person to Person”

Address: 216 N Delaware St, Independence, MO 64050

7. Truman Courthouse and Statue

Independence  Courthouse where Truman was a judge

In addition to being the location of President Truman’s home, Independence is home to the historic Jackson County Courthouse, also known as the Truman Courthouse.

Before becoming president, Truman served as the Presiding Judge of Jackson County in this very courthouse. The building is now a historic site and houses a history center and the Jackson County Museum of Art.

Moreover, visitors to the courthouse can see Truman’s own office and the courtroom in which he presided. The grounds also feature statues of Presidents Truman and Jackson. Just like Truman’s home, the courthouse offers free guided tours.

The courthouse is located in Independence square.

8. Harry S Truman Presidential Library and Museum in Independence

Harry Truman after winning election

Also, located in Independence, the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum was established in 1957 to preserve and display materials and artifacts related to Truman’s life and presidency.

A massive 29 million dollar renovation of the museum, saw the re-opening in July of 2021 with a new museum entrance and permanent exhibition in celebration of the 75th anniversary of Truman’s ascension to the presidency.

The museum’s mission is to educate modern audiences on the topics of history, politics, and citizenship through the example of President Truman. Visitors will encounter the papers, books, and correspondences of the president, as well as the White House files of his administration.

The Museum includes sections devoted to all parts of Truman’s life, marriage, presidency, and beyond. There are a wide array of TV clips, movies, headlines, and more media that share world events, presidential speeches and so much more.

There are rooms devoted to his time in the military as well as displays for wars in his lifetime.

The museum has a replica of Truman’s White House Oval Office.

Truman Oval Office replica

Truman Library exhibits also include a room devoted to his family life and many of the love letters written to Bess. A room devoted to his time as an owner of a Kansas City haberdashery.

The lower level of the museum is a special exhibit of portraits by George W. Bush as well as a collection of some of Truman’s cars.

Truman's Office at the Library in Independence

In a separate building on the grounds, you’ll find Truman’s office. This is where he worked from the time the museum opened.

Truman’s goal for the library was for it to be a center to study the presidency. His mission was for his papers to be accessible to researchers and for people to learn about U.S. history and government. The research rooms with the Truman archives are still open to the public, Monday through Friday by appointment.

Owned and operated by the federal government, the Harry S. Truman presidential library is considered an important institution for posterity and research.

The Truman Library and Museum’s hours are 9 am to 5 pm, Monday through Saturday, and noon to 5 pm on Sunday.

9. Harry Truman’s Resting Place and Eternal Flame

Harry Truman and Bess Truman Resting Place

President Truman, his wife Bess, their daughter Margaret, and Margaret’s husband are buried in the Truman Presidential library’s courtyard.

Harry Truman Eternal Flame

Also in the courtyard is an eternal flame of freedom in memory of Harry Truman.

Address: 500 W. U.S. Highway 24. Independence, Missouri 64050

10. Dixon’s – Truman’s Favorite Restaurant

Dixon’s - Truman’s Favorite Restaurant

This chili restaurant started as a street cart in downtown Kansas City at the turn of the century, operated by its founder, Vergne Dixon. It was first established as a restaurant in 1919, and since then, it has remained a family business, handed off through the generations.

Dixons Chili

In 1961, Vergne’s nephew, Leonard Totta, opened a new location in Independence that was to become President Truman’s favorite restaurant. Truman patronized the restaurant before, during, and after his presidency, and his love of Dixon’s chili contributed to its success and fame.

He once visited the restaurant with a retinue of Secret Service agents, resulting in Life Magazine publishing a story about his affinity for the chili. He was known to frequently order takeout chili from Dixon’s while visiting Independence during his presidency and was once quoted as saying, “There is nothing more I’d rather have than a spread at Dixon’s Chili.”

Diners at Dixon’s should be prepared to pay a 15-cent fine if they ask for ketchup—a tradition descending from the founder’s fastidiousness about his chili recipe.

Address: 9105 E US Hwy 40, Independence, MO 64055

11. Historic Truman Depot in Independence

Historic Truman Depot in Independence

Officially called the Missouri Pacific Depot, this historic site was dubbed the Truman Depot because it was the last stop on Truman’s journey home to Independence after leaving office.

Historic Truman Depot

When he departed the train at the depot, a crowd of 8,500 admirers was there to welcome him back to his hometown after serving his country.

During his campaign for a 2nd term, Truman’s arrival at the depot marked the end of his whistle-stop tour, during which he traveled across the country by train, giving speeches from the train’s rear platform in stations and depots all around the U.S.

Truman’s whistle-stop campaign is perhaps the most well-known example of the once-common practice, and the famous photograph of Truman displaying a newspaper with the headline “Dewey Defeats Truman” was taken aboard the same train on which he arrived at this depot in 1953.

The depot still functions as an Amtrak station, meaning it is still possible to ride a train that passes through the depot.

12. Important Churches in Truman’s Life – Independence

First Presbyterian Church of Independence

Two churches that played important roles in the life of young future-president Harry Truman still stand in Independence. The first is the First Presbyterian Church of Independence, where Truman attended Sunday School as a boy. Some say Harry first met Bess here, but many stories document he first met her at her parent’s house as stated above. The First Presbyterian Church offers tours, but requests visitors call ahead a week or two in advance.

Harry & Bess Truman wedding day photo

The second church is Trinity Episcopal Church, where Truman and Bess were married on June 28, 1919. The church was built in 1881 and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.

Related Article: Also in Independence is the 1859 Independence Missouri Jail Museum where Confederate guerrilla leader William Quantrill and the outlaw Frank James were incarcerated.

13. Harry S. Truman coin collection in Kansas City

Truman coin collection

The Truman coin collection is located at the Money Museum located in the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.

The Harry S. Truman coin collection is a replacement for a similar collection that was stolen in 1962 from John Snyder, who was Truman’s treasury secretary. The Truman collection was originally created in 1964 and was located at the Truman Library. The library has loaned to the Money Museum the majority of the collection.

There are currently more than 450 coins in the collection that date back to the USA’s formation. New coins are added for each new president.

Truman office at Federal Reserve

Interestingly, after his second term as president of the United States, Harry Truman leased office space in 1953 on the 11th floor of the original Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City which was located on Grand Avenue in downtown Kansas City. It was here he wrote the two-volume set of memoirs, Years of Decision and Years of Trial and Hope.

When the Truman Library opened in 1957, he moved his office to the library in Independence.

Location: 1 Memorial Drive, Kansas City, MO 64198

14. Harry S Truman State Park and Truman Lake in Warsaw

The Harry S Truman State Park is a 1,440-acre public recreation area near Warsaw, Missouri. It offers a host of natural recreation activities, including hiking, camping, swimming, boating, and fishing.

One of 92 Missouri State Parks, the Truman State Park is located on a peninsula jutting into Truman Lake, a 55,600-acre manmade lake on the Osage River. The lake was built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; although it had a different name when construction began in 1964, Congress renamed it the Harry S Truman Dam and Reservoir in honor of the former president in 1970, nine years before its completion in 1979.

If you visit, a fun hike is Bluff Ridge Trail. This is a 1.9-mile loop trail that includes an oak-hickory woodland and a bluff outcropping overlooking a portion of the 55,600-acre Truman Lake.

Another pretty, but easy hike is the 0.9-mile loop trail called the 1000th mile trail. This trail is well-marked and has great views of the lake, dam, and a mile-long bridge.

The reservoir’s dam is used for flood control, power generation, and wildlife management in addition to facilitating public recreation. The state park also hosts a visitor’s center that features exhibits on the area’s cultural and natural history, as well as information on the construction of the dam and powerhouse.

Truman Day – State-wide Holiday

Young Harry Truman

Truman Day, celebrated on May 8th, is a holiday commemorating the birthday of President Truman. Truman Day is a state holiday in Missouri, and it is also celebrated at a national level by the Democratic Party.

The statute codifying Truman Day as an annual holiday was established in 1967 to honor his distinguished public service and the fact that Truman remains, as yet, “the only Missourian ever to be elected to this high office.”

Each year on or around Truman Day, people and institutions throughout Missouri celebrate the life and career of the former president with various remembrances and activities.

As one might imagine, the festivities are especially lively in Independence.

Additionally, the Harry S Truman Birthplace Historic Site, the Harry S Truman National Historic Site (Truman’s home), and the Truman Presidential Library typically host special celebratory and educational activities.

What Does The S Stand for in Harry S Truman?

Truman baby photo

The S in Harry S Truman is just an initial and does not stand for a name. Instead, the initial S in Truman’s name is in honor of his two grandfathers; Anderson Shipp Truman and Solomon Young.

5 Great Harry S Truman Quotes

President Harry Truman is one of the most quoted presidents of all time. Below are a few of our favorite Truman quotes.

Harry Truman Political Quote about Congress
  • “Not all readers become leaders, but all leaders must be readers.”
  • “My definition of a leader in a free country is a man who can persuade people to do what they don’t want to do and like it.”
  • “Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better.”
  • “America was not built on fear. America was built on courage, on imagination and an unbeatable determination to do the job at hand.”
  • “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.”

We also have a list of 30+ Best Harry Truman Quotes about life and politics as well as the 7 Greatest Movies About Harry Truman.

If you are interested in more about Mr. Truman, we recommend the pulitzer prize winning book entitled Truman by David Mccullough.

Truman by David McCullough

We hope you enjoyed this article about the best Truman landmarks and tourist attractions in Missouri. Which have you visited? Please let us know in the comments below.

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