A Civil War History Lesson
Civil War re-enactments don't always happen in front of you. They are something you can imagine as you look back during a self-guided driving tour through modern-day Kansas City. There are plenty of historic sites and historic buildings in Kansas City to expose you to a mini Civil War history lesson.
Established in the 1970s, this 32-mile tour leads visitors past several historic buildings and through the streets of Westport and the historic Country Club Plaza; to Jacob L. Loose Memorial Park, where much of the actual Battle of Westport took place; continuing to the Battle of Westport Visitors Center, in Swope Park, where you occasionally can witness real re-enactments.
The tour includes a section of the Marlborough Heights and Red Bridge areas, and concludes at 96th Terrace and Wornall Road, in south Kansas City.
Historic Sites from Mile One On Most visitors begin the route at Marker One, located at Westport Road and Pennsylvania Avenue, in the historic Westport District. The marker stands among plenty of historic buildings, at the the site of Federal Gen. Samuel R. Curtis’s headquarters in the Harris House Hotel, across the street from Kelly’s Westport Inn Irish Pub (the oldest structure still standing in Kansas City). Westport is a haven of restaurants, bars and nightspots.
From Westport, the tour follows Broadway, past Mill Creek Park and the J.C. Nichols Fountain, into the world famous Country Club Plaza shopping, entertainment and dining district.As you envision Civil War re-enactments, the trail follows majestic Ward Parkway before ascending the rugged bluffs of Sunset Hill, which rises up from Brush Creek toward Loose Park. Originally the site of the Kansas City Country Club (from which the Country Club Plaza gets its name), the land was purchased by Loose; following his death in 1923, his wife, Ella, donated the 80-acre tract to the people of Kansas City.
Sites in Loose Park include markers depicting the respective positions of Union and Confederate troops during the battle, as well as a row of artillery at the south end of the park, along 55th Street.
Head South to More Historic Sites and Visualize Civil War Reenactments
Traveling south from Loose Park, more historic sites come into your view, including the John B. Wornall House, which was used as a field hospital and often struck by artillery shells. Wornall, who owned slaves but did his best to maintain neutrality, was the victim of numerous raids and robberies by both pro-Union and pro-secessionist forces prior to and during the war. At one point, bushwhackers attempted to hang Wornall from the balcony of his 1858 Greek Revivalist mansion.
Historic Sites in Brookside Are Next.From Wornall House, the tour heads east through the heart of Brookside, a suburban neighborhood surrounding a central shopping district built in the 1910s and 1920s, to Forest Hill Cemetery, site of Gen. Shelby's Last Stand, which today is marked by a monument. Many of Shelby’s troops are buried there. From Forest Hill, the tour comes to the Battle of Westport Visitor Center at the west entrance to Swope Park.
More Ways to Visualize Civil War Re-Enactments in MissouriFor information about events commemorating the Battle of Westport, contact the Westport Historical Society online; you may call 816-561-1821.
The Battle of Westport is just one of many Civil War tours in Missouri. See more historic sites and historic buildings from Missouri Civil War sites of note, including: Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield, in Republic, near Springfield, and the Battle of Lexington. A collection of Missouri Civil War-related tours and events is available online, at the Missouri Civil War 150 website.A map of this route is available on the Battle of Westport Visitors Center's website.