KEARNEY, Mo. — Your first must see is the James Farm. This is where notorious outlaw Jesse James was born, and his family lived here for more than 100 years. This is one of the oldest buildings in Kearney, as this log cabin was built in 1822.
The James family bought this cabin and moved in in 1845. After his death, James was buried on this land and his mom charged tourists a quarter to take a rock from his gravesite. The James family moved out in 1954 and it sat vacant for 20 years before Clay County bought the cabin and turned it into a tourist attraction, adding a museum on the property to display family mementos.
Inside, you’ll find Jesse’s guns, his boots, his pocket watch – even the table he was embalmed on. Jesse’s no longer here – they moved his casket to a nearby cemetery so he could be buried with his wife. People from all over the world come to learn about their exploits. They are credited with 27 robberies over a 17-year period. The museum is open year round and costs $9 a person.
If you come to the Kearney Historical Museum, you can see the safe where Frank James ashes were kept for 30 years! They were stored in the bottom compartment of this vault in a bank across the street from 1915 until 1944, when his wife died and their ashes were buried together.
There are a ton of other artifacts you can see detailing the history of Kearney. Many believe the town was named after Charles Edmund Kearney, the man who convinced investors to build a railroad bridge over the Missouri River, connecting Kansas City with Cameron.
The area in between those two cities had a ton of cattle needing transport and a good source of water, so in 1869, they built a depot and a town grew out from there. In 2006, some residents came together to build a downtown museum that would honor their history. It is run by volunteers and open Fridays and Saturdays. It’s free to get in.
For the kids, you’ll want to take them to the Fun Farm. The strawberries are in season for just two more weeks, and you can come out with the family and pick your own. Yum! They are $5 a pound and as fresh as you can get.
Fun Farm is the brainchild of Tom and Anna Christopher. They own a farm in nearby Lathrop and used to sell their produce at Farmer’s Markets and Roadside stands. Tired of hauling their produce everywhere, they bought 310 acres in Kearney in 2013 and transformed it into an agricultural playground.
Besides selling fresh produce that they grow here, they also have miniature animals, slides, a ropes course, treehouses, apple blasters, a carousel – all kinds of fun things to do. The cost is $25 a person and you’d better hurry, because the strawberry season is almost over. Then they’ll close down until mid-August for apple and pumpkins.
Before you leave town, you’ve got to stop by D’Creamery, the only hand scoop ice cream shop in town. The D in D’Creamery stands for Dallas Hoffman, the brainchild behind this place and he makes the ice cream from scratch, offering unique flavors like Rice Krispy Candy. Delicious!
Dallas and his wife Lisa opened D’Creamery six years ago at a different location in Kearney. But when the owners of a nearby plaza offered to financially back them if they would move, they went all in and added a restaurant to their Creamery.
Dallas makes everything from scratch, like the Gump Burger. It’s not named after the movie Forrest Gump. It’s because his grandkids call him Gump for grandpa. They also have a collection of cookie jars on the wall once owned by Walt Disney. It’s the perfect way to end a fun day in Kearney.