As will happen on most good road trips, we find ourselves back on Historic Route 66.
This time, we are looking at a piece of history that did indeed take place near this scenic byway: the legend of Jesse James, the infamous train/bank/post office robber and murderer of the wild west. Off of Route 66 is the JESSE JAMES WAX MUSEUM- I-44, Exit #230, Stanton, MO 63079
This museum is dedicated to correcting what they feel is the wrong ending to the legend of Jesse James. Jesse James was born in 1847 and the majority’s consensus is that James was shot to death in 1882 by a member of his gang named Bob Ford.
… BUT…. you saw the big “but” coming, I know you did…
In the early 1950s, however, a very old man calling himself J. Frank Dalton came forward claiming to be the real Jesse James and that the man killed in 1882 was someone he knew posing at him. The claimant died shortly after he came forward (he WAS 103 years old, after all! If he was telling the truth…). The question the museum poses is this: was James killed in 1882 by Bob Ford or did he die of natural causes in 1951?
Pictures were not allowed in the museum, but there is a small gift shop when you first walk in that sells Jesse James books and other paraphernalia, as well as Route 66 and western-themed keepsakes.
Overall, the museum was very thought-provoking on the potential that Jesse James orchestrated his fake death and completely got away with it, living to be much older than the average human. The museum was, in my personal opinion, a little disorganized in that they put items from the era throughout the museum that turned out to have no connection to Jesse James other than it would have been around at the same time; a separate section of perhaps “Getting a Feel for the Time Period” for these things might have made more sense to me. I also would like to have seen more about the actual sequence of events on that day in 1882 and the arguments for or against the conspiracy.
That being said, it is still a good stop for an education and sparking discussions regarding a lesser known mystery, and it has a very iconic Route 66 feel. If you find yourself in the area, stop by and consider the possibility of Jesse James being one of the most notorious bank robbers turned prolific master of disguise.
Until next time, dahlings…