Since 1821, traders on the Santa Fe Trail had brought their goods by steamboat as far up the Missouri River as possible before departing on foot and wagon for Santa Fe. Landings continued to move farther and farther west along the river and by the late 1830s Santa Fe traders disembarked here at Westport Landing – just before the river's northward bend.
Well-known travelers such as Lewis and Clark passed this way, as did French traders and settlers, entrepreneurs looking to capitalize on trading and outfitting for the trail. Major earth-moving projects made Westport Landing viable and the path from the waterfront into town included a steep incline from the river's edge. Imagine a busy river with steamboats and other watercraft pulling up to a landing that included hotels and other businesses. This was a very important stepping-off point for the Santa Fe Trail.