Fort Osage was the first outpost of the United States in the Louisiana purchased territory It was established in 1808 by William Clark for the protection and promotion of trade "with the Osage Indians. Until 1819, when the garrison was moved to Council Bluffs, Fort Osage was the westernmost fortified outpost of the U.S. Government's Factory system.
This system established 28 government supervised trading posts with the intent of preventing exploitation of the Indian trade by individual traders. Fort Osage was one of the most successful trading houses in the factory system.
The fort was built by the men of the 1st Regiment, U.S. Infantry, who travelled in six keelboats up the Missouri River under the command of Captain Eli demon, while the St. Charles Dragoons, under General William Clark, marched overland to the site. Four of the keelboats carried $20,000.00 worth of merchandise belonging to George C. Sibley, who was the chief factor, or trader, at the post.
A vital part of the success of the factory was the trader's access to the river where incoming and outgoing goods were received and dispatched. Sibley built his factory so as to have access to the river through his second basement. Remnants of the Ferry Road are included in the Fort Osage District. It is "believed that two of the most significant treaties in the history of Missouri were signed at the Fort between the Osage and the U.S. Government. On September 11th, 1808, the Osage ceded all of their lands east of a line running south of the Fort to the Arkansas River. A later treaty, signed on November 11 of the same year, further granted to the U.S. all of the Osage land claims north of the Missouri, while the annunity for the cessions was established at $1,000.00 for the Great Osage Tribe, and half that amount for the Little Osage.
The fort was closed during the War of 1812 and was regarrisoned in 1812. In 1822, the trading house was closed due to the abandonment of the factory trading system by the Government.
Fort Osage is at the north city limits of Sibley, Missouri, 14 miles northeast of Independence. It was built in 1808 to fulfill one of the provisions of a treaty between the Osage Indians and the United States. It was sited on a high bluff on the right bank of a big bend of the Missouri River so that the river could be used both for transit and protection. The fort was the westernmost fur trading factory of the U. S. factory system and, due to the efforts of factor George Champlin Sibley, the only profitable one. Fort Osage was also for a time the westernmost U.S. military post. According to the terms of the treaty, the fort was a trade center for the Osage, Kansa, and other regional tribes, and it was also a convenient rendezvous for trappers, mountainmen, and explorers. It became a transition point between overland routes to the west and southwest and waterborne routes on the Missouri River to the east. The U.S. government officially closed the fort in 1822, and Sibley attempted to operate it as a private trading enterprise from 1822 to 1824 but failed. Westward migrants stopped at Fort Osage as it was the last servicing point they would have on their Journey. Remants of the Santa Fe Trail are still to be seen in the District today.
Fort Osage was the point from which distances on the Santa Fe Trail were measured by the Federal Survey in 1825. The official U.S. government survey of the Santa Fe Trail in 1825-27, which was headed by Sibley, began 1.75 miles south of Fort Osage, where the Osage Trace crossed the eastern boundary of Indian lands as defined by the 1808 treaty. The survey starting point is commemorated in place names that endure today, such as 110 Mile Creek and 142 Mile Creek. Sibley completed the 165 miles from eastern Jackson County to west of Council Grove in 1827. Fort Osage lasted for a few years as the embarkation point for westward travel on the Santa Fe Trail, but it was soon succeeded by Independence. Today the fort has been partially restored as a Jackson County park.
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