Friday, June 19, 2015

Sightseeing and Shopping – Kirkwood Missouri

Laurie and I met in the St. Louis Missouri area on a blind date over 37 years ago…and all of her immediate family still resides in the metropolitan area.  Needless to say, we have close ties to this part of Missouri. 

Kirkwood is one of the larger and better known suburbs that constitute the ‘greater’ St. Louis.  Amazingly, St. Louis County is made up with a total of 93 separate towns and that doesn’t even include the City itself which is a separate entity.

This handsome depot at 110 West Argonne Drive in old downtown Kirkwood is a living breathing Amtrak station on the main line between St. Louis and Kansas City.  The depot was built by the Missouri-Pacific Railway 122 years ago…back in 1893.

There are a number of railway related displays inside the station.  Among them are a large number of model railroad locomotives, passenger cars and related ephemera.  There was a constant flow of curious visitors in and out of the depot during my time on the premises.  As this is a busy main line for the railroad, there were a couple of train ‘watchers’ just enjoying their hobby as well…

This is part of the Amtrak waiting area in the station. 

Back in 2002, Amtrak was considering closing the Kirkwood Train Station as part of on-going cost-cutting efforts.  The City of Kirkwood didn’t want to lose this key ingredient in the overall hometown ‘feel’ of the downtown area.  So the city negotiated with Amtrak to purchase and staff the station and it has done so since April 2003.  At the beginning the city issued a call for volunteers to man the station…and nearly 200 people responded!

Today the station is staffed by a dedicated group of volunteers who answer questions about schedules and the sights and scenes in Kirkwood, help passengers embark, issue parking passes and keep the station open from approximately an hour prior to the first passenger train of the day until about an hour after the last one.  The volunteers do not sell tickets or collect any payment but as you can see to the left of the photo, there is an automated ticket vending machine on premises.

In 2009, downtown Kirkwood was added to the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places.  The area near the railroad depot includes a wide variety of shops and places to dine. 

Kirkwood is an ‘inner-ring’ suburb of St. Louis.  The city’s population is roughly 27,500.  The town was founded in 1853.  Given the town’s commitment to the railway and the depot, it’s appropriate that it was named after James Pugh Kirkwood, the builder of the Pacific Railroad through that town.

Factoid: Actor Scott Bakula, "Quantum Leap", "Star Trek: Enterprise" and NCIS: New Orleans, is from Kirkwood.

For the most part, I hung around the depot or wandered the streets nearby watching people… However, despite the fact that soap and candle stores are usually the types of places that I avoid, (the scents can be overwhelming), I did venture into the store shown above.

This store occupies one of the buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places in downtown Kirkwood.  This is Old Firehouse #1, which was built in 1920. 

I must admit that this was an interesting store... We were treated to an educational tour of the factory portion of “sammysoap” by a very well informed and dedicated employee who actually makes the soap.  One of the photos in this collage shows the natural oils used to impart the desired scents and another photo shows many of the other ingredients used in the process.  Examples of the latter include such items as turmeric, calendula, parsley and black cohosh root… The cost for some of the oils used were in the hundreds of dollars! 

This store’s natural artisan soaps are made from organic or ‘wild crafted’ ingredients wherever possible.  Every bar is cruelty free, chemical free, vegan, never synthetic and made in small batches.  To quote from the website, “…each bar of sammysoap is packed with purpose.  Sammysoap is a job creation machine for adults with developmental disabilities disguised as the world's best soap company.  We are not a training facility.  We are not an agency or a not-for-profit.  We are not supported by local, state or federally funded programs of any kind.  We provide real, gainful employment to adults who need jobs and want bigger lives."

What a concept… Helping people by making safe and useful products while making a profit too!  The “sammysoap” Store and Factory is located at 123 West Argonne Drive in Kirkwood Missouri.  Phone: 314 287-7020.  Website:

This is a view of the railroad side of West Argonne Drive.  It’s another series of shops…too ‘girly’ for me to shop in…but occupying and repurposing another long and historic structure.  This is probably the only area that Laurie and I visited during our 2-week trip where there were ‘enough’ shops to satisfy her ‘shopping’ urges.  She loves to look even when she isn’t buying much. 

To learn more about the restaurants, shops and events in downtown Kirkwood Missouri, just go to

I just had to throw in this photo of Laurie’s great nephews Collin and Keaton enjoying their flavored ices in Kirkwood.  Their dad Kyle is sitting in the background. 

It’s obvious that I like trains…as well as planes, ships and automobiles.  In this case, the ladies were still shopping when Amtrak’s “Missouri River Runner” stopped at the Kirkwood Depot on its westerly run to Kansas City Missouri.
The Missouri River Runner is a 283-mile passenger train route operated by Amtrak running between the Gateway Multimodal Transportation Center in St. Louis and Kansas City Missouri’s Union Station.  Four trains, 2 westbound and 2 eastbound, operate daily.  Stops between St. Louis and Kansas City are in Kirkwood, Washington, Hermann, Jefferson City, Sedalia, Warrensburg, Lee’s Summit and Independence.

WOW!  Look at the crowd getting on the train!  I haven’t seen this many passengers boarding a train since we lived in Chicago… It was the Memorial Day weekend so that probably upped the number of Amtrak patrons for the day.  In 2013, 59,770 passengers passed through this station.  A total of 199,470 passengers rode the “Missouri River Runner” in 2013, for an average of 546 passengers per day.

That’s about it for now.  Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by to see what we’ve been doing!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave


  1. Funny with the crowd going to board the train, we see that every day here, and it seemed so weird from L'ville, where we only saw freight trains. That's a pretty handsome depot, with the brick sidewalk! Thanks for sharing, Dave! Happy Father's Day!

  2. Dear Dave, I am glad you had a nice visit in Missouri. It is nice to see family and enjoy.
    I wish you a very Happy Father's Day. Blessings, Catherine

  3. I really like the station inside, especially the seats. I'm surprised, and pleased, to see so many folks getting on the train.

  4. David ! Happy Father´s day!!!!
    hugs dear!