Monday, March 21, 2016

Missouri Railroad Depots Along the Way

Last November Laurie and I made our family pilgrimage to St. Louis to visit her family and then onto Omaha to have Thanksgiving with our son and the family…

Of course, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to seek out and photograph old railroad depots along the way…

When we explored a bit of St. Charles Missouri, we encountered our first old railroad depot on the trip.

The well maintained and appropriately decorated depot in St. Charles is adjacent to the historic downtown and it’s quite close to the banks of the Missouri River.  This KATY/Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railroad Depot was built in 1892 and the last train that served it departed back in 1958.  The depot was relocated to its current location in St. Charles’ Frontier Park in 1979 where it was refurbished and is now a centerpiece for that park.

The depot now belongs to the St. Charles Department of Parks and Recreation.   It is home to various events during the year and one end of the building can be rented for special events.

And it seems that so many old depots these days are accompanied by an old caboose.  They are relatively easy to come by as thousands of them were in use at the end of every freight train until the 1980s.  That’s when safety laws requiring the presence of cabooses and full crews were relaxed and they fell into disuse.  This one is in keeping with the depot as it was an ‘extended vision’ KATY caboose.

If you’d like to buy your own 'antique' caboose, depending on the condition, they seem to range in price from about $3,000 up to around $50,000.  To check out one on-line catalog, you can just go to

The St. Charles KATY depot has not one, but rather two cabooses displayed nearby.  This is an old ‘standard’ or ‘cupola’ style Wabash Railroad unit. 
The Wabash Railroad was a Class I railroad that operated in the mid-central United States.  It had track in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, and Missouri and the province of Ontario.  The Wabash's major freight traffic advantage was the direct line from Kansas City to Detroit, without going through St. Louis or Chicago…hence the St. Charles connection.

This unnamed extended view caboose sits across the street from the old Higginsville Missouri railroad depot.  I couldn’t identify the railroad that operated this caboose based on the paint scheme.  There were just too many color variations over the years by the different railroads across the country.

This relatively rare ‘stick style’ and well preserved depot was built in 1889.  It was constructed for the Chicago and Alton Railroad but it also served the Lexington and Sedalia, Gulf, Mobile and Ohio and the Illinois Central Gulf Railroads.  Today, the building houses the Harvey Higgins Historical Society headquarters and railroad museum. 

During the period from 1890-1937, the Higginsville Depot provided freight service to the Higginsville Flour Mill, the International Shoe Co., and 3 large coal companies.  It was also an important passenger terminal with 10 passenger trains stopping each day.  Trains rolled through Higginsville 24-hours a day.  The depot was manned by a staff of three telegraph operators, a cashier, and a clerk.

Note: Stick style architecture is named after its use of linear "stickwork" (overlay board strips) on the outside walls to mimic an exposed half-timbered structure.

No...this isn't another depot!  As we cruised the back roads/secondary highways, ambling in the direction of Omaha Nebraska, we drove through Lexington Missouri.  I saw signs referring to the Battle of Lexington State Historic Site so I decided to have a look at the site.

Laurie rightly pointed out that we didn’t have time to visit this historic site and I had to agree…but it’s on my list for our next trip to Omaha!  This part of Missouri was sympathetic to the Confederacy during the Civil War and a victory here by Confederate Missouri State Guard over a Union Army force in September of 1861 gave the South short lived hope in their struggle against the North.

The website for Missouri’s Battle of Lexington State Historic Site can be found at  Over 28,000 visitors stopped by this site in 2014!

This very old and decrepit combination depot is located at the corner of East 4th Street and Main Street in Henrietta Missouri.  This classic depot was built ca. 1902 and it used to be the Wabash Railroad Depot serving Missouri City Missouri. 

It was purchased in the early 1990s and then moved to Henrietta.  It operated as a restaurant for a short time and later the city took possession of the building.  This old depot is now the property of the owner of a short-line rail operation and railway salvage company.  He bought it with a long range plan to refurbish it…but there hasn’t been any progress so far. (Someone needs to save this depot!)

The town of Henrietta has a second depot as well.  This all brick former Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe combination depot apparently still serves as a line office for what is now called BNSF/Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railroad.  I was unable to determine the date that this depot was built but given the design, it had to be early in the 1900s.  I did find a nifty black and white photo on line showing the depot in use back in 1943.  To check it out, go to

Henrietta was laid out by its founder, Henrietta Watkins in 1868.  The current population is roughly 365 residents…

Timing is everything and I’m fairly fortunate when it comes to timing my depot photos just as a big freight train roars by!  This one had the ‘hammer down’ and he was flying along the tracks…

 America’s $60,000,000,000 rail freight industry includes 140,000 rail miles operated by seven Class I railroads, 21 regional railroads, and 510 local railroads.  Not only does our rail system move more freight than any other freight rail system in the world but it also provides 221,000 jobs across the country.  Other benefits include significant reductions in road congestion, highway fatalities, fuel consumption and greenhouse gasses, logistics costs, and public infrastructure maintenance costs.

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

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave


  1. Neat collection of old railroad depots... As you know, I too love trains and have so many great memories of riding trains when I was young...

    I never thought of checking out depots in various towns when we travel --but at one time, I took pictures of courthouses in the towns in Georgia when we were traveling... That is an interesting project also.

    Have a great week.

  2. Always nice when you get the bonus train to come by.

  3. The railroad depots provides so much history and charm to the landscape. I really enjoyed your post. Thanks for sharing.


  4. You really hit the jackpot this time with the train.

  5. Sir, love your site. I also shoot whatever stations and depots I can find. The black caboose with the yellow and red stripes is in the livery of Kansas City Southern, their "Southern Belle" scheme. You hit it on the head that there were so many railroads with so many liveries. Mix in mergers and corporate makeovers, it can be a challenge to figure out what caboose is whose and if it belongs where one sees it. KSC expanded greatly in the 1990s to achieve its place as one of the 'Big 5.' Here is the corporate site map:
    h t t p s://www.kcsouthern dot com/work-with-us/partners/network-map