Friday, September 29, 2023

Road Trip – Missouri (Part 10)

…continuing with our back road adventures in Missouri, this time focusing on the northern tier of the state close to US Hwy 36, a 4-lane highway that is mostly not a limited access roadway.  The speed limit is 65 mph vs. 70 on I-70 further south, but the lack of traffic and trucks plus a smoother roadbed, makes this our preferred route across Missouri to I-29 North to Iowa and Omaha Nebraska.

I’ll take up where I left off on my last post about our road trip…in Marceline Missouri. This post may be ‘just a bit long’, even for me.

The photo above shows the first Marceline Santa Fe Railroad depot, a frame structure that served the down for over 20 years.

In the early to mid-1800s, the area where Marceline has been established was open with farms and cattle across the prairie.  Then, one day in 1886 representatives from the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe (aka the Santa Fe Railroad), turned up in the neighborhood offering enticing prices for land, obtaining contracts as needed.  In 1887, the Missouri Division Point for the route on the line between Kansas City and Chicago was platted and, in January 1888, the first town lot was sold in the city of Marceline.

The town was named for the wife of one of the directors of the railroad, whose Spanish name was “Marcelina”.  The city became a boomtown almost overnight.  It grew so fast that only 6 months after that first lot sold, Marceline had 2,500 residents.  Today, the city has a population of 2,123.

This handsome new Santa Fe Passenger station and office building replaced that old frame depot.  This sold brick structure was dedicated in April of 1913.  At that point, Marceline had only existed for 25 years…and now it had a first class passenger depot.  It had 107 windows and over 200 – 100 watt lights.

In the early 1900s, the railroad also built a separate structure which was called “The Reading Room”.  Santa Fe employees could go there, read books or play the piano.  It was featured in a 1909 edition of the Santa Fe railroad worker magazine.  Occasionally special performances were staged there.  Marceline enjoyed special appearances from people like Shirley Temple, Mae West, W.C. Fields and Clark Gable.  In return the performers would travel on the Santa Fe for free.  Sadly, by the 1940s, the Reading Room was gone…

The Marceline Santa Fe Depot closed in the 1980s, with the last Amtrak Passenger train stopping here at the unmanned depot in 1997.  After standing empty for a couple of years, in 1999 the depot was purchased and converted into a museum, which opened in 2001.  More on that to follow... That double set of tracks is quite busy though.  Three or four freight trains roared by during our visit.

The EP Ripley Park, adjacent to the old but renovated museum, contains two pieces of railroad equipment that are of interest to railroad fans around the country. 

This is not a coal burning locomotive but rather an oil burning version.  Locomotive #2546 is a Consolidation type (2-8-0) engine built in 1911 by the Alco Locomotive Works for the Kansas City, Mexico and Orient Railway.  It was sold to the Santa Fe Railroad in 1927.  The locomotive weighs almost 112 tons and the tender weighs about the same.  The tender could hold 8,000 gallons of water and 3,657 gallons of oil. 

Locomotive #2546 was donated to the City of Marceline by the Santa Fe Railroad in 1955.  Note the designation painted on the side of the tender.  Walt Disney requested that the Santa Fe and Disneyland Railroad be painted on its side… Why would he do that?

That little park in Marceline is also home to an EMD SD40, a 6-axle diesel-electric locomotive built by General Motors Electro-Motive Division.  Santa Fe #5008 was built in 1966.

Locomotive #5008 had a benefactor who was intimately connected to her.  Sam Baily, a retired Santa Fe and Burlington Northern engineer singlehandedly restored this engine.  Now that is a real retirement project!  Sam had actually operated this locomotive as a hostler, (an engineer who moves a locomotive between shops, rail yards and fueling tracks), when the locomotive was only 2 years old.  He was also at the throttle throughout his career.  #5008 was retired 2 months before Sam did.  Marceline was selected as the home for this locomotive because it was once a division point for the Santa Fe Railroad.

A modest section of the interior of the museum contains a selection of railroad memorabilia, such as the Santa Fe ‘grandfather style’ clock, the old cash register and that little step stool that would have been used when boarding passengers.  The woodwork around the ticket windows has been well maintained.  Love the ‘look’ of the uniform too…

There are small reminders of days past in other objects such as these Santa Fe caps.  Ticket agents used to wear their caps on the job but I haven’t seen one in use for many, many years.  Looking on eBay, a variety of different old railroad caps are up for sale, ranging in price from $50.00 to over $300.00.

The old brakeman’s cap is the most interesting to me.  Their original job was to assist in the braking of a train by applying the brakes (frequently for the roofs) on individual wagons or cars.  The advent of braking systems that could be controlled by the ‘driver’ or engineer, allowed that person to slow and stop the train.  Brakemen also provided ‘flag’ protection from following trains if his train had to stop, ensuring that couplings were set correctly, and assisting with switching operations. 

The number of brakemen jobs continues to decline.  As of 2018, there were only 14,270 brake men or women employed in the USA.

It’s probably just a quirk with me but I do love old railroad and airplane china, drink glasses and flatware.  They don’t sell for a lot but they just make me feel good.  I have a set of 8 cocktail glasses from the Burlington Northern Railroad and one dinner knife from United Airlines.

Looking at eBay, I noted Santa Fe Railroad dishware items with asking prices ranging from $47.77 to $180.00.  Glassware seems to be generally lower…

But to what does this former Santa Fe Railway Depot…now a museum…focus on that earns it a lot of attention and visitors?

The big Mickey Mouse figure wearing a railroad engineer’s outfit at the entrance does provide a significant clue.  The little bronze with Mickey and Walt Disney is yet one more clue.  The old Santa Fe Depot in Marceline Missouri is now the “Walt Disney Hometown Museum”.  As Walt is famous for saying, “It all started with a mouse”.  More on Disney and Marceline follows in this post.

Mickey Mouse, a world famous cartoon character, was co-created by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks in 1928.  Mickey is almost always characterized as a sympathetic underdog that gets by through pluck and ingenuity despite facing challenges bigger than he is.  He is one of the most recognizable and acclaimed fictional characters of all time… Walt not only co-created Mickey but Walt also provided Mickey’s voice in the beginning.

We aren’t particularly enamored with Mickey Mouse, Disneyland, Disney World or cartoons…but we both truly appreciate those who strive to build something and who succeed even beyond their imagination.  This museum is more about Walt Disney…the boy and the man…then it is about his cartoon characters, amusement parks or movies.

The photo above shows Walt Disney and his brother Roy during a visit in 1956 at the Santa Fe Railroad Depot in Marceline. 

Remember that wood frame depot at the beginning of this post?  It stood on the exact same spot as the new depot/museum stands now.  It was that depot that welcomed the Disney family when they moved to Marceline.  Flora Disney arrived first with the 3 youngest children including Walt.  Elias Disney and their 2 older sons arrived a few days later in a boxcar loaded with family belongings and 2 horses that Elias had purchased in the Chicago stockyards.

Elias and Flora’s children were Herbert, Raymond, Roy, Walt and Ruth.  Walt was only 4 years old.  At his young age, he wasn’t expected to do much on the farm so he was able to explore and his experiences in the area spurred his imagination.  I think that the photo above may be mislabeled as Roy was older than Walt.

Main Street in Marceline was imprinted in his memory and all Disney Parks feature a “Main Street” attraction.  His Uncle Mike was a Santa Fe engineer and he often passed through Marceline, sparking Walt’s love of trains.  Walt also attended a play about Peter Pan, one of his favorite stories.  When Elias Disney’s health failed in 1911, the family moved again, this time to Kansas City.  But Walt never forgot Marceline and his experiences in the area helped shape his future successes.

Walt Disney's visit in 1956 was for the dedication of a park and swimming pool named after him.  He was accompanied by his wife, Lillian, Roy Disney and Roy’s wife.  Walt had visited Marceline before…in 1948 when some filming was done here.  He returned once again in 1960, when the town’s new elementary school was named after him.

A variety of Mickey Mouse related items are scattered throughout the museum.  If you go online and look at Mickey Mouse eBay collectables, there are more pages than I have the patience to go through.  As a youngster in the 1950s and into the mid-1060s, I can’t say that I’ve ever seen a bicycle like this one…

The Walt Disney Hometown Museum opened in 2001, just in time to celebrate Walt Disney’s 100th birthday.  The museum’s displays were built using the personal collection of Ruth Disney Beecher, Walt’s younger sister.  She had been close with both Walt and Roy and she knew how fondly they remembered the hometown of their youth.

This is an original Mark I Arrowflite Tracked Junior Automobile.  It was built as part of the Midget Autopia Ride built for Disneyland (CA) in 1956.  The cars on this ride ran on a center rail and kids got the illusion that they were steering it.  That ride was closed for a new ride in 1966.  Walt gave this auto to Marceline along with remnants of the ride which were installed in the town’s EP Ripley Park.  Eventually, it was taken down and this car has been preserved. 

This is one of the rooms displaying Disney artifacts.  Walt himself presented that Mickey flag to the city in 1960.

The Walt Disney Hometown Museum covers 10,000 square feet and it includes over 4,000 Disney related artifacts that don’t exist elsewhere.  Included are: personal family artifacts donated by the Disney family; family letters; original artwork by graffiti artist Arcy, including a portrait of Walt; information on “The Marceline Project”, Walt’s plan to build a live history park in town; a Collector’s Gallery with items loaned and donated by Disney collectors from around the world, and; memorabilia from the premiers of 2 Disney movies that were first screened in Marceline.  Those movies were “The Great Locomotive Chase” in 1956 and, “The Spirit of Mickey Mouse” in 1998.

Laurie does own a few old dolls but nothing like these early Mickey Mouse dolls from the 1930s.  I found one on-line with an asking price of $1,995.00.

When Walt Disney visited Marceline in 1960 in order to dedicate the new elementary school, he also donated custom playground equipment and he had legendary Disney animator Bob Moore create murals throughout the school with some of the most famous Disney characters.  Those murals are restored on a regular basis and are still there for the school children every day.

Over the years, Walt Disney had repeatedly related that the Coca-Cola Building in Disneyland was modeled after the Zurcher building in Marceline Missouri.  For years the connection between Coca Coal and that structure had never been quite understood or verified. 

It turned out that Albert Zurcher had constructed an apartment annex behind his jewelry store in 1919.  When that annex burned to the ground in 2002 and the debris was taken away, the ‘lost sign’ that Walt would have seen as a child was discovered.

In late 2015, Coca Cola sent a team of artists to Marceline and they restored the historic “Coke” wall.  A company historian thought that it was probably originally painted in 1906, the year that the Disney family moved to Marceline.  Note the advertisement for Hutcheson’s Furniture and Undertaking above the Coke Sign.  Roy and Walt made a little money cleaning the company’s horse drawn hearse.  As per Walt’s memories, Roy did all the work while Walt laid inside the hearse and played dead.

There is even more about Walt Disney and the influence that his time in Marceline had on him…but this post is way too long already.  If you made it to the end and read all of this, I’m impressed!  To learn more about this museum, go to Walt Disney Hometown Museum ( 

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a longer than usual visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Road Trip – Missouri (Part 9)

After driving through the Swan Lake National Wildlife Refuge, we drove back to Brookfield Missouri, where we were overnighting at a Best Western Hotel.  Restaurant choices in the area seemed a bit ‘sketchy’, so we had asked the desk clerk where we should eat...

…and we had considered the Main Street Restaurant as being a bit questionable when we first glimpsed it.  Pigskin Pub and Pizza is a hole in the wall on a side street in Brookfield Missouri.  It didn’t look promising at all!  What the heck, with limited options and a recommendation, we headed in to check it out.

With its brick walls, modern ceiling fans, signing and the bar, the interior of Pigskin Pizza was a step up from the exterior.  I have to say that it’s the first restaurant we’ve been in that had a tire on the ceiling.  It got busier while we were there and it’s apparently a very popular restaurant and pub for the locals.

This busy and colorful large chalkboard menu on the wall will give you an idea of the range of the offerings available at Pigskin Pub and Pizza.  There were written menus as well…

We ordered a 12 inch pizza…pepperoni and Italian sausage. ($14.00) What can I say, it was not only excellent but it was one of the best we’ve had in the last couple of years.  To begin with, the crust was nice and thin, the way we like it.  There was plenty of sausage and pepperoni…no skimping! 

I failed to mention that we also ordered a dozen chicken wings with Thai Sweet Chili Sauce.  The menu states that 8 – 10 wings…and we received 10, cost $12.00.  At between $1.20 and $1.50 per wing, seeing as we’ve seen them as high a $2.00 per wing, the price was right.  In addition these wings were not from small chickens!  They were big and meaty…and excellent!

Pigskin Pub and Pizza is located at 119 East Brooks Street in Brookfield Missouri.  Phone: 660-258-2600.  They are open every day of the week…and until 1:30 AM on Friday and Saturday nights.  They are on Facebook at Pigskin Pub & Pizza | Brookfield MO | Facebook.

History: Brookfield in located in Linn County Missouri.  The town was first surveyed in 1859 by John Wood Brooks from Boston Massachusetts.  The town and 4 streets in the town are named after him.  The town has had a post office since 1860.  In the early days, the area that is now Brookfield was referred to as “The Scatters” or “Duffy’s Pond”.  The Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad was completed in 1959 and Brookfield boomed when the railroad’s division headquarters was moved to the city.  Brookfield has a population of 4,111 and Linn County has 11,874 residents.

FYI – Every Labor Day weekend, Brookfield hosts a hot air balloon festival known as the Great Pershing Balloon Derby.  Balloonists from around the USA participate and it is the longest running sanctioned ballooning even in the USA.  The festival is named in honor of General John J. Pershing, leader of American forces during World War I.

The next morning we headed over to nearby Marceline Missouri.  This is a photo of Marceline’s “Main Street USA”.  The town is located in both Linn and Chariton Counties.  Marceline is a bit newer than nearby Brookfield.  It was laid out in 1887, and it was named after the wife of a railroad man.  A post office was opened here in the same year.

Like Carroll County in a previous post, Chariton County was primarily settled by immigrants from the Upper South, especially from Kentucky and Tennessee.  They quickly began cultivating crops familiar to those raised at their previous farms, primarily hemp and tobacco.  This was the part of Missouri that was nicknamed “Little Dixie”.  The area was heavily pro-Confederate during America’s Civil War.

The Carnegie Library in Marceline is unusual in that it is not listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  Back in 1914, a reading room was set up in the rear of the Marceline First National Bank Building.  Then 300 books were donated by the Women’s Civic League.  In 1917, the Civic League wrote a letter to the Carnegie Institution to try to secure a Carnegie Library.  In return, they received a $12,500 grant for building this library.  Monies were raised by the community to match up with the Carnegie grant and the town raised taxes to support its operation.  The property was purchased in 1918 and the new Carnegie Library opened on November 1, 1920.

Factoid: Several famous or well-known persons lived in either Linn or Chariton Counties Missouri.  They include: Rear Admiral Wayne E. Meyer; former long-time Senator, J. William Fulbright; General Maxwell Taylor; 4 Star General John J. Pershing, and; Walt Disney.  Then there was Sterling Price, United States Congressman, Governor of Missouri and Confederate General in the Civil War.

More about a couple of these famous personages in the next couple of posts from our Missouri Road Trip…but first I'm taking a break to cover more recent activities and items related to home in East Tennessee.

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them.

Thanks for continuing to follow us on our Missouri adventures!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Friday, September 22, 2023

Road Trip – Missouri (Part 8)

…continuing with our summer-time road trip to Omaha Nebraska via ‘backroads’ and mostly 2-lane highways.  I ended the last post in Marshall Missouri, the county seat for Saline County Missouri.  I’ll complete our visit to Marshall and then move north via US Hwy 65 to Carrollton Missouri.

Laurie loves horses and when we heard that there was an equine statue or tribute in Marshall, we had to search it out.  I’m still not certain that we found the memorial that was described but this statue in the town’s Park Ridge Cemetery will suffice as it has an interesting story to tell.

The horse and rider…a very large memorial…represents the division between 2 brothers during the Civil War.  Like happened in many families, especially in the Border States, one brother, Austin Dennis fought for the South.  His brother Davis Dennis fought for the north.  Following the War, both brothers ended up living in Saline County.  This memorial for both brothers was erected in 1901 and it stresses unity rather than division.  The rider on the horse has both Union and Confederate elements on his uniform.  FYI, the horse represents Davis Dennis’s “Turk”.

This is the Saline County Courthouse in Marshall Missouri.  This 2-story structure follows a cruciform plan and it measures 100 feet by 110 feet.  It was completed in 1883.  That 4-stage square clock tower with the pyramidal slate roof makes a real architectural statement. 

The original Saline County Courthouse (ca. 1840) stood until the Civil War.  After being used by Federal/Union Troops as a barracks during their occupation of the town, it was burned down by a Confederate military unit.  Fortunately, the county offices had already been moved out and all the records had been moved elsewhere for safekeeping.  A second courthouse had been constructed after the war, but it burned down in 1881.  Since a new courthouse…this one…was already under construction and the old courthouse was deemed unsafe, the county records had once again been moved to a safe place.

History: Originally, a well-to-do citizen had donated 65 acres for the city of Marshall to be built upon.  The town was named for the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, John Marshall.

Superman’s superdog, Krypto, had nothing over the skills possessed by Sam VanArsdale’s Jim the Wonder Dog! (1925 – 1937) How many dogs have their own museum, memorial park and statue?!!  The museum is right next to the little park and the building also serves as Marshall Missouri’s Welcome Center…

Jim the Wonder Dog was a Llewellyn Setter.  He came from champion breeding stock in Louisiana.  Sam VanArsdale found that he had acquired an amazing hunting dog.  Jim knew if a field contained quail and if it didn’t he wouldn’t hunt in it.  Sam kept track of the number of birds shot while Jim was hunting with him but he stopped counting at 5,000.  At one point Jim was named “The Hunting Dog of the Country” by Outdoor Life Magazine.

Are you ready for this…!  Jim could identify different objects, even types of trees.  He could locate a car by make, color, out-of-state plate or license number.  He could pick out some people by their professions.  He followed commands in foreign languages, shorthand and Morse code.  He choose the winner of 7 consecutive Kentucky Derbies, the winner of the World Series in 1936 and even the sex of unborn babies.

Hocus Pocus?  He puzzled psychologists from both Washington University and the University of Missouri.  The Director of U of M’s School of Veterinary Medicine tested Jim and concluded that he “possessed an occult power that might never come again to a dog in many generations.”  Jim showed off his abilities at the Kemmerer Hotel in Kemmerer Wyoming, the Missouri State Fair in Sedalia and even in front of a joint session of the Missouri Legislature.  Newspaper and magazine writers witnessed Jim’s abilities and they were amazed.  Eventually he was featured in Ripley’s Believe It or Not!  Website: Home | Jimthewonderdog.

As the saying goes…”Believe It or Not!”

I’m beginning to believe that there are more locally owned, even family owned banks left in corners of the United States than I ever imagined.  Following the Civil War, Joseph Huston, Jr. and William Wood operated a trading and transportation business in Arrow Rock Missouri.  Arrow Rock was a prosperous Missouri River trading village in the 1800s…  In 1874, Messer’s Huston and Wood moved 15 miles west to establish a bank in Marshall Missouri.  It was time to change their business model as railroads were overtaking steamboats for the movement of goods.  The bank has obviously survived and succeeded.  They now have 7 locations in the state.  Today, the 5th generation of Hustons serve their customers with the great-great grandson of Joseph Huston serving as the current Chairman.  It’s another rock solid looking bank structure, that’s for sure!

History: Saline County Missouri is located along the Missouri River.  It was established in 1820 and it’s named for the region’s salt springs.  The county was primarily settled by migrants from the Upper South during the 1800s.  It was part of the region bordering the Missouri River that was known as “Little Dixie”.  Prior to the Civil War the county had many plantations that operated with enslaved workers.  In 1847, the state legislature had passed a law prohibiting any African Americans from being educated.  At the start of the American Civil War, a third of the county’s population was African American.

It’s not too hard to understand why the First Presbyterian Church in Marshall Missouri is also known as “Rock Church”.  This one-story Gothic-Revival style yellow sandstone building almost looks like one solid rock.  It was completed in 1873.

The Presbyterian congregation was actually organized in early 1840, with services at the county court house.  A frame church was built in 1860 and it was used as a hospital during military dust up in town.  It was also commandeered by Union soldiers who used it as a barracks and stables.  Then, in 1864 the county courthouse burned down and the court took over the church building as a courthouse.  Then in 1866 it was used by the board of education.  By the time the elders got that early frame church back, it was a mess and the congregation had dwindled away so they sold it.  Subsequently, the number of Presbyterian citizens grew, money was raised and the “Rock Church” was built.  It is still in use every week.  For more information see First Presbyterian Rock Church Marshall MO | Marshall MO | Facebook.

Leaving Marshall Missouri, we drove west and north on US Hwy 65 to Carrollton Missouri.  It was time for lunch when we arrived!

Once again, we should never look at an object and reject it at first glance.  The Main Street Restaurant at 11 South Main Street in Carrollton Missouri certainly doesn’t grab your eye or tempt your appetite with its glitz and fancy exterior.  FYI, Carrollton has a population of 3,514 and Carroll County as a whole has 8,495 residents.

This is a third generation, family owned restaurant that has been open since 1962…that’s 61 years!  That is truly amazing longevity for any restaurant in any town.  By now, the Main Street Restaurant has been around long enough to become a local tradition… 

A local tradition couldn’t survive if it didn’t offer good food at a good price, and the Main Street Restaurant is not an exception to the rule…

I ordered the Broasted Chicken Dinner…with 2 pieces of white meat and served with a potato of choice, a vegetable/side dish.  Since I can’t eat greens, I ordered a serving of what we always called ‘dreamsicle’ salad, mainly because I knew that Laurie would like it.  The chicken was excellent and the mashed potatoes were real with nice white gravy.  I don’t recall the price but it was more than reasonable.  We’d have to add $5 or $6 to each meal if we ordered similar offerings near our home in East Tennessee.

The same pricing comment also applies to Laurie’s Double Cheese Burger with potato chips.  The bun was grilled and those burger patties were nice and juicy.

Our dining experience at The Main Street Restaurant greatly exceeded expectations… This restaurant is open for breakfast and lunch only, 7 days a week.  Phone: 660-542-2782.  They are on Facebook at Main Street Restaurant | Carrollton MO | Facebook.

This is the Carroll County Sheriff’s Quarters and Jail.  This Classical Revival style brick residence was built in 1878 and it consists of the 2-story residence with an attached jail.  The current jail, visible at the right rear of the photo, was constructed in 1958 to replace the original jail…which had collapsed.

Historical Nugget: Carroll County Sheriff George E. Stanley (1895 -1896) is tied to the saga of the “Taylor Brothers”, who, along with the Younger Brothers as well as the James and Dalton Gangs, represented an unwelcome criminal chapter in Missouri’s history.  William and George were prominent citizens of northern Missouri.  William had a law degree and he married money.  He was elected to the State Legislature and became a farmer and rancher.  James’s brother George taught school before he became a rancher.

Both brothers were repeatedly implicated in crimes ranging from embezzlement to murder early in their careers, but justice didn’t prevail given their influence and reputation.  A problem arose however when an ex-convict named George Meeks threatened to expose the brothers’ horse rustling activities.  So the brothers ‘axed’ Meeks, his wife and 3 young daughters and buried them in a shallow grave under a hay stack that they set on fire.

A problem arose for the brothers when one of the Meeks’ daughters survived to testify at the Taylor’s trial.  George Stanley was the sheriff at the time the trial took place in Carrollton.  The brothers were found guilty and they were sentenced to be hanged on April 30, 1896.  With the help of insiders at the jail who provided the brothers with hacksaws and rope, they escaped.  William was quickly recaptured and was hung on schedule…the only man ever officially put to death in Carroll County.  George Taylor was never recaptured....

This lonely and rather decrepit abandoned Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe depot in Carrollton lies along tracks that are still in heavy use.  The Santa Fe Railroad has been supplanted by the Burlington Northern Santa Fe.  At some point part of this old depot’s waiting room was converted to a storage garage for a local electric company…but now it just looks empty.  At one point in time, this was a busy place with a large and bustling combination freight and passenger depot.

I had a hard time determining just when this large brick Santa Fe depot was built although I did find a photo of an old Wabash Railroad depot in town.  Then I discovered that the Santa Fe Railroad used to publish a sizable monthly magazine for its employees.  In their issue published in May of 1916, I found a little information.  It had been announced that the railroad would build a new depot in Carrollton Missouri.  To quote: “Agent James F. Geary is the most popular man in town”.  It’s safe to assume that the new depot was finished no later than in 1917.

FYI: Santa Fe Employees' Magazine - Google Books

History: Carroll County and the city of Carrollton are named for Charles Carroll, a signer of the Declaration of Independence who was one of the nation’s founding fathers.  He owned 10,000 acres in Maryland and was perhaps the wealthiest man in the American Colonies when the Revolutionary War began in 1775.  He owned 300 enslaved African Americans, probably more than anyone else in the Colonies at that time.  He was a supporter of ‘gradual emancipation’, even going so far as to introduce a bill in Maryland’s legislature to that effect.  It didn’t pass…

From Carrollton Missouri we drove east on US Hwy 24 and rejoined MO Hwy 5 north to Marceline Missouri and then west for a few miles on US Hwy 36 to check in at our Best Western Hotel in Brookfield Missouri. 

But, it was still early and we decided to find and explore the Swan Lake National Wildlife Refuge which is about 6 or 7 miles south of town.  This National Refuge was established in 1937 primarily as a sanctuary and breeding ground for migratory birds.  After the purchase of the land, the Great Depression Era Civilian Conservation Corps created wetlands and the roads.  The refuge encompasses 10,795 acres encompassing Swan Lake and it is focused on wetland habitat management.

It was a pretty drive along one of the refuge’s road and we only encountered one other vehicle, a father and son who were fishing.  As for wildlife, mid-summer limits the possibilities.  We saw the usual blue heron and a few wading birds plus we caught a glimpse of an otter dashing across the road from the lake to the creek on the other side.

In the fall it would be stunning to see the annual gathering of tens of thousands of red-winged blackbirds and other birds roosting in the marsh.  Large flocks of northern pintails are also plentiful in the fall.  247 species of birds have been observed at the refuge.  To learn more, just go to Swan Lake National Wildlife Refuge | U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Road Trip – Missouri (Part 7)

 Road Trip – Missouri (Part 7)

…continuing north along MO Hwy 5, after crossing US Hwy 50, we came to Versailles Missouri.

After a little time, we came to Versailles Missouri, the county seat of Morgan County.  This 2-story, 85 feet by 85’ Second Empire style brick building was constructed on a limestone block foundation in 1889.  That cupola is quite different than most with some decorative features done in cast iron.  The mansard style corner towers or pavilions are eye-catching as well. 

Morgan County’s first courthouse in Versailles was log building that was purchased, taken apart and then rebuilt on the town square in 1836.  It served the purpose for about 7 years, at which time it was removed and a more permanent brick courthouse was completed in 1844.  The newer building was the courthouse for about 40 years.

Actually, a major fire in October of 1886 almost wiped out the town.  Then only 5 months later, in March of 1887, a second fire destroyed all the businesses on 2 sides of the town square…as well as the old 1844 courthouse.  The new replacement courthouse was already under construction when the fire occurred but legal issues regarding the property tied up its completion, so it took about 2 years to complete it.

The Bank of Versailles was definitely built to impress the area’s citizens and to assure them that it was a good place to put their money.  I like the fact that they’ve preserved that solid “bank” exterior image.  The Bank of Versailles opened for business in November of 1882 and it has always been locally-owned and operated.  It was started by 5 shareholders with $5,000 between them.  The interior of this building, the bank’s main facility, was remodeled in 1958.  So…let’s see.  The remodeling took place a mere 65 years ago and the bank has been operating for 141 years…not bad!

I included this handsome old red brick building in downtown Versailles, just because I liked the almost unaltered look of it.

Versailles History: Morgan County was established in 1833, at a time when Native Americans from the Osage Indian tribe still lived in the area.  Versailles was platted/founded only 2 years later.  The town was named after the Palace of Versailles in France, possibly by county residents who were of French descent.  

By 1940, the village had grown and it had a population of 70 and it included 25 buildings!  There was a 3-room tavern and inn, a livery stable, a stagecoach stop, a blacksmith shop, boarding house, a general store and a carpentry shop all built around the town square.  By 1894, Versailles had gas lights and by 1904 it had electric lights.  In 1909 the town even had an ice plant!  The Rock Island Railroad was completed from St. Louis to Kansas City through the city in 1903, just in time for folks from Morgan County to attend the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis.  Today Versailles has a population of 2,539 and Morgan County has just a little over 21,000 residents.

In 1908, a Sanborn Insurance Map showed that a theater was operating in the southern half of the brick addition to Versailles’s Martin Hotel.  They also disclose that the Royal Theater had opened by 1914.  I love seeing old small to medium size towns maintaining or reutilizing old ‘opera houses’ or movie theaters.  The Royal Theater has been reconfigured inside and its former balcony is gone.  These days, the theater is very much alive, now featuring live plays and other entertainment.  This coming October, the theater will present 8 performances of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Play, “Cats”.  To learn more, go to The Royal Theatre.

Note: I was unfamiliar with the Sanborn Map Company until I ran across the note on the Royal Theater.  Back in the early days and well into the latter half of the 1900s, maps were created to allow fire insurance companies to assess their total liability in urbanized areas of the USA.  These maps contain detailed information about properties and building for about 12,000 American cities over many, many years.  They are an important resource for historical research as they document changes over the decades.  Sanborn had a virtual lock on this business for many years...

The Martin Hotel was built in Versailles in 1877, with a brick 2-story addition being added in 1884.  Some guests would arrive via the Jefferson City t0 Springfield MO stagecoach line that passed through town.  The hotel also had a stagecoach the connected with the Missouri Pacific Railroad in Tipton Missouri.  Civil War soldiers and famous people such as P.T. Barnum and the outlaw Jesse James.

The rooms in the Martin Hotel had the necessary bedding, a washstand with a water pitcher and a bowl as well as a chamber pot to serve as a toilet.  Also, each room had a wood stove and they had a heavy rope that was attached to the floor.  In case of a fire, the rope could be tossed out the window and used as a fire escape.  An early Sanborn map showed that as of 1894, the room that eventually became the early theater, was used as a sample room.  Electricity was installed in 1908 and by 1923, interior plumbing was added. 

The Martin Hotel was operated by the same family until 1967 or 1974, (depending on the source of information), when it was purchased by the Morgan County Historical Museum.  The old hotel registers include signatures of Civil War soldiers who stopped for room and board.  The museum also features a barbershop; a weaving/quilt room; Civil War relics; an early rural school room, a carbide chandelier, 2 folding covered-wagon rockers and much more.

The museum is open from May through October.  To learn more, their website is at Morgan County Historical Society and Museum (

As we came to the town of Tipton Missouri, we stopped to take a picture of the Harrison School National Historic Site.  Harrison School is not only listed on the Register of Historic Places but it’s also on the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture’s Community website.  It is the last remaining school in Moniteau County Missouri from the 1800s that was built for black students.

The school’s stone foundation was cut, quarried and laid by some of Tipton’s formerly enslaved black citizens.  This 2-room brick schoolhouse opened in the fall of 1890.  It initially only taught students from the first to the sixth grades.  From 1890 until 1936 and then from 1942 until 1954, black students who wanted to continue to high school had to enroll in high schools in Sedalia, Kansas City, Jefferson City or St. Louis Missouri.  Of course, such a decision required transportation, self-funding and finding somewhere to live while at school.

Tipton’s high school was integrated in 1954 but elementary students weren’t integrated into Tipton Public Schools until 1957, and the Harrison School was closed.  This historic school could use a little tender loving care…

This handsome mansion is also located in Tipton Missouri.  The Maclay Mansion, aka the Rosehill Seminary was completed in 1860 and it was briefly used as a female seminary until the beginning of the Civil War, at which time it became a private residence.  During the war it is thought that General John Fremont used the home as his headquarters during his stay in town in 1861.  It is also claimed that Confederate leaning ‘bushwhackers’ attempted to burn the house down during the war.  Since Confederate soldiers under General Joseph Shelby did burn down the railroad depot and a number of railcars in 1862, there may be some credence to the claim about trying to burn down this big home.

This 3-story, 17 room brick home served as a private residence until about 1920.  When the home was purchased by the Maclay/Gleim family in 1865, it wasn’t long before 3 bachelor brothers, 5 widowed sisters and their children were all living in the home.  After 1920, Maclay family descendants used the property for special events and as a summer home.  In 1983, the mansion was given to the Friends of the Maclay Home, Inc.

The mansion is a great example of antebellum brick architecture in Missouri.  It is filled with original furnishings and clothing that belonged to the Maclay family over the years.  It’s described as a time capsule of life during the second half of the 1800s.  To learn more, go to Maclay Home | Tipton MO | Facebook.

History: William Tipton Seely founded the town of Tipton.  He was a veteran of the War of 1812 and he’d been awarded with the land for his service.  He set up a general store on the Butterfield Overland Stage Line route.  Then he arranged for the Pacific Railroad line to cross through his property.  The town was surveyed in March of 1858 and Seely was selling off his lots to build the town.  By the time the railroad was completed, more than 25o people called Tipton home.  Today the town has a population of a little over 2,900 people.

I followed MO Hwy 5 north to MO Road B and then on to Bunceton Missouri.  My goal was the former Missouri Pacific Depot at 111 East Main Street.  I am not sure when the depot was built but I do know that it was constructed by the Osage Valley and Southern Kansas Railroad probably sometime between 1870 and 1880.  It was shortly after 1880 when the Missouri Pacific Railroad took over the Osage Valley railroad.  The MoPac caboose next to the old depot is a model M930 with a wide vision cupola.  It was made by the International Car Company and it’s about 38 feet long.  The old depot now serves as the Bunceton City Hall.

Bunceton was laid out and platted in 1868.  It was named for an early county resident and a post office has been in operation in town since the year the town was platted.  In 1980, Bunceton Missouri’s voters elected the United States’ first openly gay mayor.  The town has 334 residents.

Bunceton and its immediate area has experienced a bit of history.  The Civil War Battle of Lone Jack was fought nearby.  It was an intense battle with over 200 soldiers killed.  In the 1800s, Bunceton was a stop along the famous Santa Fe Trail.  The Trail of Tears, with the ‘removal’ of Native Americans from their ancestral homes, also passed through the town. 

From Bunceton we followed MO Road J back to MO Hwy 5 north.

When MO Hwy 5 intersected with I-75 we followed it west to US Hwy 65 north to the City of Marshall Missouri.  We had several historic and/or strange sites to visit in Marshall…

The Buckner House, a historical 2-story, 3 bay Classic Revival home was built in 1906.  This 48 foot square home sits on a cut stone and concrete foundation.  We love that fantastic double porch!  It is considered to be representative of the level of prosperity and taste achieved by an elite family prior to World War 1. 

The home is in excellent condition and almost completely unaltered.  It was presented to the Saline County Missouri Historical Society by the Buckner family in 1982.  A little research revealed that the interior of the Buckner home is documented via a series of photographs posted on Zillow.  The interior is fabulous and it looks pristine.  You can check it out at

The Chicago and Alton Railroad Depot, aka the Illinois Central Gulf Depot was built in 1906 for the Chicago and Alton Railroad.  This brick and stone structure with both Jacobethan Revival and Mission Revival style elements is about 113 feet long beside the tracks, which are still in use.  Other sources simply list the design style as Spanish Revival.  It served as both a passenger depot and freight depot for Marshall.  Unfortunately, it is now abandoned.

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

Thanks for stopping by and patiently following our road trip through Missouri!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave