ARCADIA, MO. – On Nov. 17, 2016, a crowd gathered at the historic Arcadia depot to cut the ribbon on the community’s new station, which will be served by the daily Texas Eagle (Chicago-San Antonio-(Los Angeles)) starting Nov. 20. Today the 1941 depot houses the Arcadia Valley Chamber of Commerce and Iron County Historical Society Museum. Passengers will primarily use a new concrete platform with tactile edging. Tall light standards illuminate the area at night.
The greater Arcadia Valley had not seen regular passenger rail service since it was discontinued by the Missouri Pacific Railroad (MoPac) in 1968, prior to the creation of Amtrak. Arcadia was added to the Amtrak national network largely through an advocacy and planning effort coordinated by Our Town Tomorrow (OTT), a local non-profit focused on community revitalization.
The Nov. 17 festivities kicked off with an afternoon gathering that included representatives from the town, the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT), Amtrak and local organizations. Speakers included Arcadia Mayor Roy Carr; Carol Kelsheimer, president of OTT; Brian Parker, president of the Arcadia Valley Chamber of Commerce; and Jason Harrell, Amtrak assistant superintendent of Road Operations. Following the speeches and ribbon cutting, visitors were welcome to tour the depot and platform.
In the evening, townspeople assembled once again to welcome the southbound Texas Eagle as it made a ceremonial stop at the Arcadia station. Fireworks lighted the night sky to mark the train’s arrival.
The idea of adding a stop in the Arcadia Valley, which is noted for its charming small towns, historic sites and proximity to numerous wilderness areas, was first suggested by a couple of residents at a 2010 meeting of the Arcadia Valley Chamber of Commerce. At the time, the Texas Eagle passed through the valley between stops in St. Louis and Poplar Bluff, Mo., a distance of 169 miles.
Following initial discussions with Amtrak, OTT stepped in to lead the effort since it owned the railroad depot and could apply for grants as a non-profit organization. OTT gathered letters of support for the project, and the city became an active partner. Union Pacific Railroad, which owns the valley rail line used by the Texas Eagle, also joined the conversation; within a year, it had agreed to the new stop.
Businesses and individuals from the Arcadia Valley contributed more than $10,000 to help get the project started. Altogether, OTT and its partners won grants totaling just over $613,000, including $420,000 in Transportation Enhancement Grants from MoDOT and $113,000 from the Iron County Economic Partnership.
Arcadia follows in the footsteps of Hope, Ark., which was added as a stop on the Texas Eagle in 2013 through a similar community advocacy effort. In fiscal year 2016, more 306,000 customers traveled on the Texas Eagle.