ARCADIA, MISSOURI – On Saturday, April 30, 2016, representatives of the city of Arcadia, Our Town Tomorrow, Missouri state government, the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT), Amtrak and other organizations gathered adjacent to Arcadia’s 1941 depot to break ground on a new concrete platform that will become a stop for the daily Texas Eagle (Chicago-San Antonio/Los Angeles).
Arcadia, located in a valley of the same name nestled amid the Saint Francois Mountains, is approximately 80 miles south of St. Louis. The Texas Eagle currently passes through the community between stops in St. Louis and Poplar Bluff, Mo., a distance of 169 miles. The valley is widely known for its stunning natural areas and recreational opportunities.
Carol Kelsheimer, president of Our Town Tomorrow (OTT), a local non-profit focused on community revitalization, recalls how the station project began: “In November 2010, two residents of Arcadia Valley, Daisy McCabe and Brian Parker, attended the tourism meeting of the Arcadia Valley Chamber of Commerce, and requested the chamber pursue getting an Amtrak stop in the Arcadia Valley. After talking with Amtrak, the task was taken over by OTT due to the fact that it owns the train station building and has a 501c3 status to write grants for funding.”
Our Town Tomorrow gathered letters of support for the project, and the city of Arcadia agreed to partner with OTT in the effort. Union Pacific Railroad (UP), which owns the rail line used by the Texas Eagle in the valley, also joined the conversation; within a year, it had agreed to the new stop. Kelsheimer and OTT Board Member Judy Schaaf-Wheeler began attending Texas Eagle Marketing and Performance Organization conferences to give presentations about Arcadia Valley and the progress of the station project.
“The Arcadia Valley community contributed more than $10,000 to help get the project started and pay for the first set of [station] plans in 2012,” notes Kelsheimer. Between 2013 and 2015, the proposed station property was twice surveyed and various agreements and planning documents drafted and approved. After putting the project out for bid a second time in early 2016, it was determined that costs would be higher than originally estimated. State Senator Gary Romine and State Representative Paul Fitzwater subsequently were able to obtain an additional $100,000 from MoDOT to achieve full financing.
Altogether, OTT and its partners won grants totaling just over $613,000, including $420,000 in Transportation Enhancement Grants from MoDOT; $113,000 from the Iron County Economic Partnership; $50,000 from the William Edgar Foundation, which seeks to fund projects and programs that better Iron County; and $30,000 from the Taum Sauk Fund, which sponsors local economic development and tourism development projects.
Platform construction will begin in May 2016, and the work should be completed by late summer. Arcadia and neighboring Ironton, the county seat, have not had regularly scheduled passenger rail service since the Missouri Pacific Railroad discontinued it in 1968. Since 2008 the old depot has housed the Arcadia Valley Chamber of Commerce and Iron County Historical Society Museum.