Arcadia, MO (ACD)
The Arcadia Valley is noted for its charming small towns, historic sites and proximity to numerous wilderness areas that attract nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. Arcadia gained Amtrak service in 2016 through a strong community advocacy and planning effort.
Arcadia Valley Station
13700 Highway 21
Arcadia, MO 63621
Annual Station Ridership (FY 2021): 577
- Facility Ownership: Our Town Tomorrow, Inc.
- Parking Lot Ownership: Union Pacific Railroad
- Platform Ownership: City of Arcadia
- Track Ownership: Union Pacific Railroad
Amtrak Texas Eagle service began at Arcadia on November 20, 2016. The greater Arcadia Valley had not had regular passenger rail service since it was discontinued by the Missouri Pacific Railroad (MoPac) in 1968. 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.
Sited on the east side of State Route 21 on the northern edge of town, the station is just south of the border with Ironton, the county seat. Passengers primarily use a new concrete platform built adjacent to the historic 1941 MoPac depot. Since 2008 the building has housed the Arcadia Valley Chamber of Commerce and Iron County Historical Society Museum. Nearby stands a restored caboose, originally built for the Detroit, Toledo & Ironton Railroad.
On November 17, the community gathered to cut the ribbon on its new station. The 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; and Brian Parker, president of the Arcadia Valley Chamber of Commerce. 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 nestled amid the Saint Francois Mountains on the Ozark Plateau approximately 80 miles south of St. Louis, 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 city’s old 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 (UP), 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 and pay for the first set of platform plans in 2012. Over the next few years, 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 in federal funding through 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.
The MoPac constructed the current combination depot – meaning it contained passenger and freight functions under one roof – to replace two earlier structures located in Arcadia and Ironton. Interestingly, due to the communities’ close proximity, north-bound trains had stopped only in the former while all south-bound trains called on the latter. A modern, centrally sited facility let the railroad consolidate service at one location and therefore reduce operating costs. The dedication ceremony on September 11, 1941, included music by local high school bands and speeches from railroad and civic leaders. Crowds greeted the Texan (St. Louis-Fort Worth) as it pulled into the station that afternoon.
Constructed of random ashlar, rock-faced Missouri red granite, the depot projects an almost domestic appearance with its gabled roof and cross gable, metal awnings over the entrances, casement windows and stout chimney. The granite’s warm red and brown tones please the eye, as do the quoins at the building’s corners and decorative lintels over the windows. The freight section on the north end included a large roll-top door so railroad workers could easily move carts filled with crates and other packages between the train and depot. In the waiting room, a fireplace helped warm passengers on cold winter days.
Prior to the arrival of permanent European settlers in what is now southeastern Missouri in the early 18th century, the region was home to American Indian groups including the Osage, Capaha, Shawnee, Chicasaw, Piankishas and Cherokee. French explorers traveled up the Mississippi River from their strongholds along the Gulf Coast in search of mineral deposits and were pleased to discover lead in the area. Mining began in the 1720s and a decade later the French port settlement of Ste. Genevieve was founded along the Mississippi approximately 40 miles northeast of the Arcadia Valley.
Following the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, which gave the United States control over the immense territory drained by the Mississippi River, American presence in the region grew. Mining remained a strong attraction to settlers as well as investors from St. Louis, especially after the discovery of iron ore. But poor transportation links remained an obstacle to expanding the industry. Ore had to be carted over a plank road to Ste. Genevieve for shipping to other ports along the river.
In 1851, the state legislature approved a charter for the St. Louis and Iron Mountain Railroad Company to link St. Louis with Iron Mountain, an iron-ore mining site located a few miles north of present-day Arcadia. Work began in 1853, and five years later the line reached Pilot Knob in the Arcadia Valley, which remained the southern terminus until after the Civil War. The railroad was consolidated into the St. Louis, Iron Mountain and Southern Railway in 1874, whose network eventually crossed Arkansas from northeast to southwest, meeting with other railroads at Texarkana. The Missouri Pacific Railway gained control of the company in 1884, and it was formally absorbed by the MoPac in 1917.
Although mining was important to the Arcadia Valley and surrounding region, the community of Arcadia largely grew up around a Methodist academy founded by the Reverend Jerome C. Berryman in 1846. The town, surveyed three years later, was supposedly named by a settler from New England who was struck by the valley’s natural beauty.
Like other border states, Missouri became a battleground between Union and Confederate forces during the Civil War. Classes ceased at the Arcadia Academy, and the buildings were used as a Union hospital in the war’s early years. In the fall of 1864, a Confederate army of 12,000 under Major General Sterling Price invaded southeastern Missouri from Arkansas with the goal of acquiring arms and supplies and capturing St. Louis or Jefferson City. On its march northward, the army decided to attack Fort Davidson, a Union stronghold located adjacent to Pilot Knob and meant to guard the north end of the Arcadia Valley.
Confederate forces attacked on September 26, taking Ironton. The next day, the Union advance line again fell back and retreated towards the fort. Fire from Fort Davidson kept all but one Confederate brigade at bay, and the soldiers who did make it up the hill were stopped at the dry moat surrounding the fort. Outnumbered and running low on ammunition, Union forces then quietly evacuated in the middle of the night before the Confederates could regroup and attack again.
The Union troops had successfully broken the Confederate assault, and Price’s army no longer posed a direct threat to St. Louis, although it would head toward Kansas City and engage in the Battle of Westport. Following a loss there, the Confederates retreated to Arkansas. Today the site of Fort Davidson is a state historic site.
With the return of peace, the Arcadia Valley grew into a popular summer resort, especially for prosperous families from St. Louis who could easily access the valley by rail. Grand estates as well as more modest cottages populated the landscape, noted for its stunning natural features including rocky outcroppings and cool streams. It was also a popular place for youth and church gatherings, some of which set up temporary encampments.
In 1877, Catholic Ursuline nuns purchased the old Arcadia Academy, turning it into an all-girls school that attracted young women from across the state and beyond. It continued in this vein for almost a century before closing in 1971. In addition to mining various metals, granite deposits were quarried in the region. This hard stone was shipped to St. Louis and other cities for use in buildings as well as street paving. Agriculture also developed in the valley, as the soils proved quite rich.
Today the Arcadia Valley is noted for its charming small towns, historic sites and proximity to numerous wilderness areas that attract nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. The St. Francois Mountains, considered some of the oldest in North America, offer diverse landscapes including oak-hickory upland forest, glades, savannas and bottomland forest.
North of Arcadia is Elephant Rocks State Park, where giant granite boulders approximately 1.5 billion years old litter the landscape. Eroded for centuries by wind and water, many exhibit smooth, rounded forms. Visitors are drawn to an especially large boulder known as “Dumbo,” which is 27 feet tall, 25 feet long and 17 feet wide – and estimated to weigh about 680 tons.
When the temperatures soar, people head southwest of town to Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park where the East Fork of the Black River tumbles amid a rocky terrain that creates small pools, waterfalls and fast-moving chutes. To the east is Taum Sauk Mountain, the highest point in Missouri at 1,772 feet above sea level. In wet weather, Mina Sauk Falls – the state’s highest waterfall at 132 feet – puts on a dazzling show. Taum Sauk Mountain State Park also offers basic campsites.
Image courtesy of Our Town Tomorrow
Station Building (with waiting room)
- ATM not available
- No elevator
- No payphones
- No Quik-Trak kiosks
- No Restrooms
- Unaccompanied child travel not allowed
- No vending machines
- No WiFi
- Arrive at least 30 minutes prior to departure
- Amtrak Express shipping not available
- No checked baggage service
- No checked baggage storage
- Bike boxes not available
- No baggage carts
- Ski bags not available
- No bag storage
- Shipping boxes not available
- No baggage assistance
- Same-day parking is available; fees may apply
- Overnight parking is available; fees may apply
- No payphones
- Accessible platform
- Accessible restrooms
- No accessible ticket office
- Accessible waiting room
- No accessible water fountain
- Same-day, accessible parking is available; fees may apply
- No high platform
- No wheelchair
- Wheelchair lift available