Many railroad stations have been a part of their communities for generations, and locals are proud to use their stations as focal points for their towns’ rich histories.
From coast-to-coast, train stations are at the center of neighborhoods, towns and cities – making it easy for Americans to travel, do business and connect with people from all walks of life. Although stations primarily serve as transportation hubs, many communities have reinvented their depots as community centers for local events, reception venues for holidays and weddings and even as museums to showcase their history. Stations have the potential to serve as a symbol of life and culture and represent the past and future of a hometown.
The Kirkwood, Mo. depot is not only a beautiful station on the route of the Missouri River Runner but is so loved by the community that its image serves as the logo for the city. Built in 1893, the centrally-located depot is a natural gathering place for residents. A point of civic pride, the city banded together to preserve a piece of their history when Amtrak ticket agents were removed from the station as a cost-cutting measure.
Ten years ago Kirkwood residents decided it was important to preserve our train station. It shows the true spirit of Kirkwood that we found a way to keep our station…
In 2003, the city bought the building from the Union Pacific Railroad and set up a “pioneer management program” made up of local volunteers that meet the four daily trains. The 65 active volunteers open the depot every day and act as ambassadors for Amtrak and the city. As part of their duties, they greet passengers and visitors and gladly tell them about restaurants, shops and local attractions such as the nearby Farmers’ Market.
The Kirkwood Station is not only a community landmark, but also is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Throughout the year, it is a place for the community to come together for important city events such as art exhibits, musical jam sessions and poetry and story readings. It is also available for rent to the general public and regularly hosts meetings, parties and weddings.
Train Station Volunteer Coordinator Bill Burckhalter said, “Ten years ago Kirkwood residents decided it was important to preserve our train station. It shows the true spirit of Kirkwood that we found a way to keep our station and share our love of the trains that have been so important to our town’s history.”Next: Aesthetic and Architectural Improvement