Early Warrensburg Railroads

    In 1852 Benjamin W. Grover, who was elected as state governor, introduced a bill to authorize the construction of a railroad. The bill was passed and in 1852 citizens started to work on the new railroad.
    When people heard about our town being on the route, they started to come and settlers homesteaded every acre of land for miles around the county. Because the railroad caused so much growth, they had an election for a mayor. The election took place on the first monday of April in 1856, and Dr.John Foushee won.
    The railroad brought four large stores that sold groceries, dry goods, hardware, and merchandise. In 1864 Warrensburg also frequently hauled freights from the Warrensburg station to trading posts because we were the last connection to the railroad for many towns around. Six to eight cars of merchandise per day were received and twenty or more freight teams worked on hauling the merchandise farther west and south to the towns of Clinton, Butler, Harrisonville, Nevada, and Fort Scott.
    On July 4, 1864 a flag waved over the Missouri Pacific Depot in St. Louis, because it had been connected to a town in the east;  Warrensburg.
    The railroad went through Sedalia in 1861 and stopped because of the Civil War. It came to Warrensburg in 1864 and went on to Kansas City in 1865. The first depot was made out of wood, but burned down in 1889. The next one was built in 1890 out of sandstone in the architectural style known as Richardsonian Romanesque. This depot is present today but has been enlarged and remodeled. in 1984 the baggage section and the loading platform were added.  Sometime after 1930 the large arch window on the east was changed to a doorway when water drainage problems came.
    In the 1950's the new diesel engine came through and remodeling was done to prepare for it.  In 1962 the freight office was enclosed in glass, the ceiling was replaced, new lights were put in, a new tile floor was put in, and the whole place was painted.  However ten years later, in 1972, it was closed from public use.
    The train changed Warrensburg in big ways.  It increased the population and growth of the town, and helped us travel and get supplies.  The train has also made Warrensburg a little better known because it carried Harry S. Truman through Warrensburg and it carried the world series through here in 1985 on its way to St. Louis.


    Some say that the railroad was the best thing to happen to Warrensburg when it first came out.  But, it wasn't all fun and games.  Some of the most tragic things happened because of it.
    Take for example, In 1940, Maurice Schwab, a forty year old candy salesmen from Lexington.  He was driving along, when suddenly his car stalled on the tracks.  A train was coming and had no warning of the car on the tracks.  When the conductor finally saw the car it was too late to stop.  Maurice, too shocked to move, stared at the thundering locomotive as it hurdled toward him, until it finally hit him.  He died instantly.
    Another tragic story was on March 21, 1904.  Two trains were heading straight for each other, and crashed.  The travelers in the back cars of the train, were either shaken up or injured, (there were over fifty injured).  But most of the people in the front cars had died.  Twenty-seven died instantly and three more people died later in the hospital, making a total of thirty deaths.  One of the cruelest things about it was that all the dead bodies had all of their valuables stolen.  People said it was the worst wreck since 1856, when a train plunged into a river.
    Probably one of the worst wrecks for sports fans was on July 4, 1947, when the entire Mules team died in a train crash.
    Well enough of all this death stuff, let us talk about some memorable things that happened.  In 1971 Warrensburg replaced the old wooden railroad crossing  signs with the new flashing signal signs.
    On May 25, 1971, a Turbo Train stopped in Warrensburg, on its way to New York.  It was powered by a gas turbine engine, and could go up to 150 miles per hour.

This web page was done by:  Paul, Brooke, Stephanie, and Courtney.

    Railroad Transportation: by J.L. Ferguson

   History of Johnson County: pages 102-105, (chapter) 6).

   Johnson County Historical Society, inc.
    Old Courthouse Museum
    Mary Miller Smiser Heritage Library
    North Main Street- P.O. Box 825
    Warrensburg, Missouri 64093-0825

    Railroad Transportation Led to Rapid Early Growth: by J.L. Ferguson
    Active for Railroad
    The Daily Star Journal, Warrensburg, MO.
    Tues., July 13,1976

    Vertical File
    Trails Regional Library
    Johnson County headquarters
    Warrensburg, MO.

    Warrensburg and its People: Elizabeth F. Grover

    Missouri Pacific Railroad
    Warrensburg, MO. 1988-89

    Daily Star Journal, 1864, July 4

    Daily Star Journal, March 21, 1974

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