The Wabash Railway Station

On May 9, 1927, workmen began tearing down the old barn of the Excelsior Springs Riding Academy on Kansas City Avenue. The Wabash Railroad had chosen this site for their new passenger station. On November 7, 1927, W.A. Greenland of Moberly, division superintendent of the Wabash, S.N. Crowe of Moberly, division engineer, and R.E. Mohr of St. Louis, chief architect, inspected the newly completed station. E.L. Lutz, inspector for the Wabash, supervised the four month erection of the station. The Wabash line, 8.7 miles in length, was known as a branch line, and connected Excelsior Springs directly with St. Louis, Buffalo and New York City. Lutz employed a landscape gardener, who sodded the parking around the station with blue grass sod and an Armor River private hedge around the station grounds. A second track was laid adjacent to the station for private cars belonging to railway officials.

However, the highway system was soon efficient enough to draw riders from the Wabash line. On September 9, 1933, the last run of the Wabash came into Excelsior Springs. After arriving shortly after 4 p.m., the station furniture and supplies were loaded, and the train returned over the line to Moberly and was no more. "With the passing of the branch line, which had much to do with the development of the country and the spread of civilization, some of the romance of early American transportation history will be lost. The penalty of progress is the loss of old things, which have been superseded by changing condition," declared one Excelsior Springs news article. "What will become of the station and the maintaining of the well-clipped hedges and carefully kept lawn has not been decided yet," stated another. "There will be no one from the company to cut the grass or clip the hedges. The line and station is being abandoned." The building soon found a new use, however.

The Quality Milk Company, owned by the Leonard Johnson family of Excelsior Springs, found a use for the building in the late 1930's, by expanding Excelsior Springs' only industry, which manufactured farm products of the area (in this case, dairy items). An eating establishment was formed in the old depot building, and a new addition to the south side gave room for the industrial side of the business. The restaurant signboard still remains "The Dairy - We Serve U.S. Government Inspected Beef; Shakes 25-cents Hamburgers 25-cents". Eventually, the restaurant was closed, and only the industry side of the opertation continued. The company and building was sold to the Mid-America Dairy Association, which operated here until 1985, when the building was vacated.

In April 1990, local residents Kevin and Sonya Morgan purchased the building for commercial purposes -- Morgan Printing, Inc. Interior changes were kept to a minimum. Crystal Springs Landscaping was commissioned to redevelop the north lawn with new hedges and flower beds. In time, they sold to local residents Jim and Cheri McCullough. The McCullough's put in a restaurant, converting the old garage into an outdoor smokehouse for meats. The Wabash Restaurant features award-winning barbecue. The ground directly behind the station where the Excelsior Springs Ice House used to stand has been converted to an outdoor band pavlion and eating area.

The red brick railway station is constructed in the Mission style. The original plan was rectangular, with its longer axis parallel to where the tracks ran (which have since been removed). A flat-roof, one-story addition has been made to the south. A plastered ceiling in the passenger waiting area features plaster beams and ornate brackets. The first floor of the main section contains the original waiting area, restroom, office with ticket window and telegraph panel, and baggage room. The original terra cotta tile roof remains in place. The depot is located at the southwestern edge of a historic residential district, focused on the Elms Hotel. Across Kansas City Avenue to the south is the Elms Hotel Park and the Fishing River. The alterations and additions to the building have occurred within the historic period, and have achieved their own significance over time. The building retains a high degree of architectural integrity, and it is a good example of a Mission-style station with Craftsman influences. A survey conducted for the Excelsior Springs Historic Commission noted that the building would be eligible for individual listing on the National Register of Historic Places.

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