September 2003 .........
Kansas City: KC Union Station: The station was built in 1914, and was the third largest train station in the country. It was built to last 200 years. It had 95 ft ceilings and in the grand hall three 3500 pound chandeliers. There was a 6 foot clock hanging in the stations central arch. The building had 850,000 square feet and 900 rooms. The interior had a ticket office, waiting rooms, railway offices, restaurants, the cities largest barber shop, a post office and drug store among other things. When train travel began to decline in the 50's the need for the massive station became less important to Kansas City. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972, but the building continued to seriously deteriorate. In 1996 a one-eighth cent sales tax, the first in the country, was voted in by Kansas and Missouri to raise funds to restore the station. The ceiling was restored by the same company that helped with New York Grand Central Station and Windsor Castle. Phase one began in 1997 with the removal of ten million pounds of debris. The restoration was completed in 1999 and the station now houses restaurants, shops, theatres, traveling exhibits, special events and a science center. Laurel remembers being in the station as a child in the med 40's. Don't miss this special place. We visited there in October 2003. "Meet me under the clock" is a famous saying from the hay day of the station.
September 2003 .........
Kansas City: Arabia Steamboat Museum: The Museum holds unbelievable treasurer and fascinating history. The Steamboat Arabia was built in Pennsylvania in 1853. It was a side wheel steamer, 171 ft long and held 220 tons of cargo. The paddlewheel was 28 feet tall and could move the Arabia 6 to 7 miles an hour. In 1856 as it carried cargo to frontier stores down the Missouri river, it was "snagged" by a fallen tree trunk just under the river surface. Of the estimated 400 riverboats on the waters at that time 300 of them sank from "snags". The boat sunk quickly, however the upper cabins remained above water and all were rescued in the ships on life boat. The only casualty was a mule tied on the stern. By the next morning only the smokestacks and the top of the pilot shack remained above water. Lost, among other things necessary for life on the frontier, were 400 barrels of Kentucky bourbon. One hundred thirty two years later the wreck was located 1/2 miles from the river in a Kansas corn field. The excavation site was as long as a football field and 45 ft. deep. The precious cargo was removed, some has been cleaned and restored and today it is in the museum. Much more work remains to be done. The 400 barrels of bourbon were never found. The museum is worth the trip. We went to the museum and Union Station in one day.
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