Part 1 - Kansas City to Sedalia
AMTRAK ROUTE GUIDE #50b -- Kansas City, Missouri to St. Louis, Missouri
Sedalia to Hermann


0.0 KANSAS CITY Union Station, 30 W. Pershing Road.  Elevation approximately 750.  The present Kansas City AMTRAK station has recently been remodeled and rebuilt, at the same location as the old classic Union Station.

  Kansas City is the center of a vast agricultural distribution area, and is also known for livestock and grain distribution, automobile and truck assembly, steel processing, metal fabrication, food processing, and other industries.  It is the largest city in Missouri.  One of the City’s Foreign Trade Zones is located underground in limestone caverns.

  Kansas City began in 1821 as a fur trading post on the Missouri River, established by François Chouteau.  The settlement was later known as Westport Landing, and was the beginning of both the Santa Fe and Oregon Trails.  In the 1850’s, like Kansas, the area was at the heart of the struggle between abolitionists and advocates of slavery.  In 1869, the Hannibal & St. Joseph Railroad was the first railroad to link the area with Chicago

 Kansas City is also known for its unique architecture.  The Crown Center near downtown is known as a “city within the city,” and consists of 85 acres of shopping, residential, and business units.  As the Rodgers & Hammerstein song says, “Everythin’s up to date in Kansas City,” and that is still very true!!

  Kansas City is also the home of the Hallmark Visitor Center at Crown Center, the Kansas City Art Institute, the Oceans of Fun water park, Penn Valley Park (which contains the Kansas City Zoo), the Thomas Hart Benton Home & Studio State Historic Site, and other attractions.  During the summer, the City holds the Kansas City Jazz Festival and the Kansas City Rodeo.

  Geologically, we will be crossing a part of the Osage Plains between Kansas City and Sedalia.  At approximately Sedalia, we will be entering the Springfield and Salem Plateaus of the Ozark Plateaus Province (see MP 103.5 below).  The Osage Plains are actually a part of the Central Lowlands physiographic province, and the subprovince is characterized by sedimentary rocks of Pennsylvanian (approximately 300 million years old) and Permian (approximately 250 million years old) age.  This subprovince has essentially been unglaciated; however, a few isolated sections do show signs of glaciation. The southern limit of the Pleistocene glaciers is located a short distance north of downtown Kansas City.  The bedrock we are initially traversing through Kansas City is the Late Pennsylvanian-age Kansas City Group, composed primarily of limestone and shale./

 The small valley in which Kansas City Union Station is located is known as the Turkey Creek Valley, which, during the Pleistocene Ice Age, served as a diversion channel for the ancestral Kansas River (located approximately where the modern Missouri River now is) while the outlet of the ancestral Kansas River was blocked by glacial ice.

1 Pass beneath U.S. 71 (highway not shown on map). We are still following the valley of Turkey Creek.

2.5 Pass beneath Interstate 70.  Immediately past the underpass on the right (eastbound) is a large U.S. Postal Service facility.

3.5 On the right (eastbound) is the large Elmwood Cemetery.

5 Cross Blue River, a 40 mile-long tributary of the Missouri River.  The Blue also served as a diversion channel for the ice-blocked ancestral Kansas River during the Pleistocene Ice Age (see MP 0 above).

6 Pass beneath Interstate 435 and pass through Rock Creek Junction.  The BNSF rail line branching off on the left (eastbound) carries AMTRAK’s Southwest Chief to Chicago.  Enter the city of Independence.

10INDEPENDENCE station, 600 S. Grand Avenue.  Elevation approximately 955 ft.  The Independence station s also known as the Truman Depot, in honor of President Harry S. Truman, who was raised in Independence.  Independence is also known as the beginning of the California, Oregon, and Santa Fe Trails.

  Independence is the county seat of Jackson County, and is a suburb of Kansas City.  It is also the 5th largest city in Missouri.  The city was named after the Declaration of Independence, and was founded on March 29, 1827.  It became a trade center, since it was located at the westernmost navigable point on the Missouri River, before the junction with the Kansas River.  In 1831, followers of Joseph Smith, the leader of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the Mormons) began moving to the area, and Smith denoted a spot here for a temple , at which the Second Coming of Christ was expected.  Local opposition to the group resulted in their expulsion in 1833, and then eventually the 1838 Mormon War, also known as the Missouri Mormon War.  Some branches of the Mormons, however, returned to Independence starting in 1867, and built the Community of Christ (the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) as well as the Church of Christ Temple, both of which are located just north of the AMTRAK station.  In the mid-19th Century, Independence became the official beginning of the Oregon Trail, and, between 1848 and 1868, it was the beginning of the California Trail, therefore had several outfitters in town.

 During the Civil War, two battles took place near here, both of which were won by the Confederates.,  After the War, Independence began a rebirth of construction activity.  In 1948, Independence was the final call on President Harry Truman’s famed “whistle stop” tour.

  Other than President and First Lady Harry and Bess Truman, Independence is also the home of Paul Henning, creator of television’s The Beverly Hillbillies, Green Acres, and Petticoat Junction.  Each Labor Day, Independence hosts the annual Santa-Cali-Gon Days.  It is also the home of the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum, the Harry S. Truman National Historic Site, the Mormon Visitors’ Center, the National Frontier Trails Center, and the Auditorium, Headquarters of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which is located just north of the AMTRAK station.

11.5 On the right (eastbound) is another Community of Christ (Mormons) facility.

13 Cross over Interstate 70.  We are still traversing the Pennsylvanian-aged Kansas City Group.

15.5 Enter the flood plain of the Little Blue River.

17 Pass through community of Little Blue, and cross the Little Blue River.  The Little Blue is approximately 45 miles long, and is a tributary of the Missouri River.  We are now traversing bedrock of the Late Pennsylvanian-aged Pleasanton Group, which underlies the Kansas City Group and is older, but stratigraphically is very similar to the Kansas City Group.

20 Pass through Unity Village, the World Headquarters of the Unity Church, a New Thought Christian organization founded in 1889 by Charles and Myrtle Fillmore, after Myrtle believed that she had been cured of tuberculosis by spiritual healing. Unity describes itself as a worldwide Christian organization which teaches a positive approach to life, seeking to accept the good in all people and events.  Unity began as a healing ministry and healing has continued to be its main emphasis.  It teaches that all people can improve the quality of their lives through thought.

20.5 Pass beneath Interstate 470

23 LEE’S SUMMIT station, 220 S.W. Main Street.  Elevation approximately 1049.  The town was founded as the Town of Strother in 1850. by William B. Howard, and named after his wife Maria D. Strother.  Strother left in 1862 after being arrested for being a Confederate, but he returned after the Civil War and platted the town on 70 acres.  In 1865, the town was renamed in honor of early settler Dr. Pleasant J.G. Lea of Tennessee, who was killed by rebels in 1862 near the railroad depot.  Since the community was on one of the highest points of land between Kansas City and St. Louis, the town was named Lee’s Summit, but the doctor’s last named was misspelled as Lee, instead of Lea.  In 1868, the town was incorporated as Lee’s Summit.

  In the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, the town grew, especially after 1912, when lumber baron R.A. Long began building his Longview Farm, which eventually became a showplace for horses.

 Lee’s Summit is the home of jazz great Pat Metheny.  It was also the home of the notorious Younger Brothers, Bob, Cole, Jim, and John of the James-Younger Gang.  Cole Younger is buried in Lee’s Summit.

23.5 Cross over U.S. 50

24-26 We are still traversing bedrock of the Pennsylvanian-aged Kansas City Group.

27-28 Pass through Greenwood, which was founded in 1867 and incorporated in 1963. The town was named by Rev. S.B. Clark, reportedly after the beautiful green elm trees in the area.  In 1973 a major explosion occurred in the rock quarry south of Greenwood.  Homes and businesses throughout Greenwood sustained damage.

29 Enter CASS County, named after Democratic U.S. Senator Lewis Cass of Michigan.  The county was founded on March 3, 1835, and initially called Van Buren County, named after President Martin Van Buren.  However, after the 1848 election, when Whig Zachary Taylor was elected President, the county was renamed for Cass, who was  running against Van Buren for President.  The county seat is Harrisonville.

30.5 On the right (eastbound) is the Lake Winnebago Municipal Airport.  We are traversing the Late Pennsylvanian Pleasanton Group.

33-34 Pass through Pleasant Hill, which was platted in 1844, and moved to its current site in 1865 when the railroad was built through the area.  The community was named from its "pleasant situation on an elevated prairie".  The Kansas City office of the National Weather Service is located here.

35-37 The rolling hills in this area are underlain primarily by the Late Pennsylvanian-aged Pleasanton Group.

37 The low hill in the distance on the left (eastbound) is composed of the Late Pennsylvanian-aged Kansas City Group.

39.5-40 Pass through Strasburg, which was originally known as Crawford’s Fork.  It was founded in the 1860’s.  The present name refers to the city of Strasbourg, then in Germany, but now part of France.  The Strasburg City Council established the United States' first Junior City Council in 2006, which is composed of local youth who are elected into office.  They focus on municipal issues, just as the official City Council does.

40-42 The bedrock here is the Middle Pennsylvanian-aged Marmaton Group, composed of undisturbed limestone, shale, and sandstone, very similar to the overlying formations we have already passed through, the Kansas City Group and Pleasanton Group.

42 Enter JOHNSON County, named after former Vice President Richard M. Johnson, who was from Kentucky and served in both the War of 1812 and the Battle of Thames (1813).  The county was created on December 13, 1854, from a part of Lafayette County.  The Johnson County seat is Warrensburg.

45 Pass through Kingsville, which was platted in 1856 ands name dafter early settler General William King.  In 1865, because of the strict southern principles of the King family, bitter feeling was aroused leading to the burning in effigy of General King and the attempted change of name of Ramey.  The new name, however, was never officially adopted, and just as soon as the Democrats had influence in Congress, the name of Kingsville was resumed.

46-48 We are still traversing an area underlain by the Middle Pennsylvanian-aged Marmaton Group.

49-50.5 Pass through Holden, named after Major W.B. Holden, who played a large role in bringing the railroad through Johnson County.  The town was laid out in 1857 by Isaac Jacobs and Sanford Cummings.  Temperance advocate Carrie Nation lived in Holden in the 1870s, where she worked as a teacher.

51.5-52 Note the 2 reservoirs on the right (eastbound).

54-56 We are continuing to traverse the outcrop area of the Middle Pennsylvanian-aged Marmaton Group.

58-58.5 Pass through Centerview, which was laid out in 1865 and originally known as Graham, named after Samuel C. Graham, the original town site owner.  The name Centerview was proposed in 1869 by Jane Roop, and named after the town’s “central location.”

61.5 Cross the West Fork Post Oak Creek.

62.5 Cross the East Fork Post Oak Creek.  Post Oak Creek flows north, into the Blackwater River just north of Warrensburg.  It is named for the abundance of post oak trees along its course.

64.5 WARRENSBURG station, 100 S. Holden Street.  Elevation approximately 837.  Warrensburg was founded in 1835 by John and Martin Warren of Kentucky. Pertle Springs, located on the south side of town, was renowned for its curative powers in the early days, and water from the springs was shipped to every state in the Union.  A resort area developed around the springs.

  In 1870, a well-known trial took place here, in which Leonidas Hornsby was found guilty of killing his brother-in-law’s beloved foxhound “Old Drum.”  The closing argument in the case contained the well-known “Eulogy on a dog,” given by Missouri Senator George G. Vest, after which damages were granted for the plaintiff.  A statue of Old Drum stands in front of the Warrensburg courthouse.

  Warrensburg is also the home of the University of Central Missouri, formerly known as Central Missouri State University.  The campus is located a few blocks south of the AMTRAK station.  The school was founded in 1871, originally as Normal School #2.  It currently has more than 14,000 students, and offers 150 programs of study, including 37 graduate programs.

  Warrensburg was mentioned in the 1983 television movie The Day After, which largely takes place in eastern Kansas and western Missouri.  Warrensburg was one of the locations considered for the principal filming location and setting before the production team chose Lawrence, Kansas.

  Warrensburg is the home of Cave Hollow Park, where outcrops of the Middle Pennsylvanian-aged Warrensburg Channel Sandstone can be seen. This lens of sandstone can be traced for more than 50 miles.

66-68 We are now traversing bedrock of the Middle Pennsylvanian-aged Cherokee Group, which consists largely of shale, sandstone, and siltstone.

70 U.S. 50 is now adjacent to the railroad on the left (eastbound).

71 Pass through Montserrat, which was formerly called Carbon Hill.  The town site was laid out by John A. Gallaher on August 24, 1870, who gave the town an old world name.  Montserrat, or Monserrat, is a jagged mountain about 30 miles northwest of Barcelona, Spain.  The choice of the name was likely suggested by the elevated site of the town and the serrated hills leading away south of it.

The hills south of town (right if eastbound) are composed of Marmaton Group sedimentary rocks, while the flat plains at the base are composed of Cherokee Group rocks.

72.5 Cross Clear Fork River.

73 South of the railroad (right if eastbound) is Knob Noster State Park, which was created in the 1930’s as the Montserrat National Recreational Demonstration Area.  It was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps and Work Progress Administration, then transferred to the State of Missouri in 1946.  The park offers year-round camping, hiking, and fishing.

74-75 Pass through Knob Noster, which is Latin for “our hills,” in reference to 2 prominent hills, or “knobs,” in the northeastern section of town.  The two prominent hills are composed of the Middle Pennsylvanian-aged Marmaton Group, while the flatter area at the base of the hills is composed of Cherokee Group sedimentary rocks.  Knob Noster was platted in 1856, and was originally called “Knobsnoster.”  Like Warrensburg, Knob Noster was mentioned in the 1983 American television movie The Day After.

75.5 Pass beneath U.S. 50.

78 Enter PETTIS County, named after former U.S. Representative Spencer D. Pettis.  The county was created on January 24, 1833.  Pettis was an influential Democrat who supported Andrew Jackson and opposed the National Bank.  He was challenged to a duel by Thomas Biddle, manager of the National Bank of Missouri, and both were mortally wounded in the duel, and Pettis died the next day.  The Pettis County seat is Sedalia.

82 Pass through La Monte, which was platted in 1866 as Boomer, and named after George Boomer, a popular bridge contractor and railroad construction foreman. After the Missouri Pacific Railroad came through in 1870, the name of the town was changed to La Monte by the postmaster, named after a friend of the postmaster.

84.5 U.S. 50 is again adjacent to the railroad, on the right (eastbound).

85-86 We are now traversing an area underlain by the Early Mississippian-aged Osagean Series, which consists primarily of limestone and chert.  These formations are older than the ones we have previously traversed since Kansas City.

87 Pass through Dresden, which was laid our in 1863 by Thomas A. Lester of Virginia, and a settler named Agee from Kentucky.  The town was incorporated in 1866 and named after Dresden, Germany, a town known for its elaborately decorated and delicately colored porcelain figures.  Many Germans settled in this area.

88.5 On the right (eastbound) is an Alcan Cable facility.

90 Cross Muddy Creek, a tributary of the Lemine River.

93 Pass beneath U.S. 65.

94SEDALIA station, Pacific Street and North Osage Avenue.  Elevation approximately 893.  Sedalia is the county seat of Pettis County, and the 6th largest city in the State.  It was founded by General George R. Smith, the “father of Pettis County,” in 1857, who named the town “Sedville,” after his daughter Sarah, whom he called Sed.  In 1860, the town was incorporated and the name changed to Sedalia.

  During the Civil War, the U.S. Army had an installation here, and after the War, 2 railroads began in the area.  Sedalia soon became a railhead for cattle drives and stockyards began developing in the area.  Sedalia was the destination of cattle drives on the CBS television show Rawhide, which aired from 1959 to 1966.  In the late 19th Century, Sedalia was well known as a center of vice, especially prostitution, which accompanied its large floating class of railroad workers and commercial travelers.  By the 1870’s, brothels were common in town, but they had moved to one certain area along Main Street by the 1890’s.  These establishments also employed musicians, particularly piano players, contributing to a thriving musical culture.  It fostered the development of many artists, including the renowned ragtime composer Scott Joplin, who lived in Sedalia. In 1886, the Salvation Army began operating in Sedalia.

  During the 20th Century, the economy of Sedalia improved, and one industry it is now known for is its many trailer manufacturers and dealers.

                                                                                               Sedalia is the home of the Missouri State Fair, held here each August.  Each June, Sedalia celebrates the Scott Joplin Ragtime Festival.  In addition to Scott Joplin, Sedalia was also the home of country musician/comedian Leroy Van Dyke, best known for his song “The Auctioneer.”  Sedalia is also the home of Bothwell State Park and the Bothwell Lodge, the country retreat of lawyer John Homer Bothwell.  In 1974, Sedalia hosted the Ozark Music Festival, and in 2006, hosted the Delicious Rox Festival.  In 1909, one of the first Boy Scouts of America troops was organized here.