A Train Station with a Story

Kansas City’s Union Station

Kansas City is the home to a majestic building that is called Union Station. In 1945, more than 678,000 people passed through those doors and onto passenger trains that took mostly members of America’s Armed Forces all over the country. In its 100 plus years of existence, it has seen tears of joy, tears of sadness, and even blood and tears. Its history inspired me to use a fictitious version of it in book two of the Fellowship Dystopia, If I Should Die. But I’m getting ahead of myself. 

The First Kansas City Train Station

The West Bottoms district is one of the oldest areas of Kansas City. It sits near the junction of the Missouri River and the Kansas River. Originally called the French Bottoms, it was an area of trade for Native Americans and French trappers. After Kansas City’s stockyards opened in 1871, the railroads came.  

Union Depot opened on April 7, 1878 in Kansas City, Missouri’s West Bottoms district. The grand building stood on Union Street (hence the name) filled with the passengers boarding trains for distant cities. 

In 1903, Kansas City’s great flood destroyed many of the businesses in the area. Rail executives decided to build a new station on higher, more centrally located ground.

The New Union Station

By 1906, twelve railroad companies combined to form The Kansas City Terminal Railroad. They chose Chicago architect Jarvis Hunt to design the new station.

Construction of the massive beaux arts architectural style building began in 1910.

November 1, 1914, Union Passenger Station of Kansas City opens its doors to a massive crowd. The construction cost close to six million dollars. 

Rail traffic peaked during WWI-with 79,368 trains passing through the Station, including 271 trains in one day.

UnionStation.org

Union Station Massacre

On June 17, 1933, a team of FBI agents and police officers escorted convicted mobster Frank Nash to the station. Nash and four law enforcement officers died in a shootout outside the building. Many myths about that crime persist today. Many claim that marks on the building are from the bullets that flew that day even though modern Kansas City Police disproved that. Mystery surrounds which other mobster committed the crime. They convicted Adam Richetti of the crime and died in the gas chamber on October 7, 1938.

A Long History

Almost the noon hour at the Union Station in Kansas City, MO.

After 100 years, Union Station has a long history, a colorful history. With that colorful history and the beauty of the building inside and out, how could I not use it as a location in If I Should Die? Of course, to fit the alternate timeline of the Fellowship Dystopia, I had to change enough part of the Station’s story to make it part of Miranda’s story. But the clock in the Grand Hall of the station becomes an important location. A location of hope and disaster that will change Miranda’s life. 

Inspired by history,If I Should Die, The Fellowship Dystopia, Book Two goes on sale tomorrow. It’s available on all your favorite online bookseller sites. 

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Which historic location do you think the third book of the Fellowship Dystopia should include? Why?

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