St Joseph Missouri Rail History Hunting

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Welcome back to another edition of Legacies…On The Rails! I appreciate you joining me again as we close out another week here in early 2017.  So, what’s a Railfan to do on his birthday when he’s turning 29 for the 18th time and has the day off with his wife? Why a Railfan road-trip, of course!

Just as I indicated in my last posting as we planned on Wednesday 2/8/17, we headed about an hour north of Kansas City to St Joseph. By the time we hit town, it was time for lunch and our Google Maps search for food found us a cozy little place called The Diner On Francis Street https://www.facebook.com/TheDinerOnFrancis/ . It is owned and operated by Chef Karlon Ray Ables, aka: “Scrappy“.  He said he started the establishment last June but didn’t really “get going” until about August. Not only did a very appetizing aroma greet us when we walked in but “Scrappy” was a very gracious host, and was quick with the service and did a great job with my wife Denise’s Hot Beef Sandwich and my Cheeseburger that came with perfectly seasoned steak fries. It also turned out that he comes from four generations of railroad workers!

He shared that his Grandfather Roy Lease was an engineer for the Burlington and when the CB&Q 5614 Steam Locomotive (pictured above) was brought to St Joseph to be donated and displayed in its current home in St Joe’s Patee Park, his grandfather drove it from Omaha to St Joseph and “Scrappy” got to ride it from Forest City to St Joseph! We also met another friendly gentleman there whose neighbor and others he knows are big into model railroading and he knows several folks that have worked on the railroads in the area. I look forward to hearing from them so I can bring you their stories as well!

The Diner On Francis Street already had decor on all the tables that showed that Chef Karlon Ray Ables was ready for the Valentine’s Day crowd and we hope he sees lots of folks that day, ready for a romantic and delicious dinner!

With our stomachs full and content from Scrappy’s great home cooking, we headed to the Patee House Museum http://www.ponyexpressjessejames.com/patee/index.php that opened in 1860 as a luxury hotel that now houses pretty much everything for the St Joe history lover, including a replica old town street complete with businesses you could walk right into including Photography Studio, Newspaper Office, General Store, Dentist, Optician, Physician, Blacksmith, Undertaker, Barber, Bank, and Dressmaker.

Of Course, the most important to me was the Railroad Station complete with signals, schedules, and pictures, and many artifacts on display.

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But the “icing on the cake” as far as the museum goes for me was the  CB&Q/Hannibal & Missouri steam locomotive #35The Missouri“(the very first mail train).

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I picked up some postcards and even a key-chain, all with the #35 on them as souvenirs from their gift shop. I later realized that when my daughter Cara and I visited our cousin George Hess and his family for a day in March, 2015, I had my picture taken with a mural there in Downtown Chillicothe, Missouri (another town that the CB&Q was a prevalent railroad in) that you have seen in a previous blog entry, and it turns out that in a way of speaking, this is not the 1st time the #35 and I have crossed paths.

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There were also model train pieces and even a working layout in the facility as well.

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Our next stop was the Jesse James Home & Museum, https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g44880-d290950-Reviews-Jesse_James_Home_Museum-Saint_Joseph_Missouri.html on a different part of the property. It is where Jesse was living when he was gunned down by Bob Ford, and though he and his brother Charlie Ford were acting as hitmen hired by the Governor to assassinate James, they were not supposed to shoot him in the back, and were the arrested and convicted of murder, but later pardoned, and each was only given $750 each of the overall $10,000 they were promised, and were told to get out of town. Charlie later committed suicide, while Bob was eventually gunned gown in a saloon brawl.  This is of particular interest to us as it is believed that Henry Lafayette Barr, who married Jesse James’ daughter Mary Susan James is a relative of my wife’s on her Paternal Grandmother Daisy Mae Barr-Mapes‘ (wife of a KC Southern man, Denise’s Grandfather William R Mapes Sr, and mother of some KCS workers in the Mulberry-Pittsburg, Ks area) side, we just need to establish the official connection and I am in the processs of Geneaology research hoping to eventually do just that.

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Of course, of further interest to me is the fact that James and his various gangs wre known for not only bank and stage, but train robberies, as indicated in the Wanted Poster above.
Some of their train heists included their very first, and believed to be the very first Old West train robbery of the Rock Island & Pacific near Adair, Iowa July 21st 1873. They broke a piece of the rail and caused the train to derail into a ditch. When they didn’t find what they were looking for, they robbed passengers of their wares.

There is a historical marker at the spot of the robbery now, as there also are at the sites of all of James’ rumored 8 total train robberies. They also include the Gads Hill Train Robbery of the train from St Louis, Missouri to Little Rock that was currently in the stage of its journey that took it from Malvern Park to Hot Springs, Arkansas that took place just after they robbed the General Store in Gads Hill on January 15th, 1874 and the Blue Cut Train Robbery in Glendale, Missouri because they believed the Chicago & Alton train was carrying $1,000 to $3,000 in gold, but they found and got away with considerably less. Credit to westerntrips.blogspot.com , sundowntrailblog.com , and biography.com for much of this information.

Our final stop of mention on the day was the Remington Nature Center https://www.visitmo.com/remington-nature-center-of-st-joseph.aspx . On the way there, as it sits next to railroad tracks that sit along the river, I saw a BNSF coal train headed in our direction and as it was my only opportunity for actual live rail-fanning that day, I hoped to catch it in both pics and video, but #1 as coal trains are often known as “Coal Drags” because of their low speed, this one was anything but…..it had to be the fastest coal train I have yet seen as it was flat haulin’! #2, we had to turn around in Remington’s parking lot and let’s just say (as we were in her new car with her driving, my wife just does not have my lead train-chasing foot as I would behind the wheel of the Legacies On The Rails Cruiser, so these shots of Citirail (CREX) 1341 (ES44AC) and BNSF 5714 (AC4400CW) were the best I could get.

But the Remington Nature Center did also have displays related to railroads in St Jospeh, both past and present and a replica of the front of the CB&Q/Hannibal & Missouri “Missouri”, and information about it.

Well, I hope you have enjoyed this bit of rail and other history from St Joseph, Missouri. I started this posting in Kansas City, Missouri but am finishing it from the Quality Inn in Wichita, Kansas where tomorrow, we’ll be on to our next railfan adventure!

As always, this is John LoshThe Losh-Man” reminding you to always follow the Lord Jesus Christ each day of your life which is the ONLY way to truly stay on track, and when it comes to trains, continue leaving Legacies…On The Rails! I’ll see you next time!

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2 thoughts on “St Joseph Missouri Rail History Hunting

  1. Hi! My 1st cousin William Detwieler took me to Patee Park in 2009 to see our grandfather’s train. A gentleman from the city came and let us in the gate to climb into the engine. When my cousin was a boy, he got to ride a couple of times in this particular engine with our grandfather Lawrence Renner, who was the train engineer. My grandfather lived in St Joe, having built his house on Felix St. The inside of the engine was quite deteriorated and had not restored at that time. Living in VA, I only got back to see it from the outside on a weekend in 2015, but could not see if any restorations had occurred. I also hope to see it again in August this year. Thank you for the picture you displayed!
    Byron Renner

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