Warrensburg Train Depot


The Pacific Railroad obtained a 1849 charter for a rail line to run between St. Louis and a site in the western part of the state, with the aspiration of building to the Pacific Ocean. Ground was broken in St. Louis in 1851. Using rails, locomotives, and rolling stock shipped from England, the first five mile section of the road opened in 1852. Work was intermittent during the Civil War, but by July 1864 the rails had reached Warrensburg.  The original Train Depot in Warrensburg was built in 1864 and it stood until February 1889 when it went up in flames and was subsequently replaced by the present station you see today.

The current structure built in 1890 is the architectural style called Richardsonian Romanesque. The Warrensburg Train Station has served as one of the main transportation hubs of Warrensburg, Missouri. It was originally opened by the Missouri Pacific Railroad, and was later renovated in the 1940s. As the town and businesses grew, everything centered around the station, and it still serves as the heart of downtown Warrensburg.

In 1872, a reorganization of the railroad resulted in a name change to the better-known Missouri Pacific Railway, and more than a century later it was subsumed into the Union Pacific Railroad.

Benjamin Grover is considered one of the founding fathers of Warrensburg for his fiery determination to bring the Union Pacific Railroad through Warrensburg. Elected as State Senator in 1851, he argued for the railroad to move inland through small villages and sparsely populated counties like Johnson County, since wealthy towns already had access through the river. Johnson County managed to raise $50,000 in bonds with additional $100,000 on a second financial subscription.
The placement of the depot east of the original downtown, “Old Town,” caused the principal merchants to relocate their businesses around the station, effectively shifting the whole town a few blocks to “New Town”. The railroad was constructed along the natural topography of the landscape which created a separation between existing towns like Warrensburg and the new railroad. In anticipation of the railroad, property owners platted new subdivisions to attract businesses and residents to move closer to the railroad.


In the early 1900s, a small train was connected from downtown Warrensburg to Pertle Springs, which people could use for day trips and fun travel.

In 1904, a World’s Fair Passenger Train, crowded with people on the way to St. Louis, crashed with a freight train headed the opposite direction. Twenty-eight people were killed and sixty were injured in the wreck. The accident happened just three miles outside of Warrensburg.

The year was 1875 when an infestation of Rocky Mountain locusts measuring 198,000 square miles—a square 450 miles on each side, containing an estimated 3.5 trillion locusts—descended upon the midwestern United States, it soon was to be called the “Year of the Grasshopper”. It was reported that the Missouri Pacific Railroad Depot in Warrensburg had 3 inches of grasshoppers on the ground.  The grasshoppers stripped every organic material in the county, eating clothes on clothes lines and wooden handles on tools.

Article published in the Warrensburg Standard: FEBRUARY 31, 1889. CREMATED! The Warrensburg Depot Goes Up in Smoke. An Ancient Landmark Wiped Out. A Crowd of Mourners Gather About the Ruins and Lament the Catastrophe. About two o’clock Saturday afternoon the alarm of fire was raised and the smoke and llame were seen coming through the roof of the depot. It was evident at a glance that nothing could be done to save the building, a low wooden structure which burnt like tinder.

Warrensburg Train Depot Video
Watch this wonderful new KMOS-TV.
Tim Oar; Producer, KMOS-TV (PBS)


The first depot was a simple, one-story structure with a gabled roof and was clad in vertical wood siding. On the south elevation, a raised loading dock facilitated the movement of crates and parcels between the boxcars and the freight room.
The one-story railroad depot has been in continuous use since its construction in 1890. The building has a stone foundation, and features Richardsonian Romanesque stylistic elements such as the gable parapets and arched window openings. A stone water table wraps the building. Tall, narrow window openings with rough-cut stone lintels filled by recessed wood windows pierce the primary and south elevations. A wood-frame shed roof awning spans the primary elevation; arched wood braces spring from projecting stone blocks and support the awning. The arched opening on the east elevation has stucco infill with a glazed aluminum door and flanking windows. A one-story modern addition attaches to the building’s west elevation. The addition has stone veneer cladding and a gabled asphalt shingle roof. A wood-framed gabled awning extends from the historic depot’s awning on the north elevation and spans the length of the addition.  This building retains integrity and clearly communicates its historic function and the era in which it was constructed, rendering it contributing to the District.