Kansas City, MO

Union Station of Kansas City Has Stories of Hauntings Dating Back to the Union Station Massacre

CJ Coombs
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Kansas City Union Station.Photo by John LeCoque taken March 23, 2007, from Liberty Memorial. (Public domain, Wikipedia.)

I've been to Union Station many times. It is a massive building. I never had an unusual encounter there but I was never looking for one either. I was more interested in historical architecture and design. There are also many who frequent the large atrium known as the Grand Plaza to walk laps on their lunch breaks.

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The Grand Plaza or north waiting room of Union Station.Daderot, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

The construction of the Union Station began in 1910 and it still wails of history. On October 30, 1914, Union Station opened to the public and after midnight, the first train arrived. Many people have crossed the floors of Union Station since its opening. This tall structure is a lesson in history, a part of the culture in Kansas City, and hosts events. In 2000, I attended a large New Year's Eve party there that had a live band. Nothing spooky occurred unless our noise caused the spirits to stir.

The Union Station Massacre

On June 17, 1933, FBI agents and police officers were escorting mobster Frank Nash when a shootout occurred in front of Union Station in an effort to free Nash. Nash was shot and killed along with law enforcement officers. When I first moved to Kansas City, I learned the bullets from the shootout were still in front of the building. Tests have indicated "the marks could not have come from bullets." Do people believe the spirits of Nash and the officers are roaming around the front of the building?

Some Union Station history

Some people believe there are apparitions of people who roam the halls waiting for their trains. In the early days of train arrivals, there were as many as 200 trains passing through on a daily basis.

Passenger traffic hits a record 678,363 travelers with a significant number of America’s armed forces personnel passing through Union Station on their way home from World War II. (Source.)

From 1950 to 1970, train travel began to wain as the airline industry grew, and during the 1960s, restaurant and retail shops closed. In 1972, Union Station is placed on the National Register of Historic Places. By 1973, there were only six trains passing through daily. In 1974, a development company called Trivec comes in to redevelop the area surrounding Union Station. That's when the One and Two Pershing office buildings were constructed, one of which I used to work in. The station closed in 1983 leaving open the area for Amtrak and The Lobster Pot restaurant, which was popular in its time, but in 1985, Amtrak closed and the restaurant closed in 1989.

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A glimpse of the crowd in the Grand Hall c. 1950s.National Archives at College Park, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

In 1988, Kansas City initiated legal action against Trizec for not redeveloping Union Station which was finally settled in 1994. The Union Station Assistance Corporation which was a not-for-profit was established to own Union Station. Surrounding counties passed a bi-state sales tax for the restoration and redeveloping of the station which would include creating a science museum. By November 1999, the public was invited to return to Union Station. Three years later, Amtrak returned.

Today, Union Station contains restaurants, retail shops, traveling exhibits, Science City, and theaters. Some civic organizations such as the Kansas City Chamber of Commerce now reside at Union Station.

Is Union Station really haunted?

Local networks have reported on its alleged hauntings in the past. Its believed that ghosts that linger are from the era of World War II. The most popular spirit is named Suggs Mailer. His job was getting the mail from underground trains and taking it to the post office. As the story goes, he disappeared after he retired. Some say that in the basement, his shadow has been seen.

Some say that on the day of the Kansas City Massacre, Nash managed to escape from the grave, as well. His body may have been shattered by bullets that morning---but his spirit has managed to survive. (Source.)

Is it really true that Frank Nash wanders through Union Station looking for his killers?

Others say they've seen suitcases carried by apparitions walking in the hallways. Strange train whistles have been heard and there have been documented screams that couldn't be explained. It all sounds eerie and I'd rather be at home reading about it than be at the Station on a bench hearing about these tales.

Woman in a black dress

People have claimed to have seen a female apparition in a black dress after hours walking down a set of stairs. Guards claim to have seen her and when she gets to the foot of the grand staircase, she disappears. Who is she?

The Union Station has been on a list of the alleged top haunted places in Kansas City. These stories come out with redundancy around Halloween.

The Travel Channel's video of explored Union Station in The Ghost Adventure team investigates the historic Missouri Union Station.

Thanks for reading.

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30 years of legal secretarial experience, and a BA in Eng Journalism & Creative Writing. Thinker, giver, and lover of life. Born into Air Force service life, my life has taken me to Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Missouri. I love family, art, truth, non-fiction, reading, history, and travel.

Kansas City, MO
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