Green City, MO

The historic Green City Railroad Depot: each depot tells a unique story

CJ Coombs
Historic Green City Railroad Depot.Photo byJim Heaton (submitted 5/10/2007) /

Railroad depots hold significant historical value as they serve as tangible reminders of the past and the important role that railroads played in shaping our society. These iconic structures were once busy hubs of activity, serving as gateways to new opportunities and connecting communities across distances.

Historic train stations take you back in time. One of those stations is the Green City Railroad Depot located at 202 Lincoln Street in Green City, Missouri (Sullivan County). The building of this depot was funded by the local farmers.

This depot was constructed around 1880 by the Quincy, Missouri and Pacific Railroad (QM&P). The rectangular building is one and a half stories. This depot was operating until 1950. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on January 15, 1999.

The depot

The architectural classification Late Victorian/Stick style. The foundation and walls consist of wood. The architect and builder are unknown and it's owned by the City of Green City.

The depot was built to accommodate passengers as well as freight arriving and departing on the QM&P. The depot is south of the town square, is in its original location, and was situated parallel to the tracks.

The depot was the only station in Green City through 1950. On the south elevation of the building are two doors. One goes to the waiting room and a large one that slides goes to the freight room.
The restored Green City Railroad Depot, Green City, Missouri.Photo byFacebook/Green City Area Historical Preservation.

In 1976, repair work was performed on materials that were deteriorating along with other restoration. It was also painted with its original colors of red with green trim. The original wood shingles were replaced with asphalt shingles. Near the depot on a short piece of track is a railroad caboose (ca. 1981), which was donated to the Green City Bicentennial Depot Restoration Project.

In 1992, the building was raised and concrete pads were poured under the building to provide more permanent support. The bay window also referred to as the telegrapher's bay, is on the trackside of the building. This allowed the agent to see up and down the track without leaving the building. The interior of the building looks about the same as when it was built. There are three rooms consisting of the waiting room, the ticket agent's office, and the freight room. There is also a pot belly stove that looks like the original.

Some potbelly stoves were manufactured specifically for use in the rail industry heating train stations, train depots and train cars. Pot-bellies were manufactured by companies like the Boston & Maine Railroad and named accordingly: 'Station Agent,' 'Railway King,' 'Station Heater,' 'Union Caboose,', etc. (Source.)

This depot is typical of many of the depots constructed in the late 1800s. If you look at images of other depots in Missouri, you note the similarities in design and size. A depot was also usually named after the town or city it was serving.

The QM&P was incorporated on June 29, 1869, in Quincy, Illinois. By April 25, 1872, a line was constructed from a point on the Mississippi River opposite Quincy, Illinois to Edina, Missouri (a point on the Missouri River opposite Brownsville, Nebraska was the intended point). At the end of 1872, the line was 25 miles east of Green City. The Panic of 1873 put a halt to the work as it did to many things.

By 1874, the track reached what was to become Green City as well as the Sullivan County seat of Milan. By 1876, the line went through the county.

With light traffic and low revenue, the QM&P was leased to the Wabash, St. Louis and Pacific from 1879 to 1886. In 1881, the route was extended to Trenton, where construction was again halted. From 1886 to 1888, it operated as an independent line. In 1888, the QM&P was reorganized as the Quincy, Omaha and Kansas City (QO&KC), or the O.K. Line.

In 1897, the QO&KC was leased by the Omaha, Kansas City and Easter (OKC&E). The line was purchased by the Burlington system.

Green City was named after Amos Green who also happened to be the first president of the QO&KC. The first railroad agent in the city was Lucius L. Cram, who also lived in the depot. Interestingly, his daughter was born in the depot and she was also the first child born in Green City.

Like other small towns, the railroad brought prosperity. Due to fires, however, by the 1890s, a city ordinance required the buildings around the square to be constructed with brick. By 1913, Green City was the second-largest town in Sullivan County. The passenger trains came every day and there were six trains going and coming daily.

Not surprising was the activity at the depot during World War I with inductees leaving for training camps. Also interesting, in the 1920s, the street lights were operated from a control box at the depot.

Naturally, the Depression affected railroad activity. By the time it hit, the O.K. Line was already in trouble financially. On August 27, 1939, it was the end of the Green City to Kansas City operation.

The arrival of automobiles including their mass production definitely affected the railroad. Passenger service continued between Green City and Quincy until March 21, 1949, and by the following year, service stopped.

The good news for the community of Green City is that the depot was restored and it has served as a museum. It was also part of the July 4 celebration for the past two years.

Each time you see a railroad depot, remember it played a role in a community. When restored or repurposed, depots can serve as vibrant cultural centers or museums attracting tourists and locals. The repurposing can breathe new life into these structures of the past while preserving their historical integrity.

Thanks for reading.

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Multi-genre writer and author/publisher with a BA in Eng Journalism/Creative Writing. I worked in law firms for 30+ years and retired early to pursue writing. I was born into the Air Force, so you could say I'm from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Missouri. I love family, research, history, true crime, reading, art, and travel.

Kansas City, MO

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