Antiquing by Amtrak
The Missouri River Runner
crosses the state four times a day
through antique country
Story and photos by Leigh Elmore
Ever wish you could take off on a weekend jaunt and leave the car at home? In Missouri, Amtrak makes that possible with two eastbound departures daily from Kansas City and two westbound from St. Louis of its Missouri River Runner trains. And they do live up to their name by really hugging the riverbank on the eastern side of the state.
Amtrak blocks busy Kirkwood Road during boarding four times a day.
Along the way between the two major cities of Missouri, each train makes brief stops in eight smaller towns, all of which offer some antiquing adventures to those in the right frame of mind. From Kansas City those towns are Independence, Lee's Summit, Warrensburg, Sedalia, Jefferson City, Hermann, Washington and Kirkwood, before finally arriving in downtown St. Louis.
Riders can conceivably book a trip to one town on the morning train; de-train and spend an afternoon browsing shops in the downtown area, have lunch, so some more shopping and return home on the afternoon train.
The dome of the Missouri State Capitol is visible from the Amtrak station in Jefferson City.
For example, the first Amtrak train leaves Kansas City at 8:15 a.m. and arrives in Sedalia at 10:04 a.m. Trains then depart westbound back to Kansas City at 12:46 p.m. and 7:39 p.m., allowing a quick two-hour jaunt or a more relaxing day in Sedalia, exploring downtown shops such as Chelsea's Antiques, 712 S. Ohio or Juanita's House Antiques, 103 W. Main and having a meal at the Ivory Grille in the historic Bothwell Hotel.
Juanita Salmons, owner of Juanita's House Antiques and Sam's Place, 113 W. Main is well aware of Amtrak traffic. "Yes we do see business from Amtrak. We're just a half a block from the station. Some ride this far and will have someone pick them up or they will ride back on a later train the same day. But they shop while they're here." She also said that she and other merchants are very willing to watch people's luggage while they amble around downtown Sedalia. "We see them on the weekends primarily," Salmons said.
"I know that we get some," said Chelsea Kehde, owner of Chelsea's. She said that the Chamber of Commerce has sponsored promotions for Amtrak passengers in the past. She indicated that most overnight travelers stay at the Bothwell Hotel, just a few blocks from the depot.
Obviously, more involved trips are possible depending on a person's sense of adventure and resourcefulness. Early in June, my wife and I booked a three-day trip on the Missouri River Runner from Kansas City to Kirkwood and back to investigate the antiquing scene along the way. We weren't disappointed. From our departure from Kansas City's beautiful Union Station and all the whistle stops along the way, the ride was smooth, the seats were comfortable, and the trains were on time. And the views were marvelous; it's nice to take it all in rather than deal with highway traffic.
The Amtrak depot in Washington has an art gallery and a free lending library kiosk.
Our first overnight stop was Washington, MO, a historically German settled community about 70 miles west of St. Louis. Bridgette Kelch, who along with her husband David, owns and operates the DeBourge Guesthouse, a bed and breakfast inn, met us at the station and got us settled. She pointed out the nearby antique shops and vintage stores as well as a bevy of restaurants and bars all within easy walking distance of the inn and the train station.
Sandy Bolte is co-owner of Waterworks Antiques in Washington.
The most visible is Water-works Antiques, directly adjacent to the railroad tracks in Washington's Waterfront Park. It's in the sturdy old city waterworks building, which owner Sandy Bolte and her business partner Helen Brinker, have leased from the city for the last 23 years. There are four levels of quality antique displays from seven dealers.
"Amtrak adds to the whole community," Bolte said. "Lots of folks who arrive here from Kansas City and St. Louis are very impressed and plan to come back. Amtrak helps introduce people to Washington."
With its sturdy, old red brick architecture centering on the Saint Francis Borgia Catholic Parish, downtown Washington has been lovingly preserved and is the perfect setting for the vintage trade.
Gail and Michael Lause own Country Living at 216 W. Main, in Washington, a store filled with antiques and collectibles located in a former general store.
"We get Amtrak riders who wander up from the station," Gail Lause said. "Sometimes they come for just the morning. Get here after 10 a.m. and then back to St. Louis on the 12:30 p.m. train. Just enough time for a meal and to shop," she said. (They could stay longer, as the last eastbound train departs Washington at 8:16 p.m.)
Dining options in Washington are excellent with John G's Tap Room, the Blue Duck and the Old Dutch Hotel offering a wide range of cuisine.
Gary R. Lucy in his fine art gallery in Washington.
One of the downtown anchors is the Gary R. Lucy Gallery at 231 W. Main. If Missouri painter George Caleb Bingham has a successor it could be Lucy, who is noted for his paintings of historic scenes and riverboats of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. His stately two-story gallery is filled with his original paintings and meticulous models of steamboats, including the Arabia, which is preserved in its own museum in Kansas City.
On our second day, we caught the 12:31 p.m. eastbound train and took the short trip to Kirkwood
Kirkwood crossing signal.
in St. Louis County arriving at 1:13 p.m. We were met at the station by our car rental representative, whose office is a couple of miles from the station. We were quickly ensconced in our Kirkwood bed and breakfast and ready for some antiquing.
Probably, anyone's best bet would be the Warson Woods Antique Gallery at 10091 Manchester Rd., which happens to be the flagship mall of the largest multi-dealer antique operation in Missouri, with six properties in the St. Louis region. "We currently work with about 1,500 dealers," said Carol B. Fyhre, operations manager, with 150 at the Warson Woods location.
If you have a car and want to get farther afield in St. Louis, then head to the Cherokee Antique Row, located south of downtown on Cherokee Street. The 19th century architecture contains shops such as Panorama Folk Art and Antiques, Retro 101 and Buddha Bath & Body.
Back in Kirkwood for the evening, the downtown area near the train station is filled with restaurants and unique shops, vintage and otherwise. It's a good place to wander.
On the third day we started westward again. Hopping on the 9:44 a.m. train got us to Hermann by 10:49 a.m. We would need all six hours there to explore the shops and malls in downtown Hermann before returning to Kansas City on the 5:43 p.m. train.
Scott Bringhurst owns Hermann's Attic in Hermann.
One of the first shops an Amtrak rider will encounter is Hermann's Attic Antique Mall, 220 E. 1st St., owned by the gregarious Scott Bringhurst and his cat, which will be sleeping in the front window or on the front desk.
"Amtrak is a really big deal for Hermann," he said. "We get Amtrak passengers coming in all the time. Many will stay over in a bed and breakfast inn." And Hermann is full of bed and breakfasts. "Obviously, most come for Octoberfest or Maifest and most are from St. Louis."
However, he noted that with the addition of a new track from St. Louis to Jefferson City, the chronic delays that plagued Missouri's Amtrak line in its earlier years are a thing of the past. "The trains are always on time now," he said. Bringhurst is a music collector – old albums, posters and the like. He's just as likely to be strumming his guitar in the shop, which houses about 25 dealers with all manner of collectibles and vintage items. "All our dealers have ties to the community," said Bringhurst, a St. Louis transplant. "It's nice. I love it. I can't wait to come to work every day."
Volunteer fireman Bruce Cox purveys collectible fire items at Antiques Unlimited in Hermman.
Bruce Cox, one of the Hermann community's volunteer firefighters and alderman, operates two venues – Antiques Unlimited 2, a multi-dealer shop at 205 E. 1st St. and his original Antiques Unlimited at 117 E. 2nd St., home of Ye Olde Fire Company, a shop specializing in fire fighting antiques and memorabilia. Antiques Unlimited 2 had very attractive displays of true antiques.
"Last year Amtrak brought more than 18,000 people to Hermann," Cox said. "It's definitely a plus for the town in general. We're seeing more people from Kansas City these days. And on our festival weekends, they have to put extra cars on the trains," he said.
Linda, (left), and Carol Talley of Talley & Company in Hermann.
At Talley & Company, 101 Schiller St., owner Linda Talley is assisted by her sister, Carol Tally. It's a shop of mostly small items and jewelry. Linda noted that their merchandise is perfect for Amtrak passengers – that is, they are "smalls," as they say in the trade – easy to carry in a pocket or small package.
"We love Amtrak passengers. Since they upgraded the tracks the schedule has been very reliable," Linda Talley said. "It makes for a very pleasant ride, these days," she said. And Carol said that Amtrak conductors are very experienced with helping Hermann shoppers handle their parcels back on to the train. "Many small antiques can be easily carried on the train."
But if you find that huge armoire that's just perfect for your home, then maybe
the Amtrak ride is primarily a scouting expedition.
We finally boarded our train for the last time at 5:34 p.m. and arrived back in Kansas City by 9:40 p.m. – right on time. And what a great station to come home to!
Missouri Shops Convenient to Amtrak
It's easy to peruse many of Missouri's fine antique and vintage stores and historic sites by train. Most of the shops, galleries, museums and sites listed here are located within reasonable walking distance from Amtrak depots in their respective Missouri towns, unless otherwise noted.
313 W. Pacific, 816-461-3491
1879 Chicago & Alton RR Depot
318 W. Pacific, 816-325-7955
Knitcraft Yarn Shop
500 N. Dodgion, 816-461-1248
1500 N. Liberty St., 816-325-7430
Henry's Antiques & Collectibles
401 SE Douglas St., 816-524-3992
Those Were the Days
138 W. Pine St., 660-747-8742
712 S. Ohio, 660-826-8414
Juanita's House Antiques
103 West Main St., 660-826-5088
400 West Dunklin St., 573-556-6400
Yellow Moon Antique Mall
508 Broadway, 573-893-6627
Antiques Unlimited /
Ye Olde Fire Company
117 E. 2nd St., 573-486-2148
Antiques Unlimited 2
205 E. 1st St., 573-486-0103
902 Market St., 573-486-0254
Hermann's Attic Antique Mall
220 E.1st St., 573-486-9121
Talley & Company
101 Schiller St., 573-486-1080
216 W. Main St., 636-239-1115
East Main Antiques
101 E. Main St., 636-390-0115
Gary R. Lucy Gallery
231 W. Main St. , 636-239-6337
Iron Spike Model Train Museum
1498 High St., 636-283-5163
My Vintage Varia
120 W. Main St., 314-808-0909
Plush Home & Fashion
127 Elm St., 636-239-2700
Three Ladies on the Corner
129 E. 5th St., 636-390-2532
1 Elbert Dr., (in Waterfront Park), 636-390-2344
Willow Creek Antiques
100 Willow Creek Rd., Union, MO 636-583-5247
Warson Woods Antique Gallery
10091 Manchester Rd., 314-909-0123
The Iron Nest Boutique
8516 Manchester Rd., 314-942-9632
The Green Shag Market
5733 Manchester Rd., 314-646-8687
Antique Mall of Creve Coeur
1275 Castillon Arcade Plaza
(Fee Fee Rd. and Olive Blvd.)
Buddha Bath & Body
2304 Cherokee St., 314-560-1548
Panorama Folk Art and Antiques
1925 Cherokee St., 314-772-8007
Retro 101 & Cherry Bomb Vintage
2303 Cherokee St., 314-762-9722
Leigh Elmore can be contacted at email@example.com.
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