Leave No Station Unphotographed: The Blog of SubwayNut.com


The On Time Missouri River Runner to a bus adventure to a K.C. Royals Game

Hello from Kansas City, these were the rest of my adventures yesterday:

After my last post at about 8:30 I decided I need a half hour power walk, and debate leaving my luggage in the first class lounge (I know that’s the procedure in Club Acelas and Chicago’s Metropolitan Lounge) but go back to the ticket window which agrees to store it for me free of charge for half an hour. As I leave the lounge there is a conductor who looks at me awkwardly, wondering why I am beyond the roped off entrance to the overpass to the two platforms. I leave the new Gateway station and get a few photos of Metrolink stopping at the Civic Center Station across from one of the entrances. I then walk over to the old Union Station, a hotel with other amenities that looks open to the public but don’t have enough time to go in. I return to the station getting more photos and get back as they make the first boarding call at 8:55. St. Lewis has a ticket sales stop ten minutes before, boarding ends five minutes before rule like Chicago and Kansas City because of the long walk. I refill my water bottle, grab my backpack (from a different agent who remembers me) and go back to the nice glass overpass with escalators and colorful squares over to the other platform to get on the train. It is one of the shortest Amtrak trains I have ever boarded (only the Springfield Shuttle was shorter), just three cars: a P42 Engine followed by an Amfleet-I Cafe/Business Class Car and just two Horizon Coaches. I am directed unfortunately to the middle coach (as you know I will always ride in the last car for back window and curve pictures). Much to my surprise this midwestern train isn’t in push-pull mode, getting wyed in St. Lewis and Kansas City, all the low legroom Horizon Seats face forward. There not too many people boarding in St. Lewis so leaving the train is relatively empty.

At 9:11 we get the welcome aboard announcement to the Missouri River Runner, please have tickets for collection. The conductor comes through and for the first time he proceeds to use my ticket stub as a seat check. He does say he will give it back. At 9:14 the short train slowly starts to leave from Platform B. I notice Amtrak has its own little modern private building as well a a shed painted red, white and blue. We pass the old Union Station off in the distance, a few replica platforms too. I’ll have to go explore it more when I come back to St. Lewis. We start following Metrolink as we leave the station, lots of coal cars on the other side of the train.

  • 9:21 – Pass the Grand, Metrolink Light Rail Station, and start speeding up.
  • 9:26 – I go up to the cafe car to grab a nice to butter my biscuit with as we stop somewhere. At 9:30 we start moving again through a neighborhood of St. Lewis.
  • 9:34 – go under a Metrolink Line and keep going through a neighborhood, the area is quite hilly.
  • 9:39 – go along a golf course and through trees with houses around. We get the announcement for Kirkwood.

We arrive at 9:42 to maybe 50 people getting on, I wonder if I’ll have to double up.This station is the only one on the Missouri River Runner that has a local bus from St. Lewis, its a nice brick historic depot that I’ll have to revisit at some point, so much for an empty quiet train. It fills with children, and we start moving as soon as everyone gets on. That’s an efficient way to board a train (unlike the Eagle with collecting tickets on the platform). I start cleaning off the seat next to me but it is not needed. We leave Kirkwood and enter trees.

  • 9:51 – speeding up we pass a bunch of trains in the Museum of Transportation, and go back to trees. I think there is a river along the one side of the train. I notice lots of people going to Lee’s Summit.
  • 9:59 – cross a river and keep going through the trees, and again at 10:01, then go through Eureka following a highway

I go and have some back door time as we go through two tunnels through hills and get our first view of the Missouri River at 10:15. Other people get my idea and take there kids back to have a look. I realize I am have chosen (I think) the side with the most river views, the right (north side).

At 10:23 we get the announcement for Washington, (Missouri that is). The station is super scenic facing the river with a fenced off platform. I sort of sang a photo of the depot from the otherside of the train. They load from the rear vestibule and I notice a bike is boarding. We leave Washington and the river comes to and from view, between dense foliage. This is a train that would be quite different in winter. The river comes and goes between the trees, but more often its just a blur of green out the small Horizon coach windows.

  • 10:47 – See fields of corn as we are clearly going through the floodplain of the Missouri River with impassable in High Water signs.
  • 10:49 – get the announcement for Herrmann, MO, as we keep following the river. I notice some neat houses and the walls of the cliffs on the side of the riverbank.
  • 10:54 – Arrive in Herman with a small wooden building to serve as a station opposite the Missouri River. We go under a narrow bridge to leave the station, and back into woods.
  • 11:00 – the river comes into view again. This river following is one for glimpses through the trees not hugging like Hudson on the Empire Service that I know so well.
    11:02 – cross a tertiary river and go through the tiny town of Rhineland.
  • 11:05 – have left the river for the moment but see a nice wide grassy floodplain. (I think), we pass a coal train going the other way on a siding, followed by another.
  • 11:17 – as we go through fields another freight passes us by.
  • 11:20 – the river leaks into view again between the trees.
  • 11:28 – pass some construction. go over a river, and through Bonnots Mill with a few modular homes. We pass what is clearly a prison up on a hillside, a road has a series of signs with messages about the Missouri Department of Corrections.
  • 11:32 – pass airplanes at a National Guard base.
  • 11:33 – go over a river and pass train #314 the morning eastbound Missouri River Runner

At 11:37 we get the announcement for Jefferson City, no mention about a fresh air stop, we are a few minutes late as we go through a wide yard. We pass what looks like a former freight house and get to the stop. It is another quick in an out. I ask the conductor if this train has one designated (I’m thinking like Ardmore on the Heartland Flyer) but I am told there is a few minutes of padding in Sedalia, so maybe. I notice a seats missing in the last car with two seat checks that say bikes, that is the ‘bike rack.’ We continue through fields and the countryside. The train has quieted down quite a bit, its afternoon nap time for the train (not me), my one and half morning cups of coffee (which I never drink except on days like this) are keeping me awake.

  • 11:56 – go over a grade crossing for Road Z
  • 12:03 – the landscape stays as rolling hills as I see a pond, a women complains she is too cold, nice to know I am not alone. I have grabbed my travel blanket to wrap around my legs since I am wearing shorts. The conductor claims the car is thirty years old although the Horizons are only
  • 12:07 – go through the small town of California, passing its cemetery and then a few houses in a small town center. It has a water tower and multiple grave yards.
  • 12:21 – the landscape is becoming flatter with more fields than trees, but still plenty of trees in places
  • 12:31 – cross a neat little river and continue through fields and go through Otterville
  • 12:43 – slowly enter Sadela, two minutes early arriving at 12:44, but with only one door open and people getting on and off can’t snag a photo. Its a modern brick building with a neat canopy. We leave at 12:46 running on time with commuter train precision. We slowly pass through more of this town and leave it behind, entering the trees and fields once again.
  • 1:08 – following a two line divided highway I notice a 53 miles to Kansas City sign.
  • 1:11 – the announcement for Warrensburg, MO as were still in the trees. Soon I start seeing houses entering a town.

We arrive at 1:14 and the conductor lets me stop off for five minutes I get enough of a photo essay for a webpage and even quickly get one of the inside of the small waiting area in the small depot. I get what I really want, a photo of the boxy back of an Horizon’s car, I have only photographed them mid-consist before. The platform has a tactile warning strip, is made of bricks but completely at track level, not the six inch height required for level boarding with the automated doors of the California style equipment that the midwest is buying. I jump on as the conductor says 30 seconds, a few smokers have followed me off the train. We cross a small creek as we leave and are soon back in the trees and fields of America’s Heartland (or is that Oklahoma?), John Sterling, the Yankees radio announcer when they were last in K.C. Kept saying references like the “Sun has set in America’s Heartland.” its all I can think of. The train is making good speed.

  • 1:38 – pass some large bans used by the Kingsville Livestock Auction to the south of the train, there lots of hay bales again.
  • 1:47 – start getting to another town, and pass a lumber yard, we curve north as we go through the town of Pleasant Hill. It has a nice old brick restored depot but isn’t a station stop.
  • 1:52 – the conductor comes through for all the Lee’s Summit passengers handing them their receipts back. The bus does reach Lee’s Summit and I thought of getting off there but want photos of the platform area in Kansas City in daylight, which I assume are restricted areas. We continue through trees. I keep forgetting I have an hour until our scheduled arrival time in KC.
  • 1:57 – pass on the outskirts of another freight yard and are definitely entering a town. We enter Lee’s Summit about four minutes early but there too many people getting off to try and get pictures. There a few people getting on although this is express bus service to Kansas City.
  • At 2:03 – we leave this little town, 15 minutes to Independence. 40 minutes to KC as I get my passenger receipt, crucial if my AGR points don’t post, we go through trees, it feels like farm and horse country still not the sprawl I heard about yesterday of Kansas City.
  • 2:12 – enter another town of suburban houses and cross over I-70, then we go through strip-mall land passing Truman High School (his hometown). We slowly pass buildings as we enter Independence seeing suburban houses.
  • 2:18 – arrive Independence, it has a nice old brick depot and is home to the Jackson County genealogy library. The platform is fenced off but open. 25 minutes to downtown Kansas City, 10 minutes of padding in the timetable. We go through at a grade passing suburban houses and over various grade crossings.
  • 2:26 – go under a freeway and pass the Rock Creek tower, and enter a large freight yard as we enter
  • 2:29 – now there is another line joining us and cemetery followed by a strip mall. I am entering another city through the back door, not in a glamorous modern airport. Pass an abandoned factory as we go through Lykins. I am listening to a boy in front of me whose maybe five discussing legos.
  • 2:32 – pass the junk yard of the day, then a cement factory and another highway. A long freight train of empty double-stack cars pass as we keep entering KC on a grade separated line, with graffiti along the lines, the kid in front of me is commenting on it.
  • 2:35 – get my first view of the KC Skyline as we slowly enter, the line is grade seperated, 2 to 3 minutes. Union Station, I forgot, is slightly south of downtown, there lots of overpass as we hit switches and arrive at 2:38pm, 17 minutes early.

I get off the train and debate leaving my bag in the station to get a wonder in downtown before I go down to my hotel in the Art’s District that I got on Priceline for $60 this time. I realize check in is at 3 and I am in the mood to relax a bit before I venture off to the Royals game. After getting my required platform photos, but not one of the locomotive because the train leaves the station to be wyed before I have a chance to walk up to it, I go outside and buy my $3 KCATA Day Pass from the driver as I board the Main Street MAX (one of two BRT lines). What makes this line BRT is newer buses and established stops with names and countdown clocks for next arrival times. I take it down to my hotel, the Homestead Extended Stay Sweats and check-in. I am thinking about a walk but decide I want some internet time and just relax for an hour. At 4:30 I leave the hotel to try and find an early dinner and end up at a drive through burger joint called Winstead’s. The burger and fries are good and I take a little walk noticing the wonderful sculpture garden of the art museum I want to venture to tomorrow. At 5:40 about 5 minutes late I board Route 47 out to the suburbs, its a tiny 30 foot low-floor bus with just a front door. I get off on the edge of the access road to Kaufman Stadium, a suburban 1970s ballpark and home of the Kansas City Royals.

I go up to the ticket window and for $23 I get a Tier Box seat. I enter the stadium in time for another free T-Shirt (This one says Royals Homegrown Heros), and have a great time wondering around the renovated stadium. They have done a great job keeping the 1970s concrete architecture but created a gated park around it to let fans wonder around outside its gates. I walk the perimeter, there is a carousel and other games for kids. I almost miss the first pitch visiting the Royals Museum and soon enough I am wondering up an original circular ramp up to the Tier Level as the National Anthem is being sung. I take my seat in the fifth row along the first base line and feel like I am back in my Dad’s Saturday seats at the old Yankee Stadium (seats that don’t exist in the new stadium).

The game is one of the better games I’ve seen in a long time. A pitchers dual against the Brewers who’s former Royals Ace Zach Greinke is pitching. He gives up a home run to lead off the game before settling down as Royals pitcher (a reliever subsiding for an injury) through a no-hitter into the seventh innings. It was finally broken to very dramatic fashion in the 7th inning when a sharp grounder to third (definitely a hit) by was overthrown to first base and then the first baseman overthrow second so the Brewers had a runner at third and no outs. The next batter walked and Mendoza was taken out of the game. The Brewers got one run to tie it that inning and KC got a run in the 8th to win it 2-1. 24,258 fans, including me watched the very exciting game.

Getting home from the game was the real transit adventure. The bus line I took to the game stops running at 7pm and the nearest bus stop with service was a mile walk north on route 28. It had trips at 10:00 and 11:00. The game was so quick I thought I might have time to make the 10:00 bus but it didn’t end that quickly. I leisurely walked out of Kaufman Stadium, over I-70 that had a nice wide sidewalk and down a sidewalk less street (with a dirt path) up to US-40. There I stopped to buy a snack at a gas station with the attendant behind bullet proof glass. I crossed the street and noticed quite a few people waiting leading on the fence of the abandoned (for rent) former Stadium Auto Sales. My eyes adjust to the light and I realize many are waring Royals shirts and caps. All have ID tags around their necks. It’s the some of the staff of Kaufman Stadium who lack cars on their way home. The bus finally comes at 11:00 as I board it with ten Kaufman Stadium employees and a girl who works at the Wendy’s down the street from the bus stop. This bus is a short-turn and doesn’t go downtown ending at Troost Avenue to go to the garage. It is surprisingly crowded. At Troost I transfer to another bus, which also has most of its seats full, down a little ways to 47th Street where I walk the ¾ mile back to my hotel room, I pass out almost immediately.