Fainting Bertha, Carrie Nation, Grover Cleveland, Theodore Roosevelt, West Bottoms
At the Union Depot in Kansas City, Mo.’s West Bottoms neighborhood, there was… never a dull moment. A constant bustle of people, trains rushing in and out, the sooty air thick with voices and train whistles, maybe a fight or a mugging or a shooting, maybe just some drunk guy stumbling around after a few too many at one of the many nearby saloons. Maybe even a midget – that is a legitimate news bulletin from Union Depot oh-so-many years ago. She caused quite a stir.
Amongst the constant stir at the Union Depot, nothing brought as much excitement as a glimpse of a famous – or infamous – visitor to Kansas City. Here are some of Union Depot’s most sensational travelers.
It wasn’t all too odd to spot Carrie the-hatchet-wielding-saloon-destroyer at the railway despite the fact she’d been banned from Kansas City eight years prior. She had a mile-long rap sheet and a notorious history of scoffing at the law. But in 1909, Nation’s mission was not to rally supporters for the temperance cause (or to destroy anything), but to inform the people that she had designed and built an airplane. She claimed the plane was docked somewhere in southeast Kansas.
I’ve found no such evidence of this plane’s existence.
Cleveland was the first United States President to visit Kansas City, and he arrived at Union Depot in 1887. Accompanied by his brand-new, quite young and beautiful bride Frances Folsom, the two attended the city’s Agricultural Exposition. They also dedicated the YMCA at 9th and Locust Streets. Later in the evening, the Priests of Pallas staged a parade in honor of the couple. Fun fact: People were far more interested in Cleveland’s lovely wife than the president himself.
Mr. George M. Cohan
William Jennings Bryan
Ferdinand Cohen and the heiress Roberta de Janon
On a 1910 tour through the Midwest, former president Theo Roosevelt arrived in Kansas City through Union Depot – along with nine full rail cars. He spoke at the Portsmouth Auditorium in Kansas City, Kan., then at Kansas City, Mo.’s Convention Hall, and finally Westport high school. Despite torrential rains, thousands of people eagerly awaited his train at Union Depot and attended his speeches.
Lord Charles Beresford
Born to a marquess, Lord Beresford served in both the British Royal Navy and British Parliament. He was a well-respected admiral, having earned the Knight Grand Cross for the Royal Victorian Order and for the Order of the Bath. He came to Kansas City on business in 1909, collecting a check for cattle sales in the city. The Lord also owned livestock in Texas.