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All Aboard

Larry and Mary Kaye Drexler have different reasons for their weekly visits to the train station with grandson’s Jacob and Charlie. Larry comments, “We go down and sit on the wall and wait for the 4:20 train. The boys got to know one of the Conductors named Dave. One day, Dave gave the nod to Jacob to, 'make the call'.  Jacob yelled, ‘All Aboard!' He got a big kick out of that. The boys love talking to the volunteers and playing with the trains inside.” Mary Kaye uses their visit as an opportunity to teach the boys about giving back. “Outside the train station is a red container for non-perishable cans to support Kirk Care,” notes Mary Kaye. “On our way to the train station, we take the boys to the grocery store and let them pick out cans to put in the container. Without the train station, we would not have known about the Kirk Care container.”

Without the train station. Can you imagine Kirkwood without the train station? “It’s almost become an unofficial community center,” states Donna Poe, Executive Director of Downtown Kirkwood, and Board Member of the Historic Kirkwood Train Station Foundation. “Before Kirkwood owned the train station, holiday events and seasonal parties were held on the parking lot. Today, the train station provides an anchor for the downtown business district and the entire community.” The building is operated and maintained by 66 volunteers and four dogs.

“The volunteers are invaluable,” states Bill Burckhalter, Historic Kirkwood Train Station Foundation Treasurer. “After the city bought the station in 2003, I put an ad in the paper saying we need volunteers. 199 people showed up. The city originally told the volunteers to open the station an hour before and after the train arrives. That lasted about a month. They asked if they could stay longer. There are times I can’t get them to go home.” The volunteers have won four Amtrak Champion of the Rails awards for their quality of service. Bill points out, “From January 1st, 2004 to June 30th, 2019, the volunteers have logged 74,624 hours serving 952,301 passengers.” Indeed, it's the 3rd busiest station in Missouri. Passengers aren't the only ones who use the station. “People would be surprised to learn how much the station is used for events. Over 100 private events are held here each year. And on Thursday nights during the concert series, volunteers come in at 6:00 pm to open the station so people can access the restrooms and come inside to take a break from the heat.” Can we talk about the restrooms, the air conditioning, windows and roof that makes this building so useful to so many people? It needs repair. Specifically, it needs your donations to help with maintenance and construction projects necessary to preserve the 127-year-old building. John Hessel, Founder of the Historic Kirkwood Train Station Foundation states, “No donation is too small or too big. Corporate donations, private donations - we’ll accept donations in any form.” The Foundation’s goal is to raise $3.8 million. As we head into warmer days spent enjoying all Kirkwood has to offer, consider this; we live, work, and shop here because it’s Kirkwood. There is nothing more Kirkwood than the train station. Supporting the station completely changes the meaning of, “All Aboard.”