The author continues to share observations from her spring vacation trip.
In Kansas City, I boarded the Ann Rutledge. The trans-Missouri train and its counterpart, the Kansas City Mule, are funded by the state of Missouri and operated by Amtrak, which provides the rolling stock and personnel. The Ann Rutledge runs from west to east, while the Kansas City Mule runs from east to west. I found it interesting that the price of a ticket varies depending on the number of passengers scheduled to ride a particular run. On a busy day, a ticket can go for as little as $25.00 for the 237.7-mile trip.
A single General Electric P-40 locomotive pulls an Amfleet combination coach/cafe car and two Mafersa Corporation coaches on several daily round-trip jaunts between Kansas City and St. Louis along the old Missouri Pacific Railroad’s tracks. It all was done to reduce traffic on I-70, which remains an extremely busy interstate highway. I-70 begins in Baltimore, Maryland, and continues to Cove Fort, Utah, where it connects with I-15 to Los Angeles, California.
That day, a group of young girls were riding the Ann Rutledge. Perhaps, they were Girl Scouts? I had seen a troop in Union Station. Gratefully, the conductor herded them to the rear car, and we “old folks” were allowed to ride comfortably in the center car. The young woman seated across from me reminded me of my daughter as she drew out her notebook and made notes and referred to documents stashed in plastic sleeves. When I mentioned that woman to my daughter and recalled the days when she kept such notebooks, her husband laughed and told me that Dana still keeps such sleeves of “very important information.” As I remember it, they all began with notebooks of colorful stickers in the 1980s, when collecting stickers was all the rage.
The terrain levels out somewhat east of Kansas City, only to begin a gradual incline at Sedalia that continues all the way to St. Louis as the train plays cat and mouse with U.S. Route 50. Route 50 runs from Ocean City, Maryland, to West Sacramento, California, where it becomes I-80. On Route 50 in Sedalia is the Wheel Inn Drive-In, a drive-in hamburger restaurant, which has been open since 1947. It will close in September of this year to make possible the expansion of the Route 50/Route 65 intersection. Isn’t that pathetic!
Sedalia is an interesting town filled with history. The Katy Railroad trail passes through Sedalia, although the tracks have been taken up. The Queen Anne Victorian Katy depot is visible from the Missouri Pacific tracks. There, a welder has created an image of a train bouncing along hilly tracks with piano keys bouncing similarly from an old upright piano. Sedalia, you see, was the hometown of ragtime pianist Scott Joplin. In fact, an annual Ragtime Festival is held each June. Sedalia is also the home of the Missouri State Fair, which has been attended by singers, actors, and even presidents.
I like Sedalia, for its 1890s-1920s downtown district resembles the downtown district of a much larger town, except that it runs only a few blocks. U.S. Route 50 is known as Broadway there and is a wonderful, tree-shaded boulevard boasting grand old homes from the 1920s. Most of those houses are actually affordable today.
For more information about the Ann Rutledge and the Kansas City Mule, visit
For more information about Sedalia, visit the following sites: