Holiday, history live at Kansas City’s Union Station


Pirates, trains and Christmas trees highlight visits at Kansas City’s Union Station.

An Amtrak station is located inside Union Station. The station’s entrance isn’t exempt from the holiday spirit. Christmas trees stand guard on either side of the entrance.

IMG_2416There is also a permanent model railroad display at Union Station. Imagine the fun the guys running it have. You get to play with trains all day. I had a small train set as a kid. Lisa’s uncle loves trains. So, a trip to Union Station needs to be set up with him. IMG_3928

Union Station hosts special exhibits throughout the year.

Currently, National Geographic’s “Real Pirates” is on display through Jan. 5, 2014.

“Real Pirates” documents the history of the pirate ship, the Whydah, and her crew. The ship sank along the Atlantic coastline in April 1717.

The ship was originally used to transport slaves from Africa to the West Indies, which was a hotbed of the slave trade.

IMG_2276Sam Bellamy was a ship captain, who was basically poor. He wanted to marry the girl of his dreams, but her father denied it because Bellamy was poor.

Bellamy decided the quickest way to make his riches and win the hand of his love was through piracy.

As he succeeded as a pirate, Bellamy’s crew grew.

IMG_2285They eventually captured the Whydah. Converted into a pirate ship, it didn’t enjoy a long life. In fact, in less than months after its capture, the Whydah sank during a horrendous storm. All but a few crew members died. The captain did go down with his ship.

One interesting factoid is that the ship may have had the youngest pirate of all time. John King was believed to be about 8-years-old when he joined the crew. He also died when the ship sank.

The Whydah lay at the bottom of the ocean until it was found by explorer Barry Clifford in 1984.

Union Station has other exhibits, as well.

“We the People” is a documentary that covers the history of some of the early documents that we live with today.

The KC Southern Holiday Express Train, AKA Rudy, is visiting the station through Sunday.

Of course, another popular exhibit is the holiday sights and sounds.

IMG_2402The Union Station Christmas tree stands tall inside the lobby. Large gift boxes and a bench sit at the trunk of the tree.

Next to the tree are a couple of music spots.

IMG_2423During our visit, a piano recital was going on. Kids were playing holiday tunes on the piano. They were very good.

Christmas trees are located throughout the lobby area.


Wreathes and garland are prominently displayed on the upper levels of the station.

Union Station has always been one of my favorite spots in Kansas City. I really like the architecture and history of the place.

Lisa and I enjoyed another learning experience Saturday.

A local man was telling people outside the station about a famous shootout between gangsters and law enforcement officials in 1933. Known as the “Kansas City Massacre,” the shootout occurred when law officers were transporting convicted bank robber Frank Nash.

IMG_2439Nash had escaped from Leavenworth prison in Kansas. He was captured in Arkansas. Law enforcement officers brought him back to Kansas City on a train. As they were transporting him from the station to nearby vehicles, they were attacked by Nash’s comrades.

The gangsters were supposedly led by Charles Floyd. He was better known as Pretty Boy Floyd. This gun battle, which resulted in the deaths of four federal and local law officers and Nash, established “Pretty Boy” Floyd as a major gang figure. Apparently, Floyd denied involvement in the gunfight.

The Kansas City massacre also strengthened J. Edgar Hoover’s stronghold on the FBI and its war on the mob.

A marker sits in front of Union Station, acknowledging the event. A bullet hole, with casings, is located a few feet from the marker. Other bullet holes from a Tommy gun have been covered, but you can identify the pattern.

Lisa and I were impressed with the man’s history lesson. Furthermore, it amazes me that we hadn’t heard about it before; based on the multiple times we’ve been there.  It goes to show you that you can’t know everything.

I knew who “Pretty Boy” Floyd was, but I didn’t know of his actions in the KC area. I always figured he was a Chicago gangster. It just shows you how close history truly is to us.

Our education of Missouri history continued with a walk across the street to Washington Park.

We’ve been to the park before. We have a photo of a statue of George Washington there.

IMG_2456But, we hadn’t seen the Missouri Korean War Memorial before. As many people know, I enjoy seeing veteran memorials.  We stopped and paid our respects.

Later in the evening, we stopped back for a view of Union Station with a nice light blue glow about it.