Near Kirkwood in St. Louis County, Missouri — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)
The following is an account from the St. Louis daily, The Missouri Republican, of the July 4, 1851 Pacific Railroad Groundbreaking Celebration at Chouteau's Pond. Such local celebrations of railroad construction milestones were quite common in mid 19th century America. This was not the Pacific's last. According to the Republican, a multitude of St. Louisans attended the event, reflecting popular opinion of the railroad and its possibilities.
"Our city has seldom witnessed such as enlivening spectacle as that displayed previous to the forming of the procession. Flags were flying from the tops of engine buildings and public houses; they streamed from the windows of newspaper offices or floated over the street at many points; numerous detachments of military corps were dashing to their varied places of rendezvous; squads of civil societies — invariably attired in neat uniform — were coming to view from every corner, and in no place were we deprived of the inspiring sounds of music. It was truly a great gala-day, and, for a time, the business, matter-of-fact character of the city was converted to one of unbounded gayety and rejoicing. At 9 o'clock an immense multitude thronged Fourth street from Washington avenue, where the head of the line rested, to a distance of several blocks. The forest of flags and banners, including many beautiful specimens of the national colors of this and other countries extended much farther than the eye can reach."
Unfortunately, their hopes did not hold up to reality. The business continually ran into obstacles. From the beginning, problems arose due to the difficult terrain of the chosen route, the lack of Eastern investment, the civil War, corruption and mistakes out of inexperience in railroad construction. The story of the pacific Railroad is one of human fallibility that likely contributed to a reversal of fortune for the city of St. Louis.
Erected by Museum of Transportation.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Industry & Commerce • Railroads & Streetcars.
Location. 38° 34.326′ N, 90° 27.642′ W. Marker is near Kirkwood, Missouri , in St. Louis County. Marker can be reached from Barrett Station Road, on the right when traveling east. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 3015 Barrett Station Road, Saint Louis MO 63122, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Pacific Railroad of Missouri: Audacious Dreams & Harsh Realities (here, next to this marker); The Missouri Pacific Today... (here, next to this marker); Jay Gould and the Missouri Pacific (here, next to this marker); Riot in the Tunnels (here, next to this marker); #30 (here, next to this marker); Civil War Destruction (a few steps from this marker); The Pacific Railroad Controversy (a few steps from this marker); #2804 (a few steps from this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Kirkwood.
Credits. This page was last revised on April 24, 2020. It was originally submitted on April 28, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 79 times since then. Photo 1. submitted on April 28, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.