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Around the Columns

Wabash Station celebrates 100 years

Wabash station

A colorized postcard of the Wabash train station at 126 N. 10th St., which celebrated its centennial in 2010, shows the east façade. Automobiles and people were added to the image.

Hewn from the same Boone County limestone as the buildings on MU’s white campus, Wabash Station at 126 N. 10th St. looked as timeless as ever on its 100th birthday, July 16, 2010.

From the moment it opened in 1910, the station was one of the busiest train depots in Columbia. Trains allowed students and alumni to travel to and from Columbia more often and more quickly than in the days of horse and buggy. Few automobiles existed at the time, and good roads were rarer still.

The Wabash was right there in 1911, when Athletic Director Chester Brewer called home “old grads” for the KU game, in what became Mizzou’s first Homecoming. The station reportedly greeted the majority of the 10,000 people who attended. The station continued to play a central role in many lives during the mid-20th century and saw three generations off to war. During the height of the Vietnam War in April 1969, just months before Apollo 11 went to the moon, the Norfolk and Western Railroad merged with the Wabash Railroad and stopped passenger service to Columbia.

In 1979, the station had been sitting unused for a decade when the city offered to buy it and the adjacent seven acres for $250,000. In 1982, Columbia began using Wabash Station as a bus depot. In 2006, with $2.37 million in federal grants, the landmark underwent a renovation befitting its spot on the National Register of Historic Places. The original structure — from its clay tile roof to its marble foundation — were all beautifully restored.

Today, Wabash Station is the jewel of Columbia’s transit system, tying together 16 bus routes and dozens of communities. “I love this building,” says customer Whitney Mitchell, sweeping her arm around the inside of the station. “Walking through here is the best part of my commute.”