Created By: Wichita History Walk
Wichita’s Union Station was opened March 6, 1914, with an elaborate banquet and reception for 600 guests. The planning for this station squeaked through financial and logistic difficulties. According to Ransom Stephens, the station superintendent, "our city got in just in time to procure one of the last union depot plums in the dish."
Union Station started booming immediately as surrounding depots closed and transferred their passenger traffic. In 1921, daily traffic included more than 200 passenger coaches in 38 trains.
One notable visit to Union Station ended unexpectedly. In September 1919, President Woodrow Wilson was headed to Wichita to speak about the League of Nations. 100,000 people gathered to hear his speech, but President Wilson had suffered a stroke while passing through western Kansas and was unable to speak. Later, in 1936, a president would arrive at Union Station again as President Franklin Roosevelt was ferried to Lawrence Stadium for an appearance.
Over the years, Union Station went through several modernizations. As passenger trains declined, the station closed in 1979. In 1975, the Urban Renewal Agency bought both Union Station and the Rock Island Depot for renovation proposals. Several of these proposals fell through. Cox Communications used the station as headquarters until 2007. Currently, Occidental Management is renovating it for commercial use.
This point of interest is part of the tour: Historic Downtown Wichita