Archive for Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Answers needed for train station project

December 24, 2003

A structure located off County Road 2 in southern Leavenworth County may appear as just another dingy old building to the average passerby. To be sure, the building's seen its years of wear and tear.

What few may know, however, is that at one time someone put a lot of care into the stone building at 15799 Archer Road, south of Basehor and west of Bonner Springs.

The building, with its carefully crafted stone, once served as a train station, a stop on a long-defunct interurban railway that ran between Lawrence and Kansas City, Kan.

The building's owner, Kelly Hefton, who lives within eyeshot from the train station across County Road 2, said he's renovating the two-story house as well as the old station, both located on the eight-acre property.

His desire for the old train station?

Simple, restore the station's exterior to its original appearance.

The rub? He's having trouble finding information or descriptions of the 850-square-foot building.

"Nobody knows too much," Hefton said. "Was the house built at the same time as this? What did (the station) look like? I'd just like to see if I could find somebody to come forward with information or pictures."

Hefton, who earns a living buying and refurbishing property, purchased the site several weeks ago. He and his wife, Patti, had their eyes on the dilapidated property for some time, Hefton said.

"When it came up, I thought here's my chance to buy it and clean it up," Hefton said. "Plus, my wife's been wanting this train station for a while now."

Once the property was his, Hefton hired an engineer to review the train station's structure.

"The roof is a little banged up but structurally it's still sound," Hefton said.

Other information about the old station has been hard to nail down, though. Bits and pieces have come in, such as Hefton learning that trains departing from the station hauled both freight and passengers. And other tidbits have come in as well, such as learning that the Kaw Valley Electric Railroad stopped running around 1961, and that the line most likely was abandoned the same year, he said.

Hefton said he plans to continue researching the old train station before he revitalizes the building. Perhaps more clues will be uncovered when he talks to property owners west of Linwood, where an almost exact replica of Hefton's

train station sits.

"I'd like to talk to the owners there and see if they can tell me anything," Hefton said. "I'm working on the house right now, we're just kind of fooling around (with the station) but if anybody knows something I'd wish they would let me know."

Hefton is encouraging anyone with information about the train station to contact him. He can be reached at (913) 441-1222.

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