Refurbished Antique Railroad Scale on Display at Kirkwood Train Station

On the scale of such things, a rusting, 100-year-old, wooden contraption, covered in cobwebs and looking like it’s only good for running over toes, may have seemed destined for a landfill or a scrap metal recycler.  Kirkwood and the region at large are lucky that Bill Burckhalter, the Kirkwood Train Station manager, saw "the contraption’s" value and resisted that temptation.

When the City of Kirkwood purchased the Train Station back in 2003, it inherited a variety of old furniture and equipment, including one cast-iron-and-wood, 100-year-old railroad scale, which Bill found in a storage closet.  It was manufactured around the turn of the 20th century by Fairbanks-Morse, a company that still makes scales.  Even the manufacturer was unsure exactly how old the scale is, but they were able to furnish some important details that helped in its refurbishing.

Bill enlisted the help of fellow City staff in Fleet Services, and they went to work on its restoration.  First, they talked to representatives at Fairbanks-Morse, who donated new decals and provided the original paint colors.  The scale was then disassembled, bead blasted (similar to sand blasting), painted, its brass polished, and then re-assembled.  Ace Hardware in Des Peres donated the paint.

Most modern scales are metal, but the Kirkwood scale is largely made of wood (everything in blue in the photo is wood).  It was likely used by the Missouri Pacific Railroad to weigh freight.  The fleet staff constructed a wooden platform to secure the scale and prevent it from rolling so it could be kept on display at the Train Station, where Kirkwood residents can visit it any time the station is open.

The Historic Kirkwood Train Station: 125 Years Strong!

Train Station: Kirkwood's historic Train Station was built in 1893 and is one of the City's most enduring and beloved buildings. It brims with historical memories from the past 125 years, and it is immediately recognizable by residents and visitors alike. 

History: The first railroad depot on the site of the present Train Station was erected in 1853, the year in which the Kirkwood Association purchased 240 acres of land for a planned residential community along the route of the new Pacific Railroad, about 13 miles west of the City of St. Louis. The Association named the new town “Kirkwood” for James Pugh Kirkwood, engineer and surveyor for the Pacific Railroad. With the deterioration of the first wooden depot, plans for the new Train Station were probably created by the railroad company’s own staff as the original drawings contained no architect’s signature. Local builder Douglas Donavan oversaw the construction. Little has changed since 1893, except for the removal of the platform shelter that once extended east to Kirkwood Road and replacement of the roof in 1985 – accomplished thanks to the generosity of numerous donors and private donations.  In 1985 the Train Station was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in recognition of its historical and architectural significance. It is an outstanding example of Richardsonian Romanesque architecture.

City Ownership:  In 2002, Amtrak was on the verge of closing the Train Station as part of cost-cutting efforts. Not wanting to lose this vibrant and essential downtown icon and meeting place, the City bought the building. It continues to serve as an Amtrak station and Visitors' Center, staffed by a group of dedicated and enthusiastic volunteers. 

About the Kirkwood Historic Train Station Foundation 

Foundation Mission: The mission of the Historic Kirkwood Train Station Foundation is to seek ongoing funding sources for needed maintenance and construction projects for the preservation of the Kirkwood Train Station.

Renovation:  In 2013, a Train Station committee was established and charged with studying the building's needs, to ensure its viability into the future.  Retired Kirkwood Chief Administrative Officer Mike Brown served as President, and subcommittees were charged with investigating the building's condition and submitting a preliminary report. Kirkwood' City Council and the entire Train Station committee then toured the Station to see firsthand what needed to be done to sustain and protect the structure.

Needs: Included in the list of critical needs were: Tuckpointing, a new roof, new fascia, expanded soffit, ADA-compliant restrooms, a more efficient HVAC system, and new windows, doors, and lighting. The addition of a storage building and a platform shelter were included in the list of "wants." 

The Train Station Strategic Planning Committee: The committee established a 501c3 nonprofit organization in preparation for raising funds to help support these efforts. You Can Help!

To Donate by Mail: Send your check to The Kirkwood Train Station Foundation, 110 W. Argonne Drive, 63122

To Learn More:  Download the brochure here.  A website for the Foundation is coming.


Amtrak Information



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Be a Train Station Volunteer

Many of our volunteers are train enthusiasts. They have a common goal – to keep the station open and running. As long as there are passenger trains passing through Kirkwood, the station will be open and staffed by volunteers, seven days a week, including holidays. Station volunteers clean and polish the station, decorate for the seasons, plant flowers in the window boxes, and keep the City informed about needed repairs. To become a Train Station volunteer, please fill out the volunteer application.