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 Amtrak Train Station and the City of Kirkwood: A Strong Partnership

In 2002, Amtrak was on the verge of closing the Kirkwood Train Station as part of cost-cutting efforts. The City of Kirkwood, not wanting to lose this vibrant and essential ingredient in the ambiance of downtown Kirkwood, negotiated with Amtrak to purchase and staff the station and has done so since April 2003. The City then issued a call for volunteers, and nearly 200 people responded.

Today, the station is staffed by a dedicated group of volunteers who answer questions (about schedules and the sights and scenes in Kirkwood), help passengers embark, issue parking passes (which must be obtained in advance of your trip), and keep the station open from approximately an hour prior to the first passenger train of the day until about an hour after the last one. The volunteers do not sell tickets or collect any payment.

PLAN YOUR TRIP ON AMTRAK! Click here for information on reservations and parking.

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.

Volunteers Win Amtrak Award
In October 2004, Amtrak recognized the efforts of the Kirkwood Station Volunteers with its ‘Champion of the Rails’ award at its 25th annual President’s Service and Safety Awards banquet in Chicago. The accolade is the ONLY Amtrak non-employee award presented, nationwide, and is now on permanent display at the Kirkwood Train Station.