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.


In Kirkwood we’re currently on pace to reduce the City’s green house gas emissions. Over the past few years we’ve examined the sources of our emissions, investigated alternatives, and have begun the process to change the way we do business to improve our carbon footprint.

We’re introducing curbside recycling, have changed our policies regarding the idling of our vehicles, and are improving the condition of our buildings to become more energy efficient. Clearly, these changes will improve the quality of life for our residents and reduce the costs of our operations. The thing to keep in mind is it’s going to take some time before we can complete the transition.

Vehicle tailpipe emissions are our greatest source of green house gasses. What are we doing about it? Aside from our improved vehicle idling policy, we have purchased alternative fuel vehicles for our fleet and partnered with research entities. We have also aggressively attempted to change our energy portfolio situation, the next greatest source of our emissions.

Today, a majority of our electricity is generated from coal. Our transition effort has provided positive performance data associated with the current status of the transformation from traditional fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources. The wind farm project in our Missouri Public Utility Alliance power pool is operational but produces power only about 20% of the time, requires natural gas turbine backup, has energy costs higher than current rates, and lacks adequate transmission to deliver the power to multiple load centers.

Our Kirkwood Green gasification project is successfully addressing the challenge to match its new synthesized gas with existing gas operating equipment, but it too requires natural gas backup and won’t begin commercial operation in Kirkwood until later this year. The clean coal experimental projects in Springfield, Missouri, and other locations have begun to tackle economically feasible solutions to filtering off carbon emissions and storing carbon safely underground, but those processes are 10 years away from being fully verified and implemented.

We have solar projects, landfill gas projects, hydro projects, and even have experimented with geothermal energy. Still, we’re not getting enough energy from these projects to meet our customer’s energy consumption needs, and these technologies are just beginning to address operational challenges like natural gas pipeline shortages.

There is no doubt that we’d like to move as fast as possible to improve the quality of life for our residents and cut energy costs. Some things are in our control but some are not. We’ve invested countless dollars and resources and have evidence that we’ll be better off in the future. Unfortunately, the economy is fragile, and our ratepayers can’t afford to invest in projects that don’t show good results. The best thing to do at this point is to pace ourselves and allow for adequate time and resources to successfully implement our transition. This transition to cleaner, more efficient energy production is a marathon, but it’s one we are going to win.