The Sedalia Katy Depot

Sedalia Missouri's  Visitor Center and Year-Round Historic Railroad Destination

A Man and His Vision

In 1860, as the railroad steamed its way west, General George R. Smith had a vision.

He caught a glimpse of the future and persuaded the Pacific Railroad to choose an inland route rather than parallel the river as it crossed Missouri. He founded Sedalia in the middle of the prairie and landed a major transportation and distribution center right on his front doorstep. Within a few months, on January 17, 1861, the first Pacific Railroad Company passenger train arrived in Sedalia.

Today’s Sedalia, with its friendly people, stately homes and majestic buildings; its schools and churches; its art and performance centers, its ragtime tradition and historic state fairgrounds all came about because of General Smith’s vision and the railroad which brought it to fulfillment.

Cradle of Ragtime

Ragtime, that foot tapping rhythmic impulse, rattling good fun and inherent irresistible charm is considered the first original American music. The Ragtime Era (1896 -1920) falls in the music evolutionary ladder between folk and jazz. Its characteristic element is its syncopated rhythm, its ragginess, its ragged time.

With its roots in black American folk music, Ragtime was regarded at first by the American public as being low class and improper. Because it was initially played in saloons and brothels, where a tune was often matched with crude or bawdy lyrics, Ragtime was not considered to be a very respectable art form. In time it has come to be recognized as a contemporary of the earliest jazz and a separate body of music. It influenced such great composers as Brahms, Debussy and Stravinsky to write their own interpretations of piano ragtime music.

Scott Joplin is recognized as one of the most influential figures in the formation of American 20th century music. There is no question as to Joplin’s greatness, his talent, and his importance in the history of ragtime and American music. In his 48 years, Scott Joplin composed 34 rags, two operas, and 22 other songs, marches, waltzes and other pieces. His Maple Leaf Rag was the first piece of popular music to sell a million copies. Read more...

The Legend of Rawhide

The first Missouri Pacific Railroad train arrived in Sedalia in 1861, in time for the Civil War and the end of rail construction for its duration. So Sedalia waited five years for the boom that was spawned by the rails, a boom based on a desperate postwar shortage of beef in the eastern states and a cattle glut in Texas, which lacked a market for its livestock. The logical solution was the beginning of an American leg-end, the cattle drives. The first great herd trail, from Brownsville, Texas, stretched through Dallas and Fort Worth to the nearest western railhead: Sedalia, Missouri.  Read more...

Over 100 Years of Missouri State Fair

American fairs developed with the coming of European settlers. With them, they brought their harvest rituals. A country gentleman named Elkanah Watson put on a fair called the Berkshire Cattle Show in 1810. It was here that prizes were given for products other than livestock. For the first time, women took an active part in fairs. They sent their jellies, pickles, mincemeat, and other household goods. The winning entries received medals and prizes. This type of fair became popular throughout the United States, especially in farming communities. Eventually, corn huskings, quilting bees, athletic contests, and horse races became added attractions.

American Fairs were designed to advance a rural society. They served as a way to communicate to massive amounts of people in bringing information to farmers. They were a primary venue for businesses to conduct marketing research and further develop their products. Another benefit of the fair was the competitions. Competitions were a great way for farmers to strive to improve their products.

So important were fairs to America’s agricultural history that they are credited with serving as the catalyst of two agricultural revolutions. The first occurring between 1862 and 1875 with the evolution of hand power to horse power and the second occurring in the 1940’s with the evolution from horse power to machine power.  Read more...

Anywhere, Anytime - The George A. Whiteman Legacy

In Spring 1942, the massive buildup for World War II prompted the U.S. Army to search for a site near Sedalia, Missouri, as a glider training base. Sites in Sedalia and Dresden were rejected because of the lack of room for expansion. Finally, an area in Knob Noster, known as the Blue Flats because of the color of the soil, was selected. With a location for the new Sedalia Glider Base in Knob Noster, receiving a Warrensburg address, it was a little confusing to say the least. Therefore military personnel coined the following poem: 

'We call our base Sedalia

'Cause it's in some other spot

And address our mail to Warrensburg

For that's also where we're not!'

The local communities pitched in to help the new arrivals. Sedalia and Warrensburg quickly set up USOs with reading and writing rooms. Chaperons brought young women to and from dances. To ease the pain of home-sickness during the Yuletide season, the USOs sent a gift to every man on base at Christmas 1942.

Sedalia Glider Base was one of only eight bases in the United States dedicated to training glider pilots for combat missions. In 1945 the base’s name was changed to Sedalia Army Air Field.

When World War II ended, the base newspaper headline declared "The Damn Thing's Over: Officially Ends 6 P.M." With the war over, the base's future looked grim. There was no urgent need for combat troops. Two years later the base officially closed. In fall of 1946, the base began the journey toward becoming an inactive installation.  Read more...