Maplewood History: Where was the Laclede Station?

Most of us in this area are very used to hearing the three words – Laclede Station Road – always together. How many of you ever stopped to think just what and where was this Laclede Station? Laclede was an early property development in what is now the western part of Maplewood. The Laclede Station appears to have been one of the original stops on the Pacific Railroad (later called MoPac) which was completed through what would become Maplewood in 1853.

The search for a photograph of the Laclede Station is another Holy Grail of Maplewood history that I’ve been searching for.  From my research thus far I know that Laclede Station was in existence as early as 1855.  This is no doubt why images of it are hard to come by.  Photographs were extremely scarce that long ago.  I suspect that all evidence of the original location was wiped out when Hanley Road was extended south of Manchester and joined to Laclede Station Road just north of Cousin Hugo’s.

In 1896, the Edgebrook bridge was built which spanned the valley containing Deer Creek.  It connected Bartold Avenue in Maplewood to Summit Avenue in Webster Groves.  Edgebrook bridge was used by streetcars.  There was an Edgebrook stop if not a station.

The Laclede Station on the MoPac line was used by trains.  I believe it was necessarily very close to the Edgebrook stop so riders could switch from one to the other.

Prior to the construction of the Maplewood depot, sometime after the chartering of the City of Maplewood in 1908, the only other MoPac stop on the territory that is now Maplewood, was a freight stop called Sutton.  MoPac records this small frame building as having been built in 1885.

So the Laclede Station was an important stop for folks in this area for many, many years but where exactly was it?  It is still a mystery.

This clipping is from the earliest year of the Globe-Democrat on record.  Followers of this space will recognize the name of Charles Samuel Rannells (builder of Woodside) from earlier posts.  Woodside, Maplewood’s oldest structure, was built ca. 1848-50.

An abstract (abbreviation) of the proceedings of the St. Louis County Court.  “Remonstrances filed by Zeno Mackey against opening of new road from Laclede Station to Gravois road, and Commissioners appointed to assess damages.”  A remonstrance is a document stating opposition to something or a grievance of some kind.  This is undoubtedly about the creation of the Laclede Station road.  How cool.

February 8, 1856. Amos E. Curry appointed to open Laclede station road.

A pre-civil war political “Pic-Nic” on Sutton’s farm.

In 1859, Bartold’s Tavern was put up for sale. It would have been just a short walk from the Laclede Station.

This an excerpt from a very long and complicated letter written by Charles S. Rannells on February 1, 1859. Charles, the builder of Woodside and a two term state senator was in office when he wrote this letter.  Anyone interested in reading the whole thing, contact me and I will email it to you.

I include this notice of a pic-nic held in 1862 because many of these notices referred to Laclede Station as if it was a recreational area separate from Bartold’s which was very close.

This is interesting. I wonder if Des Peres Creek is now known as Deer Creek?  If this bridge was built, I suppose it is long gone.

Two brigades of the city militia spent the night at Laclede Station.

Charles Rannells suffered an injury about which not much is known. It may have been a head injury. It is thought this led to alcoholism. By 1867 he had been declared mentally incompetent in court and a guardian was appointed to sell his extensive holdings. This is about one quarter of the announcement of those sales that appeared in the paper on September 17, 1867.  The Laclede refers to his property development by that name.

In 1868, the Caledonia Club had their Fourth of July picnic at Laclede station. Notice how this seems to indicate a recreational area not just a train station.

In this 1868 article, Dr. Watson Rannells and others complain about the smell of dead animals being transported along a road they must travel.  Interestingly Dr. Rannells says he resides at Laclede Station, Pacific Railroad as if it is a community and not just a railroad station.  He was related to Charles though I forget how.  A brother, maybe.

This is obviously not a small place if it can host 250 school children.

In 1876, a ten room house on 13 acres is offered for sale. Ten rooms!

In 1876, a drowning at a picnic.

This one is pretty good. On July 22, 1877, Beckwith, the walkist, starts out…

A large elegant 12 room home for sale. How many of those could there have been? I wonder if this one still exists?

A lime kiln at Laclede Station.

This appeared August 1, 1882. That should read Mrs., not Mr. , M.W. Rannells. Mary Warder was Charles’ widow.

Baseball! The “No Accounts” are playing the Lacledes. The Lacledes?  They had enough people living there to put together a baseball team!

This is one of the only descriptions I’ve found that describes what must have once been located at the Laclede Station.  I believe Henry Kuhleman was the owner.  There are many notices of picnics held there in the newspapers to be found on Newspapers.com.  It made me wonder just how big of a place was this?  See next image.

This is an excerpt from an article published in the St. Louis Globe-Democrat on July 5, 1884. It describes events during the celebration the day before. What caught my eye was that 1,000 tickets were sold to Laclede Station. 1,000! Amazing! What must have once been there to handle 1,000 visitors in one day? I can’t imagine. There is nothing there now but Cousin Hugo’s, Deer Creek Park and a Mini-Cooper dealership.

Well, that was a long one.  Is there anybody still with me?  Believe it or not, I edited out quite a lot.  A discovery like this leaves me stunned.  How is it all of these things completely disappear?

This one took the wind out of me but soon I’ll be back with a lot more images from Mary Piles, our Citizens Bank history connection.  Also Ed and Sharon Notter have generously shared many interesting historic images from their family collection.  They have been waiting patiently so those I’ll probably have up next.

In the meantime, I don’t care what some say, we have a long way to go before we can say goodbye to the virus.  Wear your mask and wash your hands.

Thanks to everyone who contributes and participates in whatever way.  I appreciate your support.

Doug Houser    August 25, 2020

This detail is from a map that was printed in 1878. I was made aware of this map by readers Michael and Gary. Thanks to you both.  I believe it shows the Laclede Station to be just north of the tracks and west of the Laclede Station Road.  I think but can’t prove that the black square that is just below the words, Laclede St. is a home or some other building.  DH 9/17/2020

13 thoughts on “Maplewood History: Where was the Laclede Station?

  1. I wonder if it was what some might call a way station type of place that grew into a small settlement and land that events could be held on. A home originally or depot then someone sees the need for a place to store wagons and horses for departing and returning folks from the trains, that needed a place to sleep and eat and then it would need some workers that lived close by to do all those things. I believe that is the story of Fairfax House in Rock Hill that there was the house then a blacksmith shop, stables and things like that for travelers so I am thinking Laclede Station may have been larger than that. In a little town I grew up close to we had a 4 block town square that all the stores were built up around with a middle park like area. 1000 people could fit in there nicely and did as we went there for things like Christmas tree lightings and 4 th of July events.

    I wonder if the two military commanders have any type of journals that might give some info about their troops locations. Wherever they started from they made it to Laclede Station in 6 hours. It says calvary so maybe that was not a hard march to do but I do not know how fast a horse travels.

    Really interesting stuff.

  2. I have often wondered where the Natural Bridge was, near Natural Bridge Road. Isn’t history fun. we forget that many streets were names of our founders children, events in the area, or natural formations that were peculiar to a location. Loved the article Doug, thanks, I love to read about these fascinating facts. You never fail to entertain.

    • Mary, Thank you for your many kind words. I don’t know where that natural bridge was but that’s a good question. There are those who do know. Perhaps we’ll hear from one of them?

  3. You have probably checked with all these suggestions already, Doug, but I’m wondering if the library at the Museum of Transportation, the railroad collection at the Mercantile Library (which has its own curator), or the Architectural Arts Foundation managed by Larry Giles might have some overlooked materials relating to the original Laclede Station. I think Larry has drawers full of architectural drawings for depots, but I can’t remember which railroad company they relate to.

    • Never assume, Esley. I haven’t checked with any of those places. For other information, yes but not for this. Larry is on my email list. He knows I’m always on the lookout for anything historic as far as Maplewood is concerned but that’s an idea. I’ll ask him next time I see him. Thanks for the tips.

  4. Hi Doug, Enjoyed this piece on Laclede Station Road. My great grandfather, Thomas Francis Cahill and wife, Nora Elizabeth Cahill lived on Cahill Avenue in Old Orchard and Laclede Station Road (Webster Groves). They had a large tract of land with horses and barns. They were married in 1884 and moved from the city to Webster having born one female daughter and seven sons. I have some photos of the land and family members. When Highway 44 was built, Cahill Avenue disapeared and the house still is there in Webster facing Laclede Station Road.
    In the year of 1886, at the age of twenty-nine, Thomas resigned his position with the Nelson Co.
    and formed the partnership known as Clegg, Cahill & Collins, manufacturing and jobbers of
    plumbing, heating and mill supplies. In 1898 Cahill became President of the corporation.

    • That is all very interesting, Nora. Even though the site you describe is not in Maplewood, I would be interested is seeing your photographs. If you have scanned them I would love to have copies. I would also like to know which house belonged to your grandparents. Thanks for this bit of your family history. It is good to hear from you.

  5. This was a surprise Doug. I had never heard anyone mention a “Laclede Station”. I only knew it as Laclede Station Road, where my Grandmother lived. Very interesting. Thanks for posting.

    • Hey Nancy, It was a big surprise to me as well. I was just looking for information about the train station and accidentally learned it was a large recreational area and a community too. Something else for us to think about. Thanks for your comment.