• Railfanning Advice for STL and KCY

  • Pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in the American Midwest, including Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and Kansas. For questions specific to a railroad company, please seek the appropriate forum.
Pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in the American Midwest, including Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and Kansas. For questions specific to a railroad company, please seek the appropriate forum.

Moderator: railohio

  by njtmnrrbuff
In either the end of March or early April, I'm going to be going to St. Louis and Kansas City. I'm going to take the Missouri River Runner between the two cities. In each city, I would like to spend some time railfanning. Because of time constraints and not having a car, I'm going to have to keep my options in or as close to each city as possible. What points of interests in and around Kansas City and Saint Louis do you guys suggest?
  by Btcaub
I have lived in both, and both are great places to watch trains.

Kansas City:
The area immediately around Union Station is one of your best bets, I was just there a month ago and easily saw 7-8 trains an hour pass by the old station. There are plenty of places to eat both in the station and nearby, my favorite are both restaurants in the old freight house on the north side of the tracks. There is a great pedistrian bridge that connects the two as well. If you have the time the National WWI museum is fabulous. If you don't go in the museum, at least go up to the top of their tower, nominal ticket required. If you want to venture away from the depot area, the west bottoms area is a short cab ride from the station.

The new Amtrak station is between the classic old Union station and Busch stadium. There is a medium size yard south of the station that leads to the main rail bridge over the Mississippi River, lots of trains cross this bridge but at a slower pace. You can ride the Metro Light Rail from the Amtrak station to many areas in the STL metro...I have ridden it 2 dozen times and never felt unsafe. If you want to see trains at speed I'd recommend getting of the RiverRunner at Kirkwood, Mo. Lots of UP and Amtrak trains to watch, plus a great little town with dozens of places to eat within walking distance of the Station, plus would probably give you more time on the ground....

I could offer many other great locations near both cities, but these are the best if you are without a car to get around.
  by John_Perkowski
I live in Kansas City.

Absolutely. You can do a huge amount of railfanning right from Union Station. You will see:
- Container trains
- Coal trains
- Oil trains
- Covered hopper trains
- Auto rack blocks enroute to either the Chevy plant in Kansas City Kansas or the Ford plant in Claycomo.
- General merchandise

Jack Stack is a tremendous place to eat. If the weather is warm, they might even have their deck, which faces the tracks, open.

Another good place to railfan is on US 169 (the Broadway bridge) just north of I-70. There's a wide spot in the bridge deck where you can be safe as a pedestrian, and you will see trains moving to Murray Yard (BNSF) and North KC Yard (NS) across the Mark Twain Bridge, as well as UP stuff moving from Armstrong Yard (UP KCK) to Neff Yard (ex MoPac, KCMO East Bottoms). It's 2.2 miles from Union Station, well worth a taxi ride.

I would wear safety colors on the Broadway bridge, just to be safe. I'd also be prepared to be asked by police what you are doing, but they are usually friendly. Remember, KC is a huge hub of rail operations, not quite as big as Chicago.
  by Ocala Mike
John, whatever happened to the ASB Bridge across the Missouri River? My recollections from nearly 50 years ago was that this was a combined rail (lower level) and vehicle (upper level) bridge. Is it gone?

I made a lot of round trips using it as my future bride lived in N. Kansas City, and I was stationed near Belton some 35 miles south. Incidentally, the trips paid off as today we are celebrating our 49th wedding anniversary.
  by njtmnrrbuff
Thanks guys. I'm definately going photograph near both the STL and KCY Amtrak Station.

I have seen pictures on railpictures.net of Amtrak trains on a viaduct that runs alongside Downtown STL. How often do Amtrak trains use that right of way?
  by Btcaub
Not sure which specific view you are talking about. The viaduct that serves the MacArthur Bridge hosts all Chicago bound Amtrak trains, including the Texas eagle. The viaduct in front of the arch is used to turn the Missouri River Runner, and is used less frequently.

For what it is worth the area aroun KC Union Station is relatively safe. I'd be a little more cautious in the area around STL. Also the old St Louis Union Station is neat to stroll though and admire, but it's hey day as a redeveloped mall has come and gone as well.

If you have the time get an all day pass or two hour pass on the Metro trains. You can ride to the old Union station, plus if you go out to lacledes landing you can walk easily to watch the BNSF main which traverses the via duct that goes under the Arch.

Forgot to mention, in STL there are numerous places to eat the closer you get to Busch Stadium and the Arch, not much by the depot.
  by njtmnrrbuff
I have seen pictures of Amtrak trains taken on the right of way that is on the east side of the Mississippi River with the Arch being used as a backdrop. How safe are those areas along the right of way that Amtrak uses along the east side of the river? I will definately be spending a substantial amount of time near Busch Stadium and the Arch.
  by njtmnrrbuff
How is the Grand Avenue Overpass for pictures in St. Louis? also, I see that there are a few grade crossings along the right of way southwest of there: how are they?
  by Btcaub
Generally speaking East St Louis, in Illinois is probably the least safe of all the areas in the Metro. North St Louis is a close second. Especially if you are without a car, and with some nice looking camera gear.

The Grand Avenue viaduct is not as bad, but can be a little exciting as well.

As I said before Kirkwood is probably the best/safest area you can access from Amtrak, with out a car.

If you do rent a car, then I'd head over to Granite City an Mitchell, IL or Eureka/Pacific, Mo areas.
  by njtmnrrbuff
Thanks again guys. East and North St. Louis are def off my list. As for the Grand Ave overpass, most likely. I'm going to be using the Metrolink to get around. Where are the best places to take pictures of their trains? Kirkwood is probably not going to be on the list due to time constraints, but I will be passing through there on Amtrak's Missouri River Runner to KCY. Are there any places in STL east of the Amtrak Station where I can get good pictures of Amtrak trains?
  by njtmnrrbuff
How often do Amtrak trains use the right of way that passes Lacledes Landing? I would like to capture some action on that line, even if its freight.
  by John_Perkowski

I didn't look at this again: The ASB bridge is alive and well, though I have never, in all my 25+years in this town, seen it vertically rise. I HAVE seen the Broadway Bridge open a few times.

Main reason I don't see much of the ASB anymore is I have less reason to take 9 Highway (Burlington St) into downtown KC. I go on the west side of Murray Yard, down 169 Highway.
  by Ocala Mike
Thanks for the info, John.