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Union Station Stories

Union Station Stories RPO: The Romance of Rail and Mail Exhibit Presented By GEHA

The RPO exhibit – located on the main floor of the Station immediately adjacent to the current USPS office - further extends the nearly 5,000-square foot Union Station Stories history exhibit that opened to acclaim in 2014 on the 100th Anniversary of Union Station.

RPO: The Romance of Rail and Mail shows that before there was Amazon Prime or even UPS, the Railway Post Office delivered the mail across 19th and 20th century America with speed, dependability and efficiency unmatched anywhere in the world. Kansas City served as a major hub in the Railway Mail Service network and helped pioneer the technology innovations that would form the foundation for today’s shipping and logistics industry.

The exhibit features the tools of the daily trade used by RPO workers, including an original electric cart (dating from 1918) used to transport mail to and from rail cars at Union Station. It also includes personal stories, vintage video of workers in action, a practice sorting case, uniform elements, route maps, examples of real mail from the era and fascinating aspects of life on the rail. As historian Fred J. Romanski notes, “the Railway Mail Service bound the nation together by rail and precipitated the growth of commerce through the speed and dependability of its service. Business and commercial activity were pushed along in an environment where fast service, reliability, and a can-do attitude prevailed.”

Press Release


Made possible by a generous gift from the Michael R. and Marlys Haverty Family Foundation, this gallery features and celebrates art, artifacts and stories of the twelve railroads that joined together in 1906 (forming Kansas City Terminal Railway) to build Union Station.

Mike and Marlys Haverty -- proud and enthusiastic supporters of Union Station since 1998 -- have fundamentally shaped the success of this historic monument for our entire community and region to enjoy for many years to come. Their leadership, determination and philanthropic passion will be a lasting legacy and constant reminder of their countless good works.

Stop by and experience this impressive new gallery, the second addition to the Union Station Stories permanent history exhibit located in the Northeast corner of Grand Hall.

Railroad Paintings Artist Information
Richard Allison Bio

Richard Allison is an American Realist specializing in marine, railroad and aviation subjects. The former illustrator and editorial cartoonist for Army, Navy and Air Force Times in Washington, D.C., Allison shows a deep respect for the historical significance of his subjects and strives for correctness of detail in his paintings. Combining a keen eye with a skilled brush has led to his art being displayed in several major galleries and museums across the country.

Allison’s work has been exhibited at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., the Colorado Springs Fine Art Center, the Wichita Center for the Arts and the Virginia Air and Space Center in Hampton, Virginia to name a few. President Ronald Reagan presented his painting of the battleship New Jersey to the ship during re-commissioning ceremonies in December 1982. The battleship Missouri was the recipient of a similar work of art presented by Missouri Governor John Ashcroft in July 1986.

An avid plein air painter, Allison brings to his studio paintings sensitivity to light and color that can only be developed from direct observation. The settings for these subjects may be marine, aviation or railroad, but they all incorporate a historical element bathed in a light that is almost palpable. Union Station is honored to have historically accurate paintings of the twelve original railroads that paved the way for the building of Kansas City’s icon.

Union Station Stories Shoe Shiners Exhibit

In the golden years of rail travel, a man’s status (civilian and soldier) could be measured by the shine on his shoes.  Since many travelers were headed to important destinations, station shoeshine services were in high demand.  From the time Union Station opened, many grown men turned shoe shining into profitable businesses with shine stands in bus and train stations, hotels and nightclubs, ball parks and country clubs.

Come experience Shoe Shiners, the first addition to the Union Station Stories permanent history exhibit. In the exact location where enterprising men practiced their trade, Shoe Shiners will feature stories and artifacts from their era.


100 years of fascinating Union Station history. 


Union Station Stories, the 5,000 SQF permanent exhibit that exquisitely captures the rich and diverse cultural history of the Station through significant stories and beautiful artifacts.


100-years of history in a rich, culturally diverse experience and Union Station’s role in the heart of Kansas City.


Video From: KCPT


From Grand Hall, start at the staircase in the Southwest elevator vestibule and follow through Mezzanine levels 2 and 3. Afterwards, proceed to the Northwest and Northeast corners of Grand Hall.