New Franklin resident Todd Baslee, an authority on the history of the M-K-T Railroad and the iconic “KATY” Railroad Bridge across the Missouri River at Boonville, will be the featured speaker April 11 at the Boonslick Historical Society (BHS) spring meeting in Boonville. The title of Baslee’s presentation will be the “M-K-T Crossing the Missouri River at Boonville.” The BHS fall meeting will be held at the historic Zuzak Building, 311-313 Main St., Boonville. It begins at 7 p.m. The general public is invited to attend the meeting. There is no fee. For more information, contact Cindy Bowen at 660-273-2374 or by email at email@example.com A native of Boonville, Baslee and his family now live in New Franklin in the house that his grandfather built. During the time he was building this home he was working for the M-K-T Railroad. “This is how I became interested in the KATY Railroad,” Baslee said. “I have studied the KATY for over twenty-five years and continue to collect items that are of mostly local interest.”
The Missouri–Kansas–Texas Bridge (often called the “KATY Bridge” from MKT) is a former rail bridge across the Missouri River at Boonville, Missouri, where it connects Howard and Cooper counties. In 2010, after a successful campaign by the Save the KATY Bridge Coalition, the bridge was acquired by the city of Boonville from the Union Pacific Railroad. The city plans to incorporate it into the 225-mile Katy Trail bicycle trail.
The bridge was built in 1931-32 as MKT Bridge No. 191.1 by the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad to replace an 1873 MKT structure. It has four trusses over the water and a vertical lift in the middle, and was constructed by Kansas City Bridge Company (substructure), American Bridge Company (superstructure), and General Electric Company (electric installation).
The rail line served by the bridge was acquired by Union Pacific Railroad, which later announced plans to abandon the line. In 1987, bicycle enthusiasts worked out an agreement to take use of the line for a rail trail administered by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and stretching from St. Charles to Clinton. The agreement stipulated that the trail would be operated as a railbank and according to the desires of the railroad.
Herman Zuzak opened Zuzak’s Wonder Store on Main Street in Boonville early in the twentieth century, selling everything from 5 & 10 cent curiosities to home furnishings. The “dime store” idea caught on and the building housed a Woolworths for the next 40 years. One of Sam Walton’s Ben Franklin stores followed, as his idea of a mega-dime store matured into an even larger reality.
In the 1970-80s, the building housed a men’s and women’s fashion shop. Later it a used furniture store, then from 2000 thru 2004 a home décor and gift store. And then, some 90 years after Zuzak first filled his store with wonders, it reopened in 2010 as Zuzak Art Gallery.
The Boonslick Historical Society was founded in 1937 and meets several times a year to enjoy historical topics pertinent to the Boonslick area. Society members have worked together over the years to publish historical books and brochures and to mark historic sites. The Society supported the founding of Boone’s Lick State Historic Site, marked the sites of Cooper’s Fort and Hannah Cole’s Fort and restored a George Caleb Bingham painting on loan to The Ashby-Hodge Gallery of American Art, Central Methodist University, Fayette, Mo.