Arthur Stilwell: Railroad Visionary
Production for the Meet the Past television series continues in June with two programs taped before a live audience at the Central Library, 14 W. 10th St. Additional episodes will be taped in upcoming months. The series will air during prime-time on KCPT (channel 19) during the 2009-10 season.
Meet the Past features Library Director Crosby Kemper III interviewing prominent historical figures (as portrayed by veteran Chautauqua performers) with Kansas City-area connections.
Major funding for Meet the Past has been provided by a grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.
Admission to all Meet the Past programs is free. A 6 p.m. reception precedes each event. Click here or call 816.701.3407 to RSVP. Free parking is available in the Library District Parking Garage at 10th and Baltimore.
On Tuesday, June 9, at 6:30 p.m., Pete Hansen portrays Arthur Stilwell, the dreamer and visionary whose crowning achievement was the railroad that became the Kansas City Southern.
When Stilwell arrived in Kansas City in 1886, he found a city much like himself: ambitious, brimming with optimism, and possessed of a sense of destiny. From all accounts, he had a rare ability to inspire people to believe in him and to share his hopes. He persuaded a generation of Kansas City business leaders to invest in his visions, and many a fortune was founded on them.
There was a reason Stilwell believed so devoutly in his dreams: he thought they came from the spirit world. He made no bones about the fact, either, speaking freely of the “brownies” that whispered in his ear and sent him forth to build empires.
Peter A. Hansen is a nationally-known historian, lecturer, and writer, specializing in the railroad industry and its impact on American life. He is a correspondent for Trains magazine, and the editor of Railroad History, a scholarly journal.