After a year of fundraising and planning, the Trail’s End project had its official groundbreaking Wednesday afternoon at the future site of the Starline Brass Trail’s End Plaza on the Missouri State Fairgrounds.
A large crowd turned out for the event, including many members of the Trail’s End Committee and Friends of Trail’s End, which spearheaded the fundraising efforts. The idea for Trail’s End, which will include several large bronze sculptures of cattle and a cattleman riding a horse, refurbished train cars, a windmill and a water tank, is based on Sedalia’s history as a cattle and railroad town in the 1800s.
“Any review of western frontier expansion goes through Missouri from the Gateway Arch Museum of Western Expansion and the Lewis and Clark base camp in St. Charles, to Independence and the Oregon, California and Santa Fe trails, and St. Joesph and the Pony Express,” said committee member Doug Kiburz during remarks at the groundbreaking. “Political, economic and geographic conditions led to one of the greatest animal migrations in history as millions of cattle over several years made their way north, starting in 1866 with the Shawnee/Sedalia Trail up to Sedville — the first cowtown.”
Kiburz noted the project involves pieces from all over the country: a steam locomotive from New Jersey, a tender from Kansas, a cattle car from Oklahoma, a drover’s caboose from the Frisco Railroad Historical Museum in Springfield, the Aermotor windmill head from Chicago, the wooden windmill tower from Nebraska, and the bronze sculptures that are being created by Michael Wilson and Adonis Foundry in Salt Lake City, Utah.
An exact opening date has not yet been set, but the committee has a goal of completing the project by the end of the year. Kiburz told the Democrat before the groundbreaking ceremony they have an internal goal of finishing by Oct. 1, just in time for the Queen of the Prairies Festival and for Fireball Run to make its way to Sedalia, an Internet-based competition show that announced on Monday it would be making a stop in Sedalia. So far excavation work has been started, and the plaza wall surrounding the site should be started in the next few weeks.
The ceremony also included another donation from Bob and Barbara Hayden, of Starline Brass, for $20,000, in addition to the $120,000 they have already donated to the project. They were among those who held shovels during the groundbreaking, as well as Kiburz, Larry Wilson, who helped with the fundraising drive, Missouri State Fair Director Mark Wolfe, Mayor Elaine Horn, Mayor-Elect Steve Galliher, Dale and Liz Yelton, committee co-chairs who had the original idea for the Trail’s End landmark, Gary McMullin, former Sen. Jim Mathewson, Ron Ditzfeld, of Ditzfeld Transfer, and Mike Brown, who has helped with the excavation thus far at the site.
Once completed, the committee, Sen. Matt Blunt and Rep. Vicky Hartzler will work to get it recognized as a national historic landmark, the 39th in Missouri and the first in Sedalia and Pettis County.
“Jefferson City has taken notice. Trail’s End representatives recently met with members of the departments of economic development, tourism, natural resources, agriculture and Missouri parks,” Kiburz said. “One of the department heads said he was not surprised about Sedalia becoming a national historic landmark. He said ‘Sedalians have a way of getting things done.’
“The state and soon the nation will see us bringing in the herd and will hear that train a coming.”