It's always interesting to look at the history of a place and get a snapshot of what it was like back in the day. This time we're going way back in the day, 136 years ago, when the Missouri Pacific Railroad called in Warrensburg, and the town had "good prospects for securing the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy."

This is all from a Johnson County Star article published on April 24, 1886, and shared by the Johnson County Missouri Historical Society on their Facebook page. The original article can be seen on

Now, Warrensburg by the numbers from 1886:

  • Johnson County, of which Warrensburg was and still is the county seat, was the fifth county in wealth and population in Missouri.
  • 6,000 people called Warrensburg home.
  • There were 15 churches.
  • Four hundred students attended the state Normal school. The article bragged that the school had "one of the largest and most handsome school buildings in Missouri." (Today this is the University of Central Missouri.)
  • The town had two large public school buildings, both three stories and made of brick.
  • The town's jail was valued at, or cost, $10,000 to build. I'm not sure exactly,
  • Warrensburg had two flouring mills and two elevators.
  • There were two banks, two building and loan associations, and three newspapers.
  • You could stay at two large brick hotels. One was three stories, the other four.
  • There were eight dry goods stores, twenty grocery stores, five hardware stores, four drug stores, six butchers, three clothing stores, two bakeries, three restaurants, three livery stables, and six lumber yards.
  • There were two saloons to wet your whistle and one brewery.
  • There were three boot and shoe houses.
  • Four barbershops for a shave and a haircut.
  • Two cigar factories.
  • One foundry.
  • One candy factory.
  • One gun store, two furniture stores, one music shop, three jewelry stores, one cigar and tobacco shop, two bookstores, five blacksmith shops, five carpenter shops, and one cabinet shop.

Additionally, the article bragged about having a steam stone sawmill, gas-illuminated streets, and the famous Pertle Springs, which the article said will rival any famous medicinal springs west of the Mississippi.

But wait, in 1886 Warrensburg offered even more, like an inexhaustible supply of coal, wood, and water. The most beautiful park between St. Louis and San Francisco, as well as many beautiful streets.

Maybe it's just me, but Warrensburg, at least by the numbers, seemed like an impressive town back in 1886.

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Gallery Credit: Andrew Lisa

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