If you are familiar with the Brookside area, chances are you have seen, or even taken a jog on, the Harry Wiggins Trolley Track Trail. The 6-mile-long Harry Wiggins Trolley Track Trail is one of Kansas City’s most popular trails for walkers, runners and cyclists. Some of you may be wondering: Where did this trail come from? Has it always just been a walking trail? Who is Harry Wiggins? We’ve done some digging and are here to fill you in on the history of the Trolley Track Trail.
Named after the departed Missouri state senator who helped secure funding for the trail, the Harry Wiggins Trolley Track Trail was originally the site of Kansas City’s last streetcar line, the Country Club Line, prior to today’s RideKC Streetcar. The Country Club Line was the golden opportunity for transportation to the Brookside Shops, outlasting the struggling streetcar system throughout the rest of the city.
The trip from downtown Kansas City to Brookside and back was a great adventure on the Country Club Line. One could, “travel from the tranquility of tree-lined streets to the exotic views of the Plaza, then north on Main buzzing along with the traffic as the car slipped past apartment buildings and warehouses and then finally to the glittering canyons of downtown, filled with the allure of the department store windows,” LaDene Morton stated in The Brookside Story: Shops of Every Necessary Character. Regardless of the trip, the gateway to all adventures was the transit stop at 54th Street and Brookside Boulevard – where the restored station remains to this day.
Though the last run for the Country Club Line was in 1957, the tracks remained intact long after. “To the neighborhood, they were a nostalgic reminder of the days gone by. To others, they marked a critical easement, a valuable piece of property with potential for many purposes,” Morton stated. Over the years, there were repeated attempts to reclaim the full right-of-way for a variety of purposes, at one point even including talks of a freeway. Those plans were clearly never executed, but in the 1990s, the easement was converted to a bike and pedestrian trail, still known today as the Harry Wiggins Trolley Track Trail.
Is there potential for the Harry Wiggins Trolley Track Trail to be converted back into a streetcar line? A recent vote to extend the RideKC Streetcar from the River Market to UMKC is currently the talk of the town. Some proponents want to see the line extended an additional 6.3 miles along the Harry Wiggins Trolley Track Trail. Some say they would like to see the streetcar line run alongside the Trolley Track Trail, accommodating those who would like to keep the trail for pedestrians and bikers. Although nothing is confirmed as of now, we’re certain there will be more talk about the future of the Harry Wiggins Trolley Track Trail.
Looking to buy a home and learn even more about the history of Brookside? Turn to the Brookside Real Estate (and history!) experts. Give us a call at (816) 333-3330 or stop by our storefront office at 9 W 63rd St – when the flag is up, we’re open!