Blue River once an urban oasis

Posted March 25, 2014 at 11:00 pm

By MICHAEL BUSHNELL
Northeast News
March 26, 2014

PC-blue river.jpg

This real photo postcard showing the Blue River near 15th Street was published in the early 1900s by the North American Postcard Company of Kansas City, Mo. It was sent from #16 N. 15th St. in Kansas City, Kan. to Mrs. Henry D. Meyer of St. Charles, Mo. on June 26, 1912.

The message is written in German. The river is well below normal levels – the water line along the steep banks shows just how far. Cottages and rental craft outfitters lined the banks of the Blue from near its confluence with the Missouri, all the way south into the Leeds area.

At the time this photo was taken, the Blue River was a primary recreation area for Kansas City residents. Transportation out of the city was still difficult, but the Blue could be reached by streetcar, automobile or horse and buggy very easily along a variety of city streets. Warm spring days found boat and cottage owners alike working vigorously to ready their watercraft and recreational homes for the summer boating season. It was not uncommon to hear the whoops and hollers of spectators watching canoe races along the river throughout the summer.

The “ox-bow” bend in the river just south of 15th Street was recently straightened by the Army Corps of Engineers in order to alleviate flooding along its meandering path. The bridge in the background of the photo is the precursor to the massive four-lane Truman Road Bridge.