This week’s historic postcard is once again a companion to our Independence Avenue Community Improvement District (CID) center spread, offering a glimpse into the history of the Sheffield community and the Blue River Industrial District.
This divided back postcard was mailed to Earl Swank, RFD (Rural Free Delivery) in Trenton, Mo., from the Sheffield Station at 410 Ewing Ave., on December 6, 1912.
The message reads: “Hello Earl, will send you a picture of where I hang out.” The printed advertising message on the back states: “Sheffield Car & Equipment Co. BUILDERS, Freight Cars, Steel Underframes, Heavy Repairs. Rebuilt equipment for sale. Kansas City, MO.”
Sheffield Car & Equipment Company was one of a number of new industries located in the Blue River Valley, profiled in a February 1910 advertising supplement to “The Sheffield Press,” entitled “The Blue Valley, Watch it Grow.” The supplement states that 46 plants have already been located in “the great industrial center.”
Industries such as Kansas City Bolt, Nut & Screw, the W.F. Lyons Ice Plant, Witte Engine Works, the Blakeslee Vehicle & Seat Company, the Ford Motor Car Company and the American Roofing Company, were all located in the Blue Valley industrial area in the early 1900’s, largely due to the area’s proximity to the major rail carriers. The area is generally bordered on the north by the Missouri River and to the south by 23rd Street, Ewing or Newton Avenue to the west and the bluffs on the east. The area is also generally referred to as Centropolis.
The description for the Sheffield Car & Equipment Company reads: “This splendidly equipped plant, occupying eighteen acres, was established in 1908 and from its inception has been a most gratifying success.” The company boasted a blacksmith’s shop where five forges were utilized for the fabrication of specialized parts used in heavy railcar repair.
Walter S. Carr is listed as the President and Treasurer, A. Harrity is noted as Superintendent, “having for twenty-eight years been identified with the mechanical department of the largest railroads in this country.”
Sheffield Car was on the northern end of the Blue Valley industrial area, in an oxbow of the Blue River, between two major north-south rail crossings. Spur lines from Kansas City Southern, Missouri Pacific, the Santa Fe and the K.C. Beltline Railway led from the two crossings directly into the Sheffield Car Works plant.
The Kansas City Belt-Line was the precursor to today’s Kansas City Terminal Railway which manages and dispatches roughly 95 miles of track in the Kansas City vicinity. The Blue Valley crossing is noted to be the second-busiest rail crossing in the country. In the year 2000, the Sheffield Flyover was completed, reducing a train’s time at the crossing from 45 to 60 minutes, down to 15 or 20 minutes.
“The Sheffield Press” was a weekly newspaper published every Saturday by Chris Mann who had an office at 6711 Independence Rd. It, much like “The Northeast News,” served the Sheffield Community prior to its annexation into Kansas City.
By 1927, no entry in the City Directories existed for the Sheffield Car & Equipment Works. Today the land is vacant.