The Meramec Highlands "Frisco" station was constructed in 1891 by the Meramec Highlands Company, the developers of a summer getaway for wealthy Midwesterners on the bluffs overlooking the Meramac River two miles west of Kirkwood, Missouri. In its heyday, the resort featured a grand hotel, general store, and stone and frame guest cottages. The railroad station, a wonderful example of Romanesque Revival architecture adapted to a rural structure, was one of the earliest structures in the resort and was built by the resort owner, Marcus Bernheimer, to ensure access to the property. Once completed, it was deeded to the St. Louis and San Francisco Railroad for $1 in exchange for regularly scheduled service. By 1894 when the resort was in full operation, 12 trains a day stopped at the station. The station had two waiting rooms; a non-smoking one for women and one for men where smoking was permitted.
The exclusivity of the Meramec Highlands resort, however, was short-lived. A worldwide Depression from 1893-97 adversely affected the resort. Streetcar lines from St. Louis arrived within reach of the resort and for the first time, inner-city residents of middle and working class populations were given inexpensive access. It was a particularly popular destination point during the 1904 World's Fair. Though no longer exclusive, the resort remained popular in the early years of the 20th century, but gradually fell out of favor as public tastes changed.
In 1913 the station achieved a unique place in history when Mrs. Della Snyder became one of a handful of women station agents in the country and the first and only one on the Frisco line. The station became both her home and her workplace and became the center of social life in the little hamlet. From 1925 to the mid-1930s the station's name was changed to "Osage Hills." The station ceased operations in 1932 and was lived in by squatters who ultimately leased the property. By 1971, the station had deteriorated and was sold to the developer of a nearby apartment complex who has attempted on several occasions over the past thirty years to develop the property for commercial and residential purposes. During this time the station has suffered from repeated vandalism and deferred maintenance. Community opposition has pitted the owner against the City and local community groups and residents who desire to save the building and redevelop the site as a neighborhood park. The owner has threatened to demolish the building if he is unsuccessful in developing the property. In 2002 the city council and the developer agreed on a development plan which will save the station for use as a residence in the development. As of January 2003, work on the station is still in the planning stage.
For more information see "Glimpses of Meramec Highlands."
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