Barretts Tunnel


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The Barretts Tunnels, of which the western one is shown in these photographs, lie in West St. Louis County, just west of Kirkwood.  The first tunnels west of the Mississippi, the tracks through here were part of the Pacific Railroad, and had the backing of leading Missouri politicians.  Completed in 1853 with the use of grunt force and explosives, the tunnels were designed by James Kirkwood, after which the nearby railroad suburb would be named.

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The tunnels sit in silence nowadays, too narrow to handle the rail traffic through here.  Below, a house remains from what was Barrett’s Station, sitting in between the two tunnels.

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3 Responses

  1. Tom Maher - Kirkwood

    12/31/2013, 08:16 pm

    Chris – are the views of the tunnel actually from each end of the West one? Or is the second photo the long-abandoned-for-storage East tunnel?

    I grew up not far from the Museum and recall many happy days of exploring there in the late ’40s and early ’50s when it was not so organized; a kid could actually climb all over the pieces and was actually encouraged to do so by the owner, a Dr. Roberts (name?).

    Its very first acquired piece was a wooden-framed flatbed wrecker car (yes-wood!) in 1948 or so. I can recall its faded red color to this day. The last time I saw it was in 1981, after the County had taken the place over (I think). It was sitting forlorn in the West tunnel with its back broken and much rot. That really disturbed me. I wonder if it was ever rescued?

  2. Tom Maher - Kirkwood

    12/31/2013, 08:54 pm

    I just found this FASCINATING listing of the tunnels from the 1978 National Register of Historic Places! The first part is mostly about the Museum’s collection, but scroll down about 1/3rd of the way to read about the difficulties in constructing (word?) the tunnels themselves.

    This work took place during the cholera epidemic, and riots even took place at the work site!

    Barrett’s Station Road actually stands on spoil from the tunnels!

    There are even photos of both tunnels from 1972!


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