Old Railroad Right-of-Way, Ladue

Update: Thanks to readers, corrected on the actual use of this right-of-way; it was a railroad line.

Disclaimer: Yes, I know this is a horrible photograph.

Yes, Ladue once had mass transit passing through it, as this right-of-way, just off of Litzsinger Road demonstrates. Here is a picture of the track in use at the Post website. Looking at old streetcar maps, the line that passed through Ladue had an indeterminate ending point. According to a family friend who lives in Ladue off of McKnight, the streetcar line never did very well. There actually is still a small, ornate pavillion at the entrance to his subdivision where the streetcar stopped. It’s still hard to believe sometimes that mass transit, streetcars in particular, were often times the domain of the wealthy.


17 Comments Add yours

  1. Gee, I sure could not find the streetcar right-of-way on Bing. All I found were traces of the RR line which was a spur line that ran from the main MOP (now UP) line in Webster. It wound around across McKnight and Litzinger and through the back of the Bath & Tennis Club at the US40 service road and actually crossed it at level and ended at Clayton Road, just east of Warson.I can't imagine what it serviced in Ladue, except the old Studebaker Parts Depot building right at the edge of US40 (the building is still there). Maybe others can shed some light on other users of the RR line.I actually remember traffic on the highway being held up for a locomotive and a car or two to cross back as late as the early '60s.I recall my Mother talking about taking the streetcars out to CC lake before WWII, but thought it kinda paralleled Olive Street Road.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I forgot to mention – this RR line crossed Manchester immediately West of the current trainwreck Tavern. In that area it serviced the lumber yards which are still there and other industrial customers in the area.Hey – maybe Metro could take it over and bring light rail to the members of the Bath & Tennis Club (or whatever it is called now). Wow – Metro serving the heart of Ladue…As if…

  3. Chris says:

    Thanks for the corrections; this was in fact not a streetcar line but a railroad.

  4. Barry says:

    That line was the Creve Coeur Branch of the Missouri Pacific, and ran all the way out to Creve Coeur Lake. The right of way crossed Manchester @ The Trainwreck, McKnight immediately north of Deer Creek, Litzinger where the road jogs, Clayton Rd east of Warson, ran along the north edge of Ladue High, crossed Lindbergh @ Conway, and wound its way northwest. It is almost all still visible via Google satellite view, especially if one pays attention to road/property/building shapes that seem at odds with the surrounding street patterns. I remember the rails still crossing Lindbergh in the '60s, but I don't think they were active.

  5. ffkling says:

    Yes, indeed not a streetcar line. This was the old Laclede and Creve Coeur Lake Railroad which was built in 1881 then shortly thereafter transferred to the Missouri Pacific Railroad. I grew up in Frontenac and this rail line ran behind our home. The railroad built massive ice block houses at the lake. Passengers were brought out to the lake for R&R and truck farm produce and ice was brought into the city. The good old days for sure.

  6. ffkling says:

    Yes, I agree with "Anonymous" that this would make for a great MetroLink extension. I have fond memories as a youngster hunting quail and rabbits along the railroad right of way. And Deer Creek was alive with fish, crawdads, snakes,toads/frogs, and even beaver.Why did we ever let our magnificent streetcar and rail system deteriorate into virtual nothing. What a shame. Now, the railroad terminal in place of Union Station is a cheap trailer!

  7. The old line to Creve Coeur Lake is still totally visible and traceable at ground level and much of it is occupied by high tension electric towers. Twas once a vigorous rail line and numerous photos of the line, its engines and cars, and its stations, remain. The streetcar to Creve Coeur lake never paralleled Olive, but came out of the Delmar Loop at Kingsland and Delmar, west on, the northwest on Midland and the present Midland to Lindbergh was the right-of-way. Other portions still exist west of Lindbergh out to the Lake. Why St. Louis eliminated the many suburban routes which today could be efficient light rail constructed for a song is a tragedy. No vision, no foresight, no imagination.

  8. Apologies. Some words didn't transmit in my message of the Creve Coeur Lake streetcar. The tracks left Kingsland, then turned west on a private right-of-way still in existence behind the bungalows on Vernon, then at Pennsylvania curved to what is now Vernon Avenue, before heading northwest on Midland. If you google Creve Coeur Streetcar you'll come up with a detailed history of the line I did for the Maryland Heights High School Alumni website (yes, there was a Maryland Heights High School). I am Wayne Brasler, University of Chicago, native St. Louisan and my dad was a streetcar motorman!

  9. Chris says:

    Thanks for all of the great information!

  10. Anonymous says:

    There actually was a streetcar line that traveled through Ladue ending at the firehouse on Clayton Road. The #04 started in the city, headed west on Wydown Blvd, then through Clayton via private ROW and streets, then along Shaw Park and turning west to follow the low point along Black Creek over McKnight Rd (I think this is where Chris's friend lives with the stone pavillion mentioned), Lay Road past Community School, Price Rd. past John Burroughs School to the firehouse. The line ceased use in 1949 according to an excellent book on St. Louis streetcars available at the History Museum.

  11. Frank Kling says:

    Mr. Wayne Brasler states that numerous photos of the line, its engines, cars, and stations remain. Hopefully, Mr. Brasler or some other helpful will kindly advise where we might find these photos.

    Thank you.

  12. Bob says:

    There used to be a trolley? line that went right by the Brentwood Swim Club also; some of the concrete pylons are still in place in the woods just to the west. I believe it ran along Central Ave. in Clayton.

  13. k says:

    I rode past this old ROW yesterday, but was googling the Midland streetcar info when I landed here. Serendipitous. Ive wondered before about the clearing and now I know! Id like to know, though, whether the meandering shape of Litzsinger has anything to do with the rail line. Off to Google…

    1. Chris Naffziger says:

      The Pitzmann map of St. Louis County might give us some clues. Here’s a link:

      1. k says:

        Thank you, Chris! Bookmarking that for later rabbit-holing.

        1. Chris Naffziger says:

          You’re welcome! Make sure to budget a couple of hours before you start looking at those maps.

          1. k says:

            Indeed, and then I found the 1893 maps…

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