Brief History of Knob Noster Missouri
Home to Knob Noster State Park and Whiteman Air Force Base
Knob Noster is located in Johnson County Missouri just off of highway 50 between Warrensburg and Sedalia. Indigenous peoples known as the "mound builders" and members from the Osage nation and other Native American peoples occupied the area before predominately white settlers came to the area as early as the first decade of the 19th century. Shortly before the end of the Civil War the Missouri Pacific railroad expanded through Johnson County and the town grew to play an important role in the area's regional agricultural economy.
Knob Noster was named after two hills referred to as "knobs," and then cojoined with "noster," the Latin word "our" as in, "belonging to the community." Early excavators of the knobs looking for buried treasure instead found the remains of the Native American "mound builders" that inhabited the area centuries before. The original settlement was a mile north of present day Knob Noster and served as a stop for stagecoach drivers to change horses. By 1860 with the railroad pushing west, Samuel Workman, the owner of a small farm sold 40 acres to the railroad and laid out a town. Knob Noster was a community on the rise, but the Civil War put a damper on its growth. By 1870, the community had rebounded and State Street was lined with businesses.
During the Great Depression a group of Kansas Citians came together to propose the construction of a park that would act as a recreational area for residents of western Missouri. The creation of the park would also provide a much needed source of employment during an economic crisis and help rehabilitate land that had been rendered useless because of unsustainable farming practices. The National Park Service and the Work Projects Administration purchased and mapped out 3,000 acres in preparation for development. Construction on the park began in January of 1936. The area was handed over to the state of Missouri in 1946 and in 1947 was officially named Knob Noster State Park. The park still serves as a popular destination for area residents.
Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, the United States fell headlong into war. Just two miles south of Knob Noster, the Sedalia Glider Base was activated and served as a training facility for glider pilots and paratroopers. In 1955 the base was named Whiteman Air Force Base in honor of 2nd Lieutenant George Whiteman, a Sedalia native, who was one of the first casualties in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The base was dedicated and renamed to honor Whiteman's sacrifice on December 3, 1955.
Whiteman Air Force Base played a critical role throughout the Cold War and hosted an arsenal of ICBMs to defend the United States against a Soviet nuclear strike. After the Cold War ended, one event happened that made Whiteman AFB famous around the world. On December 17, 1993, a dark shaped aircraft swopped down from the sky and landed on the Whiteman runway. It was the United States' first operational B-2 bomber, "The Spirit of Missouri." Whiteman AFB is still home to the iconic aircraft and it can be seen flying over Arrowhead Stadium before Kansas City Chiefs home games or serving the United States on global missions around the world.
Knob Noster's current economy serves the residents of those stationed at White AFB and visitors to Knob Noster State Park. Today, approximately 2,800 people call the city home. From its beginnings as a stagecoach stop, to its role as a destination for outdoor recreation and leisure, and its role in national defense, Knob Noster's history has indeed proven to be as unique as its name.