The railroad was the lifeblood of Pleasant Hill for the vast majority of its history, and this railroad station was at the center of it for nearly a century. The town’s original train station was constructed in 1866, as Pleasant Hill was coming out of the Civil War, reinvigorated by the coming of the railroad, and many businesses operating north of the station packed their bags to move closer to the transportation hub. Operated by the Missouri Pacific Railroad company, the station oversaw rail traffic in the region for decades, until the station burned down in 1901, when it was replaced two years later by the red brick building that still stands today.
Train stations were a hub of financial traffic in towns across the nation, and Pleasant Hill was no exception. Many had banks, post offices, or other financial institutions housed within them, and with that concentration, came the eyes of criminals looking to make a tidy profit. In 1915, the station’s Wells Fargo office was robbed by a single man, who wounded the night guard before escaping. Just three weeks later, a botched robbery led to the deaths of a police officer and one of the criminals, with the robber’s partner being caught and lynched by a mob of locals. These events quickly become town lore, brief flickers of the last embers of the post Reconstruction era.
Outside of those brushes with danger, the station remained quiet and hummed along for many more decades, but as the railways became less prominent in the national economy, the need for the station dwindled. By 1988, Union Pacific, which had absorbed the Missouri Pacific Railroad many years ago, bequeathed the station to the town. Since then, the station has been an integral part of Pleasant Hill’s Historic District, even making it onto the list of historically important buildings on the national registry. Today, the station often partners with the Pleasant Hill Historical Society Museum nearby to run the annual Railroad Days.