Brief History Sedalia Missouri

The city that became Sedalia was founded on land inhabited by the Osage Nation. After the United States removed the Osage from Missouri in 1825, white settlers became the predominate inhabitants of the area including, George R. Smith, who founded Sedalia and recorded the first and second plats of land in 1857 and 1860 respectively. He hoped the railroad that was being constructed from the east would eventually find its way to mid-Missouri. In January of 1861 Sedalia became the terminus of the Pacific Railroad and the first passenger train arrived on January 17, 1861.

Sedalia's location as the western terminus of the Pacific railroad meant that it played a strategic role in Missouri during and after the Civil War. In 1865 the city officially was recognized as the county seat of Pettis County and the railroad construction resumed as the Pacific railroad finished its construction aross the state of Missouri. The population of Sedalia soared from 300 people in 1861 to 6,000 by 1868, which fueled a construction boom. In 1869 the Missouri, Kansas, and Texas Railroad joined the Pacific railroad that ran through the growing community. In the 1870s the Missouri Pacific established a repair shop for trains and a roundhouse. In the 1880s the Missouri Pacific railroad constructed a brick shop and the Missouri, Kansas, and Texas railroad built a hospital.

A strong central business district developed along south Ohio Avenue and a new French Second Empire courthouse was constructed in 1884. In the 1890s Sedalia residents raised money and secured land to induce the Missouri Pacific railroad company to expand its repair shops. The cost of the construction of the Missouri Pacific repair shops was estimated at $2,000,000 and the shops, which were located at 601 Marshall, employed more than 1800 workers who repaired and fabricated railroad cars.

It was also in the 1890s that African American musician Scott Joplin played cornet in the Queen City Concert Band and studied music at the George R. Smith College, which provided higher education for African American students as did the Lincoln-Hubbard school, which provided secondary education for many African American students in and around Sedalia.

By 1900 Sedalia's population stood at 15,000 and the city received another boost as the city was selected as the site of the state fair in 1901. The city expanded its educational and recreational opportunities by establishing new parks and a public library.The city received another economic boost on July 12, 1932, when it was chosen as a crossroads city for 65 highway which ran north and south and 50 highway that ran east and west.

This tour captures much of Sedalia's unique history as a railroad town and as a commercial center for Pettis county and its residents.