Advance Train Depot

The Advance train depot was originally supposed to be located in Lakeville, described in 1875 as a “thriving town” with a population of about two hundred and all of the necessities of life in that era: a post office, a Union church, Masonic lodge, hotel, public school, general store and a saw and grist mill.

When Louis Houck extended his Cape Girardeau Railway line through the Old Field, heading south and west, though, he balked at the $30 an acre price Lakeville owner Jacob Kappler was asking.

Land in Advance was $10 an acre

Houck agreed that Kappler’s price wasn’t THAT far out of line, but he instructed his civil engineer Major James Francis Brooks to “advance” about a mile west near a stand of mulberry trees and lay out a new town where Joshua Maberry would sell the land for $10 an acre.

New Lakeville thrived and was later named Advance, with the accent on the first syllable. The original town dried up when it was bypassed by the railroad.

Railroad abandoned

I shot these photos for a story that ran in The Missourian June 24, 1966. The first train trip on this line was made in 1881. The last was Nov. 30, 1965. The tracks which once carried as many as four passenger trains a day in the 1920s were being abandoned. The ties were sold to Vernon Lee of Puxico; most of the right of way became part of the property that it adjoined. (What a great rails-to-trails bike path that would have made.)

A Missouri Railroad Pioneer

I picked up a book, A Missouri Railroad Pioneer: The Life of Louis Houck (Missouri Biography Series), when I was in Cape in the spring. I quickly set it back down when I saw it was forty bucks.

Reader, railroad buff and frequent commenter Keith Robinson highly recommended it, so I swallowed hard and bought it when I was in Cape this fall. It’s a great read about someone whose name I had heard all my life. I knew he must have been important enough to have a SEMO stadium named after him, but I never realized how key he was to the development of the Southeast Missouri region. (There might not have BEEN a Southeast Missouri State University if there hadn’t been a Louis Houck, by the way.)

Paul Corbin

Another reader, Madeline DeJournett said I should give local historian Paul Corbin a call. We chatted a few minutes and he mentioned that Missourian photographer Fred Lynch had published some audio recordings of him talking about the railroad and growing up in the Advance area. They’re worth a listen.

The old depot wasn’t just a place where the trains stopped. There’s a sign on the building saying that it’s the Railroad Express Agency, the way you got stuff to you in the days before Fed-Ex and UPS. I had a big box of stuff shipped by Railway Express from Cape to Athens, Oh., when I was in college. (They crushed the box and I had a devil of a time getting them to settle, but that’s another story.)

Another sign proclaimed that it was the Western Union Telegraph and Cable Office. I suspect it was a mail and newspaper drop, too. The Missourian used to put out an early edition for train delivery. It was a mishmash of yesterday’s news, today’s news and bad layouts. You had to have wanted a newspaper pretty badly to accept that one.

I’m not sure when the depot was finally torn down.

74 Replies to “Advance Train Depot”

  1. It was great to read this article and. comments about my hometown! I lived there and was active in the community and school until I graduated from high school in 1972. My parents loved Advance, especially my Daddy, James J Harnes Sr, He lived and breathed doing all he could to make Advance a better place for it’s citizens. As City Clerk way back in the 50’s and 60’s and then again as Major for many many years. Both my grandparents LJ Harnes and ET Bird were early and lontime Advance business owners.

    The older Harnes sons went to war, LJ was killed on the Normandy Area on his Mother’s Birthday. Daddy was injured and awarded the Silver Star, two Purple Hearts and a bronze start. Our family had a cousin who was a Gold Star Boy, Ben Harrnes.
    The Bird siblings: Uncle Gerald Bird (married Virginia Shell) was a farmer at Brownwod (he’s the one who warned Mother LaVelle Bird Harnes about the tornado coming. Uncle Quinny BIrd had a grocery store. JT Holder (married my aunt Geraldine Bird) and took over my grandpa’ ET Birds’d paint & hardware store. Then there was Mammy, my Aunt Arline Bird Williams. Closest I ever had to a Grandma.

    There were four other Bird siblings, Lyle Bird, married Helen Proffer staying in the Mathews area and farmed, Marie Bird married Lloyd Eby who owned a Fertilizer Plant near
    Matthews. Aladine Bird Bowling and her husband Ogle tan a grocery store in Morehouse.
    I too remember my mother frantically looking for me when the tornado was coming! And making Ray & Gloria McClane get in the car “right now”!! Driving faster than I’d ever seen her drive picking up other people along the way and filling out basement completely full of people. We didn’t know some of them! But that was okay and everyone was praying. Looking back it feels like a movie.

    As far the Train Depot, the best stroy I heard was when my Grandpa & Grandma came back from there honeymoon, the whole town was there to greet them at the Depot. Evidently back in that time, “friends” would steal the bride for a while. Well Grandpa didn’t want that to happen. So when he saw the Large Group of people, he grabbed his bride Nellie Beard Harnes and they ran as fast as they could down Cypress Street to the house he’d built for her wedding gift! I love that story!! I’ll just end this that Advance was a wonderful place to grow up. I miss it. And I miss that my parents, all grandparents, greatgrandparents, Aunts, uncles, and some cousins have passed on. Daddy really wanted to live to 100 and be president of the Alumnai Banquest! It didn’t quite make it, he died a age 94. If there was ever a Mr. Advance, it was my daddy

    I was recently told that the
    Memorial Day Service will go on this year. Since it the 25th Annivetsity that my Dad stated the whole thing rolling by settting up a table at the Labor Day Party to ask for donations to get the memorials started, that he might. Be honored for his service to Advance. Have any of heard anythimg about that?

    1. I believe my gg-grandma, Mary Watkins is buried in the Hector grave yard, Cape Girardeau, Mo. The under taker is Ed Looney from Rum Branch Lakeville, Mo. Doctor was D.M. Simmons, MD. Can you help me locate the Hector cem. It may have changed names. Mary died Jan. 19, 1884. Burial Jan. 20th. I live in Oklahoma and have been searching for her a long time. Thank you in advance. Cindy

        1. I would appreciate the help. I am thinking that the Mary Watkins in the Death Record may be African American and not of my family. It says she is English. There are so many burials on family home steads and church yards that there may not be a Hector grave yard. Thank you for your help. Cindy

  2. My Grandparents were Harry and Clara Sample. They lived down the road from the Shoe factory that got destroyed by the tornado. I remember coming up to visit my Grandmother just after this and their were shoes all over the county. Every summer my sister and I (along with all of my cousins) would come to visit Advance. We had a great time playing with the local kids and walking up and down the railway tracks, putting penneys on the track to see them squashed. I don’t remember ever finding one after it got run over though. ha

    1. I remember both of the Sample houses!

      I took piano lessons from a Mrs, Shoenoff for many years. I was impressed with both of her homes. The latest one because no by the Post Office. I don’t recall the original owners!

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