Armourdale, Kansas, once an independent municipality, is a neighborhood of Kansas City, Kansas, today. Situated on the north bank of the Kansas River, about a mile south of its junction with the Missouri River, it was named after the Armours, Chicago meat packers, and bankers.
The town was laid out in 1880 by the Kaw Valley Town Site and Bridge Company, composed of Boston, Massachusetts capitalists Charles F. and John Quincy Adams, Charles Merriam, Nathan Thayer, H. H. Hunnewell, and John A. Burnham. The company owned a large tract of land not included in the town site, which they sold for manufacturing purposes.
The Kansas Desiccating and Refining Company was composed chiefly of members of the Kaw Valley Town Site & Bridge Company, some members of the stockyard, and a few by the packing houses in Kansas City, Kansas. The company owned about 12 acres of land on the west or north bank of the Kansas River, adjoining the city of Armourdale, where they erected a three-story brick building measuring 145×150 feet, with several wings, engine houses, and other buildings, and placed the necessary machinery at an expense of $75,000.
These works were for the purpose of extracting fatty matter from dead animals and converting the refuse into fertilizer. They obtained the dead animals at the stockyards, the packing houses, and throughout the city. There were four large rendering tanks with a capacity of 20,000 pounds each. On March 6, 1882, one of these tanks exploded with terrible force, completely razing the building to the ground except the engine and boiler room. An immense force of men was immediately set to work, and in May, the establishment again resumed operations. The company then employed about 20 men, with most of their work being done by machinery.
The Kansas City Bridge and Iron Company yards, sheds, and shops were a Kansas City, Missouri firm, at the head of which appears the name of G. H. Wheelock as President and A. Blodgett as Secretary. They were forced out of Kansas City for want of space and followed the natural channel of trade and improvements up the Kansas River. In Armourdale, they extensively engaged in the manufacture of every variety of bridges for railroads and highways. They employed a capital of $30,000 and employed about 30 skilled mechanics.
Presbyterian services had been held here for several years, but it was not until April 15, 1882, that the Central Presbyterian Church was organized. The society immediately commenced building a church on the corner of Wyandotte Avenue and Eleventh Street. It was completed in June at a cost of $1,800. In addition to the regular services, a Union Sabbath school was established with 100 students.
In the spring of 1882, Armourdale had a sufficient population to be incorporated, and the first city election was held on May 5, when Frank W. Patterson was chosen the first mayor; Daniel Herbert, Nehemiah Shirrick, E. W. Anderson, Joseph Bradley, and S. Snyder, councilmen; William Ross, marshal; Granville Patterson, clerk; and John C. Foore, police judge.
At about the same time, the old school district in which a school had been maintained for over 20 years was divided, and that portion of the school district containing the schoolhouse was set over to South Wyandotte. In May, the Armourdale District, No.9, voted bonds for a $9,000 schoolhouse, which was completed on October 5. A colored school was taught in an old wooden school building at the west end of town.
A post office was established on June 16, 1882.
The Armourdale Foundry was incorporated in June 1882, with C. E. Moss, President, and G. H. Wheelock, Secretary. They commenced the erection of their buildings on Kansas Avenue and, in September, were in operation. Their capital stock was $50,000. The company, situated near the bridge leading across the river to Kansas City, employed a large force of men.
In September 1882, the firm of Trumbull & Reynolds, an agricultural implement factory in Kansas City, Missouri, commenced the erection of a building on Kansas Avenue in Armourdale to engage in the manufacture of several varieties of agricultural implements. The buildings and warerooms covered about four acres of ground and an immense capital was required to put in the machinery and operate the factory.
In 1883 the street railway was extended from Kansas City, Missouri, to Armourdale and Wyandotte, which made the towns practically one as far as transportation and business interests were concerned.
At that time, Armourdale had about 1000-1200 residents. The city was described as:
“It gives promise of being the center of many great manufacturing interests, and already many large establishments have bought ground here and are moving out of Kansas City, Missouri, which is just across the river. A new bridge by the Belt Line Company, was erected across the Kansas River in the southeast part of Armourdale. This will let the various railroads into the elevators and other interests now building in that part of Armourdale.”
In March 1886, “new” Kansas City, Kansas, was formed by consolidating five municipalities, including “old” Kansas City, Armstrong, Armourdale, Riverview, and Wyandotte.
Armourdale’s post office closed on March 31, 1891.
The district was devastated by the 1903 Kansas City flood and again in the flood of 1951, with damage adding up to about 50 million dollars that year. The 1993 flood, however, did no damage as the new floodwalls held up, protecting Armourdale.
The Armourdale neighborhood is located between the West Bottoms and the Rosedale, Kansas area. The Kansas River makes an oxbow curve around the entire district, which is home to Shawnee Park and Bill Clem Park.
Blackmar, Frank W.; Kansas: A Cyclopedia of State History, Vol I; Standard Publishing Company, Chicago, IL 1912.
Cutler, William G; History of Kansas; A. T. Andreas, Chicago, IL, 1883.