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Depot Inn & Suites - Host Hotel

"Trains to Planes"

Depot Inn & Suites - Host Hotel

Depot Inn & Suites Kirksville, Missouri, Regional Air Festival

September 11 and 12, 2009


Report and Photos (except where noted) by


(Click any photo for a double-sized copy; Click BACK to return to this page.)

IMG_1130.jpgLa Plata, Missouri, Rail-related Activities

Reporting on the Depot Inn & Suites Kirksville Regional Air Festival, I again had the unique opportunity to stay at the Depot Inn & Suites in La Plata, Missouri.  The Army Parachute Team, Golden Knights, who performed at the Air Festival with 3 jumps, also stayed at the Depot Inn, and liked it so much, they even extended their stay a 3rd night before they flew off to Chicago Soldiers' Field for their next performance.

As I did, the Golden Knights parachute team enjoyed the many amenities of the Depot Inn, like

In nearby towns are a Regional Airport, an Amish General Store, West Winery, excellent restaurants, lakes for fishing, Universities, and good Midwest fresh air all around!

U. S. Army Golden Knights Parachute Team

enjoying the rocking chairs, beautiful weather, and complimentary coffee at the Host Hotel, Depot Inn and Suites, in La Plata, MO,

before flying on to Chicago for their next performance.

I asked the Golden Knights, who spent 3 nights at the Depot Inn & Suites, what they thought of the place:


They couldn't wait to add their comments:  Steve Lowell, Pilot, the newest member of the team said, "I slept like a rock, great beds."

Christopher Acevedo, Ground Crew, said, "Most of the time we are last-minute about getting on the road, but today everyone is out early to enjoy the rocking chairs and the weather."

Other's comments,
  • "This place is Awesome." 
  • "Smells like a new house." 
  • "It's easy to get to and from the airport." 
  • "The rooms are each decorated in a different color."
Ben Borger's mother had come to see him at the Depot Inn & Suites and she was even more complimentary about the Hotel.

Hey Golden Knights, You Rock!


Julia Dacy, of  Dave Dacy Air Shows, manages their schedule and  appearances and also stayed at the Depot Inn & Suites.

I asked Julia Dacy if she enjoyed her stay at the Depot Inn & Suites and her comments were:

"The Depot Inn & Suites is a great destination for flying from the Chicago area.  Fuel is so cheap at the Kirksville Airport.  This would be a good destination for a 'Romantic Weekend,' in the beautiful suites, for private pilots and their spouses".

"The Depot Inn & Suites was an incredible hotel, and we look forward to sharing details of this 'great find' with fellow pilots throughout the Midwest."

"The Depot Inn has great rooms and Suites and phenomenal rates!"

"The beds are sooo comfortable.  The cooling units are good, making low humidity in the rooms."

"Very nice place, just like home."

The Depot Inn & Suites Lookout Point Above the BNSF Railway

has a new deck and chairs for Railfans.

A September afternoon view of the Lookout Cabin with new deck, taken from the Brown Street bridge.  The Lookout is easily accessible by complimentary golf cart from the Depot Inn & Suites.


View of the new deck from property across the tracks.

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The Sightseeing/Lounge car passes the Lookout Point.

Borrow the keys to the cart and head down to the Lookout.
Westbound freight from the lookout deck.

See the view from these 2 cameras at:

and on Channel 15 on the Depot Inn TVs.

Propane for heater inside the Lookout.  "Summer Houses" behind propane tank,  "Som'er for Men and Som'er for Women."
Barbecue and handicapped accessible ramp to the deck.
Inside is a place to autograph the wall.  I see I've been here 3 times plus one before the Lookout was enclosed.

Newly installed ATCS showing track sections on both sides of La Plata and train locations.

Instruction for reading the ATCS are posted, so bring someone with you who can read.

Morning light illuminates an eastbound BNSF freight.
There are double tracks past the lookout, so you might see two trains at the same time.
Watch the ends of freights for Helper Locomotives.  Or the end of passenger trains for private cars.

The eastbound Amtrak Southwest Chief arrives at the La Plata Station about 10 a.m. daily, as seen from the new deck of the Depot Inn Lookout Point.

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Ken Shook and Rosemary (w/pink hat) of Kirksville, MO, enjoy the passing Southwest Chief from the Depot Inn Lookout Point.  Ken mentioned that he was from Ohio and he sees more trains here in La Plata than in Ohio!
I worked on my laptop in the Lookout, using the Internet that is provided free there, and soon I heard another BNSF freight coming.
From the Lookout's new deck.

I was surprised and pleased to see that the New Lookout Point Deck is providing a Community Service.  Since the deck is handicapped accessible, Savanna McMann and Brandy Claybrook (below, right) bring two residents in wheelchairs from the Chariton Valley Residential Center in Kirksville to the Lookout each day for breakfast and lunch.  The residents enjoyed their lunch on the deck in the great cool, clear September weather as trains passed below the deck.  They can continue to enjoy their outings later in the year, using the temperature controlled cabin which has a ramp as well.

<>Brandy Claybrook and Savanna McMann
In the golf cart, on the way back to the Depot Inn & Suites, I passed the same Amish buckboard at the bank (above), next to the Red Rooster Restaurant. that I had seen crossing the Brown Street Bridge from the Lookout (right).


The La Plata Amtrak Station, a great place to railfan.

The morning Caretaker of the La Plata Station is Bob Cox, who is a great Railroad Photographer. His work is posted at:

Photos at right taken from Station Platform.

Local Amish buggies can often be seen on bridges, crossings, local streets and roads.  This one crossing near the Depot.
Eastbound Amtrak Train No. 4 from Los Angeles to Chicago stops in La Plata each morning about 10 a.m.

Bob is there each morning to "give a hand" to passengers.
Passengers staying at the Depot Inn & Suites (like Matt Melzer in black shirt) have access to free pickup and return to the Station.
Many times there will be private railcars at the end of Amtrak trains, as this 2-car set Patrick Henry.

Patrick Henry cars pass the La Plata Depot heading east.

A Union Pacific intermodal train soon passes westbound.
Sunsets at the depot can be nice also.
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If you arrive or depart at the Amtrak Station, a Hotel Shuttle will pick you up for your stay at the Depot Inn, and return you to the Station for your departing train.


Another thing you might enjoy at the La Plata Depot is seeing the local Amish bringing family to or from the train in their horse-drawn vehicles, as the buggy above.  I enjoy talking with the men about their horses since my Dad  and Grandpa had horses on their farms in Southern Indiana.  It's just like us with a classic car or talking about trains, they enjoy talking to someone who is interested in their vehicles and horses.  Also, in the depot is a nice collection of model trains (right).  The night agent, Darrell, and the morning agent, Bob, are always interesting to talk with.  They know interesting stories about situations on the railroad.

Amtrak History and Model Train Layout in Depot Inn & Suites Rail Cars

Rail Cars next to the Depot Inn & Suites.
Ask the Depot Inn desk clerk for access.
The car on the right has the new model train layout.
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The layout includes excellent rural trackside scenes.
The controller is available in a box so that you can run the train and light the displays.

View from the Train Layout Car to the Amtrak History Car along the nice accessible ramps.

Amtrak History Car

My favorite Amtrak Poster.  I first saw this poster in the station in Grand Junction, Colorado.  I believe a lot of people agree that, "Not everyone was meant to fly."  Greyhound Bus Co. used to have a saying, "Take the Bus and Leave the Driving to Us."
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Layout of a Superliner Car.  I had rooms 12 and 14 on this trip.  A layout like this will tell you the location of your room.  Double-click for a double-sized version.
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Since the cars were authentic express Amtrak cars in a former life, you can inspect the mechanical parts without illegally stepping on railroad property.  Useful, perhaps for showing your kids how the big trains worked after seeing the models inside.

Attractions near the Depot Inn & Suites.

Bob and Andy Jackson's Corn Maze

Much more than an Amazing Maize Maze, you'll enjoy learning about farm life on this active farm.

This photo, in the La Plata Depot, shows last year's maze.  Each year it is a little different.
Take Hwy. 63 north of the Depot Inn & Suites to County Road "E" turn right and then the first left until you see this sign then turn right down the long drive to their farm house.
Along the drive, you'll pass this gigantic hay-bale spider.

(Right) On the way to their drive, you'll notice this windmill and pump below, now the 'ultimate yard art.'  Windmills were widely used to pump water into cattle tanks - 'wind power.'  You'll see many of them along the route of the Southwest Chief on Colorado's open cattle ranges.

Smaller, but equally creative yard art can be found after you park at the Jackson's Corn Maze.
Andy Jackson will meet you and explain the wide variety of activities available on the farm.
I parked next to Bob Cox, photographer and La Plata Station Agent, and couldn't resist a reflective photo in his van window. (Right) You'll soon see that the Jackson's place is much more than a corn maze!

What attracted my attention was the Corn Cannon where compressed air propels ears of sweet corn yards, into an adjacent field, toward targets.
Bob explained that the cattle, when they hear the cannon fire, know it means sweet corn can be found in the field, and they come out to have another snack.  So don't call these critters 'dumb animals.'
Mom, mixed breed Herford/Angus, seemed to always be the first one out.
Next is Dad, an Angus.  In case there are city-slickers in the crowd that don't know the difference, check the plumbing.

Next the kids come romping out.  They seem to have Dad's markings.  These calves immediately run, jump and kick  enjoying life every step of the way.
Kids enjoying jumping in the straw pile.  Hmmm, not unlike the calves to the left, "...running, jumping, kicking and enjoying life every step of the way.
Bob Cox (right) and Nick exiting the corn maze.  (Amy was still in there somewhere, but made it out safely.)
Bob "talking Amy in."

Amy and Nick contemplating the right-turn-only bale maze.
Bob Jackson giving personal instruction on the Corn Cannon.
Nick had to be disqualified for shooting at the cattle (not really).

The 'Pumpkin Fairy' deposited some mature pumpkins among the green pumpkins growing on the farm.
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Even wildflowers, ragweeds, and a rusty harrow make nice photos down on the farm.

It was time to head back to the Depot Inn & Suites to meet Matt Melzer (below, right) and have Randy take him on a tour of the future Silver Rails Gallery downtown.

An easy walk from the Depot Inn & Suites (two lots south) is the Red Rooster Restaurant.  The bank between the Inn and Restaurant provides a hitching post for tying up the Amish horses.


Downtown La Plata, Missouri

The north side of the town square.  The white building at the end is Grandma's Cafe, a personal favorite of mine.
Grandma's Home Cookin
129 E Moore St
la Plata, MO 63549
If you think a one-car police force is not enough to control things, remember that there are 2 state troopers that live in town, and they still have a Sheriff and Deputies in these parts.
The west side of the main square has the Chamber of Commerce (right) and a barber shop.  Followed by (right) the future home of the Silver Rails Gallery.

Show-n-Off Photography and DJ Services will soon have their shop on this side of the square as well.

In the center of the Main Square is a nice stage.

A newly installed Historic Plaque in the town square.

(Right)  Double-click the top and bottom of the plaque to read the inscription.

Towns in the Region have many activities easily reachable from the Depot Inn & Suites

The Fork and Cork Festival in Macon, MO, a few miles south of the Depot Inn on Hwy. 63.

Maples Repertory Theatre on Vine Street had it's advertisement set up.
Visitors enjoyed the bands from the bleachers and their own chairs.

The newest business downtown was West Winery which had literally opened for its first day of business on this very day.

Don't be misled going south on Hwy. 63 by this sign (if they haven't removed it yet).  This is the original location of West Winery.  The new location is downtown 107 Vine St., Macon, MO.

I was glad to see they still had some bottles of their Loco Vino wine with my photographs on the labels! 
This is the wine served at the Depot Inn & Suites' nightly Manager's Reception 5 to 7 pm.

Jim Bane, the West Winery's "Most Faithful" customer, with my original train photo used on the West Winery's "Smokestack White" Dry White Table Wine.  Jim was a joy to talk with since he was a former brakeman on the UP between Cheyenne, WY, and Sidney, NB.  In 1946-7 he and his brother worked for the railroad after WW II.  If you ever have the privilege of talking with Jim, ask him about his "first successful electric mouse trap."

Chris and Jen West want to decorate their winery in a railroad theme, so I have many 16 x 20 inch framed photographs of trains hanging on their tasting room walls.  Stop by and purchase one for your home!

Chris was being interviewed by the local news outlet.
Jen West at the cash register.  They had about 4 stations with all the different wines they produce at each station on their new 20-foot tasting bar.



So spend some time at the Depot Inn & Suites in La Plata, MO, and, as you can see above, there is a great variety of things to do in the area.

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