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Pocket Park in Platte City will have historical theme

It will highlight city's role in helping settle the West

by Stacy Wiedmaier
Landmark reporter

The Pocket Park at the west end of Main Street in Platte City is being transformed into a new historically themed park, complete with walking trails, a gazebo, and picnic areas.

The 3.7 acre park will be called “Settlers Crossing,” and is located in the river bottoms and bluffs, significant for its ties to the Platte Purchase and Oregon Trail.

“Most people, even the ones who have lived around here for years, have no idea of this area’s history,” said Main Street businessman Olin Miller.

“We have a lot planned for this area and I think people will be surprised with the finished outcome. This area needs to be preserved. The city was started in this vicinity.”

Miller, along with Bill Knighton, a business owner and alderman, are overseeing the volunteer aspect which has been ongoing for three summers in a row. They are coordinating their efforts with the Platte City Main Street Association.

Although the property sits vacant now, it was once the site of the city dump until the early 1960’s. Miller said it was decided to make something out of this property which was donated five years ago to the city park’s department by Dora McDonnell.

“We gathered a few guys to help us clean it up in the past. Boy was it a mess,” said Miller. “One Saturday, men from the city council picked up trash and debris to load up and haul away. We used borrowed machinery and equipment and put in hours of volunteering.”

The new park will feature other amenities such as a military cannon and 40 foot lighted flagpole which Miller said he hoped to dedicate on Flag Day, this June 14.

“I want people to be able to see this flag pole whether they’re coming down Main Street, First Street, or the highway,” he said. “We also want to get another plaque stating this area’s significance, how it was a Fort Leavenworth military road that became an access point to the Oregon Trail that helped settlers cross the Missouri and Platte Rivers.”

This site housed the city’s first electric power plant in the 19th century and later became an ice house for area residents. The footings of the first bridge over the Platte River still stand today, it was used in the mid 1800’s and later replaced in the early 1930s.

Miller said the park could be completed as soon as late summer, or “When there’s enough time, money and effort to finish the project.”

The project has been awarded $11,500 from the Platte County Parks Outreach Program, but Miller said funding is still limited. He said they have applied to this Outreach Grant again, and hope to find funding mechanisms through other grants.

The soon-to-be-developed walking trails will highlight small plaques labeling native trees and shrubs along the walkway.

“Our goal is to highlight this area’s history, that Platte City did exist many years ago and we helped settle the West,” said Miller. “Platte City was a very early community and it all started at the crossroads of the Platte and Missouri Rivers.”

The Settlers Crossing Park will become attached to the city parks department, who will provide year round maintenance.