Mendon, Missouri. Population 171. There’s really nothing here. The tiny town is located off Route 11, just south of Yellow Creek. You’re three hours west of Saint Louis, two hours east of Kansas City.
It’s quiet. No attractions. No major landmarks. Nobody famous ever lived here unless you count Vern Kennedy, right-hander for the White Sox, circa 1934.
If you’re looking for entertainment in Mendon, your main option is Busch Light. But you’ll have to drive all the way to Brunswick to find a liquor store.
“We are just country folk,” said Mendon native Carol Ann Wamsley, “and that's what makes us a special place.”
At its heart, Mendon is a railroad town. The first iron tracks were laid in 1887. Within a decade, a town sprang up. You had a few dozen storefronts, a school, a newspaper, and a couple churches with steeply conflicting views on eternal damnation. Most of that is gone now.
Today, the Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad line still passes the northwest side of the community, only
now it’s the Southern Transcon Railroad.
The Amtrak Southwest Chief runs through town regularly. On summer afternoons you can see the Amtrak locomotive in the distance, racing across the prairie like a polished chromium bullet. But the train never stops here. It just keeps moving.
Until last week.
It was a Monday that will live in infamy. The Southwest Chief made an unexpected stop near Mendon, of all places.
The Chief was traveling 87 mph, bound for Chicago. There were more people aboard than there are living within Mendon’s city limits.
Up ahead a dump truck was on the tracks. The truck was obstructing the crossing of County Road 113. This was not a small truck. This was a vehicle about the size of a Sonic Drive-In.
The train never slowed.
The sound of the collision could be heard from as far away as Westville. It was…