From Glory to Ghost: The Untold History of Missouri's Abandoned Reservoir

From Glory to Ghost: The Untold History of Missouri’s Abandoned Reservoir

Nestled in the peace of Kessler Park in the heart of Missouri sits a silent monument to human ingenuity and the unstoppable march of time.

In the midst of deterioration, nature and art collide at the reservoir, which has a haunting beauty that this article explores from the reservoir’s creation during a time of growth to its abandonment.

Come explore this incredible building’s history and the lessons it teaches about the transience of human creations.

History of Kessler Park

The history of this once-essential building, perched atop a hill in Kessler Park, dates back more than a century, to a period when the East Bottoms and Northeast neighborhoods were experiencing great growth and prosperity.

Water for these areas was pumped in 1918 from a station in Turkey Creek, which was located in West Bottoms across the city. This proved to be an expensive and inconvenient method.

From Glory to Ghost: The Untold History of Missouri's Abandoned Reservoir

In what was formerly known as North Terrace Park, the city built a new reservoir as a solution. When the reservoir was finished in 1920, it was meant to hold about 17 million gallons of water—a substantial amount meant to supply the growing population on this side of Kansas City.

But park visitors were unable to see the reservoir; the only indication of its existence was the sporadic spilling of water down the hillside.

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What Caused the Fall of the Reservoir?

But problems dogged the reservoir’s destiny from the beginning. Experts couldn’t agree on whether the flooding issues were caused by leaks or springs, but water continued to trickle down the hillside.

The reservoir’s demise was inevitable at the start of the following ten years, and it was closed in 1931 when a new reservoir was built nearby.

The structural problems that caused constant water loss were the main cause of the Missouri reservoir’s decrease. Whatever the cause—leaks or springs—experts could not agree on, the end effect remained the same: water continuously trickled down the slope, creating flooding issues for the neighborhood.

From Glory to Ghost The Untold History of Missouri's Abandoned Reservoir

These problems made the reservoir unprofitable, even though it had seemed promising at first. A new reservoir was created nearby, and the reservoir was eventually decommissioned in 1931.

Even now, as nature gradually reclaims the once-functional structure, the remains serve as a reminder of this challenging history.

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The Reservoir’s Current Condition

The reservoir’s ruins are now a popular spot for graffiti artists to create their works and for anyone interested in the history of the city.

The ruins, overgrown with flora and etched with the passage of time, provide as a sobering reminder of the city’s changing demands and the transience of man-made buildings.

There have been discussions about reviving the region, but for the time being the reservoir stands as a poignant reminder of what was previously there—a hidden jewel within the city that is full with stories from a bygone period just waiting to be explored by intrepid explorers and history buffs alike.

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To Conclude

The abandoned Kessler Park Reservoir serves as a reminder of how transient human achievements may be. Though intended as a representation of advancement, it fell victim to unanticipated difficulties. Its aging walls now serve as a window into the city’s past as well as a canvas for artistic expression.

The history of the reservoir serves as a reminder that even the best-laid intentions can backfire and that sometimes, the most beautiful things are the unplanned ruinations that remain.