1887 - present
Marceline is a small town with a big reputation and history reflecting the rise of small towns in Missouri. As the Santa Fe Railroad expanded into the west in the late 19th century, railroad leadership designated locomotive stops along the line in Missouri for water, fuel, and crew changes. This created a number of new towns along the railroad route connecting Chicago to Kansas City, including Marceline. Founded in 1888, its success was intrinsically tied to the railroad as it brought people and prosperity to the town. Coal mining and farming also supported the town’s economy. Although mining declined by the 1940s, Marceline’s role as a transportation hub helped the town grow into an industrial center for north-central Missouri.
Today, Marceline is known nationally not for its roots but for its iconic Main Street, made famous by former resident Walt Disney. In 1906, Disney and his family moved to Marceline. Disney’s childhood memories of the town, specifically its Main Street, influenced his work as an animator and entrepreneur. This photograph depicts Marceline’s downtown Main Street, the heart of the small town. Featuring the Zurcher building and the Uptown Theater, the picture captures a few of the historic businesses that gave Main Street the character and charm that inspired Disney’s Main Street USA. The image also shows Ma Vic’s Corner Cafe, highlighting a newer establishment with an old-time appeal that preserves Marceline’s downtown.
Date: 1887 - present
Subject: Marceline, Mo. ; Small towns
Contributing Institution: Springfield-Greene County Library District
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Photographer: Ellie Burke
Photograph Date: 2021