A handful of the railroad signs are making the rounds in Blue Springs neighborhoods as a fundraiser to restore the Chicago & Alton Hotel, the 131-year-old building that holds the title of the oldest business building in Blue Springs. For $10, residents can anonymously have the sign placed in a friend’s yard.

Jeanie Lauer’s 20-year-old son, Chris, had some questions for his mother after discovering an unusual sign Tuesday night.
“Who was in our lawn in the middle of the night?” Chris asked Jeanie, a Blue Springs District 1City Council member. “What did you do, Mom?”
A small railroad crossing sign bearing the words “Chicago Alton” stood as an unordinary ornament in the Lauer family’s front yard at 1413 N.W. Wildwood Drive in Blue Springs. Lauer called her friend Sissy Reed, a Blue Springs District 2 council member, and asked what the sign meant.
Reed knew. She’d been “railroaded” herself twice about five years ago.
A handful of the railroad signs are making the rounds in Blue Springs neighborhoods as a fundraiser to restore the Chicago & Alton Hotel, the 131-year-old building that holds the title of the oldest business building in Blue Springs. For $10, residents can anonymously have the sign placed in a friend’s yard.
At about 11 p.m. Tuesday, Sue Gfeller and Frances Hose quietly crept into Lauer’s front lawn – with the city’s permission, of course – and quickly pounded the sign into the ground.
“We have a ball doing this – we just have a ball,” said Hose, Blue Springs Historical Society projects chairwoman. “I’m afraid of dogs, so I hold everything ready, and Susie runs and jumps the sign in.”
Hose laughs. The experience also serves as a worthy adult prank for the women.
“We’re victims of the (Blue Springs) Historical Society,” Reed said, “but fun victims.”
Even the mayor’s house got railroaded, along with State Rep. Gary Dusenberg.
“I was railroaded yesterday morning and paid the $10 fee along with another $10 to avoid a repeat performance,” Mayor Carson Ross wrote to The Examiner. “I must admit the railroad sign is cute and would look good in the mayor’s yard on a permanent base.”
Since Tuesday evening, the fundraiser has already brought in $250. The goal, though, is endless, said Gfeller, a co-chairwoman of many historical society events.
“All we can get,” Gfeller said. “It’s got to be painted on the outside. It has to be completely restored on the inside. We’re talking from the ground up – wiring, plumbing, sheet rocking and painted again.”
The Chicago & Alton Hotel originally served on the railroad, but in 1978, it was moved from its original location south of Main Street to its existing location west of the Dillingham-Lewis Museum on Main Street. For more information, contact the historical society at 816-224-8979.
“I think a lot of people don’t realize we have the Chicago Alton up there,” Gfeller said. “A lot of people just go by and see this old white house that needs to be painted and fixed up, and I think the fundraiser will help bring some new life to the interest in it.”
The Blue Springs Historical Society plans to continue the fundraiser “until the ground gets so hard we can’t do it anymore,” Hose said of the winter season. She wants it to last at least another six months.
Before parting ways after Thursday afternoon’s short gathering, Lauer handed a $20 check to the historical society ladies – $10 to have Reed “railroaded” and another $10 as insurance that she won’t be railroaded again this year.
“Miss Sissy, we’ll be out to see you one night this week,” Hose told Reed. “Maybe tonight, maybe tomorrow night.”