Taste & See KC: The history behind Gillham Road

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Gillham Road runs north to south from 22nd Street to about 45th Street.

It’s named after Robert Gillham, who designed and built the Kansas City Cable Railway System.

Gillham was born in 1854 in New York. He studied engineering before he moved to Kansas City in 1878.

In the early 1880s, the Kansas City economy flourished. But there were poor connections between Union Depot, a major railway station in the West Bottoms, and the commercial center near Fifth and Main.

Gillham saw the only way for people to reach Union Depot was by steep hills. He proposed a cable car railway to make it easier to reach.

The first part of the railway, the Ninth Street Incline, was completed in 1885. Gillham later extended the railway line to Delaware Street. The Eighth Street Tunnel was completed in 1888.

After he started the cable railway system in KC, Gillham helped construct the Kansas City, Pittsburgh and Gulf Railroad and became its general manager.

Gillham also helped plan and promote the city’s Parks and Boulevard system.

He served on the Board of Park Commissioners from 1895 until he died of pneumonia in 1899.

See more from Taste & See KC: 

History of Truman Road 

History of JC Nichols Parkway 

History behind Wornall Road

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