William B. Strang Jr.
His story began in 1857. Born in Syracuse, New York, the son of Irish immigrants, William B. Strang Jr. became a Horation Alger success. He had a remarkable career as a railroad builder in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, Iowa, Illinois, New York, Michigan, Ohio, and Nova Scotia. He then developed and built a self-propelled railroad.
in 1885, with these accomplishments under his belt, he came to Kansas, married a Kansas girl, and settled down to live on the rolling hills of Johnson County. Years later, the thought arose that Kansas City folks might like a day in the countryside.
His vision - a well planned "park-like" community with good businesses, quality education, tree-lined neighborhoods, ease of transportation and recreation. All the amenities that today make Overland Park a great places to live and work.
Strang laid the tracks for Kansas' first self-propelled railraod from Kansas City to Overland Park, and then on to Olathe. At the intersection of 79th Street and Santa Fe, he built the Strang Carbarn to house and maintain the trolleys.
The tracks are gone but Strang's limestone trolley carbarn remains at 79th and Santa Fe. Down the street is the original Trolley Carriage House, home to the Overland Park Historical Foundation.
In the 1990's, the city added a Clock Tower and then a Farmers Market. From spring to fall it is a great place to gather and listen to music and buy fresh vegetables and flowers.
DOP Takes Off
Kansas Citians by the tens of thousands hopped aboard the Strang Interurban Trolley Carline and took the trolley to catch a glimpse of “suburbia”. Airshows dazzled the visitors. Picnics were enjoyed at South Killarney Lake (now South Lake).
On a cold Christmas Day, 1909, the first airshow in Overland Park took place . The daring young man was aviator, Charles K. Hamilton, nicknamed "the crazy man of the air," who was on his way to Los Angeles, California for the first international airshow in the US.
After shows in St. Louis and St. Joseph, Missouri, his Wright Brothers MIlitary Flyer bi-plane was shipped by train to Overland Park and assembled on a snow-covered field beside the Strang Carbarn, known as Aviation Park.
Hamilton did not disapoint. The plane soared into the air. Overland Park had taken flight.
From April until September, visit the Farmers Market in DOP, underneath the pavilion, east of the Clock Tower. From June 7 until August 9, enjoy the Summer Concerts in the Santa Fe Commons Park, each Sunday, from 7 - 8:30 p.m..