William B. Strang Jr.
Our story begins with an entrepreneur, born in 1857 in Syracuse, New York, the son of Irish immigrants, who 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.
Eventually, William B. Strang Jr. came to Kansas in 1885, married a Kansas girl, and settled down to live on the rolling hills of Johnson County. Years later, the thought came to him that the folks in Kansas City might like a day in the countryside.
Strang envisioned a well planned "park-like" community with good businesses, quality education, tree-lined neighborhoods, ease of transportation and recreation - amenities that today, make Overland Park a great places to live and work.
Strang built the world's first self-propelled railroad car and then laid the tracks from Kansas City to Overland Park, and then on to Olathe.
The tracks are gone, but Strang's limestone trolley carbarn remains, at 79th Street and Santa Fe Drive, and a Carriage House, past 80th Street, home to the Overland Park Historical Foundation.
In the early 1990's, a Clock Tower was added, then the Farmers Market where fresh vegetables and flowers are available from spring to fall.
DOP Takes Off
Four years after he envisioned his City on the Prairie, Overland Park,Kansas Citians by the tens of thousands were hopping aboard the Strang Interurban Trolley Carline and taking the trolley to catch a glimpse of “suburbia”, picnic at South Killarney Lake (now South Lake), and enjoy a weekend in the country.
To entertain them Strang organized events including the first air flight in Kansas. It took place on Christmas Day, 1909. Strang had arranged for a daring young aviator, Charles K. Hamilton, to stop in Overland Park on his way to California. His Wright Brothers bi-plane was shipped by train to Overland Park and assembled on a snow-covered field beside the Strang Carbarn, from where it soared into the air to the amazement of the crowd.
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..
For more information about Downtown Overland Park.