The Kansas City Library is working to restore thousands of documents that shine a light on one of Kansas City's most iconic chapters in its history - the more than 100-year era of the Kansas City Stockyards.
Five thousand sheets of paper detailing Kansas City's heyday as a livestock capital stack shelves in the Kansas City Central Library. Before the library got ahold of the documents, they were heading for the city dump.
"We really were a hub of agribusiness for the entire country," said Lucinda Adams, the lead archivist with Missouri Special Collections.
Each sketch details the buildings and inner workings of the stockyards and offers a glimpse of life from the 1890s through the 1950s.
Many of the documents haven't been touched since the early 1900s and some are crumbling to pieces. The library is working to preserve them.
A person could rebuild the stockyards brick-by-brick based on the detailed maps, blueprints and other documents being stored at the downtown library location.
"It's fascinating. It's everything from maps, architectural drawings, the stockyards actually designed the nuts and bolts," Adams said. "And we have plans on how they designed those and used them on the fences and the pens."
The long-lost documents turned up as the owner of the Livestock Exchange Building was making renovations.
"If we didn't see them as being a value then the next step was going to be the city dump. And obviously they are of value because, let's face it, Kansas City was a cow town. We may have moved away from that, but this is a great collection that shows the development of the history of the city," said Eli Paul, an author and historian and manager of the Missouri Valley Special Collections.
The library has held onto the documents since 2008. A $101,000 grant is now allowing them to preserve the collection.
The documents will be featured in a public exhibit opening at the Library's downtown Central Library in spring 2014.
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