Ghosts at the KC Rail Experience 

“Perhaps the best feature [in the KC Rail Experience] is its ‘ghosts’ – right down to the seams in women’s stockings.  They succeed in bringing Kansas City’s history alive.”

The Kansas City Star

In 2005 I was asked to costume 20 “ghosts” which would become the core of a permanent exhibit in the lower north end of Union Station.  The following is a series of photos of the characters in various stages of dress, both before and after they received their ghostly hard coating.

Meant to depict people from Union Station’s past, these “ghosts” include a Pullman Porter, Harvey Girl and Sailor, Gandy Dancer, and movie star, etc.  They are motion sensor activated so that when you approach they tell you their story.

It was a great privilege and pleasure to work on this figures.  And several spooky things happened during the process.  Perhaps the most interesting was the statue of Lester Brown, the railway mail clerk, then 90, who you can see photographed with his identical ghost figure.  Molded from real people’s faces (but not Lester’s own) imagine my surprise when I opened the box for Lester’s head and found the “ghost” head to be Lester’s “spitting image.”  See for yourself in the photos!

Other “magic” in the “ghost” making process occurred when I put together the movie star whose image works so well for Ginger Rogers, a Kansas City home town girl!

Most dear to my heart, however is the WWII sailor, who is wearing my Uncle Jack Carey’s uniform.  A veteran of the Normandy invasion, Jack married Kitty Rhone in the 1940’s.  Our Harvey Girl is named Kitty in her honor – and she flirts with Jack.  She is wearing an authentic Harvey Girl uniform from the private collection of the president of the Railroadiana Collector’s Association, Bob James.

The other rail road uniforms are also authentic and great care was given to depict the “ghosts” both accurately and affectionately.


(CLICK on pictures for enlargements)

A group of “ghosts” after receiving their hard coat.
A group of “ghosts” after
receiving their hard coat.
Bonnie Hansen adjusts the WWII uniform of sailor Jack Carey.
Bonnie Hansen adjusts the WWII
uniform of sailor Jack Carey who
will flirt with Harvey Girl Kitty.

 

Bonnie Hansen puts the finishing touches on the Rail Baron.
Bonnie Hansen puts the finishing
touches on the Rail Baron.  Note the
beautiful walking stick from Kansas
City-based Victorian Trading Company.
Station Master Charles Clancy rendered in period detail.
Station Master Charles Clancy
rendered in period detail.

  

A Gandy dancer awaits his hard coating.
A Gandy dancer
awaits his hard coating.
Bonnie adjusts the WWI nurse.
Bonnie adjusts the WWI nurse.

 

The Movie Star gets her gloves.
The Movie Star gets her gloves.
Posing with the finished “ghosts” of the Harvey Girl Kitty and WWII sailor Jack.
Bonnie Hansen poses with the
finished “ghosts” of the Harvey Girl
Kitty and WWII sailor Jack.

 

Bonnie poses with the beautifully-accessorized Movie Star who is being assisted by a Redcap.
Bonnie poses with the beautifully
accessorized Movie Star who is
being assisted by a Redcap.
She has just arrived on the
Super Chief, Santa Fe Railway’s
train of the stars.
Bonnie and the finished Rail Baron “ghost.”
Bonnie and the finished
Rail Baron “ghost.”

 

Bonnie stands in front of a replica of the first train to arrive at Union Station.
Bonnie stands in front of a replica of
the first train to arrive at Union Station.
Inside the rail car is a short film
featuring costumed reinactors provided by Vintage Nouveau.

 

Railway mail clerk Lester Brown meets his “ghost.”
Railway mail clerk Lester
Brown meets his “ghost.”
90 year old Lester Brown is the spitting image of his “Ghost.”
90 year old Lester Brown, the Railway Mail
Clerk, is the spitting image of his “Ghost.”