The ruins of Watts Mill and Dallas, MO

Picture of Watts Mill ruins

Ruins still milling about. | Photo by KCtoday

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Answered: “The town of Dallas was in the area of Watts Mill [...] How about doing a piece or several of these lost places?” — Reader Tom O.

Watt an idea. If you’re curious (and slightly nerdy) like us, you love learning about snippets of our society. We’ve looked at the ruins of Quindaro in KCK, and we’ve dug into Kessler Park’s abandoned reservoir. But we had never heard of the town Dallas, Missouriuntil now.

Founding Dallas, MO

Imagine moving to a new state, walking into a forest, building a mill, and hoping people will come by to use it. That’s basically what brothers George + John Thomas Fitzhugh — English settlers + entrepreneurs — did in 1832, according to KCMO’s Parks and Recreation Department. For reference, the town of Kansas was founded in 1838, later becoming KC.

The brothers’ mill — at today’s 1101 W. 103rd St., Kansas City — was bought ~20 years later by Anthony Watts. His family carried on the daily grind for the next 50 years.

Picture of a millstone at Watts Mill Park

A millstone embedded into the sidewalk at Watts Mill Park. | Photo by KCtoday

The Watts Mill fueled western travelers who needed lumber, flour, and cornmeal for survival. As a gateway to the west, some people stayed, and a small town called Dallas was born.

We couldn’t figure out why it was named Dallas — the name derives from Old English, meaning “valley house,” — but we do know the town became a destination spot when a new amusement park called Dallas Park opened in the early 1920s. The park featured a swimming beach, a ballroom, and picnic areas.

Dallas’ demise

Overtime, the area fell off the radar (something about Prohibition raids). The mill closed by 1940 because it couldn’t compete with larger milling operations, and the structure was razed in ‘49. Kansas City then annexed Dallas on January 1, 1958. The Watts Mill shopping center opened in 1971 — described as a modern day trading post in an area that was still largely rural at the time.

If you go to the Watts Mill Park today, you’ll find remnants of the past — a millstone embedded into the sidewalk and the mill’s original foundation along Indian Creek. You’ll also find a breathtaking waterfall + rock outcropping, perhaps perfect for a picnic. Dallas, however, only remains as a few words on a sign, both at Watts Mill Park and Trailside Center — 9901 Holmes Rd.

Photo of Indian Creek's rocky waterfall

Indian Creek’s rocky waterfall at Mill Creek Park. | Photo by KCtoday

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