We won’t talk a lot about this subject, since the April issue of Smithsonian does that.  Stephen Fried has written an article, “Saved By the Bell,” or as the cover puts it, “How the Liberty Bell Won the Great War.”  Here’s the link:


The article makes the point that the 1915 trip to the Panama – Pacific Exposition in San Francisco set the stage for use of the Bell during the Liberty Bond drives once the United States entered the war.

It is worth noting that when the Liberty Bell traveled across country in 1915, it made stops in Kansas City, Missouri, then Topeka, back to KC, then to Leavenworth and Atchison before crossing the river to St. Joseph and heading north to Nebraska.

Photos of the train in Kansas City:



The Lawrence Daily Journal-World of July 8, 1915 (and copied on July 8, 2015) wrote:

“JUST A FLEETING GLIMPSE – Did You See the Liberty Bell, or Merely Think You Saw It? – A Large Crowd Assembled at the Union Pacific Depot Twice. – Lawrence got up early this morning and hiked to the Union Pacific station to see the Liberty bell pass through the city on its way to Topeka, and was rewarded by a glimpse of the historic relic as the special train whirled by at 8:15 o’clock. The crowd began gathering as early as 7:30 o’clock, and by 8:15 over a thousand people had gathered, it is estimated, to see the train…. The crowd waited patiently until time for the train, and then a whistle in the distance heralded the coming of the bell and everybody crowded close to the track to make the most of the short opportunity to see the relic. At exactly 8:15 o’clock the train of four coaches went through and its speed was fast enough that many of the people say that they are not sure whether they really saw the bell or not…. A large crowd, estimated to be close to four hundred people, assembled at the depot at 10:30 o’clock to witness the Liberty Bell on its return trip to Kansas City after having been exhibited in Topeka for an hour and a half. As the train pulled into the station the people cheered and it stopped for a few minutes while representatives of the business men of Philadelphia distributed a short booklet of the history of the bell. [Philadelphia] Mayor Rudolph Blankenburg appeared on the platform before the crowd, but did not make a speech. In fact the people did not know it was he until the train pulled out of the station.”


Blair Tarr is the Museum Curator of the Kansas State Historical Society. He oversees the three-dimensional collections of the Society, but has special interests in the Civil War, Wichita-made Valentine diners, and Leavenworth's Abernathy Furniture. In the last few years he has also done a lot of cramming on The Great War. He is a past president of the Kansas Museums Association and the Civil War Round Tables of both Kansas City and Eastern Kansas. He is currently a board member of the Heritage League of Greater Kansas City.