Sugar Creek, Missouri lies on the south bank of the Missouri River - eight miles east of downtown Kansas City. Throughout time, the community has built a rich and vibrant history.
Early pioneers settling in the West often received supplies at Wayne City Landing, the first settlement in what is now Sugar Creek. The Missouri River port also received travelers headed for Independence and their departure west along the Oregon, California and Santa Fe trains. The port was name Wayne City Landing to honor Lt. Anthony Wayne who camped on the bluffs in 1825 while keeping the Kaw Indians confined to their land to the west.
The first railroad west of the Mississippi River was constructed to join Wayne City Landing and Independence. It operated on wooden rails with ox-drawn carts from 1850 to 1852.
In 1887, the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad laid track through Sugar Creek connecting Kansas City and Chicago. Service between the two cities began in 1888.
A street car line ran from Kansas City to the gate of Fairmount Park. The park, which opened in the early 1890's and operated into the early 1930s, was a first-class pleasure resort, drawing visitors from all corners of Jackson County and beyond. The park's attractions included a lake for boating and swimming, a spring house, theater, ferris wheel, roller coaster (at one time the world's largest), merry-go-round, café, hotel, horse shows, electric parlors and picnic grounds.
In 1903, Standard Oil of Indiana purchased land at the north end of the townsite for a new oil refinery. Opening the following year, the refinery was staffed with a nucleus of employees from their Whiting, Indiana plant as well as local residents.
Sugar Creek's growth evolved around the refinery. Many of the citizens had originally emigrated from the Slavic nations of Eastern Europe. They blended with other townspeople who shared a love of family, faith, community and education. Homes and businesses were built, and churches and schools were opened.
By 1918, the city was taking shape. Standard Oil had expanded, more businesses were in operation and the population grew to more than 800.
Shortly after World War I, businessmen and residents founded the Sugar Creek Improvement Association. The Association installed street lights, defined city limits and petitioned the Jackson County Court for its incorporation as a city.
On November 15, 1920, Sugar Creek was incorporated as a Fourth Class City, consisting of 564 acres and a population of 1,800 residents. H.R. Boehmer became the city's first mayor. In 1925, a city hall was completed and voters improved bond elections to finance improvements in the new city.
During the depression years of the 1930's, Sugar Creek struggled like other communities across the country. An assistance organization, the Citizens Civic Relief Commission (CCRC) was formed to help residents who were out of work and in need of food or medical assistance. The organization is still active to this day.
Sugar Creek did it's part to help the country through the war years in the 1940's. On the home front, the refinery was operating at its peak - and for the first time, hired women.
In 1944, ground was purchased for a Memorial Park and local residents contributed $1,600 for a monument to honor those residents who gave their lives in war.
With the end of World War II, a new era of growth began. In the 1950's sewers were installed and extensive improvements were made to the city's water distribution system.
Through the efforts of the Sugar Creek Business & Professional Club, the first flood lights were installed at the baseball field (now known as Roper Stadium) - making it one of the first lighted ball fields in the county. In 1955, Sugar Creek's Municipal Swimming Pool, also one of the first in the county opened.
Bonds were voted for a new elementary school and the Sugar Creek Schools joined the Kansas City School District.
Property was donated by Mrs. Ethel Harrison and was dedicated with other city-owned land as the William Henry Harrison Memorial park.
In 1958, Sugar Creek expanded by nearly 300 acres through annexation and the population grew to 2.500.
Sugar Creek experienced steady growth during the 1960's. In 1963, a new city hall and police and fire building were constructed. With the City of Independence, a new sewage treatment plant was built.
Additional annexation in 1964, brought with it new businesses. One of those was Missouri Portland Cement Company - which had been mining limestone and making cement at its location for 65 years. The Missouri Water Company plant and asphalt and concrete plants were also included in the newest part of the city.
A new community center was built next to William Henry Harrison Park. It was dedicated to Mike D. Onka, the City Marshall and safety director, who was killed in the line of duty.
The Sugar Creek Tamburitzans were formed in 1969 - playing instruments brought to Sugar Creek by Slavic emigrants. In 1976, the Tamburitzans performed in Washington DC, through the efforts of the Inter-City Optimist Club of Sugar Creek. The group performed at the International Optimist Convention.
In November of 1970, the city celebrated its 50th anniversary with special ceremonies, programs and the publication of 'Golden Memories'. The city's population had grown fro more than 4,800 and the city's size to more than 5,000 acres.
Bonds were approved for park improvements, trash hauling equipment, sewers and facilities. The city also issued street improvement bonds in 1975.
New flood lights were installed at the baseball park, and two double tennis courts and a football field were constructed in 1975, adding to the list of recreational facilities.
In 1979, the city acquired a bus to begin a transportation service for senior citizens and others needed special assistance.
The decade started of with the loss of the "old" Sugar Creek Elementary School to fire in 1980. The building was used for storage, and entertainment - including practice rooms for the Sugar Creek Tamburitzans and Halloween haunted houses - after the city joined the Kansas City School District in the mid 1950's.
Mayor R.J. Roper retired in April of 1981, after serving in the post for 40 years. An electronic scoreboard was installed at the baseball park and it was renamed R.J. Roper Stadium in his honor.
Also that year, City Hall was remodeled and expanded, doubling the size of the original building that was built in 1963.
In 1982, the Amoco Oil Company discontinued it production due to declining demand for petroleum products in the United States. The city formed the Industrial Development Authority to promote industrial development within the city.
In 1983, the Wayne City Landing was designated as a historical site by the Board of Alderman. A commemorative marker was built.
Neighborhood Councils were formed in April, 1984 to promote the general welfare of the neighborhoods in the city.
Growth and revitalization continued in the late 1980s and into the 1990s.
Lafarge Corporation approved construction of a multi-million dollar cement manufacturing facility and deep mine. Residential construction brought a wave of new homes to the community. A settlement with BP over the reuse of the former refinery, led to a plan for redevelopment of the facility as a business community (later named The Bluffs at Sugar Creek). The Mike Onka Memorial Building was expanded to add new facilities and improve access for those with disabilities. Plans were also developed for new business growth along major traffic corridors, a new community center, a marina on the Missouri River and more.