Historic Route 66

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Historic Route 66

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Notable History of Joplin’s Route 66

Legislation for U.S. public highways first appeared in 1916, and the government executed its plan for national highway construction in 1925. One of the original highways, Route 66 was officially assigned as the nation’s principal east-west arteries; from Chicago to Los Angeles and was established on November 11, 1926.

Route 66 consist of 2,448-mile of highway and became the Main Street of Midwestern United States. For many during the Dust Bowl era Route 66 became their exodus as immortalized in John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath and his reference to, “The Mother Road”. Route 66 crosses eight states. Missouri accounts for 347 of the total miles.

The famed route brought traffic, commerce, and notoriety to Joplin. Bobby Troupe wrote the song “Route 66” and chose to name Joplin in one of his versus. In the 1930s, Schifferdecker Park allowed overnight visitors to stay in campers and motor homes. West Seventh Street businesses also proposed from the influx of daily traffic. Dixie Lee’s Dine and Dance, Dutch’s Top Hat, Dana’s Bo Peep, Keller’s Barbeque, and Koronado Kourts were available for the 66 highway travelers.

Between 1975 and 1977, Interstates 44 and 55 became the primary route of travel and much of Route 66 was by-passed. By January 1981 the final section of Route 66 in Missouri was by-passed and the recognizable 66 shields were taken down. But the old route would not die. As Route 66 historian Joe Sonderman wrote, “Nostalgia buffs and roadside rebels continued to seek out the tourist traps, motels and gas stations that still held on for life on 66. They clung to the memories of their childhood vacations.” It is till today those feelings of Americana which pulls thousands of motorists, from around the world, to drive the famous roadway annually.

Following Joplin’s Historic Route 66

Just a little less than 6½ miles of Route 66 pass through Joplin. On the northeast side of town the route passes through the Webb City/Joplin city limits, while the west side of Joplin is Missouri’s western terminus as Route 66 moves into Kansas.

Driving to the west:

  • Leave Webb City heading south on Madison (Range Line Road within Joplin)
  • At Zora turn right (west) to Florida. Turn left (south) on to Florida.
  • From Florida turn right (west) on to Utica
  • Utica will curve to the left and turn into Euclid. Just as you get into the curve an old Phillip 66 service station (locally known as Dale’s Barbershop) will be on the left).
  • Stay on Euclid until St. Louis. At St. Louis turn left (south) to Broadway.
  • Turn right (west) onto Broadway (is also marked as Lanston Hughes). Stay on Broadway until crossing a bridge over railroad tracks. Below the bridge is the location were several of the original mining camps that formed Joplin existed.
  • After the bridge will be 2nd and Main Street. This is the northern portion of Joplin’s Downtown. Turn left (south) onto Main Street.
  • At 7th & Main Street turn right (west) onto 7th Street. Traveling for several miles Route 66 will turn right (north) onto State Line Road, just before the Kansas Border. State Line Road will cross into Kansas and intersect with Main Street of Galena, Kansas.

Driving to the east:

  • Coming off north Main Street in Downtown Galena, Kansas Route 66 heads east and after a curve to the right will cross into Missouri. At the first intersection is 7th Street. Turn left (east) onto 7th to head into Joplin. 7th Street is the final leg of the Mother Road Marathon held the second Sunday of October each year (www.runmrm.com).
  • At 7th & Schifferdecker is Schifferdecker Park on the left (north). The Park is home to the Tri-State Mineral Museum houses historical museums. Continuing east on 7th Street the Route turn left (north) on Main Street. This is Joplin Downtown District.
  • At 2nd & Main Street turn right (east) and head across a bridge over railroad tracks. Below the bridge is the location were several of the original mining camps that formed Joplin existed. Across the bridge 2nd Street becomes Broadway (also marked as Lanston Hughes).
  • From Broadway turn left (north) onto St. Louis. On St. Louis, just past a bridge turn to the right onto Euclid.
  • Euclid will curve to the right, going almost do east will become Utica. Just as you get into the curve an old Phillip 66 service station (locally known as Dale’s Barbershop) will be on the right).
  • Utica will come to Florida. At Florida turn left (north) to Zora.
  • At Zora turn right (east) to Range Line Road. Turn left (north) onto Range Line Road.
  • Leaving Joplin Range Line Road will become Madison as you enter the city limits of Webb City.
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