POINTS OF INTEREST GUIDE, Southwest MO. & Southeast KS. (Copy and Print)
An East-to-West Guide to Route 66, from Carthage, MO. to Baxter Springs, KS.
The Route 66 Chamber of Commerce welcomes you to our home base portion of The Mother Road. This guide is custom made to point-out interesting places you will be passing between Carthage, MO. and Baxter Springs, Kansas.
(Read from the bottom-up if you are heading East, and reverse the directions accordingly). Additional photos and stories for each town are on the Chamber’s homepage, www.visit66.com, (click on States & Towns).
CARTHAGE: Approaching Carthage from the East, you will be arriving on Hwy.96/66.
Note: To follow the original River-road, look for the double blue& white signs 2 miles East of Carthage and turn left on County Road 118, following historic Route 66 towards Carthage.
The blue & white Route 66 turn sign is right at the turn and the speed limit is 65mph, so slow down when you see the 2 signs in the distance. Old Route 66 is located in Kellogg Lake Park, but dead-ends at the former bridge over Spring River, so you will turn right to Hwy. 96 and cross the newer bridge into town.
OPTION 1: A more scenic route with old structures is the First Alternate (1934 to 1954). Go back to the Kel-Lake Motel and go north on “V” Hwy. It will curve west to N. Garrison where you will turn left (South) and proceed into town.
OPTION 2: Red Oak ll is a recreation of an old small town in the early 1900's. As you get close to Carthage, look for an old Model T Ford on top of a sign post just before a big filling station and turn North for 2 miles on County Road 130. Look for a sign to turn right to Red Oak. This place is very popular, and there is nothing like it on the Route!
When entering Carthage, you turn South on Garrison from Central, you will see the famous 1939 Boots Motel on your right at 107 S. Garrison. It is now open, has lots of parking space, offers free tours and is a great place to spend the night! Clark Gable twice stayed here in room #6 and room #10. The Motel is being restored and has 5 rooms available and restored to the 1949 era both inside and out! Across the street is the former Boots Drive-In Restaurant, now a Credit Union. Then, on your right, is the Pancake Hut which is open 7 days till 3pm.. They have a 30's era 'Chicago Coin Band Box' on display that once played "Get your Kicks...". The historic Jasper County Courthouse, built in 1895, is a few blocks to your left. It has an interesting Route 66 exhibit. Check-out the Town-Square and retro businesses around the Courthouse, like Cherry's Emporium Art Center, Mother Road Coffeehouse and the corner Deli and Ice Cream Parlor.
When you return to Garrison (there is a Braums Ice Cream Store at the corner of Garrison and Oak.) Head west on Oak St.. There is an old vacant building with a DeSoto-Plymouth neon sign on the left one block west. The big hump that follows is the original Route 66 railroad overpass (also known as the "tickle-tummy" or "Whee Bridge" bridge). Further West is the interesting Powers Museum which is located across the street from a huge 1937 era Municipal Park that was built by the WPA that also has some historic buildings, a nice swimming pool and a beautiful golf course...so drive through and check it out. Then, continue west on 66, following the Blue & White 'Byways' signs.
The road ahead will come to a "Y" indicating that "Historic" 66 bears left towards the Route 66 Drive-In. This 1948 outdoor drive-in movie was once very popular, but when Route 66 declined it became an auto salvage yard. It was restored in the late '90's using the original ticket booth and neon signs, and is open weekends (Fri.-Sun.) for double features. It's sign was copied in the movie "CARS".
After leaving the Drive-In, there is a new RV Park a few blocks away called "Me Casa on Route 66". They are a full-service RV park with a pool and full hook-ups!
As you continue west and you will pass-over 4-lane highway 171 which cut across Route 66 many years ago. On the other side of the overpass, continue straight ahead to the “T” intersection and turn left. This is one of the most scenic and original portions of Route 66 remaining today, and is a good place to take photos and video.
CARTERVILLE: As you approach the little old town of Carterville, you will curve left onto Pine St. and shortly come to a stop sign where 66 makes a right turn onto Main Street. A nice little Route 66 Cafe is on that corner, and was a former Dairy Queen Ice Cream Shop many years ago. The big stone house on the diagonal corner was rumored to be once rented by gangster Pretty Boy Floyd. Carterville is very old and was once a booming mining town. This is a good example of small towns declined after mining went away in the 20's.
Continuing West on Carterville’s Main Street, the small grey shop with a red trolly car on the left further down is "Superman on 66", an ice cream parlor, Superman memorabilia museum and Route 66 gift shop. Note the Route 66 banners on the light posts downtown. The owner of this store paid for those himself.
As you leave Carterville you will observe remnants of the old mining areas. This area has recently been restored by the EPA. The huge cement pillars by the RR tracks were used to support the old Inter-Urban Electric trolley tracks.
WEBB CITY: You will soon cross over railroad tracks into Webb City. The cement structure on your right, near the tracks was a trestle support for the trolley car rails that connected these mining town in the early 1900's. As you enter the downtown, the Route bears left at a "Y". At Main Street, you may divert one block north so you can see the 1930’s era Bradbury-Bishop Deli and Soda Fountain that was very popular with 66 travelers. It is the brick 2-story building on the right. Check out the mural of 66 on the building across from the deli. It was painted by the Mayor and has local Route 66 scenes in the foreground with St. Louis and Chicago in the distance. You might want to stop to check these attractions out. Note: The B & B Deli is currently closed. If you go back a block and a half, you will see the old Route 66 Movie Theater which is still in operation today
Back on 66, go one block West to Webb St. and you will see the Route 66 Visitors Center. Turn left then right on Broadway once again. Stay on Broadway through town to Madison (first stop sign). Check out the old Victorian homes along the way.
As you turn south on Madison towards Joplin, you will be on historic Route 66 (Rangeline Road), which is 4-lanes now with moderate traffic for the next 4 miles. I highly recommend a short detour to see the last remaining tourist cabins in Joplin at the 1946 Westport Lodge Motel with 10 completely restored cabins that are on the Alternate of Route 66. Next door is "Babe's Diner" which is open 7 days and has good food and Ice cream! Across the street is an un-restored 30's era Phillips Petroleum Filling Station with a large detached garage.
[ Directions: About 3 miles South of Webb City (three traffic lights), turn onto Fountain Road where there is an Arby's and head WEST for 2 miles to North Main and park in Babe's Diner lot. The Westport Lodge is just across the lot from Babes, and the old filling station is just West of Babe's.]
Return to Range Line (old 66) and continue South for another couple of miles. (Watch for the right turn at Zora St. at a traffic light intersection with a 'Casey's' on the right).
JOPLIN: You will enter Joplin by turning right on Zora Street (Original 1926 Route 66 Corridor) and proceed to Florida Ave. where you make a left turn. As you slow to make a right turn onto Utica, the brick building on the left is being restored and was once the Joplin Little Theater, then a battered women’s home, then shops with apartments upstairs.
A couple of blocks down Utica is Dale's Old 66 Barber Shop on the left. It was a 1920's era Phillips Petroleum filling station. Called the 'Shamrock Inn', the filling station was part of a Tourist Camp with cabins and a Cafe. It will soon be restored and include a Route 66 Art Gallery!
You are now making a left sweeping turn onto Euclid heading thru an area known as Royal Heights, which is where many Joplinites had "Summer homes" in the early 1900's, as the valley has a spring fed creek that cooled the area during hot summers. Then you turn left onto St. Louis Ave. heading south toward town. Route 66 signs in this area will help guide you.
On top of the hill with the cemetery on your left, you will turn right onto Broadway (now Langston Hughes Blvd.), location of the original Main Street of Joplin City in the late 1800's, a rowdy mining Boomtown. There are a few old buildings remain and one will soon become Joplin's new Route 66 Visitor's Center.
You will soon be crossing the bridge into downtown Joplin. This is the "new" Broadway Viaduct, the old bridge would have entered Joplin on First street. We now enter on Second Street. Notice the old, deserted Union Depot railroad station on your right as you cross the bridge. Plans are underway to restore the structure someday.
You will be turning left onto Joplin's Main Street where 66 runs right thru the Historic Downtown. Many of the buildings you see were built in the early 1900's and are now being converted into offices, retail stores and loft-style apartments. You might want to stop and walk around the downtown area as this is Joplin's main attraction on Route 66. The Joplin City Hall overlooks historic 66 at 6th. and Main, and is located in the former Newman's Department Store. It was built in 1909 and has an interesting exhibit of Joplin's history on the Mezzanine including some murals. The Joplin Convention and Visitors Bureau is located on the first floor, and has brochures and free goodies for Route travelers. (Tell them you saw this website if you go inside.) There is parking in the rear for larger groups. Across the street on the N.E. corner of 7th. and Main is a huge new mural and Route 66 Park which faces South, and is next to the Pearl Brother's Hardware Store building.
At 7th. and Main you turn right onto 7th. street heading West. An RV parking place is to your left so merge into the left lane as soon as you make the turn off Main. You will turn onto Joplin Street, then into the large parking lot in front of Memorial Hall (which is on the National Historic Register). This is a free parking area and you can park your RV or large vehicles and check-out the downtown from here.
Heading on West, about 4 blocks from downtown, look for a red A-frame roof on the northeast corner of 7th. & Sergeant. Now a used car lot, this was the location of a "Mr. Swiss" hamburger drive-in, built in the 1960's. There are no plans to restore this business someday.
On the way out of Joplin, you will notice a few old gas stations, but all of the Tourist Camps and Cabins have been torn down. As you pass the Wal-Mart on your right, at the next light (Shifferdecker Ave.) you will notice Shifferdecker Park, which is owned by the City of Joplin. The Joplin Mineral Museum is located here along with other park facilities, like a golf course, public swimming pool, etc.. (Turn right to enter the park). On the interior street at the corner, there is a monument to Will Rogers, naming Route 66 "The Will Rogers Highway". Back in the 20’s and 30’s, the open space nearby was once a place where early Route travelers stopped to camp-out.
Further along 66 you will pass a bunch of auto salvage yards. Because Joplin is a "hub of transportation" in the United States, there are many places to buy a new or used car...and even more places to salvage it!
Also, as you pass the closed Route 66 Amusement Park on the left, then the 66 Speedway, watch for a huge mansion and estate with waterfalls, lake and horses grazing (overlooking 66). This is a private home and a horse ranch!
Now, at the sweeping left curve ahead, watch for the "Old Route 66" sign, and get ready to turn right off the 4-lane onto (and into) one of the oldest, most original parts of Route 66. You're on your way to Galena, Kansas, and you will see several "Stateline" businesses on your right that sit just inside the Missouri border. Once you pass those, you are in Kansas, and in these few miles of bumpy old road you will feel as if you are "Oakies a' headen' for the promised land of Californee." You can slow down here to take the experience in, as traffic is usually light.
GALENA KANSAS: We'll pass over the original railroad on an old bridge and turn south onto Galena's Main street. The old gas station on the left is where Michael Wallis and "Cars" director John Lassiter spotted the old tow truck that inspired the "Tow Mater" character, and across the street is the former "Front Street Garage"....an old brick building with old signs painted on the right side and a restoration is in progress, so look here first. These painted signs (on the north facing brick building) helped inspire the "Town of Radiator Springs" location in "Cars".
Slow down or STOP so you have time to take both in. The old gas station has been restored as an original "Kan-O-Tex" filling station of the 1940's. Called "CARS on the ROUTE", the station has a nifty snack bar and gift shop, but many visitors also come to see "Tow Tater", the old boom truck that inspired Pixar's TOW MATER character, and the old fire truck that inspired “Red“ the fire engine! This business was chosen the Route 66 Business of the Year in 2008! Recently, Pixar placed a full-size replica of Tow Mater, which is parked next to it's inspiration! Galena was once a mining boom town, then declined. Thanks to Route 66, the town is recovering and there are many interesting shops and restaurants on Main Street. Some of the buildings are well-over 100 years old!
RIVERTON: The 1925 Eisler Brothers General Store (now the "Old Riverton Store) is on your right just ahead, and you really should stop here. This 1925 era general store is still doing what it did before Route 66 was commissioned, and except for the 66 Gift Shop, it is today what it was in the 20's. Scott Nelson is the "HMIC" (head man in charge), and have him sing the song "Get your Kicks on Route 66" for you. Check-out the original outhouse out back. The food is good here, especially the sandwiches which are "hand-crafted just for you"!
As you leave the Eisler Brothers store for Baxter Springs, you continue westbound thru a traffic light and the 2 intersections, going straight into a traffic circle, but continuing West on Beasley (66). A mile or so after you turn to the south, look for the white bridge on your right. You should turn right off the updated road's curve to drive across the last remaining cement Marsh Arch bridge on Route 66. Once covered in graffitti, and called "Graffitti Bridge" by the locals for years, the bridge has been painted white and is a popular photo stop. Several Route 66 weddings have occurred here as well as numerous small events. Photograph your vehicle as it "travels" across this bridge.
BAXTER SPRINGS: A few miles south of the bridge, 66 curves to the left where you will rejoin the main road into town. As you go downhill, you will see a sign for the Baxter Springs Museum, which is also a great place to visit, especially considering the town's Civil War battles. On the left at 10th. Street you will see an old Phillips 66 gas station. The unique design of this building has been restored, and is now the official Kansas Visitors Welcome Center, partly funded by the National Park Service, and is now open.
One block later, on the right, is the closed "Cafe On the Route" which was built in a bank that was robbed bt outlaws Bonnie & Clyde! There are other interesting Route attractions here including the “Angels-on-the-Route" Bistro at 12th. and Main, and folks at the Visitors Center can point them out for you.
Shortly after you leave town, you can honestly say "We're not in Kansas anymore!" You are in Oklahoma, and on your way to more adventures on "The Mother Road". Next-up is Quapaw then Commerce and Miami (pronounced Mi-am-uh).
Go to the Oklahoma page on www.visit66.com for information on the next group of Route 66 communities. Have a great trip, and come back again.