POINTS OF INTEREST GUIDE, Southwest MO. & Southeast KS. (Copy and Print)
An East to West Guide to Route 66, 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 from Carthage, MO. to 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 leaving Hwy.96/66 and turning left on County Road 118, following historic Route 66 towards Carthage. Notice: 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.
Note: A more scenic route with old structures is the First Alternate (1934 to 1954). Go back to the Kell-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. You will see the famous 1939 Boots Motel on your right at 107 S. Garrison. It is now open, 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. They have a 30's era Band Box on display that once played "Get your Kicks...". The historic Jasper County Courthouse, built in the late 1800's, is a few blocks to your left. It has an interesting Route 66 exhibit. Check-out the Town-Square and businesses around the Courthouse.
When you return to Garrison, head west on Oak St. (there is a Braums Ice Cream Store at the corner of Garrison and Oak. Head west on Oak St. There is an old vacant, DeSoto-Plymouth car dealership on the left one block west. The big hump that follows is the original Route 66 railroad overpass (also known as the "tickle-tummy" bridge). Further down is the interesting Powers Museum which is located across the street from a huge 1937 era Municipal Park that also has some historic buildings, a nice pool and a beautiful golf course...so drive through and check it out. Then, continue west on 66.
The road ahead will come to a "Y" indicating that "Historic" 66 bears left, however you could proceed straight ahead on the actual original route until you must turn left to rejoin the "Historic" route just before the Route 66 Drive-In Theater (Old County Road 170), as the actual, original route will dead-end on Imperial. (Note: If you take this "actual" path at the "Y", proceed on the old Route and watch for a 90 degree left turn, picking up the actual path again, do this "before" you cross the highway overpass. Watch carefully or you will get lost. If you have a problem here, go back to the "Y" and bear to the left as directed by the sign.
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 for double features. It's sign was shown in the movie "CARS".
After leaving the Drive-In, 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 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 Carterville, you will bear left onto Pins St and shortly come to a stop 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 once rented by gangster Pretty Boy Floyd. Carterville is very old and was once a mining town.
Continuing West on Carterville’s Main Street, the small grey shop 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 we bear left to leave Carterville you will observe remnants of the old mining areas. This area has recently been restored by the EPA. The cement pillars by the RR tracks were used to support the old 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". You might consider going straight ahead though, diverting one block to the north so you can see the 1930’s era Bradbury-Bishop Deli and Soda Fountain that is very popular with 66 travelers. It is the brick 2-story building on the right as you stop to enter Main Street. Before you turn left onto Main Street, 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 closes at 2pm and on Sunday.
From the Deli, proceed south one block to Route 66 and turn right on Broadway, then go one block to Webb St.. Turn left then right on Broadway once again. Stay on Broadway through town and make a left on Madison (first stop sign). Check out the old Victorian homes along the way. (Note: Jefferson St. turns south before Madison, and is actually the original route, however there is not much to see here except an old closed gas station/grocery store, and crossing traffic at Madison and 71 is much safer.) 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. (Watch for a turn at Zora St. at a traffic light intersection).
JOPLIN: You will enter Joplin by turning right on Zora Street (original 66) 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, a home on the right corner has many 66 signs in the window and is owned by Dale Holly, who owned the famous "Ole Route 66 Barbershop" just ahead on the left. Dale is retired now.
The Dale's Old 66 Barber Shop on the left was a 20's era Shamrock gas station owned by Phillips 66. Called the ‘Shamrock Inn‘, the station was part of a Tourist Camp with cabins and a Cafe behind the station. It is for sale now.
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 remaining and Lumpy’s Barbeque Restaurant is a popular eating place.
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 someday restore the structure with a Route 66 Museum, a Railroad museum, two restaurants, a theater and a visitors welcome center, ...or perhaps a hotel.
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.)
At 7th. and Main you turn right onto 7th. street heading west. An RV stopover 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 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 (Shiffendecker Ave.) you will notice Shiffendecker 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 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 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 horse ranch!
Now, at the curve ahead, watch for the Old 66 signs, 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 KS.: HEADS-UP: 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 an old brick building with old signs painted on the right side, so look here first. These painted signs (on the north facing brick building across the street from the station 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!
Galena was a mining town that never fully recovered from the bust that followed the boom. Here, even Route 66 traffic barely kept Galena alive. At least it still has the old buildings with ornate trim to preserve. The old Green Parrot Bar and the rear apartments recently collapsed into an old mine shaft. The town has since revived itself and looks much better.
On the right are more old buildings and the new Route 66 community park with one of the few remaining Will Rogers Memorial Highway markers! Next block you turn right (on old 66) heading for Riverton (the sign shows state 66). The Galena Fire Station and Railroad Depot/Museum are on the right...just look for the army tank and train engine. This is an excellent mining-era museum.
RIVERTON: As you approach Riverton, KS., you will cross over "Spring River". The large facility on the left is the Empire District Electric Company power plant which was here before Route 66 was. It supplies power to the "Tri- States of Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma.
The 1925 Eisler Brothers 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 continue West on 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 former "On the Route" Cafe. Upstairs is the "Bed" part of the Bed and Breakfast, with guests dining in the Cafe below. 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, OK.
Go to the Oklahoma page at www.visit66.com for information on the next group of Route 66 communities. Have a great trip, and come back again.