KANSAS — Tens of thousands of tourists drive through the Four States each year following the Mother Road. But in a few more years, that number will likely skyrocket. In just a few years, America’s most famous road, Route 66, will turn 100. And if you think a lot of people from the U.S. and all over the world travel it now, just wait till its centennial in 2026.
“Our goal is to make sure from Kansas Tourism that we are providing the support and the resources needed to make sure we are ready for that influx of visitors to the state,” said Bridgette Jobe, Kansas Tourism Director.
Jobe is the director of the Kansas Department of Tourism. She met with many business owners and city officials of Galena, Riverton, and Baxter Springs, which make up the 13 mile stretch of the Mother Road in the Sunflower State and says to keep doing what you’ve been doing the first 98 years of the road’s existence.
“Every store that we went into, every shop that we visited has been so welcoming and hospitable asking us where are we from, you know, what are you guys doing here, can I tell you a story, it has been fantastic just to be here and see that true Kansas hospitality,” said Jobe.
“The cities and municipalities in Baxter Springs and Galena both have spent a lot of money improving the Route, really it was like must have been an ordinance we do that because wasn’t really thinking about 2026 but, but we’re ready for it,” said Dale Oglesby, National Route 66 Centennial Commission Member.
Longtime Galena businessman and former mayor, Dale Oglesby, has been appointed by the Biden Administration to the National Route 66 Centennial Commission and says improvement projects over the last few years have positioned those cities to reap the benefits of tourism dollars long after the end of the centennial.
Jobe says 2026 could mean a lot more to the local economy than just drive through’s and single night stays.
“And we know that any new resident to Kansas is going to be a visitor first, and so when they have a wonderful experience in Kansas like they will on Route 66 here, we know that they’re thinking maybe this is a place I would like to live,” said Jobe.