Route 66 – Route 66 is one of the most important highways in history.
In the four state region, it weaves through a small part of Southeast Kansas.
In tonight’s Destination Kansas, we go on a trip on the Mother Road.
From Chicago to St. Louis and right here in Baxter Springs.
In the four state area, Route 66 extends from Southwest Missouri, into beautiful Southwest Kansas, then dips into Northeast Oklahoma.
Lets start in Carthage, Missouri, home of the earliest full-scale war battle, on July 5th back in 1861, preceding bull run by 11 days.
The Maple Leaf city is also home to the boots court motel, an icon on the route.
And the beautiful Carthage Courthouse on the square is iconic, built in the 1890’s, known as the second most photographed building in the state of Missouri.
The square features art galleries, eateries, and even a bowling alley.
From Carthage, we take a 15 minute drive down Route 66 into Joplin.
You’ll find history on every corner of town.
We find ourselves at the oldest home in Joplin, built in the late 1800’s.
The Julius Fischer home is nestled among a few dozen historic homes in the Murphysburg district.
Grab some dinner at Wilders or head across town to the History and Mineral Museum.
Without mining, Joplin and the surrounding area wouldn’t be what it is today.
We leave Joplin and head west to Galena, Kansas.
Our first stop, Tow-Mater, yep, one of the inspirations for the movie Cars
Galena prides itself on that connection.
Next, Riverton, where we come upon an infamous tourist stop.
“The store’s been here since 1925, that’s 96 years. One of the main things about the store is it’s a survivor. It survived all these years and it’s still in operation, still doing what we did 96 years ago and not many people can say that.” Says Scott Nelson, Old Riverton Store Owner.
The Mother Road then takes us to Baxter Springs, a city full of history.
The Rainbow Bridge was completed in 1923.
It’s set just off Route 66 now but it holds a piece of the original Mother Road, and it’s a photographer’s favorite.
And while you’re in Baxter Springs, stop at the old gas station that’s not the local visitor center.
And then there’s Fort Blair, another piece of Civil Wat history right on Route 66.
“It’s right on up there on the hill. They’re going to have a Civil War re-enactment first weekend in October.” Says Dean Walker, Route 66 Expert.
Northeast Oklahoma is a quick driver further south.
Enter Miami and you’ll find the gateway to Route 66.
Oklahoma is even referred to as “the birthplace of Route 66.”
The route is packed with history from the Coleman Theater to early 1900’s buildings.
“Take Old 66, go and have a ball, that’s all you’ve got to do.” Says Walker.
Route 66 continues for around 1,500 miles after it leaves the four state region, but the towns on our piece of the Mother Road hold the highway close to their hearts.