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Galena

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Route 66: Galena, Kansas

Galena, is located on the short, 13 mile long, Kansas alignment of Route66. It is a town with mining roots which led to a Boom during the early 1900s, originating its now famous Historic District which was entered in the National Registry of Historic Places and the Kan-O-Tex gasoline station, of "Cars" movie fame.

Galena KS

 

About Galena, Kansas

Facts, Trivia and useful information

Elevation: 900 ft. (275 m). Population: 3,085 (2010 census).
Time zone: Central (CST): UTC minus 6 hours. Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5).

Galena is located in Cherokee county, in the southeastern tip of the state of Kansas.

Old Route-66 runs through the town with an east to west alignment.

Galena's History

Kansas has been inhabited for around 10,000 years. Following the discovery of America, Spanish explorer Francisco de Coronado crossed the region in 1541. It later became part of the French Louisiana and was purchased by the US in 1803.

It is set at the foot of the Missouri Ozarks, in an area that was wooded and set apart as the Cherokee Neutral Lands for the Indians, however it was quickly settled and Kansas became a state of the Union in 1861. There were bloody skirmishes along the border during the Civil War.

Galena's history began in 1871, when the railway was built through what is now Galena. But only in 1876 did the town appear, when mineral containing lead was discovered in the area. It was incorporated in 1877 and is the oldest mining town in Kansas.

galena mineral

Galena lead mineral, by Rob Lavinsky

Galena, the name

The word "Galena" is used to name the world's most important ore of lead. Galena is a lead sulfide mineral, which is the most abundant and has been mined for millennia.

It is an appropriate name for a town that sprung to life to mine lead sulfide mineral (which also contains traces of silver).

Lead mining brought prosperity to the region and its population reached 30,000 in the early 1900s. Route 66 was laid down through Galena in 1926, incorporating a former mining corridor road; Route66 added to its prosperity. The segment through Kansas was fully paved by 1929.

During the Great Depression, there were several strikes by United Mine workers, which were subdued with the intervention of the National Guard. During the 1970s, Interstate I-44 bypassed the town entirely; cutting the flow of travelers and the mines became exhausted. This lead to a continued decline and a drop in population.

Trivia

The town was laid down by the Galena Mining and Smelting Co. and named "Cornwall". But it was initially known as "Short Creek", after a nearby stream. It was later known as "Bonanza", but the lead ore prevailed, and it got its current name in 1877: "Galena".

Downtown Galena and Route 66.

Downtown Galena
View of the Downtown area, Galena, Kansas
by

Where to Stay

There are several hotels close to Galena; you can lodge in the neighboring towns in Kansas, Missouri or Oklahoma:

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Weather in Galena

The average temperature in Galena is 60.4°F (15.8°C). The summers are hot, with July averages of: 80°F (26.7°C) and average highs and lows of: 91 and 70° respectively (32.8 and 21.1°C).

Winter temperatures average 45.7°F (7.6°C), with January average highs and lows of: 45°F and 25°F (7.2 and -3.8 °C).

Rainfall is quite constant, the monthly average extremes of 2.6 inches in winter (66 mm) to 5.4 inches in spring (160 mm). The average is around 8 to 9 days of rain or drizzle per month.

Snow does fall in winter, averaging 12.5 inches (32 cm). It falls between November and March, with peaks of around 5 inches (12.5 cm) per month in Dec and January.

Tornados. Galena is part of Kansas, and it lies within the infamous "Tornado Alley. Read more: Tornadoes on Route66.

Route 66 and Galena Kansas
Location of Galena, Cherokee Co., KS, Route 66

Getting To Galena

Galena is the first town in Kansas to the west of the Missouri state Line.

It is 7 mi (11 km) west of Joplin, Missouri and 9 miles to the northeast of Baxter Springs, in Kansas, on the Oklahoma state line.

Map of Galena and Route-66

in Kansas between Missouri and Oklahoma.

Pale Blue: Historic Route 66 alignment.

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Google Maps. Terms. Icons.

Route 66 itinerary through Kansas

Route 66 logo

Towns located on the Kansas segment of Route 66

From East to West

KANSAS, click on the town to see the towns located along US. 66.

Route 66 in Kansas

The shortest segment of US 66 in any state.

Current mileage: 13 mi.

Route 66 crosses the southeastern corner of Kansas, the shortest segment of the whole Route66: 13 miles.

1930 Phillips 66 Gas Station in Baxter Springs, Kansas

1930 Phillips 66 Gas Station in Baxter Springs, Kansas, by Kevin

From Joplin in Missouri, we described the alignment up to the KS-MO state line following W. Old 66 Blvd., at the State Line (mile zero), it changes its name to Front St.

Galena

Follow it to Main St., Galena (1.3 mi) and take a left. At 7th St, (KS 66) take a right. Stop at the Kansas Route 66 Historic District-East Galena, a Historic Place.

The road runs to the west, crosses Spring River and entering Riverton (5 mi).

Riverton

Visit the Williams' Store, a Historical Place.

At the west of the town, the alignments split at U.S. 400 - Alt US 69: the later one follows U.S. 400 - Alt US 69), but the 1926 road keeps on west. Follow it to the Historic Bridge, over Brush Creek (7.5 mi): the Rainbow Curve Bridge is the last Marsh Arch Bridge of all Route 66, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. After the bridge, the road curves south towards Baxter Springs.

Only remaining marsh arch bridge on Route 66

Only remaining Marsh Arch Bridge on U.S. 66, Riverton, Kansas, by Marcin Wichary

Baxter Springs

It enters the town (10 mi) and curves left to meet again with Alt US 69. Take a right. The road passes through the central part of the town. Visit the Baxter Springs Independent Oil and Gas, a listed Historic Place.

The road leaves town, curving around a Walmart (the 1926 alignment went behind it, along Roberts Rd. on the east and W 30th St. on the south). Keep straight until you reach the Oklahoma state line (13 mi). US 66 keeps on southbound, along Alternate US 69 towards Commerce in Oklahoma.

Galena: Attractions & Sights

Things to Do and See

Town Attractions

Galena

Route 66's 1926 alignment is the Main Street of Galena, crossing its Historic District and passing by the famous Kan-O-Tex Service Station.

The Town of Galena

The original Route 66 (the 1926 - 1961 alignment) is the continuation of Missouri's "Old Route 66 Boulevard", which in Kansas is renamed as "Front Street". This road enters the town from the northeast.

The current US 66, which crosses the town further south, as 7th Street, is the later (after 1961) alignment.

When entering the town along Front St., the mining history is present in Galena. At the first sharp curve along Front St., on the right, beyond the tracks, you can see the old smelter at the Eagle-Picher facilities which operated between 1912 and the late 1970s. Here the lead ore was processed and silver, zinc and lead obtained.

The factory was also the site of the bloody faceoff between trade union workers and the National Guard in the 1930s.

Hell's Half Acre

In the past it was known as Hickory Flats, and later as "Hell's half acre"; it had been perforated by countless mine shafts and waste ore from the mines known as "chat". It was later reclaimed by EPA but is undermined due to the mineral that was removed.

The road crosses the railway using the Historic viaduct built in 1923, which is over 200 ft. long, and meets the town's Main Street, turning south along it.

The bridge predates Route66 by three years, and was chosen to become part of its alignment when the Mother Road was created in 1926.

On the southeastern corner of the intersection is the famous "Kan-O-Tex" service station:

Kan-O-Tex logo

Logo of the Kan-O-Tex brand of gasoline

Old Kan-O-Tex service station

119 North Main St., Galena, KS.

A vintage service station of the 1930s on the original alignment of Route 66

Kan-O-Tex service station
Kan-O-Tex Service Station & Diner, Galena KS.
Static Image by Google Street View
Click on image for Interactive Google Street View

The service station dates back to 1934. It sold a regional brand of gasoline in the states of Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas, and this gave it its name: Kan-O-Tex. The brand's logo was a sunflower set behind a five-pointed star. The company is now defunct.

It was previously known as "Little's Service Station, "4 Women on the Route and now "Cars on the Route", due to the boom truck that inspired a character in the movie Cars.

Cars character Tow Mater

The tow truck in Pixar's animated movie Cars, "Tow Mater" was inspired by a truck which can be seen next to the service station.

The truck (a boom-truck, which was used to lift gear from the mine shafts near Galena), was an L-series International Harvester 1951 model truck.

This series of trucks was introduced in 1949 and replaced in 1952 by the R Series.

To avoid infringing Disney ⁄ Pixar trademarks, the original truck is named "Tater"

It was built on the site of the Banks Hotel, on the Main Street in Galena (at that time it was U.S. Route 66). A few years later, a repair shop and garage were added.

The new four-lane US 66 highway moved to 7sth St. in 1961, leaving the service station far from the flow of travelers. When I-44 bypassed the town (and Kansas) it went out of business until it was restored in 2007.

The restored site has a roadside café and a souvenir shop. It still has the facade and gas pumps but includes a diner which the original did not have.

Kansas Route 66 Historic District-East Galena

Main Street,, Galena, KS.

Listed in the National Register of Historic Places

The classic buildings of an early 1900s American city along the original Route 66 alignment.

Galena's Main Street
Historic District and Main Street, Galena KS.
Static Image by Google Street View
Click on image for Interactive Google Street View

Litch Historical and Mining Museum

319 W 7th St., Galena

As you leave town westbound, on the right side of the street.

The museum is located in the original building of the M-K-T railroad (Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railway) station, which was acquired in 1983 for that purpose and moved from its original location on Main & Front Streets. It is named after a local historian Howard "Pappy" Litch.

As fitting with a town born from mining, the museum has a collection of items related to the zinc and lead mining operations in the area.

Howard "Pappy" Litch Memorial Park

On 502 Main St. (and W 5th St.).

It was in the past a Federal Weigh station on the US Highway 66, now it has been converted into a park. Don't miss the "Official Route66 Roadside Attraction", the original 1952 Will Rogers Highway plaque now emplaced in the park (it used to be on the Kansas - Missouri state line).

Trivia: Galena and Grapes of Wrath

Two of the characters in the Pulitzer Prize winning book The Grapes of Wrath written by Nobel Prize winner John Steinbeck, were from Galena: Sairy and Ivy Wilson.

Tours & Itineraries

US Highway 66

Historic Route 66 alignment

Above we detail the alignment of Historic Route-66 through Kansas and included the Galena segment.

Read about the Old Route 66from Webb City to Joplin and the state line in Missouri.

Visit the neighboring towns of Riverton and Baxter Springs, to see other attractions in this very short (only 13 miles long!) segment of US Highway 66 in Kansas.

Sources

Image by Abe Ezekowitz, under its CC BY-SA 3.0 License.

Image Used as per Google Street View Image Api Updated Dec. 31, 2014.

Image by Rob Lavinsky under its CC BY-SA 3.0 License.

Image by Vítězslav Válka adapted under its CC BY-SA 3.0 CZ License.

Map Icons by Nicolas Mollet under its CC BY SA 3.0 License.