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Missouri

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Route 66 in Missouri

Historic Route 66 in Missouri: U.S. Highway 66 crosses the state from Saint Louis in its Central - Eastern part, on the Mississippi, to Joplin, in the Southwest, next to Kansas and Oklahoma. Learn more about Missouri, its history, Sights & Attractions, landmarks and Towns along U.S. 66. as well as places to stay during your road trip across Missouri.

State of Missouri, Mo

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About Missouri

Facts, Trivia and useful information

Old Gillioz theater on Route 66 in Springfield Missouri

Old Gillioz theater on Route 66 in Springfield, Missouri, by Abe Ezekowitz

Area: 69,709 sq. mi. (180,533 km2). Population: 6,063,589 (2014 est.).
Width: 240 mi. (385 km). Length 300 mi. (480 km)
Time zone (along U.S. 66 alignment): Central (CST): UTC minus 6 hours. Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5).

  • Nickname: "The Show Me State".
  • Motto: "Salus populi Suprema Lex Esto" (Let the welfare of the people be the supreme law).
  • Capital: Jefferson City
  • Highest point: Taum Sauk Mountain, 1,772 ft. (540 m)
  • 30th most populous state in America.
  • 18th largest state in the U.S.
  • Admitted as the 24th state of the Union on August 10, 1821
  • Route 66 length in Missouri 313 miles (504 km), ranks 5 out of 8.

Nickname

The nickname "Show me State" has disputed origins, one version attributes it to Congressman Willard Vandiver who in 1899, who used it in a speech to state his skepticism, he needed to be shown something to believe in it, words would not convince him.

Name: Missouri

The Missouri River gave its name to the state. In turn it originated from the local Missouri Indians. Their neighbors, the Miami-Illinois speakers called them the "ouemessourita", which meant "those who have dugout canoes"

Mural in Cuba Missouri
Mural in Cuba, Missouri, by Highsm ith, Carol M.

History of Missouri

Main St. Joplin Missouri in 1910 Public domain image

Main Street in Joplin, ca. 1910

The ancestors of Native Americans have lived in Missouri for at least 10,000 years, with mound builders constructing massive earthwork structures along the eastern Mississippi area until 600 years ago.

The French from Canada settled Missouri via Illinois in the mid-1700s however St. Louis was founded by French from New Orleans in 1764. The region was known as Louisiana and passed to the Spaniards in 1767. Napoleon recovered it for France in 1800 but was sold to the U.S. in 1803.

St. Louis was the starting point for the settlement of the West, hence its name "Gateway to the West" and the famous Lewis and Clark Expedition started off from this city.

It joined the Union in 1821. Its economy shifted gradually from an agricultural one to an industrial & agricultural one.

Top - Ten Stops on Route 66 in Missouri

  1. The World's (second) Largest Rocking Chair (Fanning)
  2. Meramec River US 66 Bridge (Eureka) Historic Site
  3. Big Chief Hotel (Wildwood) Historic Site
  4. Red Cedar Inn (Pacific) Historic Site
  5. Wagon Wheel Motel, Cafe and Gas Station (Cuba) Historic Site
  6. Historic Rock Fountain Tourist Court Motel (Springfield) Historic Site
  7. 66 drive-in theater (Carthage) Historic Site
  8. Circle Inn Malt Shop (Bourbon).
  9. Munger Moss Motel (Lebanon).
  10. Gillioz Theatre (Springfield) Historic Site

Geography

This Midwestern state is relatively flat north of the Missouri River which marks its NW border and crosses the central part of the state to join the Mississippi River north of Saint Louis (the Mississippi marks the state's eastern border).

South of the Missouri are the rolling hills of the Ozark Mountains, with its limestone rocks that form caves and sinkholes.

Missouri is located on a geologically stable region and there are no volcanoes however, Southeastern Missouri (New Madrid) suffered serious earthquakes in the early 1800s.

Missouri's Climate

Landlocked Missouri has a Humid Continental climate: summers are hot and humid; winters are cold with plenty of snow. Lacking high mountains, the cold Arctic air and the hot damp air from the Gulf of Mexico flow across the state unchecked.

It is part of the "Tornado Alley" and Thunderstorms take place frequently during summer; tornados strike often.

Temperatures average between 37°F and 18° F in winter (3 to -8°C) to 90°F and 66°F in summer (32 to 19°C) along Route 66 in Missouri.

Cities

Greater St. Louis has a population (2013) of 2,905,658 inhabitants. Ranking 19th in the USA. Saint Louis city has a population of 318,172.

Around 932,000 people live along Route 66's corridor through Missouri.

Where to Stay in Missouri

US 66 Missouri Shield

Accommodation in Missouri

The Missouri towns along Route 66 offer different lodging options. Check out below the hotels and motels in the main towns:

Towns are listed from East to West

Find your hotels and motels in....

Check out RV and Motorhome Parks & Campgrounds in Missouri.

Book your Route 66 hotel in Missouri now
Book your Hotel along Route 66 in Missouri

Map of Route 66 through Missouri

Interactive Route 66 map in Missouri

See our Missouri Route 66 map, with the location of each town, and links on the map that give full details on attracions, sights, Route 66 icons and more.

Towns located on Route 66 in Missouri

From East to West

Click on the links below for complete information on each town and village

List of Route 66 Towns in Missouri from East to West:

Choose the town for full details...

Missouri towns, citys and villages

Alphabetical list of Towns

Route 66 itinerary across Missouri

Route 66 logo

Detailed description of the alignment of U.S. 66 through Missouri, from East to West:

Missouri

Route 66 in Missouri

Current mileage: 313 mi.

Route 66 crosses Missouri with a Northeast to Southwest course, from St. Louis, on the Mississippi, by the Illinois border, to Joplin by the Kansas State Line.

A detailed description of Route 66 as it crosses the state of Oklahoma, sights, attracitions, towns and places to see.

St. Louis

Saint Louis, Missouri

Saint Louis, Missouri, by Daniel Schwen

Illinois segments near St. Louis: Route 66 had several alignments through East Saint Louis and St. Louis. We described the northernmost one, used in the 1930s to 1950s, across the historical Chain of Rocks Bridge.

There were other alignments to the south, with four different bridges crossing the Mississippi River:

Read about all the Route 66 alignments in St. Louis.

As the Historic Chain of Rocks Bridge is closed for car traffic, we will enter Missouri from Illinois on I-70, via the "New Chain of Rocks Bridge" (you can see the old bridge to the south of the new one).

From the middle of the Bridge (state line and mile zero) head west and leave the Interstate, to the right at Exit 34, take a left onto Riverview Drive, southwards. At Bellefontaine Rd, (4.5 miles) turn left onto N. Broadway Ave, at Calvary Cemetery, take a right onto Calvary Ave. (6 mi.) and at W. Florissant Ave, turn left, southwards.

Pass under I-70 and continue towards the center of Saint Louis. Florissant Ave. ends at Mullanphy Ave. (11 mi.), follow the latter east and curve into N 13 St., left onto Cass Ave., and then right onto N. Tucker Blvd., southbound.

Keep on Tucker Blvd. crossing I-64 (U.S. 40) (13 miles) and cross the exchange between I-55 and I-44; the road keeps a southwesterly course becoming Gravois Ave. (14.2 mi.) known as Historic Route 66 and MO-30.

At the crossing with Chippewa St. (MO-366) (17 miles) take a right along MO-366 and follow it through Malborough (where the once famous Coral Court Motel stood), and Crestwood, followed by Sunset Hills and Fenton. The road will lead you (27 mi.) to I-44's Exit 276, use it to access I-44 westbound.

You will pass the "Ghost Town" of Times Beach, evacuated in 1983 due to dioxin contamination, by the Meramec River; it is now the Route 66 State Park (37 miles).

Eureka

Meramec River Bridge US 66, Missouri

Old Meramec Bridge of Route 66, by Kbh3rd

When you reach Eureka (39 mi.), visit its Meramec River U.S. 66 Bridge (Historic Site). Continue along I-44 and leave it at Exit 261 (41.5 miles) in Allenton, cross to the south of I-44 and take a right onto Business Loop 44, which becomes Ossage St. as it enters Pacific (visit the Historical Site of the Red Cedar Inn) Cross the center of the city (46 miles) and keep on westwards along Bus. Loop 44 which is the south frontage road of I-44.

Keep straight at the access to I-44 Exit 253, (51 mi.) along The CO Rd 100, Historic Route 66, which crosses to the west of I-44 (52 miles) and passes by Villa Ridge.

Downtown Pacific, Missouri, Public Domain

Downtown Pacific, Missouri

At its intersection with U.S. 50 (I-44 Exit 247) keep straight along the West frontage Road, which is U.S. 66, at Exit 242, cross to the south side of I-44 (63 mi.) and take a right along N. Commercial Ave. all the way through St. Clair and passing its center (66 miles). At Co. Rd. 30 go right and then cross I-44 at its Exit 239 and take a left along its north Frontage Road (U.S.66).

At Hwy W, (74 mi.) cross to the East of I-44 (Exit 230), at Stanton (you can take a short side trip to the Meramec Caverns from here).

Turn right and keep along the south Frontage Road towards Oak Grove Village and then go through Sullivan (80 miles), and keep SW along W. Springfield Rd, and the South Service Rd., passing through Bourbon (86 mi.) along Historic Route 66. The road becomes the South Frontage Rd. again, passing by a "ghost town": Hofflins and 3.5 mi. ahead, entering Cuba passing through its business district (98 miles).

Cuba

Cuba is famous for its murals, stop and enjoy them; visit the Wagon Wheel Motel, a Historical Site.

Cuba Mural City, Missouri, Public Domain image

Cuba, Mural City, Missouri, by Highsmith, Carol M.

Leave the town along Historic Route 66, passing through Fanning, which has the World's Second Largest Rocking Chair. Just ahead, next to Exit 203 follow US 66 as it becomes the South Frontage Rd. again. (103 mi.), passing by Rosati and through St. James (111 miles). As the old US 66 passed to the north of what is now I-44, you must also cross I-44. So take a right along Co. Rd. 8 and pass I-44 at its Exit 195 and take a left along the N. Outer Rd. westbound, which you will follow until meeting U.S. 63 (121 mi.) north of Rolla.

Rolla

Take a left, southward, cross I-44 and follow Co. Rd .70 through Rolla (123 miles). Visit its "Stubby Stonehenge" monument. Continue along Kingshighway, cross U.S. 63 and at the roundabout east of I-44, take Martin Springs Dr. (it is MO-7100) west. It becomes Eisenhower St. through Doolittle (130 mi.).

Hooker Cut

The large rock road cut just east of the bridge over the Big Piney River is the famous "Hooker Cut", which when cut in the 1940s, was the deepest road cut in Missouri and the whole US with 90 feet.

Keep west, it becomes Outer Rd. W. (MO-7300) through Newburg which ends as a dead end at Arlington you can avoid that by taking I-44 west at Exit 176 (133 miles). Leave the Interstate at Exit 172 (137 mi.) and keep on the N. Outer Rd. through part of Jerome, Powellville and Clementine, till you reach Exit 169 (142 miles) and cross I-44 to its south side and take a right onto Z Road which is US 66. Here the 1940s four-lane divided highway through Hooker Cut begins.

It passes by Hooker and Devil's Elbow (147 miles) named after a sharp bend of the Big Piney River -here you can take the 1926-41 alignment or keep on the later one. Ahead, at Exit 163, on the north side of the freeway is Morgan Heights on what used to be the 1926-41 alignment of Route 66. Keep westbound the road becomes I-44 Bus. Rd., crosses I-44 and goes through St. Robert (150 mi.)

View of Hooker Cut, Route 66
Hooker Cut, just east of Devil's Elbow
Static Image by Google Street View
Click on image for Interactive Google Street View

Waynesville

At Waynesville (152 miles), visit the Historical Pulaski County Courthouse. Leave town and go south (Hwy 17 - US 66) and at Exit 153, (158 mi.) cross to the south of I-44 at Buckhorn and stay on Hwy 17 or try the 1926-1930 alignment and visit Laquey. When MO-17 forks (161 mi.), take the right along AB Hwy - Route 66, westwards passing through Gascozark and one mile ahead Hazelgreen now on the S. Frontage Rd. of I-44. The bridge over Gasconade River (170 miles) is not open for cars, so you have to get onto I-44 before: at MO-133, Exit 145, at Gascozark (168 mi.). Head west along I-44.

At Exit 140, leave I-44 and at MO-T take a left and a right, to take the South Service Rd. westwards (173 miles). At MO-F Exit 125, (179 mi.) the road crosses to the North of I-44, reaching Lebanon (186 miles) via Route 66 (I-44 Bus. Loop).

Lebanon

Public domain image Missouri S&T Stonehenge, at the University of Missouri, Rolla

Missouri S&T Stonehenge, at the University of Missouri, Rolla

Continue along I-44 BL, first west and then south but, when you reach I-44 at Exit 127 don't enter, stick to the North Frontage Rd. (US.66) (MO-W) through Caffeyville and then cross to the south-east side of I-44 towards Phillipsburg at Exit 118 (197 miles).

Take a right along MO-CC (US-66 & South Frontage Rd.); pass Conway (202 miles). The road runs towards the south, well to the east of I-44, passing through a ghost town: Sampson.

It goes through Niangua and then Marshfield (215 mi.). Stick to MO-CC (US-66) as it approaches I-44, and passes through Red Top and Strafford (228 miles) and becomes Co. Rd. 744 follow it towards Springfield.

Springfield "the Birthplace of Route 66"

There are three sites that are listed in the National Register of Historic Places: Gillioz Theatre, the Rock Fountain Court and The Abou Ben Adhem Shrine Mosque. Don't miss the plaque on the Park Central Square, which dedicates Springfield as "the Birthplace of Route 66".

Co. Rd. 744 passes by Springfield on its northern side and intersects with U.S.160 (242 mi.). Take a left along U.S. 160 southwards to pass along the western side of Springfield.

Old US 66 close to Carthage

As you approach Carthage, just before County Lane 110, (293 miles) on the right side of the road is the old paved road surface of U.S. 66. At County Lane 118, it crosses to the south as Old 66 Blvd. joining Co. Rd. 66 further ahead by Kellogg Lake.

At I-44 Bus. Loop, in SW Springfield (244 mi.) go right, cross I-44 and keep along Co. Rd. 266, passing through Halltown (259 miles), followed by the ghost town of Plano. When you reach the access to Co. Rd. 96 (261 mi.), keep straight on the "old" road, pass through Paris Springs and the road will curve following Johnson Creek to the SW. Cross Co. Rd. 96 and continue (Co. Rd. 266 becomes MO-N) for 1⁄2 mi. take a right across the old bridge on Lawrence Rd. (MO-2062), pass Spencer and join Co. Rd. 96. Go left (west). See the map above, this is shown with the black line. The road passes through two small communities: Heatonville and Albatross and then reaches Phelps (274 miles). Then come two more small communities: Rescue and Plew before reaching Avilla. The road keeps on SW and reaches Carthage (309 miles).

Carthage

Drive In Theatre, Carthage Missouri, Public domain image

66 Drive-In Theatre, Route 66, Carthage, Missouri, by Highsmith, Carol M.

Visit its Historic Site: the 66 drive-in theater. Take a right on Central Ave. and a right on Garrison Ave. and pass through the town (310 mi.). Take a right again along Route 66, cross I-49 (311 miles) and head west towards Joplin.

Joplin

The town's name is mentioned in the song Route Sixty-six (Get your kicks...).

As in all big towns, Route 66 had several alignments into and through Joplin. We will describe only one of them (Read about the other alignments through Joplin).

After leaving Carthage follow Route 66 and cross I-49 at its exit 46 (315 mi.). This is the 1926 alignment which crosses Carterville (319 miles). Take a right along the Main St. and head for Webb City, where it becomes Broadway (320 mi.); take a left along S. Orongo St. to 14th. St. then a right and at Route 66, I-49 Bus. Loop, a left. Take a right at E. Zora St., and a left at N. Florida Ave., a right on Utica St. until reaching Euclid Ave. which runs towards the SW. (324 mi.). At N. St. Louis Ave. go left until Broadway St. (turn right) until you reach Main St. and take a left through the center of the city (327 miles).

In Joplin's Schifferdecker Park visit the famous Mineral Museum.

At 7th St. (MO-66) go right, a: Take a left along W. Old 66 Blvd. (the 1926 alignment) to the State Line and leave Missouri, to enter Kansas (333 miles).

The later alignments followed MO-66 to the state line, and continued as KS-66 into downtown Galena KS, where both alignments met at Main St.

Sources

Image Used as per Google Street View Image Api.

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