About Riverton, Kansas
Facts, Trivia and useful information
Elevation: 833 ft. (254 m). Population: 929 (2010 census).
Time zone: Central (CST): UTC minus 6 hours. Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5).
Riverton is located along Route-66, in southeastern Cherokee county, Kansas and Historic Route 66 crosses the town with a west to east direction.
A 1940s view of Williams' Store:
This part of Kansas was the home of Paleo-Indians over 10,000 years ago. In historic times, Francisco de Coronado, a Spanish "Conquistador" explored the area in 1541, seeking for gold. The French took possession of the territory and named it Louisiana. It was sold to the U.S.A. in 1803.
The land was set apart as the Cherokee Neutral Lands, and white men were banned from entering it. But the mining wealth and the fertile territory west of the Ozarks attracted settlers.
Settlers encroached on the Region, and just south of Riverton, and the confluence of Spring River and Shoal Creek, the settlement of Lowell sprung up in the 1860s.
After the Civil War, the Quakers came to the region Lowell had grown into a town with flour mills, lime kilns and a school.
Across Spring River, 3 miles to the east, Galena was founded in 1876.
The Quaker Valley settlers wanted a post office and they got the help of an influential person living in Baxter Springs to help them, His name was "Dad Varrick" and the Quakers had requested that the post office be given his name. The Postmaster General agreed but cut the name short, to "Varck".
The Frisco railroad linked Joplin, Galena and Baxter Springs and, at had a stop by the Varck post office. This was the origin of the community and the School District #5. It soon changed its name for Riverton, and began to grow when the power company plant was built in 1906-7 (it supplied electricity to the mining industry).
Riverton, the name
"Ton" is an Anglo-Saxon word for "village" or "settlement", "town", and the nearby Spring River led to the name: "Riverton" (town on the river).
It is an unincorporated community.
Where to Stay
There are several hotels near Riverton; you can lodge in the neighboring towns in Kansas, Missouri or Oklahoma:
Weather in Riverton
Weather widget for the town nearest Riverton
Riverton has an average temperature of 60°F (15.6°C). Summers are quite hot with maximum temperatures averaging 92°F and minimums around 70° (32.8 and 21.1°C).
Winter average highs are 44°F and the lows are 24°F (7.2 and -3.8 °C) respectively.
Rainfall is fairly regular with peaks of 5.3 in. in late spring (160 mm) and minimum values of 2.5 in. (65 mm) in winter. The town experiences about 8 or 9 days of rain or drizzle every month. About 12.4 inches of snow falls between November and March (32 cm).
Tornado Risk. Riverton is located inside the Kansas "Tornado Alley. Read more about the Tornadoes on Route66.
Getting to Riverton
Riverton is the second town in Kansas to the west of the Missouri state Line, it is 12 miles west of Joplin, Missouri and 5 miles north of Baxter Springs on the Kansas - Oklahoma state line. Galena is 4 miles east of the small town.
Map of Route 66 in Riverton
Map of Route 66 in Riverton
Map of US Highway 66 through Riverton.
Display MapClick for Map to appear below
The red icon marks the location of Riverton
Pale Blue: Historic Route 66 alignment.
Static map of Route 66 in Kansas, through Riverton
Alignment of Route 66 through Kansas: Historic U.S. 66 in Riverton
Route 66 across Kansas
Click on the following link and see our overview of Route 66 across the state of Kansas.
Below you will find full details on Old Route 66 in Riverton.
Riverton: Attractions & Sights
Things to Do and See
There is one "must-see-sight" in the small town, it is the historic Williams' - Eisler Brothers Store on Route 66, the oldest store still in operation of the whole Route-66:
The Williams' Store (Eisler Brothers Old Riverton Store)
Listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2003
7109 SE Highway 66, Riverton, KS.
The oldest continuously operating store on Route 66: Open since 1925.
Leo Williams opened a small diner after he returned from serving in the US Army during World War I. He worked for the Empire District Electric Plant and his wife Lora took care of the shop.
A Tornado destroyed the premises in 1923, so he rebuilt it: a one-story store in 1925, which is still opeen; it was known as the Williams' Store
Williams' Store, now Eisler Brothers Old Riverton Store, Riverton Kansas.
Google, click image for Street View
Photograph of the "William's Store"
National Register of Historic Places
When Route 66 was created in 1926, a growing flow of visitors passed in front of the store and it was included as an official stop on the maps of the 1930s and 40s.
Besides the diner, the store had a shop that sold food, candy, ice and clothes. It even had a croquet court, but later removed it to add parking space.
The Williams ran the store until 1945, and then leased it out, but after Leo died in 1948, Lora took it over again and ran it until she retired in 1970.
Lora's daughter's mother in Law purchased the store 1972 and sold it to Isabell and Joe Eisler in 1973.
The store was renamed as Eisler Bros Old Riverton Store. Their nephew, Scott Nelson worked there and managed it until he bought it from the estate after his aunt and uncle passed away.
Enjoy its virtually unchanged ambiance, with a glass-enclosed porch, pressed-tin ceiling and old shelves. It sells groceries and Route 66 souvenirs.
The Store and the Pixar ⁄ Disney movie "Cars"
When the studio decided to make the animated film, it sent out scouts along Route 66 to identify iconic characters and unique features. They reached Kansas and stopped at the Eisler Bros. Store. It inspired them and apparently the short "Mater and the Ghostlight" was also inspired by the story of a Ghost Light by Dean Walker.
The film's credits give "A Special Thanks To Those Who Inspire Us On Route 66, "The Mother Road" ... Scott Nelson, Eisler Brothers Old Riverton Store, "Home Of The Hand-Crafted Sandwiches", Riverton, KS".
Ghost Lights - Spook Light
By the way, "Ghost Light" or "Spook light" are a mysterious phenomenon; read more: at our Spook Light web page.
Tours & Itineraries
Bush Creek Bridge
(the "Rainbow Bridge")
Old Route 66, Riverton, KS.
Listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1983
Original Route 66 concrete arch bridge built in 1923.
American engineer, James Barney Marsh (1856 - 1936) studied bridge building and came up with a novel design, for which he was awarded a patent in 1912: the "Marsh Arch Bridge". He would build over 70 concrete bridges in the Midwest, of which half are still in use.
Historic Rainbow Bridge built in 1923:
The concrete road which would become part of Route 66 in 1926, was created in the early 1920s, it was built to link the mining towns of the region (Baxter Springs, Galena and Riverton). The bridge was constructed on this road in 1923.
It is a slender and elegant bridge, with a pair of concrete arches. It is 130 feet (40 m) long and is the only one of its kind in Kansas (two other bridges were also located on the Route 66 stretch in Kansas Willow Creek and Spring River were demolished in 1992).
The bridge was repaired in 2005 and is no longer open for traffic, but you can still walk across it.
Getting to the Bridge
From Riverton head west. At the end of the town, there is an intersection with U.S. 400 - Alt US 69. Keep on westwards and reach the bridge, 2.5 mi west of Riverton.
After crossing the river, the road curves to the south and heads towards Baxter Springs.
US Highway 66 Towns close to Riverton
Route 66 itinerary through Kansas
Route 66 in Kansas
With only 13 miles, this is the shortest segment of US 66 in any state.
Current mileage: 13 mi.
Alignment of US 66 in Kansas, from Missouri to Oklahoma
Route 66 crosses the southeastern corner of Kansas, the shortest segment of the whole Route66: 13 miles.
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).
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.
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. 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.
Fate of old US 66
After I-44 bypassed Kansas, US-66 was decommissioned and in 1985 US-69 Alternate took over part of its alignment, the rest became K-66.
Riverton School History, Danny Anderson.
History of Cherokee County, Kansas and representative citizens, 1904. Nathaniel Thompson Allison, Ed. Comp.
Williams' Store, Riverton, Kansas. National Park Service
Banner image: Dead Man's Curve, Laguna New Mexico by Perla Eichenblat.