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Carthage, Missouri

"America's Maple Leaf City"

Carthage is the site of two American Civil War battles and of the historic Jasper County Courthouse and its share of Route 66 attractions:
Motels such as the Kel Lake Motel, Lake Shore Motel, White's Court, later Rock Castle Cabins, Buster Brown Inn, Guest House Motel, Dazy Motel, Murrell Tourist Rooms and Cabins and the famous Boots Court Motel.
Service stations like Neatherry Station, Chet Campbell's Gulf Service Station and Texaco service station and Clover Inn Cafe.
The historic Carthage 66 drive-in theater and classics like Whisler's Drive-Up, Powers Museum , the G & E Tire Co., the tummy tickling Whee Bridge and Red Oak II.

Carthage MO

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About Carthage Missouri

Facts, Trivia and useful information

Elevation: 1,004 ft (306 m). Population 14,378 (2010).
Time zone: Central (CST): UTC minus 6 hours. Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5).

Carthage is the county seat of Jasper County, in southwestern Missouri. (Map of Carthage).

Boots Court Motel in Carthage, Route 66

Boots Court Motel in Carthage, Route 66
Boots Court Motel on Route 66 Carthage, Missouri.

Carthage's history

Southwestern Missouri has been inhabited since the last Ice Age, some 10,000 years ago; more recently ca. 700 BC the native Osage migrated here from their homeland on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. They had been expelled by the bellicose Iroquois.

In 1682, French explorers coming from Canada claimed the region, naming it after their king Louis XIV: Louisiana. In 1803, during his wars with Britain, Napoleon sold it to the U.S. government who formed the Missouri Territory in 1812. Missouri became a state of the Union in 1821.

The Osage people in the meantime lost their territory, ceding it in a series of treaties signed in 1808, 1818 and 1825. They stood their ground but in 1837 they were forced from Carthage by the state militia (See the historic marker at the SW corner of the Courthouse Square on 4th St.). They ended up in a Reservation in Oklahoma.

In 1841 Jasper County was organized and the flat area above the Spring River was chosen for a town which was founded in 1842 and named Carthage.

The name: Carthage

The stone bluffs along the river were of a pale color that reminded the founders of the fabled stone quarries at the North African city of Carthage.

The name Carthage comes from Latin Carthago, which in turn came from Greek Karkhedon. The original Phoenician words meant "New City" in Punic language. The town was a "New Tyre", founded in what is now Tunisia. Rome and Carthage waged several wars (Punic Wars) and Rome prevailed, razing the city.

The town with 500 residents entered the American Civil War on the side of the Confederates, the county favored slavery. The First official battle of the American Civil War was the Battle of Carthage, which took place on July 5, 1861 between 1,000 Union soldiers and 6,000 "Rebels" (Confederate troops). There are markers along US 571 marking the 8 mile-long route followed by the troops during the battle which ended at Carter Park.

There was a "Second Battle of Carthage" during Oct. 1863. The town was burned by Rebel irregulars in 1864.

Rebuilt in 1866, it incorporated in 1868 and grew quickly. In 1872 the Missouri Western Railroad reached the town and the post office which had opened in 1840 as Jasper adopted the name of Carthage. The lead mines and limestone & gray marble quarries brought wealth to the town and the Historic Carthage South District with Victorian and Queen Anne homes was built during this period.

The advent of automobiles in the early 1900s led to the building of the Jefferson Highway and the Ozark Trail.

Jefferson Highway

This "auto trail" linked New Orleans in Louisiana, USA with Winnipeg in Manitoba, Canada (hence its name "palm to pine highway". It was built in the 1910s, and is contemporary of the Ozark Trail and the National Old Trails (which in part became U.S. 66). In 1926 it became U.S. Highway 71 ("Broadway of America).

Route 66, America's Main Street meets the Jefferson Highway in Carthage at the intersection of Central and Garrison Avenues.

U.S. 66 on the other hand was aligned along a highway organized by the Ozark Trails Association, which was the brain-child of William Hope "Coin" Harvey (1851-1936), an entrepreneur, teacher and active promoter of tourism; he established the Association in 1913.

The Ozark Trail soon spanned Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas and eastern New Mexico. When Route 66 was created, it was aligned along the Ozark Trail from St. Louis MO to Romeroville NM.

Route 66 was bypassed by I-44 which opened in 1958 from Oklahoma City to Joplin and then headed east along US-166, south of Carthage, towards Springfield. However Route 66 survived in Missouri until its decertification.

Where to Lodge in Carthage Missouri

Lodging in Carthage...

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Motels and Hotels close to Carthage

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>> Check out the RV campgrounds in Carthage

Weather in Carthage

Carthage has a wet & subtropical climate with dry and cold winters and very wet summers (the rainy season spans from April to July, with thunderstorms).

Averages rainfall is 46.5 in (1.180 mm) yearly plus some 11.9 in. of snow (30 cm) in winter.

The winter (Jan) the average high is 44.9°F (7.2°C) and the average low is below freezing, with 25.0°F (-3.9deg;C). The summer (Jul) average high is 90.6°F (32.6°C) and the average low is 69.° (21.1°).

Latest Carthage, Missouri weather
Route 66: Carthage map with town location
Location of Carthage on Route 66

Tornado risk

Carthage is located within the infamous "Tornado Alley" and Japer County has an average of 6 tornado strikes per year.

Tornado Risk: read more about Tornado Risk along Route66.

Getting to Carthage

Get to Carthage using historic Route 66 or via the Interstate I-44 that links it with Tulsa and Oklahoma City in the west and with Springfield and St. Louis in the east. U.S. Route 71 (overlapping I-49) links it with Fort Smith, Arkansas and Kansas City.

Map of Route 66 through Carthage Missouri

Display Carthage Route 66 Map

  Click Map will appear below

Below is the color key for Route 66’s alignment in Carthage:
(for the other parts of Missouri, check the color key in the corresponding city's web page)

Red: where you must drive along the Interstate I-44 as Route 66 is no longer open to traffic.
Black: The 1926 to 1933 alignment in Carthage.
Blue the 1933 alignment which was known as U.S. 66 Alt. in Carthage.
Pale Blue: The 1945 and later alignments of Route 66 through Carthage

Google Maps. Terms. Nicolas Mollet, CC BY SA 3.0 License

Route 66's alignment in Missouri: the Historic Route 66 through Carthage

Route 66 logo

Route 66 across Missouri

Historic U.S. highway 66, "Route 66" has been designated as an All-American Road and National Scenic Byway in the state of Missouri.

Click on the following link for a Full description of Route 66 across the state of Missouri.

Below is more information on the different Route 66's alignments through Carthage (they are shown in the Map above)

Route 66 Sights in Carthage

Landmarks and Places to See

Carthage and its Route 66 attractions

Carthage is well known for the historical 66 drive-in theater and the Boots Court Motel. But don't miss its historic Jasper County Courthouse or the many Route 66 motels, service stsations and diners that survive until this day like the Kel Lake Motel, Lake Shore Motel, the White's Court, Buster Brown Inn, Guest House Motel or Dazy Motel.
Chet Campbell's Gulf Service Station, Neatherry Station, Whisler's Drive-Up or the ruins of the Texaco service station and Clover Inn Cafe and G & E Tire Co..
The famous tummy tickling Whee Bridge and the Red Oak II village.

Historic context, the classic Route 66 in Carthage

Jack DeVere Rittenhouse book "A Guide Book to Highway 66" written in 1946 gives us an insight into the "classic days" of Route 66. He mentions the following lodging in Carthage: "Hotels: Drake, Crane and Arlington. Baird garage; few cabins: Dazy and Parkview; all accommodations" he also mentioned the 1870-80's woman bandit, Belle Star (Myra Belle Shirley who married Sam Starr) who ended up shot by another bandit. He described both the City and the Alternate U.S. 66 routes through the town.

Tour the route 66 landmarks in Carthage

Begin your tour east of town, by Lake Kellog, on Route 66. This is a 6.5 mi. long drive from tip to tip (Map with directions).

Maple Leaf Festival

Held since 1966, during October, it is a week-long festival celebrating the coming of fall with the bright yellow, red and orange colors of the maple trees.

It includes a parade, booths around the the town square and more.

As you approach Carthage along Route 66, at the fork where alternate U.S. 66 branched to the right, you can see four classic motels: the first, to your left, is the former Lake Shore Motel:

Lake Shore Motel

13008 State Highway 96, Carthage

You can Book a Room in the Best Budget Inn

J. K. Bunk built it next to the shores of Lake Kellog and advertised the great fishing the lake offered. Its motto was "Wonderful Rest in Cleanliness". Now it is the Best Budget Inn.

A 1950s postcard showing Lake Shore Motel

Antique ca. 1950s postcard view of Lake Shore Motel in Carthage MO, Route 66
Antique ca. 1950s postcard view of the Lake Shore Motel in Carthage Missouri.

A view today of what was the the Lake Shore Motel and is now the Best Budget Inn

Street view of the Best Budget Inn, former Lake Shore Motel in Carthage MO, Route 66
Street view of the Best Budget Inn, former Lake Shore Motel in Carthage MO. Click for street view

Just ahead, to your right is the Kel-Lake Motel motel:

Kel Lake Motel

13071 State Highway 96

This is a 1950s motel built on the SW corner of the intersection of former US 66 and US 66 Alt. at Carthage's norteastern access. As you can see in the postcard it has hardly changed. The trees have grown, but the building is the same (the sign to the east of the building is also the same).

A 1950s postcard showing Kel Lake Motel

Antique ca. 1950s postcard view of Kel Lake Motel in Carthage MO, Route 66
Antique ca. 1950s postcard view of Kel Lake Motel in Carthage Missouri.

A view today of what was still is the Kel Lake Motel:

Street view of what still is the Kel Lake Motel in Carthage MO, Route 66
Street view of Kel Lake Motel in Carthage Missouri. Click for street view

Take a right along the Old 66 Blvd. passing between Lake Kellog and the old Lake Shore Motel, you will reach the N.E. tip of the lake and the 1926-33 alignment of Route 66. Here are two more vintage lodgings on Route 66: Buster Brown Inn and, to your left White's Court

White's Court, later Rock Castle Cabins

12937 Old 66 Blvd.

The former White Court motel began as a service station and café in 1927, the year after Route 66 was created. It later became the Old Rock Castle Cabins and now is the Red Rock Apartments. As you can see, the original sign has survived until now!:

A 1950s postcard showing White’s Court

Antique ca. 1930s postcard view of White’s Court in Carthage MO, Route 66
Antique ca. 1930s postcard view of White’s Court in Carthage Missouri.

A view today of what was the White’s Court and is now the Red Rocks Apartments

Street view of Red Rocks Apartments, former White’s Court in Carthage MO, Route 66
Street view of Red Rocks Apartments, former White’s Court in Carthage MO. Click for street view

Buster Brown Inn

12932 Old 66 Blvd.

The building dates back to 1935, when it was owned by E. J. Brown. It still stands on the south side of Route 66 (to your right), though now it is a private home.

The vintage postcard shows the old gas pums to the left.

A 1940s postcard showing Buster Brown Inn

Antique ca. 140s postcard view of Buster Brown Inn in Carthage MO, Route 66
Antique ca. 1940s postcard view of Buster Brown Inn in Carthage Missouri,

A view today of what was the Buster Brown Inn and is now a private home

Street view of former Buster Brown Inn in Carthage MO, Route 66
Street view of former Buster Brown Inn in Carthage MO. Click for street view

Head back to Route 66 and turn left into Carthage. The road curves towards the west, becoming E. Central Ave. to your right you will see the Guest House Motel:

Guest House Motel

417 East Central Ave. Carthage

This motel is still open under the same name. The layout and building is unchanged, though it is a pity that the sixtyish-style neon sign has been replaced by a duller contemporary sign.

You can Book a Room in the Guest House Motel

A 1950s postcard showing Guest House Motel

Antique ca. 1950s postcard view of Guest House Motel in Carthage MO, Route 66
Antique ca. 1950s postcard view of Guest House Motel in Carthage Missouri.

A view today of what still is the Guest House Motel

Street view today of what still is the Guest House Motel in Carthage MO, Route 66
Guest House Motel today in Carthage Missouri. Google, Click for street view

Head west, and on the corner of Main St. is the former Chet Campbell's Gulf Service Station:

Chet Campbell's Gulf Service Station

101 E Central Ave (On the NE corner of Main St.)

This was Chet Campbell's Gulf Service Station, and the red brick building has survived the ravages of time. In the postcard (1930s?)you can see the gas pumps facing Central Ave. Now it is Woodys Glass shop. Click on the images for a larger view:

vintage postcard of Chet Campbells Gulf gas station

Vintage postcard of Chet Campbells Gulf gas station; click to enlarge

Chet Campbell Gulf Service Station building

Former Chet Campbell's Gulf gas station nowadays.

Just ahead, at N. Garrison Ave., take a right along what used to be Alternate U.S. highway 66 to see some more landmarks: Dazy Motel and Whisler's Drive-Up:

Dazy Motel

119 N. Garrison Ave., Carthage

To your left you will see this 1930's motel (mentioned by Rittenhouse in 1946) with individual cabins laid out in a "U" shape around a central courtyard. The sign on Garrison is still there as is the office:

A view today of what was the Dazy Motel

Street view of Dazy Motel in Carthage MO, Route 66
Street view of the former Dazy Motel in Carthage Mo. Google Click for street view

Continue north for two blocks, and to your right, on the corner of W. Vine is the burger restaurant:

Whisler's Drive-Up

This Hamburger Restaurant is a classic which has been serving hamburgers since it opened in 1953.

Whisler’s Burger restaurant

Street view of Whisler’s Burger restaurant Carthage MO, Route 66
Street view of Whisler’s Burger restaurant in Carthage MO. Google, Click for street view

Side Trip North along old Alt US 66

This is a short 2.4 mile round trip along Alternate US 66 (1934 to 1954). See Map with directions.

Visit a historical home and the remains of a Texaco filling station and Café:

Drive north along N. Garrison Ave. former U.S. 66 Alt & U.S. 71, now MO-571, to Kendrickstown and at the corner of County Rd. "V" on your right is the old service station:

Clover Inn Cafe & Texaco

MO-571 and Co. Rd. "V", Kendrickstown

Former truck stop, Texaco service station and Clover Inn Cafe, just north of town, on U.S. 71. The building is still standing, but mostly in ruins.

The Glass brick surrounding the door facing US 71 is still visible. Click on the images for a larger view:

vintage postcard of Clover Inn Cafe & Texaco

Vintage postcard of Clover Inn Cafe & Texaco, click to enlarge

Clover Inn Cafe & Texaco

Former Clover Inn Cafe & Texaco nowadays.

Turn right onto E. Northwoods St. and visit the historic mansion, on your left:

Kendrick Place

131 E Northwoods St.

This is a two-story brick house built in 1849 by William Hendrick on his 570 acre plot of land. It survived the Civil War, when it was used as a hospital and headquarters by both sides. It served as temporary courthouse when the original one burned in 1863.

You can tour it (Kendrick House Facebook), and learn about the ghost of a slave woman that haunts it. See its Street View.

Retrace your steps back to town and at Central Ave. head south, to your right is the iconic Route 66 Boots Motel:

Boots Court Motel

107 S. Garrison Avenue, Carthage

Boots Court Motel Carthage Mo

Boots Court Motel (click on image for large Street View)

The "Boots Court" opened in 1939, with 8 rooms and "a radio in every room". It was strategically located on the "Crossroads of America" where The "Jefferson Highway" (U.S. 71) crossed Route 66. It belonged to Arthur and Ilda Boots.

See the motel's Photo at the top of the page.

Its style combines Streamline Moderne with Art Deco. It had a filling station which later became the office.

The Neely's bought it in 1942 and added five rooms to it in 1946. Clark Gable stayed here twice. By the 1950s it had added TV, phones and airconditioning.

After 1990 a period of decline set in, it was almost demolished but saved by public activisim. In 2011 restoration and preservatin began after it was purchased by the Bledsaw sisters. And the Motel is now open and receiving guests again.

Boots Drive In

120 S Garrison Ave, across the street from the motel

Boots opened a drive-in across the street with a soda fountain in the mid-1940s. After I-44 bypassed Route 66 patrons dwindled and the place closed in 1971. Now it has been restored and is the Great Plains FCU. It has a "Streamline Moderne" style.

Art Moderne or Streamline Moderne, was popular in the 1930s and evolved from Art Deco. Its main features are: curved shapes with rounded edges, horizontal lines or grooves in walls, flat roofs, smooth wall surfaces (plaster) and pale beige or off-white colors with contrasting dark trims.

vintage postcard of Boots Drive In

Vintage postcard of Boots Drive In

Boots Drive In nowadays

Former Boots Drive In nowadays.

Turn right on 3rd St. to visit the historical County Courthouse:

Jasper County Courthouse

Jasper County Courthouse Carthage

The Jasper County Corthouse in Carthage. TheWhitePelican

Listed in the National Register of Historic Places

Between 3rd, 4th, Main and Grant Streets.

In Richardsonian Romanesque style it was built in 1894. It was preceded by one razed in 1863 during the Civil War.

The Jasper County Courthouse, also on the National Register of Historic Places, was built of Carthage stone in 1894-95. There is a mural inside the courthouse depicting the history of Jasper County.

Check-out the old buildings of the businesses around the Courthouse.

Head back west along 3rd St., take a left and then a right along Oak Street.

G & E Tire Co.

500 Oak St. SW corner of Oak and McGregor

G & E Tire Co. has the famous DeSoto-Plymouth Sign. It was the Joy Garage and Filling Station originally run Joy L. Ortloff. Towards the end of the 1960s it became a recapping shop named Downey Auto Repair and G&E Tire Company (recapping).

G and E Tire Co.

Street view of the G & E tire Company in Carthage MO, Route 66
Street view of the the G & E tire Company in Carthage MO. Google, Click for street view

Continue west, cross the famous wooden bridge:

Oak Street Bridge "Whee Brige"

Built in the 1920s, in wood, it carries Oak Street (Route 66) across the Union Pacific Railroad. It is 56 ft. long and 27 ft. wide. It has been slated for replacement but it has manaded to survive (who know for how much longer). Its peaked shape gives those who speed across it a tickled tummy feeling, hence its name, the "whee" bridge.

Murrell Tourist Rooms and Cabins

830 Oak St.

It was runby M. S. Murrell and L. E. Newman in 1947 and remained open until the early 1970s, when Noah Murrel had renamed it as Murrel's Court Motel. Today you can still see the blue cabins in the rear part of the lot (you can get a good view of them from Sohpia St. See their street view).

Neatherry Station

916-18 Oak St. S.E. corner of S. Francis St.

The service station opened in 1935 and after 1947 was the Wiliam C. Neatherry Filling Station, Christman's Service station (1950), Pop's Service Station (1957). It later became Earle's Service Station and by the late 60s it was D B Discount Station. and finally as the Flying W station. Now it no longer sells gasoline.

The building has a very steep roof with a side gable and was designed to fit in to the surrounding residential area, using the "cottage style" of that period.

The Carthage Tummy tickling bridge on Route 66

"Whee" Bridge on U.S. 66

Neatherry Station nowadays

Former Neatherry Station, nowadays. Google, Click for street view

Moxley's Grocery and Filling Station

1002 Oak St. SW corner of S. Francis St.

On the corner facing Neatherry Station; opened by Eli P. Moxley in 1947. This is its street view.

Powers Museum

1621 Oak St.

With exhibits on local and Missouri history; learn more at their website:

The Taylor Tourist Park opened in 1927; it was ran by Dr. C. Taylor and, after 1931 by H. Scoville. Re-named Parkview Motor Court and Café (because it faced the Municipal Park built during the Great Depression), it changed hands and eventually closed. It was acquired by the Musum in 1988. No trace remains of the old Motor Court or of the Parkview Trailer Court next to it.

66 drive-in theater

Listed in the National Register of Historic Places

17231 Old 66 Blvd., Carthage, Missouri

The historic Drive-in dates back to 1949. Its screen was widened in the early 1950s. Finally, overtaken by home videos, it closed in 1985. However it reopened in 1998 and shows films every weekend.

The Ticket Booth is built in an Art Deco - Streamline Moderne style (see photo below).

66 Drive-In Theatre, Route 66, Carthage, Missouri

66 Drive-In Theatre, Route 66, Carthage, Missouri Route 66
66 Drive-In Theatre, Route 66, in Carthage Missouri

Tours & Itineraries

Red Oak II

12306 Kafir Rd. Carthage

Just east of Carthage (Map with location), it recreates a small village of the early 1900s, it has several buildings and a gas station formerly on Route 66.

An old truck atop a post at Co. Ln. 130 marks the entrance road (Street View). More information at Their website.

Old Route 66 in Carthage, Missouri

From Avilla to Carthage

From Avilla head west along MO-96, which is the original 1926 and all later alignments.

The 1926 Route 66 into Carthage

Stop between County Ln.110 to 117, and on the north side of US 66 you can see a segment of the original roadbed's paving (Street View).

Shown in Black in the Map above. At the junction of MO-96 with County Rd. 118, turn left and take Old 66 Blvd., which forks at the crossing and heads to the southwest. It will reach Kellog Lake and the park around it. Drive along the lake's eastern shore on Esterly Drive and Jimmy Lane, which used to cross Spring River on a bridge which has been removed and replaced by the one next to it on Old Route 66.

To cross the river you must go west on Esterly Drive, to Route 66. Here you will meet its later 1934 alignment. Turn left, cross the new bridge then the leave the new road once you cross the river: to your left is N. River St., take it southwards.

The 1926 alignment took a sharp 90° turn at E. Cental Avenue and headed into Carthage meeting the later Route 66 alignment just ahead, from this point the 1934 and the 1926 alignment overlap all the way to the WPA park west of town where they separate.

1933 alignment

This is shown in Pale Blue in the Map above; the road was straightened out and its sharp curves eliminated. This is nowadays MO-96 through Carthage.

Rittenhouse and the 1946 alignment

Rittenhouse in 1946 tells us that Route 66 forked on the eastern side of Carthage: "City 66 turns left, main US 66 goes straight ahead", the city route which was shorter had light traffic which did not slow you down.

The Missouri DOT map of 1945-46 shows both these routes the City route is the one that follows the 1934 alignment, that is: Old 66 Blvd (currently MO-96), Central Ave, Garrison and then Oak, westbound. Riuttenhouse's "Main US 66" is actually U.S. 66 Alt.:

Alternate US 66 (1934 to 1954)

Shown in Blue in the Map above. You can take it at the Kel Lake Motel at Lake Kellog, and head to the NW along County Rd. "V" until it meets what used to be U.S. 71 (now MO-571) in Kendricktown see the remains of the Texaco service station and Clover Inn Cafe there.

Take a left and head south, the highway becomes N. Garrison St. which meets the other U.S 66 alignment at Central Ave.

West of town, U.S. 66 and 71 overlapped all the way to Joplin.

1926 alignment west of Carthage

Oak Street was part of the old Jefferson Highway through Carthage (1915-1926), and it was paved and designated as Missouri State Highway #1 after 1921. In 1926 it became U.S. 66.

The 1933 alignment split from the older 1926 alignment at fork by the WPA Park. The 1926 road kept west along W. Oak and then Imperial Road (now I-49 blocks it) until reaching what is now Index Rd. there it turned south where the later alignment met it, and overlapped into Carterville.

Route 66 and Interstate I-44

Route 66 and Interstate 44 lived along together for many years (like many U.S. Higwhays do today), From Springfield west, to Halltown, they overlapped and at this point US 66 went northwards to Spencer and west to Carthage along its original alignment (now MO-96) while I-44 turned southwest and then west to Oklahoma. They coexisted until the federal government officially decommissioned Route 66 in 1985.

> > See the previous segment Phelps to Avilla (east)

> > See the next segment Carthage to Carterville (west)


Jack DeVere Rittenhouse, (1946). A Guide Book to Highway 66.

Banner image: Dead Man's Curve, Laguna New Mexico by Perla Eichenblat.