About Doolittle Missouri
Facts, Trivia and useful information
Elevation: 1,004 ft (306 m). Population 630 (2010).
Time zone: Central (CST): UTC minus 6 hours. Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5).
The town of Doolittle is located on Route 66, in Phelps County, South central Missouri Ozarks Region. Seven miles West of Rolla. (Map of Doolittle).
Malone’s Service Station, Route 66 in Doolittle, Missouri
History of Doolittle
General James H. Doolittle
For the general history of the area check the history of the county seat: Rolla.
This was originally farmland between Rolla and Newburg. It grew halfway between Rolla and Newburg and was initially known as "Centertown". When Ft. Leonard Wood was established in 1941 during the days that preceded WWII, the area boomed, serving the workers that flocked to the region to work in building the fort. The town grew on the open fields alongside Route 66 and was known as Doolittle after it was formally incorporated in 1944.
Gen. Doolittle flew into a nearby airport in 1946 and spoke at the town's formal dedication ceremony after it incorporated.
The town's streets are named after famous military (Macarthur, Eisenhower, etc.)
Regarding U.S. 66, the "Wire Road" built in the 1860s next to the St. Louis - Ft. Smith telegraph line became MO-14 in the 1920s and in 1926 it became part of U.S. 66.
The highway was upgraded to a four-lane road in the 1950s, and realigned in 1960s as I-44 to improve it further.
The name: Doolittle
James H. Doolittle, (1896 – 1993), a U.S. Medal of Honor Army general who fought in World War II, and commanded the famous "Tokyo Raid" of April 18, 1942: the first air strike in the Japanes Home Islands during WWII. It was a morale boosting raid that bombed Tokyo on a one way flight of 16 bombers from an aircraft carrier in the Pacific to landing fields in China. All planes crash landed and only 3 of the 80 crew members survived.
Surname of Irish origin, from Gaelic O Dubhlachta (where "Dubh" is: "black" and "lachta" derives from an obsolete forename).
Where to Lodge in Doolittle, Missouri
Accommodation and hotels near Doolittle...
> > Book your hotel in Rolla
More Lodging near Doolittle along Route 66
Motels and Hotels close to Doolittle
Hotels, Westwards in Missouri
- 21 miles St. Robert
- 22 miles Waynesville
- 56 miles Lebanon
- 86 miles Marshfield
- 99 miles Strafford
- 108 miles Springfield
- 169 miles Carthage
- 187 miles Joplin
Heading West... Hotels & Motels in Kansas...
- 202 miles Baxter Springs
Further West... Hotels & Motels on Route 66 in Oklahoma...
Heading East in Missouri, more accommodation
- 7 mi. Rolla
- 17 mi. Saint James
- 29 mi. Cuba
- 46 mi. Sullivan
- 64 mi. Saint Clair
- 74 mi. Villa Ridge
- 80 mi. Pacific
- 87 mi. Eureka
- 115 mi. St. Louis
Hotels further East, in Illinois
>> Check out the RV campgrounds in neighboring Rolla
Weather in Doolittle
The weather in Doolittle has well marked seasons and is the combination of humid continental and humid subtropical climates.
The winter (Jan), the average high is around 39°F (4°C) and the aveage low is a freezing 20°F (-7°C). The summer (Jul) average high is 89°F (32°C) with an average low of 68°F (20°C). Rainfall averages 44.5 in. (1.130 mm) yearly which ranges from 2.21 in (56 mm) in Jan. to 4.81 in (122.2 mm) in May. Snowfall is around 18.9 in. (48 cm), which falls from Dec. to Mar.
Doolittle is located in Missouri's "Tornado Alley" and Phelps County is hit by some 8 tornado strikes every year.
Tornado Risk: read more about Tornado Risk along Route66.
Weather widget for nearest town: Newburg
Getting to Doolittle
You can reach Doolittle along historic Route 66 and Interstate I-44-
Map of Route 66 through Doolittle Missouri
Display Doolittle Route 66 Map
Click Map will appear below
Below is the color key for Route 66’s alignment in Doolittle:
(for the other parts of Missouri, check the color key in the corresponding city's web page)
Pale Blue is the original 1926 to 1950s Route 66. (in Black the segments that no longer exist, razed by later alignments).
Blue: the segment that links the loop cut off by interstate I-44, not part of original US 66.
Route 66's alignment in Missouri: the Historic Route 66 through Doolittle
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.
Route 66 Sights in Doolittle
Landmarks and Places to See
War Hero Town
Doolittle and its Route 66 attractions
Doolittle and its main Route 66 attractions are a narrow 1920s bridge Beaver Creek Bridge, and some classics like Ramsey’s or Centerville Garage, Former Hargis Tourist Camp, Malone’s Service Station and T &T Cafe and Garage.
Historic context, the classic Route 66 in Doolittle
Jack DeVere Rittenhouse mentions it in his 1946 "A Guide Book to Highway 66": "DOOLITTLE, a community loosely strung along abouth two mi. of highway. (Pop. 208; Five-Oaks garage; gas; few cabins; cafe.)", he also added that two mi. east of it was a Gas Station.
Sights in town
Begin at Beaver Creek Bridge:
Beaver Creek Bridge
2,8 west of town on Old Route 66 Map showing location.
This is a very narrow concrete slab bridge across the Little Beaver Creek built in 1926 to carry Route 66, basically a one-lane bridge, see it in this street view.
Head west the road curves when it meets I-44 (the road used to continue straight ahead, beyond I-44 and then curve back towards Doolitle), here you will drive alongside the freeway -this is not the original roadbed, but a road built to link the two tips cut off by the Interstate. At the western tip, the road curves again, here to your left is the old Hargis Tourist Camp:
Former Hargis Tourist Camp
Old Louis Hargis' Tourist Camp is now gone, but the old roller rink he built is still there, as you can see in this Street View. Just ahead, also on your left is a classic garage:
Ramsey’s or Centerville Garage
Eisenhower Dr., Doolittle
Ramsey's Garage (or Centerville Garage) in Doolittle, click for street view
Ramsey's Garage also known as Centerville Garage (because it was roughly halfway between Rolla and Newburg) is a concrete block building with a false front stepped wall. It was built ca. 1941 for a business began in 1927 by Monroe and Hattie Ramsey who ran it until the 1950s when the highway became a four-lane freeway and was realigned north of town.
They had built some cabins during WW II to lodge those coming and going from Ft. Leonard Wood. You can see them behind the building.
Head west for 0.7 mi. and at the main crossroads in town is Malone's Service Station:
Malone’s Service Station
Eisenhower Dr., Doolittle
Pictured above at the top of the page. This was the Hudson Oil Company, a very simple rectangular building which dates back to 1941. It sold Hudson Oil Co. gasoline. Hudson was a texan company. Dan Malone bought it in 1952 and he sold Tidewater, Flying-A and Cities Service lubes and gas. It had twelve pumps at one time and a restaurant which was demolished in the 60's when Highway T was improved.
Continue west for 1.3 mi. and when the old Route 66 finally meets I-44 again, on your right you will see the T&T Cafe and Garage:
T &T Cafe and Garage
Eisenhower Dr., Doolittle
Also known as the "I-44 Antique Mall and Flea Market", it is a concrete block building which served as caféa and garage built in 1952. It was named after Terrill and Tabor - Joe and Ruth Tabor owned it. They had originally run a shop called Joe's Place but when US 66 became a four-lane higwhay and moved to the north of town, they built their new place next to it. Later it was managed by Hamilton Oil Co. and later it became an antiques shop and flea market. I-44 cut off access to it when it was built in the 1960s over the 1950s US 66, so it is accessible from the oldest Route 66 (now Eisenhower Dr.) See its street view.
Tours & Itineraries
You can continue westbound and explore the sights in Newburg and visit Arlington, a ghost town, at the dead end marking what once was US 66's 1926 alignment but remained cut off from the freeway in the 1940s. Or head east along old Route 66 into Rolla or take I-44 west into Jerome.
Old Route 66 in Doolittle
The first trail in the area was opened by deer and buffalo, and later used by Indians. It followed the divide in the Ozarks. After the late 1600s, white explorers and trappers followed it; they named it the "Great Osage Trail" (after the Osage Indians). The road used to build and service the military telegraph line built in the 1860s followed it and was known as the "Wire Road"; it became the main road between Springfield and St. Louis.
During the early 1910s, cars became more frequent in the Ozarks but the roads were full of potholes or muddy traps during the rainy periods. The Inter-Ozarks Highway Association lobbied successfully for a decent state highwy and that is how MO-14 was built between Springfield and St. Louis, and given a gravel surface. Route 66 was aligned along it in 1926.
From Doolittle west through Newburg
Route 66 does not go through Newburg, it crosses its western edge. The old road, paved in 1931 runs west from Doolittle and then curves to the south through Newburg towards Arlington. The original 1926 to 1951 road is shown in Pale Blue in the Map above.
1951 map showing Doolittle Route 66, by the USGS
1950s: Four Lane Freeway
In 1951 a new road, with two lanes was built north from Arlington through Newburg. These two lanes became the new westbound lanes while the old 1926 alignment became the eastbound lanes. West of Newburg, at what is now Exit 176, a completely new four lane highway was built into Rolla bypassing the meandering old alignment through Doolitle. The new highway passed the town on its northern side and cut through a small curve of the 1926 alignment to the east of town, shown in Pale Blue in the map above. The roadbed cut by the four-lane highway is shown in Black. It did not cut it off, the old road crossed the new one, only later with I-44 as an interstate which required overpasses, was it cut off so then a new section of road was built on the south side of the freeway to link up the old route again this is shown in Blue.
1966 New roadbed
Beginning in 1967 the old US-66 ⁄ I-44 Freeway was improved again.
Interactive Map of US 66 from in Newburg (1926 to 1966)
See how the road and its alignments evolved over time just west of Doolittle in Newburg.
Check out our interactive Jerome to Newburg Alignments Map from 1926 to 1966.
Eventually the whole of US 66 in this area was upgraded into a four lane highway and after 1958 it coexisted with the new interstate I-44 (a state petition in 1962 to name the highway I-66 was denied by the AASHTO). Finally in 1972 the whole of Route 66 had been replaced by the freeway and in 1974 it was decided that the whole of US 66 from Chicago to Joplin would be eliminated. However this was delayed until I-55 in Illinois was completely brought up to Interstate standards. The signs were removed in 1977 and the road was finally bypassed in 1981.
> > See the previous segment Rolla to Doolittle (east)
> > See the next segment Newburg to Arlington (west)
Jack DeVere Rittenhouse, (1946). A Guide Book to Highway 66.
Maura Johnson and John F. Bradbury, Route 66 Association of Missouri. 1993, Architectural ⁄ Historical Inventory Survey. Route 66 in Missouri
Banner image: Dead Man's Curve, Laguna New Mexico by Perla Eichenblat.