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Route 66 Alignments from Hamel IL to St. Louis MO

Approaching the Mississippi from Illinois

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U.S. 66 reaches St. Louis - alignments & Maps

Historic Route 66 had several alignments in Illinois as it approached the Mississippi River and crossed it to enter Saint Louis, Missouri.

In this webpage we describe all of these different US 66 alignments, map its course across the southwestern part of Illinois, describe how it crossed the Mississippi, and include plenty of information to help you find and drive the original roadbed of Route 66 and know all about the "missing" segments that have been abandoned over the years.

Route 66 approaching St. louis MO, from Illinois.

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Route 66 in St. Louis

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Springfield to Hamel IL

Route 66 between Hamel and St. Louis

Table of Contents

Index to this page:

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These alignments went through the cities listed below, in the area that surrounds St. Louis:

Route 66, the "1926-32" Alignment into St. Louis
< West - Gray Summit ¦ Wildwood ¦ Ballwin ¦ Manchester ¦ Des Peres ¦ Kirkwood ¦ Rock Hill ¦ Brentwood ¦ Maplewood - East >

Bypass Route 66 Around St. Louis
<SW - Kirkwood ¦ Creve Coeur ¦ Maryland Heights ¦ Bridgeton ¦ Hazelwood ¦ Mitchell ¦ Edwardsville ¦ Hamel - NE >

The Main Alignment of Route 66 west of St. Louis
<West - Gray Summit ¦ Pacific ¦ Allenton ¦ Eureka ¦ Times Beach ¦ Fenton ¦ Sunset Hills ¦ Crestwood ¦ Marlborough - East >

The Main Alignment of Route 66 east of St. Louis into Illinois
<West - East St. Louis (Illinois) ¦ Venice ¦ Madison ¦ Granite City ¦ Fairmont City ¦ Collinsville ¦ Hamel - East >

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Safety Tip - Crime rate in St. Louis and East St. Louis, Madison, Venice, Granite City

See the Route 66 sights during daytime and then move on to stay in accommodation outside the downtown areas close to the Mississippi Rivery. St. Louis and East St. Louis have very high crime rates and travelers don't feel safe to spend the night there.

The North Side of St. Louis lost jobs during the recession so you may encounter people who are potential drug users. Use common sense as you would in any large city. Park in a covered garage if you can, nevertheless you can park on the street in the town but only do so if visiting for a few hours and during daylight hours.

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Hamel to St. Louis alignment

Before Route 66 existed (1924)

The following map was published in 1924 (two years before Route 66 was created) and shows the "auto trails" of that time, roads that could be "safely" driven in a car. The road marked "13" was the "Mississippi Valley Highway" and the one marked "66" had nothing to do with the future Route 66; it was the "Mississippi River Scenic Highway".
State Highway 4 shown as (4) would become Route 66. It came from Hamel and Edwardsville (upper right), through Mitchell and reached Granite City, Venice and Madison.

1924 roadmap of southwest IL
1924 roadmap of the region around Granite City See large sized map

Route 66 west of Hamel

Map of US66 alignments into Saint Louis from Hamel Illinois

Map showing Route 66 from Hamel IL into St. Louis MO
Click on Map to Enlarge

Hamel is a small community roughly 32 miles northeast of St. Louis. We chose it as the starting point of this segment because it was here, in Hamel that the different alignments of Route 66 start to split and take different courses.

Click on the thumbnail Map to see a larger sized map showing Route 66 alignments that go into St. Louis MO from Hamel, llinois. Hamel is on the upper right corner of the map.

This is the first fork in the alignments of the Mother Road:

  • Original 1926-54 Route 66 shown in "pink" in the map. It became BYP 66 after 1954.
  • Main Route 66 from 1954-77. This alignment is shown in "violet" in the map.

Alignments split in Hamel

click to see 1955 road map of St. Louis and vicinity

1955 roadmap of St. Louis and vicinity
Click on Map to Enlarge

In 1954, Route 66 split into two alignments just north of Hamel at "Worden Wye" (there was a "Y" shaped fork here long ago), the junction of Route 66 with Possum Hill Rd. that leads to the town of Worden, 2 miles west and State Hwy. 4 which was the 1926 to 1940 Route 66 alignment.
See the map below and also view this 1955 aerial photo showing the junction that shows the work on the new roadway of the four-lane freeway under construction (now buried beneath I-55).

The 1954 map shows US 66 reaching the junction (upper right) and BYP 66 leaving it (lower left); the blue arrow shows Main 66. However, when the fork was built, it was located further south, at Green Hedge Rd. (the new "Main 66" hadn't been built in 1954 when the map was made). Later I-55 was aligned along this "new" four-lane roadbed.

map with US66 alignment near Worden

1954 Map of US 66 near Worden, north of Hamel IL

map with US66 alignment through Hamel

1954 Map of US 66 alignments in Hamel IL

The map above shows the highways in Hamel: The original 1926-54 Route 66 ran through Hamel and in 1954 became the "Bypass 66", the new alignment on the right side of the map (further east) became the Main US66.
We describe these alignments in the following sections.

"Original" Route 66 west of Hamel

Hamel to Mitchell

The first (1926) Route 66 alignment went from Hamel to Mitchell via Edwardsville. Its roadbed is now State Highway 157. And it is shown in this map map from Hamel to Mitchell (18 mi).

There was a sharp curve west of Edwardsville at Ginger Creek Dr. that was altered in the early 1950s to make it wider. The old segment is still there (Ma). Further ahead, the original junction with Bypass 40 was also modified:

US66 meets Byp 40

Overlay of maps with modern and historic US 66 alignments

Historic Route 66 in 1948 and now (IL-157 & US66)

Rittenhouse mentioned a picnic spot at the junction of what is now Chain of Rocks Rd. (Historic US66) and IL-157. Back in 1946 this was where US 66 met BYP 40 & IL-157.
The map superimposes the current roadbeds with a 1948 USGS map; the same spot can be seen in this aerial photo taken in 1945 as a triangular grassy island between the highways. It was modified in the mid 1960s, and again in the late 1980s to its current configuration (satellite view nowadays): gas station and picnic area have been razed.

There is a cemetery and a there was a coal mine (Sunset Coal Mine, now closed) at the junction. After this point the highway ran in a straight line all the way to Mitchell, but some curves were built lateer to skirt around I-270 and I-255's exits 30 and 7B.

1926 Route 66: Mitchell to Granite City

At Mitchell it curved with a NE SW course along Nameoki Rd into Granite City, see this Map with directions of the 1926 alignment through Granite City (6.2 miles long).

USGS map from 1935 with US 66 in Granite City

Map showing Route 66 in Granite City IL
Click on Map to Enlarge

The highway followed what is now MO-203 (Nameoki Rd.), turning south along the western side of Granite City along Edwardsville Rd.
It is marked with blue arrows in the thumbnail map (click to enlarge), and with a green line in the map further up. At Madison Avenue it turned southwest going through Granite City proper and then continuing along Madison Ave. into Madison (See orange line in the larger map further up).

Madison and Venice

This alignment is shown in the larger map further up with an Orange line. See this Map of the 1926-29 US66 in Madison. It can still be driven. Actually, the original road ran straight west along Broadway, but this is now cut by the railroad -at that time a grade crossing- and Fourth St. So you have to turn north and then south along Cedar to reach the bridge. See this Map of the missing part of Route 66 in Venice, it is also marked with a Black line in the large map further up. In Venice it reached the McKinley Bridge and used it to cross the Mississippi River into St. Louis and Missouri.

McKinley Bridge

This bridge dates back to 1910, and was originally used by the railroad. It carried US 66 as from 1926 and was closed to traffic from 2001 to 2007. It has three spans with 18 panel Pennsylvania Petit Through Truss. You can still use it, it is open.

The original alignment across Venice, along Broadway was straight but this is now cut by the railroad -at that time a grade crossing- and Fourth St. So you have to turn north and then south along Cedar to reach the bridge. See this custom Map of the missing part of Route 66 along Broadway. Read more about Cut off section of US 66.

Map with current and past access to McKinley bridge in Venice IL

McKinley bridge map with US66 approaches
Click on Map to Enlarge

1935 USGS Map of US66 alignments in Venice IL

1935 USGS Map of Route 66 in Venice IL
Click on Map to Enlarge

McKinley Bridge in Venice, Illinois

McKinley Bridge in Venice Route 66
McKinley Bridge in Venice, Illinois. Click for St. view

1929-35 alignment to the Municipal Bridge

In 1929 the alignment in Venice IL changed. Route 66 took a southwards course through Venice, Brookyln, and headed into East St. Louis, to cross the Mississippi alongside the railway on the "Municipal Bridge" which was toll free. It is located on the south side of St. Louis.

Shown with the dashed purple and green line leading to the bridge in this map. This alignment can be seen in these three maps:

  1. Map 1 Madison to 10th St. in East St. Louis
  2. Map 2 E. St. Louis to Piggott Ave.
  3. Map 3, crossing Municipal Bridge (now closed to car traffic).

Optional 66

steel viaduct runs across a road in an open area with trees

US 66 Viaduct in East St. Louis, nowadays
Click for street view

So in 1929 the original 1926 alignment using McKinley Bridge became the Optional 66 highway.

Municipal or MacArthur Bridge

Opened in 1917 and carried a railroad, which still uses it. In 1929 US 66 used it. Car deck was closed in 1981 and dismantled in 2014. It has a steel viaduct on both sides of the river (picture below). The steel bridge has 3 spans: Modified Pennsylvania Through Truss with single-span Pratt Through Truss on its western tip.

1930s Chain of Rocks - "Second City 66" alignment

Historical Chain of Rocks Bridge

Listed in the National Register of Historic Places

On July 20, 1929 the Chain of Rocks Bridge was opened to traffic, the Illinois side west of Edwardsville, through Mitchell was paved and ready to carry Route 66, bypassing the cities (Madison, Granite City, Venice) to the south, but as the Missouri side of the bridge wasn't yet ready Route 66 only moved to Chain of Rocks in the mid 1930s.

A new segment of Route 66 known as "Main 66" or "Bypass 66" was built west of Mitchell and through the a place called St. Thomas on the northern part of Granite City.
This segment existed from 1935 to around 1962. See it in this map (pink lines on the upper right side).

See its eastern alignment, now cut by I-270 (yellow line in this map) but it has two parts that can be driven in the east as shown in this map (Thorngate Rd) and, west of the freeway Bypass 66 map (Chain of Rocks Rd).

Then in northern Madison City, you can drive to the bridge along the old US66 roadbed as shown in this map with directions.

The USGS map published in 1948 below (click on it to enlarge) shows Route 66 reaching Mitchell (black arrow), City 66 heading south into Granite City (green arrow) and Route 66 heading west towards the Chain of Rocks bridge (blue arrow).

In the second map, published in 1955, It is BYP 66 that enters and exits Mitchell (blue arrows), the old City 66 had been eliminated becoming State Hwy 3 and Main 66 ran far to the east and south through Collinsville.

USGS Map published in 1948 of US66 alignments in Mitchell and northern Granite City, St. Thomas IL

1948 USGS map Route 66 Mitchell and northern Granite City
Click on Map to Enlarge

USGS Map published in 1955 of US66 alignments in Mitchell and northern Granite City, St. Thomas IL

1955 USGS map Route 66 Mitchell and northern Granite City
Click on Map to Enlarge

Chain of Rocks Bridge nowadays in Madison, Illinois

steel girder bridge over Mississipi reiver -Chain of Rocks Bridge in Madison Route 66
Chain of Rocks Bridge nowadays in Madison, Illinois. Click to enlarge image

Below is a vintage postcard of the bridge, notice the tollbooth.

Historical Chain of Rocks, vintage postcard in Madison, Illinois

Historical Chain of Rocks, vintage postcard in Madison Route 66
Historical Chain of Rocks, vintage postcard. US 66, Madison, Illinois. Click image to enlarge

It was one enormous project in its day, and it was a private one. It was supposed to cost $1,250,000 (a fortune at that time, and ended up costing twice the original estimate).

It was suppposed to be straight, but ended up bended due to the complaints of riverboat crews because it was just next to the water intakes for St. Louis, and would have made navigation difficult. Also, the original straight course led it thorough bedrock that couldn't withstand the weight of the bridge. So it was "bent".

wayside exhibit next to steel bridge and old US66

Wayside Exhibit at Chain of Rocks Bridge. Credits

The bridge was named after the rapids formed by underwater rock outcroppings: the "Chain of Rocks" and it stood 55 feet above the water and had a 40 foot-wide roadway with 10 spans.

Construction began in 1927 on both sides of the Mississippi and it opened in July 1929.

It carried Route 66 across it since then and in the late 1930s the Bypass US 66 was aligned across it to avoid going through downtown St. Louis. The bridge was initially a toll bridge but it was later removed.

In 1967 a brand new bridge, the "New Chain of Rocks Bridge" was built to the north and carried the freeway (I-270), this led to the demise of the Chain of Rocks Bridge that same year.

Tips for a Safe Visit to the bridge

Access to the bridge from the Missouri side is CLOSED due to severe issues with car vandalism. You can park on the Illinois access. Do not leave any valuables in your car. Park at your own risk. The bridge is open to bikers and pedestrians daily from 9:00am to dusk and is wheelchair accessible.

Bridge entrance is accessible in Missouri at North Riverfront Park, south of the Bridge along the Riverfront Trail.

City 66 in Illinois

Second City 66

When the Chain of Rocks bridge opened, the original alignment through Granite City was renamed City 66, and called "second" to differentiate it from the one on the western side of the Mississippi that was St. Louis' City 66.

This took place around 1935 and ran through Granite City, Madison and Venice. By 1940 had been realigned on the eastern side of both Granite City and Madison. It is marked with a Red arrows in the 1940 USGS map of Madison below; it shows City 66 running on the right side of the town together with Alt US 67 along Mc Cambridge Ave. (now IL-203) and then along Madison Rd., all the way to Collinsville Rd. You can also see it marked with a green line in this map.

USGS map from 1940 with US 66 in Madison, Illinois

USGS map from 1940 with US 66 in Madison
USGS map from 1940 with US 66 in Madison, Illinois

Below you can see the former City 66 (red arrows) from upper right (close to Edwardsville), through Granite City, to lower left (Fairmont City).

USGS map of 1949 with US 66 from Edwardsville to E. St.Louis

US 66 from Edwardsville to Fairmont in 1949. USGS Map

map and aerial view of the 1940s City 66 junction with Collinsville Rd

City 66 junction with Collinsville Rd in satellite view and 1940 USGS Map
click image for satellite view

Route 66 with Alt US 67 followed the alignment shown in this map with directions and reached Collinsville Rd. (the final segment was built over by the freeway and erased and you can see it marked with a violet line in this map.

However, as you can see in the image that combines a satellite view of its present appearance (the red arrows show the old roadbed) and a 1940 USGS map show that some of the original road is still there.
Further down is a view of the remaining roadbed that has survived.

Here the City alignment went west along Collinsville Rd., (there was no I-64 in those days) into East Saint Louis, and at St. Clair Ave. went southwest along 10th Ave. to cross the Mississippi River along the Municipal Bridge, into St. Louis. This is marked with a green line in this map.

View of former US 67A and US 66 from Exit 4 of I-55 in Fairmont City, Illinois

old roadbed in a field, cracked and overgrown, motel in the background
former junction of US 67a and US 66 with US 40 in Fairmont City, Illinois. Click for street view

These interactive maps show the alignment of "City 66":

  1. Map A, City 66 to I-55
  2. Map B, missing segment at I-55
  3. Map C, City 66 south of I-55
  4. Map D. St. Louis to Piggott Ave.
  5. Map E, crossing Municipal Bridge (now closed to car traffic).

1954 Realignment: "Main US66"

The final Route 66

Click on the thumbnail Map to see a larger sized map showing Route 66 alignments that go into St. Louis MO from Illinois.

Map of US66 alignments into Saint Louis from Illinois

Map with Route 66 from Illinois into St. Louis MO
Click on Map to Enlarge

As mentioned at the top of this article, Route 66 was realigned once again in 1954, from Hamel through Collinsville and Fairmont City (Violet in the map - click on it to enlarge).
Also see it in this Map of the 1954 US66 from Hamel to Fairmont City.

This was the final Route 66 realignment and it definitely bypassed Granite City and Madison. "City" Route 66 ceased to exist between the Chain of Rocks Rd. at Mitchell and Collinvsille Rd. The southern section became ALT US 67 (map of the eliminated US66 section).

1954 US 66 West of Fairmont

The 1954 highway followed the old "City 66" in Fairmont, but instead of using the Municipal bridge, it took a new course at at St. Clair Ave. in East St. Louis. Here it turned right and then left becoming a 4-lane highway which then split into two separate options (see image below), that allowed the traffic to cross the Mississippi River using two different bridges: Veterans Memorial Bridge of Martin Luther King Bridge to the north and Eads Bridge to the south; both were toll bridges.

Modern I-55 has cut off one of those access routes at Missouri Ave. (Black in the map above), so another route must be taken to reach it from old Rte. 66 (see map c below)

1954 USGS Map of US 66 into St. Louis

Map of US66 alignments into Saint Louis from Illinois in 1954

Map with 1954 US 66 alignments into St. Louis
Click on Map to Enlarge

Click on the thumbnail map image to see a full size version. Main Route 66 coming from Collinsville (blue arrow right side of the map) reaches the old City 66 from Granite City (now ALT US 67 -green arrow upper right side of the map), it heads toards the Mississippi Rive (blue arrow lower right) crossing the Bridges into St. Louis. On the left-center side US 66 reaches St. Louis and the original City 66 coming from Chain of Rocks Bridge (blue arrow upper left). It turns to head westwards out of St. Louis (blue arrow lower left). You can also see how US 40 and US 66 shared the same alignment into St. Louis.

Below are the maps showing how the Main 66 crossed the Mississipi from East St. Louis.

  1. Map a Route 66 crossing Eads Bridge
  2. Map b Route 66 original crossing Martin Luther King bridge
  3. Map c current access from Route 66 to Martin Luther King bridge
  • Veterans Memorial Bridge, to the north. Built in 1951, it was renamed after Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968. This steel bridge is a Cantilevered Subdivided Warren Through Truss with a 2-span Warren Deck Truss approach. It is open and you can drive across it. Its eastern approach in Illinois, from US66 along Missouri Ave. was cut off by I-55 (in Black in the map).
    It was restored in 1987 and now has two eastbound lanes and one westbound lane.
  • Eads Bridge, 800 feet to the south of the other bridge. It was named after its designer and builder, James B. Eads and built between 1867 and 1874. It was the first bridge across the Mississippi south of the Missouri River. It is an Arch bridge 6,442 ft long (1,964 m).

Once across the river, the traffic headed west along Washington Ave. and met the Missouri City 66 which and headed west as the "Main US 66".

> > Learn about the different alignments of Route 66 in St. Louis.

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Credits

Banner image: Hackberry General Store, Hackberry, Arizona by Perla Eichenblat
Jack DeVere Rittenhouse, (1946). A Guide Book to Highway 66

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