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Route 66 in Missouri

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Missouri's Historic Route 66

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US 66 in Missouri: the Mother Road crosses the state from Saint Louis in its Central - Eastern part, on the Mississippi, to Joplin, in the Southwest, next to Kansas and Oklahoma.
It winds its way across the Ozarks with its limestone caverns, rivers and forested hills.
Learn about Missouri's history, its Route 66 Sights & Attractions, landmarks and the cities and Towns along U.S. 66.
And also find your Hotel to stop over during your road trip across the State of Missouri.

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About Missouri

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MO: Facts, Trivia and useful information

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).

Some Facts:

facade of the Old Gillioz theater

Old Gillioz theater on Route 66 in Springfield, MO. By Abe Ezekowitz

  • 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).
    5th longest stretch of US 66
  • Springfield MO, is known as "The Birthplace of Route 66"

State's 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.

The 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 painted on a wall in Cuba MO
Mural painted in Cuba (Mural City), Missouri

The History of Missouri

Main St. Joplin Missouri in 1910

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 advanced southwards and settled Missouri from the Great Lakes region via Illinois in the mid-1700s.

However St. Louis was founded by French from New Orleans in 1764. The region was known as Louisiana after the famous French King Louis XIV.

After the Seven Years' War (1763) France ceded Upper Louisiana to Spain, but Napoleon recovered it for France in 1800. Then, strapped for cash he sold it 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". The famous Lewis and Clark Expedition to Oregon started off from this city.

This part of Louisiana became the Missouri Territory in 1812 and it became a state of the Union in 1821.

Settlers encroached on the native Osage and Kickapoo people who ceded their land in a series of treaties between 1808 and 1825; they were relocated to reservations in the Indian Territory, which later became the state of Oklahoma.

The original native "traces" or trails from St. Louis to Springfield and SW Missouri were improved into dirt roads and a stage coach service ran along it. During the Civil War part of it became the "Wire Road" as it ran next to the telegraph line.

It became the main road between St. Louis and Springfield and during the early 1910s. By 1920 it was the gravel surfaced state highway (MO-14).

Route 66 was aligned along it in 1926.

Top - Ten Stops on Route 66 in Missouri

classic 1930s gas station

Gary's Gay Parita Sinclair Gas Station
Paris Springs MO, openroads.com

  1. The World's (second) Largest Rocking Chair (Fanning)
  2. Gay Parita Service station and store (Paris Springs)
  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
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The Geography of Missouri

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 just north of Saint Louis (the Mississippi marks the state's eastern border).

South of the Missouri River lie the rolling hills of the Ozark Mountains made of 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.

Boots Court Motel in Carthage, Route 66

Classic 1930s Boots Court Motel in Carthage
Boots Court Motel on Route 66 Carthage, MO.

Missouri's Climate & Weather

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 in winter and the hot damp air from the Gulf of Mexico in summer, flow across the state unchecked.

It is part of the "Tornado Alley" and thunderstorms take place frequently during summer, causing tornados, which strike often.

Temperatures along US 66 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).

Saint Louis

Average High ⁄ Low Temperatures in Winter and Summer:

Jan.: 38 ⁄ 21 °F (3 ⁄ -6 °C)

Jul. : 90 ⁄ 71 °F (32 ⁄ 22 °C)

Spring is a great time to visit Missouri; cherry trees and dogwood blossom across the Ozarks, don't miss them!

Cherry blossoms in Marshfield, Missouri

Pink cherry blossoms
Cherry blossoms on US 66 at the "Cherry Blossom Fest" in Marshfield MO. www.cherryblossomfest.com

Cities along Route 66 in Missouri

Greater St. Louis is a large metropolitan area with a population (2013) of 2,905,658 inhabitants. Ranking 19th in the USA. The city of Saint Louis city is far smaller: pop. 318,172.

Around 932,000 people live along Route 66's corridor through Missouri, in small sized towns and villages.

Springfield, Rolla, Cuba and Joplin are the largest of them.

Where to Stay on US66 in Missouri

Accommodation along the Mother Road

classic Gardenway motel neon sign

Gardenway motel neon sign, Gray Summit

There are plenty of places to stop and spend the night along Route 66 in Missouri. Below we list the towns and cities so thay you can check their different lodging options.

Accommodation along Route 66, from North to South (East to West):

Find your Hotel

Booking.com

Accommodation in Missouri

>> Book your    Hotels & Motels in Missouri

Bob’s Gasoline Alley in Cuba, Missouri

Bob’s Gasoline Alley, antiques, oldies and collectibles
Bob’s Gasoline Alley, store on Route 66 in Cuba, Missouri.

>Check out RV and Motorhome Parks & Campgrounds in Missouri.

Map of Route 66 through Missouri

Interactive Route 66 map in MO

See our > >Missouri Route 66 map

It shows the different alignments of Route 66 across the state

It has clickable links to all the cities and towns so you can go to their webpages and learn out more about their sights, attractions and Route 66 classics.

Towns located on Route 66 in Missouri

The cities are listed from East to West starting in St. Louis and ending in Joplin. Click on the links to get full info about that town.

East

West

Route 66 itinerary across Missouri

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

Missouri

You can read the itinerary in each of the other states:

California ¦ Arizona ¦ New Mexico ¦ Texas ¦ Oklahoma ¦ Kansas ¦ Missouri Illinois

Route 66 in Missouri

St. Louis is the easternmost point of Route 66 in Missouri, and is the "Gateway to the West". The first city on Route 66 west of the Mississippi River.

Current mileage of US66: 313 mi.

General Overview of the alignment

Route 66 crosses the state with a Northeast - Southwest course, from St. Louis on the Mississippi River to Joplin in the "Tri-State" mining region (where OK, KS and MO meet).

Historic Route 66 in Missouri is packed with classic Route 66 sights: vintage gas stations, iconic motels, flashy neon signs from the 1950s, old-styled diners and stores. With this itinerary you will "Get your kicks on Route 66" in Missouri (MO)

St. Louis

Gateway Arch at night in Saint Louis, Missouri

Saint Louis Gateway Arch. Daniel Schwen

Illinois segments near St. Louis: Route 66 had several alignments through East Saint Louis in Illinois and St. Louis Missouri. In this itinerary we describe the northernmost one, used in the 1930s to 1950s which crossed the Mississippi River using thhe 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 downtown 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).

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Eureka

former Key Cafe, Villa Ridge neon sign

Key Cafe - Villa Ridge neon sign.
Best Western Hotels

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.

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).

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

Downtown Pacific, Missouri

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, also visit the Wagon Wheel Motel, a Historical Site.

Cuba Mural City, Missouri

Cuba, Mural City, Missouri

View of the world’s largest rocking chair, Route 66 in Fanning, Missouri

The world’s 2nd largest rocking chair, Fanning, MO
Abe Ezekowitz

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, click on image for 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

Munger Moss Motel's classic neon sign on Route 66 in Lebanon MO
Munger Moss Motel's classic neon sign on old Route 66 in Lebanon, Missouri
Marcin Wichary Click image for street view

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 south to pass along the western side of Springfield.

Route 66 shields painted on the pavement...

Below are some of the Route 66 shields painted on the pavement in Missouri:

US 66 shield on road and Munger Moss motel neon sign

US 66 shield on road and Munger Moss motel Neon Sign

Route 66 shield in Rolla

U.S. 66 Shield in Rolla MO, Jimmy Emerson

Shield on an intersection in downtown Cuba Missouri:

Street with shield painted, stores in the background
Route 66 shield on a street in Cuba MO

> > Where are the US 66 shields painted on the pavement?

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

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

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.

This is the end of the alignment. Total length (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.

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Banner image: Hackberry General Store, Hackberry, Arizona by Perla Eichenblat.

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