About Phelps Missouri
Facts, Trivia and useful information
Elevation: 1,202 ft (367 m). Population n⁄ (2010).
Time zone: Central (CST): UTC minus 6 hours. Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5).
Phelps is a very tiny township on Old Route 66 in Lawrence County, in southwestern Missouri. (Map of Phelps).
Old building ("Beer" written on wall) on Route 66 in Phelps
History of Phelps
Learn more about the history of Phelps in our Carthage Missouri page.
The post office opened in 1854 and was known as Stalls Creek until 1857. Then it became Phelps, unitl 1922 when it closed. It is said that the town is named after Col. Bill Phelps, an attorney who secured the Post Office for the town, but that is not true since he was born in 1845 and would have been 12 at the time the post office opened.
The name: Phelps
Col William "Bill" Phelps (1845 - 1916). Lawyer, lived in Carthage MO. for manyyears, after 1872, he served as representative in the Missouri House of Representatives and in the State Senate.
Phelps is a surname in Western Englnad, derived from Phillip, and means Phillip's son:"Phel(i)p's"
The county created in 1845 was named after James Lawrence a seaman from the English-American War of 1812.
The Ozark Trail was aligned through the town in the 1910s, linking it with Carthage and Sprigfield and in 1926 U.S higway 66 was created and routed along the Ozark Trail. Travel along the U.S. 66 gave helped the locals during the Depression in the 1930s. After 1958, traffic dropped off as it took to I-44, which had opened in 1958 between Joplin and Oklahoma City and to the east followed former US-166, south of Phelps into Springfield.
Where to Lodge in Phelps, Missouri
Lodging close to Phelps: in neighboring Carthage...
> > Book your hotel in neighboring Carthage
More Lodging near Phelps along Route 66
Motels and Hotels close to Phelps
Hotels, Westwards in Missouri
Heading West... Hotels & Motels in Kansas...
- 57 miles Baxter Springs
Further West... Hotels & Motels on Route 66 in Oklahoma...
Heading East in Missouri, more accommodation
>> Check out the RV campgrounds in nearby Carthage
Weather in Phelps
Weather widget for Avilla, the town nearest Phelps, to the west
Phelps inside the "Tornado Alley" and Lawrence County has is hit by some 8 tornados every year.
Tornado Risk: read more about Tornado Risk along Route66.
Getting to Phelps
You can reach Phelps along historic Route 66 and 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 Phelps Missouri
Display Phelps Route 66 Map
Click Map will appear below
Below is the color key for Route 66’s alignment in Phelps:
(for the other parts of Missouri, check the color key in the corresponding city's web page)
Pale Blue: The 1955 and later alignments of Route 66 through Phelps, and the 1926 and later alignments elsewhere.
Route 66's alignment in Missouri: the Historic Route 66 through Phelps
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 Phelps
Landmarks and Places to See
Small tiny scattering of houses
Phelps and its Route 66 attractions
Phelps lost part of its Main Street during the 1955 realignment of Route 66. See Henson Building (a hotel), Phelps School built in 1889 and the Site of Bill's Station and west of town, an Old Store & Service Station.
Historic context, the classic Route 66 in Phelps
In his 1946 book "A Guide Book to Highway 66" Jack DeVere Rittenhouse describes the "classic" Route 66 and mentions the small town as follows: "Phelps. Gas stations, cafe, a few homes, and two very old store buildings..." he added that there was was no lodging there, but a gas station 3 miles west (that is, roughly one mile east of Rescue).
Tour the route 66 landmarks in Phelps
Drive from East to West along present MO-96, which is the post-1955 alignment of US 66:
The 1955 Realignment of Route 66
Route 66 1926 alignment (yellow arrow) and 1955 realignment (red arrow) in Phelps MO.
By Austin Whittall
click on image for Street View
You will notice that the town's buildings are on the north side of MO-96, next to a frontage road and that there are no buildings on the south side of the higway. This is so because the frontage road was the original alignment of U.S. 66 through Phelps. It was "straightened out" in 1955 and in the process, all the buildings lying in the way of the new (present) alignment were demolished, these included the Texaco service station and café owned by Harry Parkhurst and his wife, as well as their house (which they upped and moved to neighboring Albatross). You can see an Old Photo of the south side of U.S. 66 prior to its realignment.
At the eastern end of town, on the northwestern corner of UU Rd. and Route 66 was the now gone Bill's Station:
Site of Bill's Station
The service station was a very small building belonging to Bill Tiller, from the 1920s. It gradually fell into decay as you can see in the image below, showing it still standing in 2012, but gone, fallen into a pile of rubble in 2016. Another Route 66 icon gone forever:
Site of former Bill's Station on Route 66 in Phelps
Henson Building (Hotel)
View of Henson Building Phelps. Click on image for Street View
This is a two story building which used to be a hotel. It has 14 rooms (6 on the second floor). Built ca. 1924 in cobblestone with a broad pitched roof.
It was specially built to lodge Route 66 travellers. Owned by John and Belva Henson it also had a restaurant, barber shop and store. Local myth says that 1930s gangsters used to stop here to spend the night.
Head west and, to your right, is the Old school:
Phelps School, Click image for Street View
It was a one-room school built in 1889. It was located on the old 1926 alignment of Route 66 and during the 1980s was abandoned. It fell into disrepair but was restored recently to its former appearance.
Head west of Phelps, and roughly one mile towards Rescue is a Old building:
Old Store - Service Station?
One mile west of Phelps to your right. North side of US 66, Map with location.
The building dates back to 1942 may be the service station mentioned by Rittenhouse in 1946 which was precisely one mile west of Phelps. The word "Beer" is clearly visible on its eastern facade. See photo of the store at the top of the page.
Later it was a restaurant and after 1968, a private residence.
Tours & Itineraries
Old Route 66 in Phelps, Missouri
From Halltown to Phelps
In the early 1900s automobiles became more popular and the trails and dirt tracks were in very poor shape so W. H. "Coin" Harvey (1851-1936) created the Ozark Trails Association in 1913. The Ozark Trail eventually crossed Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas and reached the Santa Fe Trail in New Mexico.
Route 66 follows a straight course from Halltown to Avilla, and it has followed it since Route 66 was created back in 1926, which is shown in Pale Blue in the Map above. There is a small segment of th original 1926 road in Paris Springs, shown in Black in thje map above.
The 1926 map of the Missouri State Highway Commission shows what then was Route 60 (yes, 60 and not 66 because they had taken the original planned numbering and not the one that was later agreed upon and which prevailed: U.S. 66). The paved surface ended at Springfield and the road from there to Avilla it was already being paved with concrete, after Avilla it was again paved all the way to Kansas. By 1929 it was completely paved. The Missouri DOT roadmap of 1945-46 only shows the towns of Avilla, Phelps and Halltown between Springfield and Carthage.
The 1926 roadbed was left in place as the north frontage road during the 1955 realignment of Route 66 through Phelps.
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 Springfield to Halltown (east)
> > See the next segment Plew to Avilla (west)