Route 66

Get your kicks while traveling Route 66 through Kansas
"The Mother Road"

Galena, Riverton, Baxter Springs

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Route 66 approaching Galena, Kansas
Old Route 66 - next rightHistoric Route 66 passes briefly through the State of Kansas on its was between Joplin, Missouri and Miami, Oklahoma. Although Kansas has the shortest stretch of the popular old route between Chicago, Illinois and Los Angeles, California, the 13 miles of Route 66 in Kansas are among the best preserved and have many attractions.

Approaching Kansas From Joplin on Missouri Highway 66, you will see the sign to the right, about a half mile before the county line. Staying on the 4 lane highway, you will be on the Route 66 from 1961 on, but turning off on Old Route 66 Boulevard, you will find the older route, paved and in use before its designation as part of the original Route 66 pm November 11, 1926.

The first interesting site in Kansas is the Eagle-Picher plant, across the railroad tracks on the right. This smelter operated from around 1912 until the late 1970s. It processed the locally mined galena ore and produced lead, zinc and silver.

Eagle-Picher smelter along Historic Route 66.
Eagle-Picher Plant - Galena, Kansas near Missouri state line.

Continuing on Route 66, through an area once known locally as "Hells Half Acre," you will cross over the 215 feet long, 1923 viaduct pictured in the rearview mirror at the top of this page and approach the old Galena business district from the north. You will find three interesting old buildings at the intersection with Main Street. The one in the next photo will be on your right and has been restored since this picture was taken.

Galena home next to old Route 66.

The old KanOtex service station to your left has been purchased by the same people and is already being restored by Cars on the Route. On the day that the old gas station was visited, air conditioning had just been installed and they intended to open a snack bar and gift shop within a few months. The 1951 International boom truck next to the station inspired the "Tow Mater" character in the movie Cars.

Kanotex station and Mater Boom truck from Radiator Springs in the movie Cars.
Cars on the Route is a restored 1920s KanOtex Station. Its opened in 2007.

The buildings of Galena helped inspire the fictional community of Route 66 Radiator Springs, also in Cars. Southeast Kansas also contributed the Ghost Lights mentioned in the movie and in the short movie Mater & the Ghostlight on the Cars' DVD.

Turning left with Route 66, which is now also Main Street, you will continue to pass interesting old buildings. Many appear abandoned, as Galena has shrunk from a peak population of 30,000 people, to just over 3,000 today. But this stretch of Route 66 is experiencing a revival and some of these lovely old buildings are being restored and put to new uses.

Galena buildings along historic Route 66.
Galena buildings like these helped inspire the community "Radiator Springs" in the Pixar movie Cars.

Old advertising signs

Route 66 logo painted on historic Route 66
Route 66 logo on street on Galena's Main Street. Like Radiator Springs, the road looks like it could use
some work. Kansas was the first state to pave all of its portion of Route 66 in 1929.

Route 66 in Kansas
Galena   Galena 2   Riverton   Baxter Springs   Empire Power Dam Falls
Cars on the Route  Galena Mining and Historical Museum   Eisler Brothers Store
 Baxter Springs Heritage Center   Decades of Wheels
Schermerhorn Park & Southeast Kansas Nature Center

Kansas Attractions  Kansas Travel & Tourism Home

LL-6/10 copyright 2007-2020 by Keith Stokes