Route 66 In Missouri


Springfield, Missouri is considered the birthplace of the idea that eventually became Route 66. Two men got together in 1925 and proposed the diagonal course from Chicago to Los Angeles. Congress had enacted a law earlier in 1925 to create a national highway construction program that made Route 66 possible. This spurred the collaboration between an entrepreneur from Springfield and a state highway administrator from Oklahoma. So it is that John Woodruff and Cyrus Avery were the impetus for naming Route 66 and for kicking off the project with a telegram sent from Springfield’s Colonial Hotel (demolished in 1997) to federal highway administrators. Route 66 almost became Route 60 had it not been for the persistence of these two men. Their early efforts are the primary reason Springfield, Missouri is considered the birthplace of Route 66 and why Cyrus Avery is considered the “Father of Route 66.” Avery is a central figure in pushing eight states to pave Route 66 by 1938. Missouri was paved end to end in 1931.

While the Route 66 alignments have changed several times through the decades, there are about 317 miles of designated highways in Missouri still considered Route 66, or more rightly, Historic Route 66. There are dozens of prideful communities where Route 66 exists and the road travels through with hundreds of unique historical reminders of how much the Mother Road has meant and still means to the people of Missouri.

Back near the beginning of Route 66 the primary travel direction was East to West. It is true that traveling Route 66 begins in Chicago but, St. Louis, Missouri has the gateway arch to remind travelers that at the heart of it all, going west meant going through Missouri on the way to points West, to Los Angeles and the Pacific coast region in Southern California. That was especially true for early travelers on Route 66. The arches are but one of many reasons Missouri exemplifies why Route 66 has been affectionately referred to as The Mother Road and why it is so aptly travels through and has an enduring home in Missouri.

ROUTE 66 Locations in missouri