Kansas' Historic Route 66 Byway offers opportunities for visitors to enjoy a variety of experiences to "get their own kicks" while driving the original Kansas portion of Route 66, found in the "Ozark Plateau" or Southeast corner of the state.
Drive over many of the original structures of "The Mother Road," including the only remaining Marsh Arch Bridge on Route 66, or stop at the Nelson's Old Riverton Store, known as one of the most authentic, still working 75+ year old stores of its kind on all of Route 66. Take your picture with the tow truck that was the inspiration for the character "Mater" from the "Cars" movie or discover Schermerhorn Park and the Southeast Kansas Nature Center.
Gelena to Baxter Springs: Starting on Route 66 at the Kansas/Missouri border just west of Joplin, MO, head west into Kansas towards the city of Galena, KS. Continue heading west for about 7 miles towards the infamous Rainbow Bridge midway between Galena and Baxter Springs. Stay on Route 66 heading south and you'll eventually reach Baxter Springs, KS. The route eventually concludes at the Kansas/Oklahoma border just south of Baxter Springs.
Baxter Springs to Gelena: Starting on Route 66 at the Kansas/Oklahoma border just south of Baxter Springs, KS, head north into Kansas. Continue heading north for about 6 miles towards the infamous Rainbow Bridge midway between Baxter Springs and Galena. Stay on Route 66 going east towards Galena, KS. The route eventually concludes at the Kansas/Missouri border just east of Galena, KS.
Beginning at the Missouri/Kansas state line on Old 66 you have a chance to view historic culverts that were built in the 1920s and the area known as "Hell's Half Acre". The area was left in this condition in a post-mining era.
Upon entering Galena turn at the corner of "Cars on the Route" famous for "Tow Tater" the inspiration for "Tow Mater" from the Disney Pixar movie "Cars".
Traveling on down Galena's Main Street there are many historic buildings and several still have the ghostwriting visible. Galena is a city rich in mining history and has much to offer. The Nature Center at Schermerhorn Park is a highlight with a park perfect for a picnic or just relaxing down by Shoal Creek.
Continuing on west on 7th street out of Galena follow the route to Riverton. Nelson's Old Riverton Store is located on the route and is very famous for the 75+ year old store still operating as they have for years. They will make a custom deli-style sandwich just to your liking. Nelson's is open year-round.
Leaving Riverton the road encounters a roundabout that will send you down SE Beasley Rd. to follow the original route. It along this road you will find the Marsh Arch Bridge. It's a spot famous for picture taking, weddings, many visitor videos and is typical of the road at its heyday.
Heading south from the bridge this area is typical of the route; rolling farmlands and houses. Passing by "Field of Dreams", a modern baseball facility; you will enter Baxter Springs, a city rich in Civil War and Cowtown History. Baxter is proud of its baseball history also and can boast of the "Whiz Kids" that played here. Mickey Mantle was once a part of that team.
At 7th & Military is the site of Ft. Blair, and one block off Military is the Baxter Springs Heritage Center and Museum. A Visitor's Center has located at 10th & Military; a restored Kan-O-Tex service station. Many downtown buildings still retain the original storefronts from days gone by.
A National Cemetery Plot is located just west of Baxter about a mile from 12th & Military.
Baxter has several restaurants open to suit your tastes; Angel's on the Route for sandwiches, soup and frozen custard; Van's Steakhouse; Pizza Hut and several local establishments that can suit your tastes.
Upon leaving Baxter be sure to turn on 30th & Roberts Rd. and follow the existing roadbed that curves behind the shopping center and takes you to the Oklahoma State Line.
For more information about the Kansas Historic Route 66 Byway, contact:Mary Billington (620) 856-2385 Janet Miller (620) 762-0717