Route 66, Missouri: Part 1

Exactly two years ago, we traversed the Illinois portion of historic Route 66 westbound from Chicago to St. Louis. We decided to cover the Kansas and Missouri sections this weekend, traveling eastbound.

  • Departure: Miami, Oklahoma
  • Destination: St. Robert, Missouri
  • Miles: 192
  • Weather: sunny and warm
  • Little Free Libraries visited: 9
  • “Muffler Man” giant statues: 1
  • Sinclair Dino statues: 1


Miami, Oklahoma

“A replica of a sign originally constructed in the 1900’s… For many years this sign welcomed visitors to downtown Miami. The original sign was removed during the 1930’s. Today’s replica welcomes visitors to a revitalized downtown Miami.”

Miami, Oklahoma

We were there early in the day, but the downtown area seemed active, with the fancy Coleman Theater as the centerpiece.

Mickey Mantle statue

A little further down the highway, we passed the Commerce High School baseball stadium with a statue of Mickey Mantle in front of it. Turns out that tiny Commerce, Oklahoma was his hometown, and that’s where he went to high school.

retro Conoco station

The Hole in the Wall Conoco station is a cool photo op. We couldn’t decide if it was open on occasion these days, but in any case, it wasn’t open when we were there.


Route 66 sign in Kansas

The Kansas portion of Route 66 is only about 12 miles long,

retro Phillips 66 station

We would have liked to visit the museum/visitor’s center at the Phillips 66 station in Baxter Springs, Kansas, but it is not open on Saturdays.

rainbow style bridge

Apparently, this “rainbow bridge” is the last one of this type that style survives on Route 66. The highway bypasses it these days, and it’s One Way only, so we went past it and turned around to drive over it.


Gearhead Curios

Gearhead Curios in Galena, Missouri, is another intriguing place that wasn’t open when we stopped. We were just a little early in the day for that one.

Also, isn’t Big Boy supposed to be holding a hamburger rather than a stack of tires? He must be like the Muffler Man, who can hold all manner of curiosities.

Cars on the Route

Cars on the Route features some of the characters from the Cars movie. Again, we didn’t stop because: not open. I guess we should have waited until about 10 a.m. to start driving.

little free library

I found four Little Free Libraries in Joplin.

retro service station

Our favorite stop of the day was the tiny “town” of Spencer, Missouri. It’s a general store, barber shop, cafe, and service station. We assumed it was vacant but stopped to take pictures and peek in the windows.

Then we noticed the door to the cafe was open, and a sign said, “Come on in.” So we did! Finally, a place that was open!


The couple who owns it were inside working on renovations. The man told us they had just bought it a year ago and were in the process of restoring it, but they wanted to go ahead and make it open to the public in the meantime.

antique general store

Their plan is to furnish it with nothing newer than 1949. So many old places like this have such a hodge-podge of memorabilia that it doesn’t seem very authentic.

retro Phillips 66 station

It will be interesting to visit Spencer’s again some time and see how they are getting along.

retro Sinclair station

A little further down the road was a Sinclair station which was also open for photo ops. It was in a “gas war” with the Spencer Phillips 66. Gas was 15 cents a gallon at Sinclair and 14 cents at Phillips 66. Too bad the gas pumps don’t work.

gas pumps in a field

I don’t know what the price was at this Texaco station. Only the pumps are left. The pole behind them supposedly held a Texaco sign until recently, according to the guide we were following. That’s how we even knew what brand it was.

hamburger and french fries

We stopped for lunch at Steak ‘n Shake in Springfield. It had been there since 1962 according to their sign.

Muffler Man chef

We found the only Muffler Man of the day, also in Springfield.

Rest Haven motor court

We drove past a number of retro-style motor courts.

vintage playground

This one even still had the retro-style playground. I loved those tall slides but the metal did get hot in the summertime. I’m kinda surprised it is still standing. We could see where the teeter-totter and merry-go-round used to be. Most playgrounds today are very different than they were when I was growing up.

abandoned gas station

According to our guide, this is a service station of a cottage-style that was popular back in the day. No gas pumps remain here. We wondered why the little building is so tall. Living quarters up above, maybe?

Route 66 tourist cabin

We went through a small museum adjacent to the public library in Lebanon. This room represents a tourist cabin from the Route 66 era. Looks cozy!

We stopped for the night in St. Robert, Missouri. Headed to St. Louis tomorrow.

Previous Route 66 Adventures:

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