To those living in Joplin, or even the surrounding area, driving Route 66 is the same as taking Main Street. The majority of Joplinites utilize the historic path nearly every day. But, have you ever really explored our little portion of the Mother Road through the eyes of a tourist? If you haven’t traveled the highway, you should! As an important part of America’s history, it’s an experience that all community members should partake in.
For those of you who don’t know:
Extending from Illinois to California, the path was coined the “Main Street of America”. As one of the most famous roads in the country, Route 66 was spawned by a rapidly changing America in the late 1920s.
The route, with its newly developed diagonal course, linked hundreds of primarily rural communities throughout the Midwestern region of the country, which enabled farmers to easily transport grain and produce for redistribution.
Route 66 also helped facilitate the single greatest wartime manpower mobilization in the history of the nation. Singling out the West as an ideal area for military training bases, at the outset of American involvement in World War ll, the War Department utilized the improved highways to aid in relocation.
Of course, Joplin holds its own stamp on the history with this classic road.
Located on 1301 East 3rd Street stands the Joe Becker Stadium. Built in 1913, a few blocks south of Route 66, the stadium was once home to baseball great Mickey Mantle, who played for the Joplin Miners in 1950.
Over a century ago, the Newman Building on 602 South Main Street used to play host to a department store. Now? Joplin City Hall. Stop in and take a look! The lobby harbors an incredible painting of Joplin at the turn of the century, by Thomas Hart Benton.
Route 66 Mural Park, located across the street from City Hall, pays tribute to Joplin’s contribution the Route 66 culture. Capturing bits and pieces of history, and an excellent backdrop for pictures, this park is a great starting point for a walking tour of Joplin.
And you can’t forget Schifferdecker Park, which was named after Charles Schifferdecker, a Joplin businessman. You can play a few holes of golf, catch a performance at the Joplin Little Theatre, or see the necklace found in Bonnie and Clyde’s Joplin hideout at the Joplin Museum Complex. You might even learn a few extra fun facts about the history of our city!
Feeling a little adventurous? Trace the historic Route 66 with a different perspective in mind! Even if for just one day. You’ll learn more than you thought possible about the quiet city of Joplin.