Saturday, October 6, 2012

Route 66 - Day 14 - Carthage, MO to Afton, OK

Route 66 - Part 1
Day 14 Carthage to Afton, OK
-62 Actual Miles / 982 Actual Elevation
Today was a three state day...Missouri, Kansas, and Oklahoma.
Brooklyn Heights
            “SuperTAM on 66” Ice Cream Parlor – 401 W. Main – A 30-year collection of Superman stuff plus a Welcome Center/Gift Shop in a 1937 Sinclair

Webb City

            Bradbury Bishop Deli and Route 66 Diner – 201 N. Main – has an old fashioned soda fountain
Giant Praying Hands – Miner’s Park

A border town that is the industrial center of the Tri-state region. Formerly a lead and zinc mining town, Joplin is not an especially photogenic place, better known for its high quality limestone than its history. Joplin sits atop countless abandoned mining tunnels. Highway heritage is well served at Schifferdecker Park, a pre-Route 66 rest area that now has a mining museum, small Route 66 museum, and a public swimming pool.

         There is a vibrant mural by artist Thomas Hart Benton depicting life in Joplin at the turn of the 20th century. The mural which turned out to be the artist's final complete work, is in the lobby of the Joplin City Hall, 303 E. 3rd Street.
Giant Coke Bottle and Giant Crayon on West 7th



            Galena - A grayish mineral ore, composed chiefly of lead sulfate, from which metallic lead is extracted. The Route 66 town of Galena, KS, owes its name to this local resource.
           Galena Mining and Historical Museum - 319 W. 7th Street [620-783-2192] It is stuffed with old newspaper clippings and other items that give a glimpse of town life during its 1920s-era mining heyday.
'Tow-Mater' the inspiration for the caracter from 'Cars'

The owner of "4 Women on Route 66" was very gracious and informative about her building and the filiming of "Cars" 
         Kan-O-Tex Gas Station [620-783-1366] now serving fast food and souvenirs, especially those related to Pixar's animated Route 66 movie Cars. (The old tow truck that apparently inspired the character Tow Mater is parked outside.
Some ghost writing can still be seen on the side of the building.
 Howard Litch Park has a Will Rogers Hwy marker

           Eisler Brothers Grocery & Deli - [620-848-3330] Formally Eisler Brothers' Old Riverton Store; an old fashioned general store established in 1925 (prior to US 66 designation), and run by the same family since 1973. In addition to the staples implied by the term "general store", Eisler Brothers also carries an impressive assortment of Route 66-related merchandise. The store is headquarters of the small but active Kansas Route 66 Association. Check out the original embossed tin ceiling of the store and an old outhouse in back.
            Rainbow Bridge - The last of three “Marsh Arch” (named for their designer) bridges that once graced US 66 in Kansas. It dates from the 1920s and spans Brush Creek west of Riverton, Kansas.

Baxter Springs
            Phillips 66 Gas Station – 940 Military Road—has been restored and now houses Route 66 Visitor Center

Buffalo Soldiers - A group of several peacetime US Army regiments organized after the American Civil War and made up entirely of African-American troops. They were extremely active in the control of hostile Native-American tribes during the "Indian Wars" period from 1866 to the 1890s. Their name is thought to have originated from Native Americans' likening their coarse hair to that of the American bison (or buffalo), large herds of which roamed the Great Plains in that era. There is a museum in Baxter Springs, KS, that presents some information about an earlier segregated army regiment that played a role in repulsing Quantrill's Raiders during the in that area.
                                                                                                          William Clark Quantrill

Post war photograph of Quantrill's Raiders Reunion
Quantrill's Raiders - They were a small, loosely connected group of guerilla raiders under the leadership of William Quantrill during the American Civil War. This pro-Confederacy group was especially active in southwestern Kansas and Western Missouri. There is an exhibit pertaining to some of their activities at the Baxter Springs Heritage Center & Museum in Baxter Springs, KS.
First semi-professional team was the Baxter Springs, Kansas Whiz Kids
Started playing pro ball with the Baxter Springs Whiz Kids
Whiz Kids - The Baxter Springs Whiz Kids semiprofessional baseball team roster once boasted future legend Mickey Mantle. It was while playing for the Whiz Kids in the late 1940s that Mickey was "discovered" by a scout for the New York Yankees. Mantle had close ties with Route 66 towns: not only did he play ball in Baxter Springs, KS, he grew up a little further down the highway in Commerce, OK.
Baxter Springs Heritage Center and Museum – 740 East Avenue – Baxter Springs Massacre.
Café on the Route and Little Brick Inn – occupy the 1876 Baxter Bank Building at 1101 Military Avenue was once supposedly robbed by Jesse James.
During the Civil War Baxter Springs saw one of the worst massacres in the country's history, whether nearly 100 Union soldiers, including many African Americans, we're captured and killed by William Quantrill's rebel Confederate raiders (including Jesse James), who had disguised themselves by wearing blue Union uniforms. A monument to the soldiers stands in Baxter Springs National Cemetery, the 2nd oldest military cemetery in the nation.


100th Meridian - an imaginary line, 100 degrees west of Greenwich, which traditionally delineates the boundary between the arable east and the relatively arid west, which for the most part requires irrigation for farming. The 100th meridian also forms Oklahoma's western border with Texas. There is a museum in Erick dedicated to the 100th meridian and its historical and cultural significance.

89ers - A secondary nickname referring to the citizens who settled in Oklahoma at the time of the land rushes of 1889. Since many of these settlers moved into the area prematurely, they caused Oklahomans in general to be called "Sooners" (the primary, official nickname for Oklahomans).
Cyrus Avery - The "Father of Route 66." Avery was a Tulsa-area businessman who championed the idea of a major cross-country highway passing through his home state of Oklahoma. The road he managed to bring about was eventually designated US 66 when the numbered system of highways was formally introduced in 1926.

Okie - Nickname--originally pejorative--given to Oklahomans (and other migrants) fleeing their homes during the Dust Bowl years of the Great Depression. Today, the term is used rather freely to refer to Oklahoma natives, with few or no negative connotations.
Jesse and Frank James
Jesse James and his pals started out in Missouri but spent a lot of time in Oklahoma. So did Pretty Boy Floyd, an Oklahoman from age five, who soon became a Robin Hood of the 1930s. An expert in the bank-robbing business, Pretty Boy always found time to tear up whatever farm mortgages he could find around a bank. When on the lam, he is said to have paid poor farm families for a meal—and their silence—with a $1,000 dollar bill tucked under his napkin. All across the state, Depression-ridden people understood his motives and were cheered by his exploits. So they defended Pretty Boy and cared for him as their own. When Floyd was gunned down by the FBI, 20,000 mourners turned out for his burial. It was the biggest funeral Oklahoma has ever seen. As for Ma Barker and her sons, together with Bonnie Parker, Clyde Barrow, Machine Gun Kelly, and the rest of the outlaws turned killers, good riddance.

            Many murals painted on the walls of downtown businesses. One honors the coal mining days with a scene of miners and mine works, while others show scenes of a steam engine at the train depot and an old gas station.
Devil’s Promenade – Home to Spooklight, an apparition that once drew as many as 1,000 cars per night. Spooklight appears as a dancing, bobbing, rolling ball of light, seen in these parts regularly for years. There are a lot of theories, but thus far nothing approaching an adequate explanation.

Old mining town
Mickey Mantle's boyhood home and a statute of him
Commerce Comet - Early nickname given to baseball star Mickey Mantle; he was raised in the Route 66 town of Commerce, OK, where his boyhood home still stands [319 S. Quincy].  There is a metal-sided barn on the property full of dents where Mickey practiced his hitting. The old Route 66 alignment down Main Street has been renamed in his honor. North on Main Street from Commerce St, is Mutt Mantle Field, named for his dad.
            A small display in a park at 3rd and Main commemorates a local constable Cal Campbell who was slain by Bonnie & Clyde.


            Miami - Pronounced my-AM-uh; named for the American Indian tribe of the same name; Miami is also known for the two distinct stretches of half-width highway pavement found nearby.
Between Miami and Afton, some of the earliest paved stretches of old Route 66 were constructed only one lane wide, because in 1926 the State of Oklahoma did not have enough money to build a full width version.  These lengths of road became known as the “Sidewalk Highway.
Waylan’s Ku Ku Burger – Great 1965 neon sigh. Giant Ku Ku is posed as if it just popped out of the building (think coo-coo clock)
Coleman Theatre - 103 N. Main -- Officially named the Coleman Theatre Beautiful when it was completed in 1929; the Coleman is a combination of Italianate and Spanish Mission architectural styles. In its prime, the Coleman hosted such performers as Sally Rand, Tom Mix, the Three Stooges and Will Rogers. Today, it has been restored (even to the point of retrieving the original organ) and is once again a performance venue.
            Jimtown - Former name for the town of Miami, OK, stemming from the fact that at the time there were four Jim's living there.

            Buffalo Ranch - A former tourist attraction that included trained buffalo (bison) and other animal acts. In the early 2000s the remains of the ranch were demolished, and a modern truck stop was constructed on the site. However, even today a few head of buffalo are kept for nostalgic tourists.

            Rest Haven Motel (Afton, OK and Springfield, MO) Popular and relatively common name for tourist accommodations, bearing the name "camp," "court," or "motel" during the various phases of roadside development. There are two remaining on Route 66: a still operating motel in Springfield, MO, and a defunct one in Afton, OK, which still has a standing sign.
            Afton Station – [918-382-9465] David and Laurel Kane have restored Afton Station from top to bottom and stuffed it with vintage Packard automobiles. Other memorabilia and an outstanding postcard collection fill the place as well. A Giant Penguin statue from Tulsa Zoo’s “Penguin’s on Parade” promotion lives here.
 Route 66 Motel [918-257-8313] Some themed rooms. Rich and Bill are in the Mickey Mantle room, Craig and Denny are in the Africa room, Martha and Steve are in the Hollywood room and Maureen and I are in the fish room. Annie's room has a lamp made from a real cowboy boot. It is a very interesting motel.

Tomorrow we are off to Claremore, OK and Monday is a rest day. I think all are looking forward to a day off the bikes.

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