The bypassed section of Route 66 that runs from Everton to the Kansas border is by far the most depressing part of the Mother Road in Missouri, yet it is a must for true fans of the Mother Road to experience. In this region, Interstate Highway 44 completely bypassed a large section of old Route 66 and this devastated the economy of several small towns in three states. Along this historic Route 66 alignment travelers will see one old dilapidated abandoned business building after another for many miles, however, there are a few bright spots along the way that have helped to restore the Mother Road to its former glory.
When cruising west on old historic Route 66 near Everton, Missouri, a visitor will witness what enduring a severe economic disaster really means. Between the small farms are rusty signs and old abandoned buildings with broken windows that are the only trace of small towns that once thrived. According to the little dots on a map, there appears to be several towns along this route, but nearly all have faded away and not even a post office remains. The dreams and livelihoods that were lost can be felt when the wind rustles the leaves in the trees. This bypassed section is truly one of the loneliest stretches of the Mother Road.
After passing Gary’s Gay Parita Sinclair Station when going west, the Mother Road takes on an ominous gloomy look as is goes over a few antique steel bridges. A town appears on the horizon and a sigh of relief is felt, until it is realized that the doors on the abandoned tall buildings have all been boarded up for many years. The only businesses with brand new signs seem to be real estate agencies and payday loan centers. Even the pawn shops look like they have given up on obtaining anything of value. This section of the Mother Road is plenty depressing and it is best to just keep moving onward.
On the bright side, there are some entrepreneurs in the southwestern Missouri region that have taken it upon themselves to restore many of the historic Route 66 sites in the name of tourism. As a fan of the Mother Road, spending a little time and money in these places does help the cause. The reward for doing so is the opportunity to step back in time to the golden age of automobile travel and hopefully future generations can do the same.
As can be seen in the photos, the scenic sites to look for along this lonely section of abandoned Route 66 are pretty easy to pick out. Plotting the scenic sights and oddities like the Crap Duster, Superman Museum, Carthage Route 66 Drive-In or the Route 66 Mural Park in Joplin on a map is the best plan, so none of the historic sites are missed when passing through. This requires doing some research ahead of time and there are plenty of Route 66 journals that can be referred to on the internet. Cross-referencing is necessary, because many Route 66 journals omit data out of personal taste. Exploring on your own is a fun way to go too, because discovering and photographing an antique Route 66 feature that has been completely overlooked is possible.
One of the main attractions along the old bypassed Missouri section of Route 66 is Red Oak. Red Oak is not located on any old alignment of the Mother Road and it will take a map to get there. This Route 66 sideshow attraction is well worth checking out, because lodging options in a unique setting are available. The little town of Red Oak II actually is a town that never was or to be more precise, a town that was from somewhere else. Red Oak was an abandoned town that a loyal citizen saved from extinction by moving all of the old buildings to a new location on private land. Basically, Red Oak II is a restored antique town that is now a nostalgic resort. Visitors can feel free to stroll down the sidewalk past the freshly painted old buildings on the way to a picnic in the park, which is quite appealing for those who lead a stress filled life. The Red Oak II experience is like being in a nostalgic fantasy from the mid 1900s and this is the charm that draws visitors in!
After passing through the worst of the bypassed Route 66 alignment in southwest Missouri, things start to brighten up a bit when approaching Carterville, Webb City, Carthage and Joplin. Joplin is one of those cities that was big enough to overcome the hard times associated with the Route 66 bypass and many of the old Mother Road attractions still flourish. Joplin is the last place to catch a glimpse of the old glory days of Route 66 when heading west to Kansas, so be sure to soak it all up!
From the border of Missouri it is only a 14 mile stretch through Kansas to get into Oklahoma, so three states can be logged in the books when driving the bypassed Everton section. Timing the journey so finishing the Missouri Route 66 trip at sunset seems to be a fitting way to end the day, because the neon lights of the Kansas Route 66 Strip will be enough to help get over the blues. For true Route 66 nostalgia fans, touring the Mother Road through southwest Missouri will inspire somber memories to ponder over for a lifetime and the local folks certainly will appreciate the business!
Leave no trace!
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