The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

April 29, 2012

Communities along Route 66 gear up for travel season

GALENA, Kan. — Within an hour last week, Four Women on the Route had visitors from France, Spain, Denmark and Australia.

And the business wasn’t even officially open for the Route 66 tourism season. The opening is set for Tuesday.

Melba Rigg, one of the owners, said she was expecting only the group from Australia, but the Chicago-to-California highway known as America’s Main Street and the Mother Road has become an international celebrity since its demise as a U.S. highway, drawing visitors from around the world.

Irene Vazquez and Angel Jimenez, from Spain, were among those in Galena on Thursday. They were traveling the route from Chicago to Los Angeles.

“It’s really amazing,” Vazquez said. “We only know the USA through movies and TV. Everything we see here is like a movie. Our houses, restaurants, everything is different.”

Route 66 tourism also is big business each spring, summer and fall for communities along the former highway.

The Carthage (Mo.) Convention and Visitors Bureau is planning a Travel Workers Rally on May 8 at the historic Boots Motel. It will be opening day for the motel. New owners Debye Harvey and Priscilla Bledsaw so far have refurbished five rooms to look as they did when the motel opened for its first Route 66 travelers in 1939.

“The goal is to just unify the people who are employed in the travel industry,” Wendi Douglas, director of the tourism bureau, said of the May 8 event. The rally, which starts at 9 a.m., will include remarks from Mayor Mike Harris, Chamber of Commerce President Mark Elliff, the president of the Precious Moments Foundation and motel owners.

Douglas said the Jasper County Courthouse, which houses a Route 66 Museum, also is a draw for some visitors, as is the 66 Drive-In Theatre.

Car buffs

There were 65 Australians in cars and on motorcycles in Galena on Thursday, too. Dale Butel, one of the guides with the Australian tour group, said many make the journey because of the things Australia has in common with the United States.

“We were raised on movies and TV from America,” Butel said. “Route 66 is one of the most famous highways in the world. Australia also is a car culture, like here.”

Butel said many on the journey were car buffs.

“Australians want to see this country from an American perspective,” he said. “They love Americana.”

David and Rachael Melville, their daughter Jessica, 7, and Rachael Melville’s mother, Shirley Atchison, were on the trip. They’re from Brisbane, Australia. David Melville, describing himself as a car buff, said he had seen the tour advertised in a car magazine in Australia.

“We’re loving it, absolutely loving it,” he said. Jessica said she was looking forward to going to Disneyland at the conclusion of the trip.

Richard and Trish Davies are from Busselton in western Australia.

“We’re car nuts,” Richard Davies said.

“The historic value of the trip is very important,” Trish Davies added.

Martin Jean-Yvas said he was with 11 retired friends from France. They also decided to travel Route 66 from Chicago to Los Angeles.

Local Dean Walker entertained the groups by turning his feet backward while Joe Douffet drove the Galena Museum’s 1919 Model T to the restored gas station, where he took questions about the car.

‘Forever linked’

“We’re anticipating this to be a record travel season,” said Amanda Davis, director of the Miami (Okla.) Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We’re very hopeful.”

Davis said Route 66 is a big draw and a big emphasis for the community.

“It’s a huge part of our market,” she said. “It’s where we target our advertising and marketing. We’re already seeing several Route 66 tour groups come through. It’s a good indicator.”

South of Miami is a 9-foot-wide, three-mile-long stretch of Route 66 called the Ribbon Road. Miami also boasts the historic Coleman Theatre and other examples of Mother Road Americana including Waylan’s Ku-Ku Burger and Lavern’s Wedding Chapel. Another draw is the Route 66 Vintage Iron Motorcycle Museum.

“Our hotel tax is up 30 percent year-to-date,” Davis said. “Route 66 makes a huge impact on those numbers.”

A restored historic gas station houses the Webb City (Mo.) Area Chamber of Commerce and a Route 66 Museum, which includes a mural, antique cars and other memorabilia. Other attractions include the Bradbury-Bishop Deli and the Route 66 Movie Theater.

“We always have a good turnout” of Route 66 tourists, said Webb City economic development director Chuck Surface. “It’s a natural tie-in for economic development.”

Patrick Tuttle, director of the Joplin (Mo.) Convention and Visitors Bureau, said he also targets a lot of marketing and advertising toward Route 66 tourism. Tuttle said the Mother Road Marathon on Oct. 14 is one of the ways the area is highlighting and capitalizing on Route 66. He said it’s the only marathon along Route 66 that allows runners to cover three states.

“It’s a major piece of our history,” Tuttle said. “We see large volumes of tourists from overseas and stateside. We’re forever linked to it.”

Story and song

Route 66 was born in 1926 as a planked, rough, all-weather road. John Steinbeck immortalized it in “The Grapes of Wrath” as “the path of people in flight.” Songwriter Bobby Troup penned the famous song that has been recorded by everyone from Nat King Cole to the Rolling Stones.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • State audit of Joplin School District begins

    Staff members from the state auditor’s office have begun their audit of the Joplin School District, Superintendent C.J. Huff said Monday. They are expected to be in the district four days per week for the next five to six months, or perhaps longer, until the audit is complete, Huff said.

    July 21, 2014

  • Burglary conviction draws shock prison time

    A Joplin man who received 120 days of shock incarceration time Friday in a drunken-driving case in Jasper County Circuit Court was assessed a concurrent sentence Monday in a burglary case.

    July 21, 2014

  • Mike Pound 2010.jpg Mike Pound: Family gatherings mirror circle of life

    The annual family gathering is getting bigger. There tends to be an ebb and a flow to most family gatherings. When you’re a kid, and especially if you’re a kid from a large Catholic family, the gatherings seem to be huge.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Carthage man pleads guilty in sexual abuse case

    A Carthage man pleaded guilty Monday to sexual abuse of a 12-year-old girl in a plea agreement that would cap the length of his prison term at no more than 15 years.

    July 21, 2014

  • Main Street TIF district study to begin

    A measure that allows the city to charge its $15,000 in administrative costs for studying a proposal to create a tax increment financing district on South Main Street was approved Monday by the Joplin City Council.

    July 21, 2014

  • 071714 Jasper Cty Dispatch1_72.jpg Area communities, Jasper County work to improve communications

    The first law enforcement officer to respond to a fatal shooting last November at Northpark Mall was from the Duquesne Police Department — not Joplin. Joplin police Chief Jason Burns said he wasn’t bothered by that. “We dispatch for them, and they had an officer close who could get there faster,” he said. “And getting help to people as quickly as possible is more important than jurisdictions.”

    July 20, 2014 2 Photos

  • New and old TIF districts on agenda for Joplin council

    Another tax increment financing district is being proposed for Joplin, this one along South Main Street. The area is close to the new Mercy Hospital Joplin that is set to open next year. RKS Development is seeking authorization from the Joplin City Council when it meets Monday night to prepare a request to establish a TIF district.

    July 20, 2014

  • AndraBryanStefanoni.jpg Andra Bryan Stefanoni: Family grows by one — a black Lab named Raven

    If you haven’t experienced the feeling of a tiny puppy in your lap at the end of a perfect July Saturday — hammock time, s’mores, leisurely walks, you know the kind — I highly recommend it. It is pure joy.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • 042017 Jo Ellis_c.jpg Jo Ellis: Car show, sidewalk sale and more scheduled for weekend in Carthage

    All roads leading to Carthage should be packed this weekend as numerous events geared toward entertainment, cultural pursuits and bargain hunting are expected to pull in large crowds.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • SusanRedden.jpg Susan Redden: Hobby Lobby lawyer to speak at watermelon feed

    Josh Hawley, who helped represent Hobby Lobby in arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court on contraception requirements in the Affordable Care Act, has been added to the list of speakers for Thursday’s annual watermelon feed sponsored by Newton County Republicans.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

Must Read
Sports
Photos


Facebook
Poll

Do you think Missouri should pass legislation that would allow a prescription drug database to be kept?

A. Yes.
B. No.
     View Results
Opinion
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter