The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

March 5, 2013

Route 66 project, photo op planned for downtown Joplin

JOPLIN, Mo. — There’s Tow Mater in Galena, Red Oak in Carthage and the Route 66 Welcome Center in Webb City.

Now, a Joplin artist and businessman has launched an effort to give Joplin its own stopping point on historic Route 66.

Paul Whitehill, of Images in Tile, is proposing to install two tile wall murals and a tourist photo opportunity on the south wall of the Pearl Brothers True Value Hardware store at 617 S. Main St. There, the murals can be viewed from the intersection of Seventh and Main streets, where the original course of the route turned west toward Kansas.

“They wanted something as close as you can get,” said Harold Berger of the Pearl Brothers’ location near the intersection of the famous route. “You can’t get much closer than that. We’re happy to let them do it. It will improve the looks of our building and attract attention.”

Whitehill said he intends to have the murals in place by the time the International Route 66 Festival revs up here Aug. 1-3.

Michael Wallis, the Tulsa, Okla., author of “Route 66: The Mother Road” and the voice of the sheriff in the animated movie “Cars,” said in October the event will attract a large number of visitors to the area.

The festival is set around an annual meeting of eight state associations and the National Park Service to work on strategy for preserving and promoting the historic highway.

It features exhibits and presentations by authors and artists whose subject is the route. There will be a Main Street America Marketplace where vendors sell their Route 66-related memorabilia and merchandise.

“We’re trying to get some Route 66 heritage exposure,” said Patrick Tuttle, director of the Joplin Conventions and Visitors Bureau. “With the International Route 66 Festival, it gives us a great opportunity to connect with a lot of the roadies who will be here.”

Tuttle said visitors from 22 countries now come to the United States to trek the nostalgic route that stretches from Chicago to Los Angeles.

“We have been looking at what we can do to get them to stop and spend some time in Joplin versus going through” nonstop, Tuttle said.

Whitehill said the ground-level mural will be equipped with a sports car-themed seat where visitors can hop in and have a photo taken in front of the picture as a souvenir of their Joplin stop.

The murals will be constructed of ceramic tiles applied with a new digital image material that will make the image resistant to fading in sunlight and to graffiti.

It is the same technology and materials Whitehill’s business used to create murals that were applied as the exterior surfaces of four buildings that were constructed as a new visitor entrance to Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Fla. Photos of Saturn, Jupiter, Mars and Earth sent by the Hubble Space Telescope and the Voyager spacecraft were used to decorate the buildings.

Whitehill’s project has the blessing of the Joplin City Council. The city has agreed to take out a decaying brick courtyard next to the Pearl Brothers building that was installed decades ago to serve as a walkway between Main Street and a municipal parking lot behind the Main Street businesses.

Whitehill is working with the Joplin Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Cultural Affairs Committee of the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce, though he is raising private funds to pay for the murals and their installation.

He said he is donating to the project too by reducing the cost he would normally charge by $20 a square foot. The cost of the materials and installation will be about $63,000.

Businesses and organizations can donate to the project at various sponsorship levels starting at $500. The donations qualify as charitable contributions. Checks designated to the Route 66 Public Art Mural can be sent to the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce Foundation.

Paved highway

Route 66 was the first continuously paved highway in the country. Construction began in 1926, and the Missouri portion was finished in 1932. It changed travel and tourism in America. At the time, hotels were in downtowns around railroad stations. But as Americans took to the road, motor courts grew along the highway as convenient places for them to stay.


Text Only
Local News
  • Last two safe room projects up for Joplin School Board approval

    The Joplin Board of Education during its meeting tonight will consider more than $2.4 million in bid packages for safe rooms at Columbia and West Central elementary schools.

    April 20, 2014

  • AndraBryanStefanoni.jpg Andra Bryan Stefanoni: Mosaic pieces together purpose

    Today I want to tell you about a man named John — a man I never knew existed until last week. And yet he’s making a difference in my community. He is an individual served by Mosaic of Southeast Kansas, which also, I learned, is making a difference.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • 042017 Jo Ellis_c.jpg Jo Ellis: Carthage Historic Preservation to re-create trolley era

    Recapturing history is difficult, but recapturing history without a building, an artifact or a singular focal point is even harder. To celebrate National Historic Preservation Month, Carthage Historic Preservation wants to recapture an era and an experience that have been gone from the city for almost 80 years: the era of the trolley (or tram) cars that provided public transportation.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • SusanRedden.jpg Susan Redden: Candidates for associate judge address GOP group

    The response was all but unanimous among four candidates seeking two Jasper County associate circuit judge positions. Asked to cite the biggest obstacle to justice in Jasper County, three of the four said the most prevalent challenge is getting the needed time on a busy court docket.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Money to area lawmakers slows down but doesn’t stop

    With the Legislature back in session, the flow of campaign cash to local candidates has slowed. But in this election year, the money did not completely stop. All members of the local delegation to the Missouri General Assembly are on the ballot this year, but only two lawmakers are facing opposition.

    April 20, 2014

  • Joplin City Council to hear baseball plan details

    Proposed redevelopment plans for Joe Becker Stadium will be discussed with the Joplin City Council in a work session at the end of its regular meeting tonight. The WLD Suarez partnership has obtained a franchise of the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball that succeeds the El Paso (Texas) Diablos.

    April 20, 2014

  • 041814 EPA projects5_72.jpg Contaminated mine tailings could be used on west bypass

    About 500 acres of former mining land at Wildwood Ranch have been reclaimed by contractors working for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. More than 1 million cubic yards of contaminated mine tailings in the form of chat and waste rock have been consolidated in a surface repository that someday could be part of the roadbed for a limited-access highway that transportation planners hope to build on the west side of Joplin.

    April 20, 2014 4 Photos

  • 041914 Wedding1_72.jpg VIDEO: Cancer patient walks down aisle in wedding thrown by friends

    A year ago, Schandera Jordan was diagnosed with a rare form cervical cancer. And months after a radical hysterectomy, doctors confirmed the worst: The cancer had spread to her lungs and pancreas.

    April 19, 2014 2 Photos

  • 0420earthday.jpg Prairie State Park kicks off Earth Day events

    Prairie State Park began celebrating Earth Day early with an event Saturday that provided a chance for people of all ages to learn more about how they can protect the environment.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • r041614giregabby.jpg SLIDE SHOW: Teen with cystic fibrosis finds widespread support

    When the Nevada Show Choir performs its spring show on stage, it’s impossible to pick out the student with cystic fibrosis because there are no outward clues.
    Gabby Gire, 18, is just another performer. She sings, she dances, she smiles for the audience.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo 1 Slideshow

Must Read


The United States is considering deploying about 150 soldiers for military exercises to begin in Poland and Estonia in the next few weeks, following Russia's buildup of forces near its border with Ukraine. Do you think we should deploy these troops?

     View Results
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter