The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Top Stories

June 11, 2013

Author: Joplin, Galena starting to mine Route 66

JOPLIN, Mo. — While people may look at Route 66 as a nostalgic bygone, it’s actually a 2,500-mile-long economic corridor to the future.

Cities like Joplin and Galena, Kan., are learning to mine the historic route for attractions that result in development, much as they did lead and zinc before the highway arrived here.

That’s the view of Michael Wallis, historian, author and actor, and a member of the Route 66 Alliance, which is bringing the Route 66 International Festival to Joplin on Aug. 1-3. 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.

“That’s why this festival is important. Two words: economic development,” Wallis said Tuesday during a visit to Joplin to work on arrangements for the event.

The evidence can be seen as close as Galena, he said.

“Galena has come back to life,” he said. “For the Route 66 Alliance, that’s why we’ve chosen the town of Galena as our template, as our example city, of small town Route 66 rebuilding using local resources, government funding” and city leadership to help the former mining town reinvigorate its economic base through tourism.

In addition to tourism, alternative energy is being developed along the route, including wind farms and natural gas fueling stations. While the route is famous for its whimsical businesses such as themed motels and small diners, some chains are headed for the highway, Wallis said.

Wallis, of Tulsa, Okla., is the author of “Route 66: The Mother Road” and the voice of the sheriff in the animated movie “Cars.”

A tile mural that is to be installed on the side of the Pearl Bros. building as a tourism stop on Joplin’s share of Route 66 is an example of the type of attraction that brings travelers to stop during their trips on the route, Wallis said.

“I think the murals are such a great way to express a town, a city’s feeling, or their passion of this legacy of Route 66,” he said.

Tile muralist Paul Whitehill, of Joplin, is putting together the mural project. He is paying for the materials and installation with donations and partnerships. He told the Joplin City Council at a recent meeting that “everything is moving forward nicely,” and the mural installation is scheduled for the first week of July.

Donors to the project include Commerce Bank, the Joplin High School class of 1946, Lance and Sharon Beshore, and Murphysburg Preservation, Whitehill said. Joplin Supply Co. and Sherwin-Williams Co. have agreed to furnish supplies and workers to help with the project, he said. About $25,000 has been raised so far, and the cost of the project is $60,000, Whitehill said. He asked the city to make a donation.

City Manager Mark Rohr, with the support of the council, has agreed to the rebuilding of a small park area where the mural is to be located on the south side of the Pearl Bros. building. Architect Chad Greer was to speak to the Joplin Park Board on Tuesday about a design for the redevelopment of that park.

In addition to the unveiling of the mural in connection with the festival, there will be Route 66 artists, authors and collectors from across the country with exhibits or sales booths. They are to be set up in the Christman’s Event Center, 501 S Main St.

The Grass Roots band is to headline two nights of concerts in downtown Joplin.

Wallis said a special event is being planned for the 66 Drive-In Theatre near Carthage, but details could not be released yet.

Route 66

MICHAEL WALLIS on the attraction of Route 66: “It’s not just nostalgia. It’s not just that at all. It’s much more.”

1
Text Only
Top Stories
  • r071114redoak2.jpg Red Oak II: Lowell Davis’ ‘dream, art, love’ and final resting place

    The collection of buildings would become a town (though he didn’t intend for it to, and it has never been officially recognized either by the U.S. Postal Service or the state of Missouri).

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Anti-landfill group seeks grand jury probe

    As more than 200 people filed into Riverton High School on Sunday to attend an anti-landfill group meeting, many stopped to sign a petition asking the Cherokee County District Court to summon a grand jury to investigate how land was acquired by the city of Galena for a proposed landfill.

    July 27, 2014

  • Money clouds farm fight

    For much of the summer, while the campaign surrounding “right to farm” has been focused on its impact on “small, family farmers,” the bulk of the money pouring into the fight has come from big agriculture interests.

    July 26, 2014

  • r072514schoolhouse3.jpg VIDEO: Full of history, one-room schools focus of preservation by local groups

    The old Kings Prairie school sits on a narrow Barry County farm road, surrounded by quiet fields and farmland.

    July 25, 2014 6 Photos 1 Slideshow

  • 072814_jd anderson.jpg VIDEO: Noel strongman advances on talent show

    The past week has been busier than normal for Noel resident J.D. Anderson. Members of the production crew for NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” told him they have shot more footage of him than of other contestants for the next episode. “They said I have the busiest schedule of anyone this week,” Anderson told the Globe in a phone interview Friday. “There’s so many fun things you can do with B-roll as a strongman.”

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • r072314girlgunclub3.jpg Women's league offers practice, social opportunities for gun owners

    The objective for some is to improve their skills for target or competitive shooting, the league's website says. Others, while wanting to improve their skills, also are interested in aspects of self-defense.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • r072414trainwreck2.jpg Train crash a century ago among area’s worst disasters

    Burk Johnson had been threshing wheat near Joplin when his newlywed son and daughter-in-law picked him up and took him to Joplin’s Union Depot to catch the evening train home to Neosho.

    July 26, 2014 4 Photos

  • 072614 Faith 2.jpg Rich Brown: McDonald County Children's choir combines music with a gospel ministry

    The McDonald County Children's Choir may entertain a lot of people, but the hope is that it will bless even more through its ministry, according to choir director Amber Nelson.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Appellate court upholds class-action status for Picher residents

    An appellate court upheld a 2013 ruling on Thursday that a class-action lawsuit brought by former residents of Picher, Oklahoma, against a Tulsa-based appraisal firm involved with the buyout of property in the city can proceed.

    July 25, 2014

  • 1717 Marketplace developer faces more federal charges

    The developer of 1717 Marketplace in Joplin has been indicted with more bankruptcy fraud charges, in addition to those leveled against him last year for a series of bank fraud and wire fraud schemes that totaled more than $3.3 million in losses.

    July 25, 2014