CARTHAGE, Mo. —
The allure of the Mother Road hasn’t faded.
Wendi Douglas, executive director of the Carthage Convention and Visitors Bureau, said that an ongoing anniversary, a motel’s reopening, bridge construction and artists’ work have kept enough abuzz to make Route 66 the theme of this month’s art walk.
“We’re excited with the Boots Motel reopening,” Douglas said. “The 85th anniversary of the route was last September, and we’re still charged with some motivation and love for the route.”
Watercolor artist Tom Jones will be the featured artist for June’s two-day art walk, and singer Leon Troyer will perform music inspired by Route 66.
Jones creates many things inspired by the route, Douglas said. His work was spotted by art walk organizers last year.
“We saw some of his Route 66 things last year,” Douglas said. “He was one of the first artists that popped into our heads.”
Troyer has the route firmly on his mind, however. He grew up with the road figuratively in his back yard. His first album, “The Common Man’s Highway,” is inspired by the road.
“I started off trying to make a normal album,” Troyer said. “But a producer came to me with a project about Route 66. Now, I eat, drink and breathe it.”
Though the road has been made famous by bigger names, Troyer is impressed most by normal, everyday people who designed, built and traveled it.
That being said, his research has led to historical discoveries. Troyer has found that:
- McDonald’s creator Ray Kroc was enamored with a drive-through restaurant he found on the route, and was inspired to build his franchise from it.
- Frank Phillips, owner of the Phillips Petroleum Company, was riding with a chauffeur on the road in Oklahoma. When he noticed that the car was going 66 mph, the discovery inspired the name of Phillips 66 for the company’s new gas product.
Troyer filled up four or five legal pads with history and songs, he said.
“I delved into the history,” Troyer said. “I went to the library for a month or two and studied up, taking notes.”
Gary Smith, the producer who gave him this project, produced the album at his Table Rock Records in Branson. Troyer said he is at work on another volume of Route 66-inspired music.
Want to go?
The Historic Downtown Art Walk in Carthage will be held from 6 to 8:30 p.m. today and 10 a.m . to 3 p.m. Saturday. Family-type events, including face-painting and a trackless train, will be offered on Saturday.