The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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August 26, 2012

Joplin to consider Route 66 emblem at key intersection

JOPLIN, Mo. — A Joplin resident wants to mark a local intersection with an emblem pointing out its Route 66 history, and the idea is getting support from city leaders.

Steve Lea, a retired Joplin firefighter, presented a sketch to the Joplin City Council last week for a Route 66 logo that he thinks should be embedded in the intersection at St. Louis Avenue and Langston Hughes-Broadway to commemorate the historic highway.

The highway, celebrated in everything from song to television shows to American novels, went from Chicago to California, and passed through Joplin on the way. It went from what is now Range Line Road and Zora Street through the Royal Heights neighborhood, south on Florida Avenue and Euclid Avenue to St. Louis Avenue, south to Broadway, west to Main Street and south to Seventh Street. There it turned west to Kansas.

Lea said that with all the visitors who travel the famous route, he thinks a medallion made of embossing brick pavers with the Route 66 logo inside a compass would be eye-catching.

Lea told council members that some people he has talked to about the idea have offered to contribute money toward the cost.

City Manager Mark Rohr said the proposal also might fit in with city plans to eventually redevelop Langston Hughes-Broadway. Council members expressed no opposition to the idea, and Rohr said he would assign Assistant Public Works Director Jack Schaller and Convention and Visitors Bureau Director Patrick Tuttle to explore the idea.

Tuttle said it is possible that the idea could be incorporated in upcoming projects.

“We have two things in the works, and we could add it to the mix,” Tuttle said. “For 2014, we’re upgrading and improving the city’s way-finding program that’s in place, as well as looking at both tourism and economic development opportunities along the traditional Route 66 route. We’re really in the beginning stages of discussing it.”

The way-finder program is one in which the city makes and installs signs pointing motorists in the direction of attractions and districts of the city.

“This falls in line with that,” Tuttle said.

Construction materials for a street medallion would have to hold up to heavy truck traffic in that area and probably would need to comply with guidelines of the Missouri Department of Transportation, Tuttle said.

Mother Road

Route 66, also known as the Mother Road and America’s Main Street, was a federal project that started in 1926 to create a continuous paved highway from Chicago to Los Angeles. Missouri’s stretch was paved in 1932.

In the 1930s, motor courts cropped up as a result of the development of the highway. Joplin had five tourist “camps” early in that decade. As a result of Route 66, that number increased to 11 by the end of the decade.

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