It's more than just a road. It's a ribbon that winds around the soul of a country. America's "Mother Road" was the primary east-west travel route for decades. Step back to a time when hamburgers were a nickel, optimism was everywhere and a real adventure meant a driving trip.

US 66, principal highway between Chicago and the Southwest, crosses Missouri diagonally from the Mississippi at St. Louis to the high plains southwest of Springfield. As it cuts through the Ozarks, the highway follows approximately the route of a stage line established by the United States Government two decades before the Civil War. During the war, the road was an important military thoroughfare, traveled by the Federal commands of Frémont, Phelps, and Bliss, and by the Confederate troops of Price, Bains, Hindman, Parsons, and Slack.

The Federal Government at that time put in a telegraph line along the road with stations at St. Louis, Rolla, Lebanon, Marshfield, Springfield, and Fort Smith, Arkansas, and the route was known as the Old Wire Road. The Confederates frequently cut the wires. After the war, the government took down the wires, leaving the poles gray and gaunt along the roadside. The country is generally rough to rolling, with slightly more than half the area in hardwood forests.

Between St. Louis and Rolla, recreational areas have been developed. Around Joplin is the Missouri section of the great Tri-State lead and zinc fields. US 66 carries more out-of-State traffic than does any other highway in Missouri.

For the first 30 miles, US 66 is an urban and then a suburban thoroughfare. West of the junction with State 100 is the northern fringe of the Ozark Highlands, a recreational and agricultural area of rolling hills, fertile valleys, and occasional sharply broken limestone bluffs. The scene is rural, with valleys patterned in corn and small grains, hillsides and plateaus fenced and cross-fenced into pastures for dairy herds. In the apparently solid sides of many of the bluffs along the river banks, extensive caverns have been eroded by subterranean streams.

Selected Links
The Route 66 Association of Missouri
Missouri Route 66 pictures
Route 66 State Park
The Old Chain of Rocks Bridge
St. Louis Arch History and Architectural Information
Forest Park Forever
Shaw Nature Reserve
The Museum of Transportation
Meramec Caverns
Joplin, Missouri
Missouri State Parks
Images of Route 66 in Missiouri
Route 66 Drive-In Theaters
Across the Show Me State on Route 66
66 Drive-In Theatre - Carthage, Missouri
Route 66 Recommissioning Initiative - Missouri
Missouri Caves
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