30 December 2011

The Mother Road in Kansas..

The Christmas lights will come, but sometimes you find yourself off the beaten path.  On the way back from out of town, we found ourselves searching for a new way home...to stave off boredom of a road I've traveled over 40 times.

I like Route66 stuff these days as the iconic Mother Road starts to really disappear.  Travelling through 8 states from Chicago to LA, Route66 only touches the state of Kansas for 13 miles...by far the shortest route through any of the states.  We jumped on the road near Galena, KS and sauntered along the historic pavement through Joplin, MO and back to Interstate 44.

Entering Galena, KS along Main Street...

As you cruise down Main Street (low and slow), you will find a corner Kan-o-Tex gas station on the right.

This gas station was bought by four women intent on restoring the Mother Road to glory in Kansas.  If that sounds a little like the Disney-Pixar movie "Cars," well, you would be correct.  This town provides a lot of the inspiration for the movie, including Mater the tow truck.  The movie creators, while driving Route66, found this station and the tow truck sitting on the corner.  They fell in love with the idea and Tow-Mater was born!  Also inspiring pieces from the movie were some of the buildings in downtown Galena, the worn out road, and the advertising painted on the sides of the brick buildings.

The corner of Route66 is now called "4 Women on the Route."  The future plans are to restore four buildings at the intersection into a Bed and Breakfast, gas station, souvenir shop and diner, and a farmer's market.  The recent economy has slowed things down, and the stores have limited hours in the winter season, so I was unable to talk to anyone and see how the idea is working out.

Other characters from the movie that have made appearances here are Red the fire truck, Lightning McQueen the red mustang, and Sarge the WWII era green jeep.  Only Mater and Red were there at the time of our visit.  However, this is a place I'm sure I will stop through again in a busier season.

I don't know when the gas prices were last at 29 and 31 cents per gallon, but these old pumps show a glimpse of days gone by, too.

If you ever get a chance to travel any part of Route66, I recommend you take the time to do so.  A quickly vanishing and deteriorating road, this was a huge slice of Americana between WWII and the completion of the interstate highway system, although Route66 has been around since and before the 1920s.  Many of the once thriving businesses are just shells scattered along the roadside reminding us of a simpler time.  Almost any stretch, especially through the state of Missouri, is well worth the added time to your drive.

One more piece of trivia for you:  Kansas was the first state to pave it's entire portion of Route66 in 1929.


  1. Love it. I think I'd enjoy a road trip down route 66 :)

  2. I have traveled the New Mexico leg of Route 66 many times over. Maybe not the entire New Mexico route but most of it. Happy New Year!

  3. This is ABSOLUTELY fascinating. I do hope they can make a go of it, also hope maybe they got a few bucks out of Pixar for the inspiration. Love the trivia, thank you so much for showing me a portion of our country I have yet to see.

  4. Lucky you!! I'd love to cruise that Route. BTW, we sold a big car in 1975 and got a small one because gas was going up to 30cents a gallon!!

  5. Route 66 is all over the place in St. Louis - always love when I hit a stretch. Thanks for this; I learned something new today! Happy New Year

  6. That's really neat! I had no idea Cars was based on a real town and real cars!

    But if Kansas only had 13 miles to pave, of course it was the first state to pave its entire portion. :)

    Thank you for sharing this!

    And may you and yours have a Happy New Year!

  7. A few years ago I bought a book about Route 66 and planned to make a vacation of traveling as much of it as possible. With three kids and busy schedules, the trip keeps getting put off. Thanks for sharing your pictures and experience!

  8. I thought the same thing about 13 miles being the first to get paved....but first is first....lol.

    There are several websites dedicated to travelling Route 66. A simple google search can bring up more information than any single person cares to read. The neatest thing about these sites is they help you find the actual road, which is the most difficult part today.

    Yes, with living in St. Louis so long, I have always been around the Mother Road. I live about 2 blocks from it in Crestwood. We travel to Ted Drewe's Frozen Custard several times a year. My plan is to document the stretch from the Chain of Rocks Bridge, which you've seen previously, to Galena, KS. Sure, I've bookended my journey, but there is so much more to see.

    Thanks for all the comments! It means a lot.

  9. Mate, greetings from Malaysia, a fan of POTN. You have a great trip, I saw the Ruote 66 in CARS, awesome.