Kansas never received its fair share of the Mother Road. Out of the original route’s 2,448 miles, only 13 of them traversed the sunflower state. Even so, that tiny allotment was generous, compared to the slap-in-the-face delivered by the Interstates that replaced Route 66. Once the freeway arrived and the old 66 shields came down, Kansas was completely bypassed.
[tmt_info =””]As you follow MO Rte. 66 west from Joplin, watch closely for Old 66 Boulevard to turn off to the left. MO 66 connects with KS 66, following a later (1979) alignment of the old route, while Old 66 Boulevard follows the original (1926) route. Trust me, you’ll want to take the earlier route.[/tmt_info]
Given the circumstances, perhaps Kansas’ share of Route 66 should merely be a footnote in our country’s highway history. But that just wouldn’t do. It turns out, mile per mile, Kansas delivers more old road satisfaction than any other state, and for the westbound driver, it all begins at the State Line Bar.
If you’re not paying attention, you’ll zoom right into Kansas without even noticing. I did. But moments after passing the State Line Bar, I began to wonder, “Did I just miss something?” So I turned around — something you get quite good at doing, when trying to follow a road that was laid out more than 80 years ago.
Indeed, this is the point where historic Route 66 quietly makes its entrance into Kansas. There is no sunflower-emblazoned sign, no Historic 66 shield, just a white line across the road.
Less than 50 feet on the Kansas side of the state line, there’s a Route 66 shield painted on the pavement. In fact, there are quite a few of them over the next mile or so into Galena. Why not paint several dozen of ’em, if you only have to mark 13 miles worth of road?
[tmt_info =””]Old 66 Boulevard becomes Front Street at the state line. Follow it over the railroad tracks, and into Galena.[/tmt_info]
Note: This trip was first published in 2008.