State Historical Society of Missouri collects materials for Route 66 centennial – Boonville Daily News
COLUMBIA, September 21, 2022 – U.S. Highway 66, affectionately known as “Route 66” or “The Mother Road,” celebrates its centennial in 2026. To prepare for the iconic road’s 100th anniversary, the State Historical Society of Missouri is launching an Initiative Route 66 fundraiser focused on preserving road history in the state. Examples of items the Society seeks to collect include photographs, postcards, home movies and videos along the road, roadside business records, oral histories of people who have traveled or worked along the way, small keepsakes or artifacts, works of art and architectural drawings of iconic buildings and locations.
“We are very interested in stories and materials ranging from the origins of the road to its peak period in Missouri (circa 1926-1960) to its decline following the rise of the Interstation Freeway system,” said Kathleen Seale , coordinator of the State Historical Society’s. Rolla and Springfield Research Centers.
Missouri is where Route 66’s name became official, as the highway received its number assignment via a telegram sent on April 30, 1926, to Springfield. A rally there of supporters of the proposed freeway that included Cyrus Avery, Oklahoma’s freeway commissioner now widely known as the “father of Route 66”, and John T. Woodruff, an attorney of Springfield and business owner who was the main proponent of freeway development in Missouri.
“Proponents had lobbied for the new highway to be assigned the number 60 because roads ending in the number ‘0’ were reserved for the most important transcontinental routes,” Seale said. “Failing to obtain Route 60, the Springfield group rejected the other proposed numbers until 66 was proposed and accepted.” Route 66 played an important role in the nation’s transportation history as the main artery connecting Chicago to Los Angeles in the late 1920s. In Missouri, the highway followed trails, dirt roads and from earlier gravel roads from the Mississippi River in St. Louis to the Kansas border west of Joplin. Motels, restaurants, gas stations, and roadside attractions thrived on the steady trade of travelers along Route 66.
Anyone with questions or wanting to donate to the Route 66 collection in Missouri can contact the State Historical Society of Missouri. A donation form on the SHSMO website is available for download: shsmo.org/support/materials.