With the prospect of the only Drive In Theatre on Route 66 at the end of this day... and the fact it only plays Friday, Saturday and Sunday there was plenty of incentive to be at Carthage in good time today. It is indeed Sunday and the bible belt will come alive, which probably explains why so many tourist attractions are closed today!... except the fireworks which are currently on sale for the 4th of July celebrations. Ironically they all seem to be on or near church premises.
At Catoosa the blue whale was wallowing in the pond it’s been in for several decades. In its hay-day kids could slide from the inner belly straight into the water... these days it’s just a big blue concrete whale doing duty to tourists like us.
The world’s tallest totem pole resides in Foyil just a whisker off the main road.. It takes the record at 90 feet tall.
In Chelsea we discover the that Sears Roebuck, that mail order catalogue store where you can buy anything at all, actually sold houses back at the turn of the twentieth century. The house at 1001 South Olive St was purchased by mail order for $1,600 and delivered by rail road car in 1913 and is still owned by the descendants of the original purchaser!
More history down the road, the Pryor Creek bridge built in 1926 by the Oklahoma State Highway Commission in the same year Route 66 was established. The road between Chicago and Santa Monica is hardly straight and much of that is due to the amount of road running through the state of Oklahoma. One man is more responsible for that than any other. Considered the ‘father’ of the concept for one highway it was Oklahoma’s Cyrus Avery who was so passionate and influential about a road linking one side of America to the other.
McDonald’s is no bigger in the US than in Vinita spanning all four lanes of Interstate Highway 44... talk about upsizing!
Laurel ‘s display of Packards is gorgeous. Assembled by her, and her then husband a few years back in the old DX Gas Station in Afton, which they also brought back to life to keep the Route 66 spirit alive.
Amongst the collection of classic cars is a 1917 Packard ‘bus’, the first motor home built in America and Laurel suggests was the humble beginnings of the Greyhound Bus Company.
Oklahoma’s Miami can’t boast a beach but it’s recently restored picture theatre originally built three years after Route 66 was commissioned is right in the main street on the route that it played service to for many decades.
Crossing for just 13 miles into and out of the state of Kansas we find the only remaining Marsh Rainbow Arch bridge in use on Route 66, built in 1923.
Into our seventh state Missouri and we drive through Joplin.
The whole world knows about Joplin, but not because of the Mother road... we diverted one block off the route to witness first hand just how devastating than Tornedo was. We’d seen the images on the news but to see it first-hand was an eye opener... miles and miles of homes, two schools, a hospital and countless businesses... not to mention lives destroyed. A third of the 48,000 population is said to be directly affected by the effects of that Sunday just over a month ago.
In Webb City the Praying hands dedicated to Albrecht Durer by his brother back in the 15th Century overlook the city and provides inspiration for generations to come. It’s a heart wrenching story of dedication and love which is worth checking out – google the praying hands.
Superman lives in Carterville thanks to the passion of Larry Tamminer. His unique Super store holds every possible bit of the Super hero including genuine Superman ice-cream.
In nearby Baxter Springs is the garage that inspired another imaginary hero, the character Tow Tator from the movie Car.
There are only a few miles to Carthage and we stumble across the Drive In... could hardly miss it really but with plenty of time we find a room at the local Super 8 Motel and prepare for our night at the movies!... sadly Cars is not on offer but a real drive-in none the less!