Missouri Historical Society preps for Route 66’s Centennial

Though it's a few years out, the State Historical Society of Missouri is prepping for the 100th anniversary of Route 66 in 2026.
East 7th with McConnell Ave in the background, July 24, 1985 - The last Route 66 signs came down in Missouri. Without ceremony, Highway Department workers removed the shields from the I-44 turn-off at Scotland, near Joplin, to the Kansas line and on the I-44 business Loop through Joplin. The shields between St. Louis and Joplin had come down in 1977.
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COLUMBIA, Mo. – Though it’s a few years out, the State Historical Society of Missouri is prepping for the 100th anniversary of Route 66 in 2026.

To prepare for the iconic “Mother Road’s” Centennial, officials began collecting the following items for a grand display:

  • photographs
  • postcards
  • film and home videos along the route
  • records of roadside businesses
  • oral histories of people who traveled or worked along the road
  • small souvenirs or artifacts
  • artwork
  • architectural drawings of iconic structures and places

“We’re very interested in stories and materials ranging from the road’s origins to its peak period in Missouri (circa 1926-1960) to its decline following the rise of the Interstation Highway system,” said Kathleen Seale, coordinator of the State Historical Society’s Rolla and Springfield Research Centers.

According to the media release, 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.

Route 66 played a significant role in the nation’s transportation history as the main artery connecting Chicago to Los Angeles by the late 1920s. In Missouri, the highway followed earlier trails, dirt tracks and gravel roads from the Mississippi River at St. Louis to the Kansas border west of Joplin.

Motels, restaurants, gas stations, and roadside attractions thrived on the steady commerce from travelers along Route 66, and now the SHSMO wants to hear about these experiences from you!

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