Route 66 in the News

Route 66 History Has New Home

2009-09-18 21:06:48

CARTHAGE, Mo. - Jasper County’s historic courthouse is a frequent stop for tourists traveling Route 66.

Now, Route 66 history is a part of the courthouse, in a display that mimics Carthage’s former Boots Drive-In.

Workers with the Joplin Museum Complex have installed the exhibit, and more elements will be added later, said Chris Wiseman, museum curator.

At 18 feet wide and 13 feet tall, the display is a representation of the front of the former drive-in that will have artifacts from the Mother Road. Members of the Jasper County Commission and the county’s courthouse preservation committee selected the design, which Wiseman developed and built.

Money for the exhibit comes from a federal highway grant, administered by the Missouri Department of Transportation.

County commissioners sought money for the project to help promote Carthage and the historic courthouse as a tourist destination.

Many visitors come to Carthage because of its history and link to Route 66, said Wendi Douglas, executive director of the Carthage Convention and Visitors Bureau.

“I’m really excited. We have so many Route 66 visitors come through now and they’re really interested in the courthouse,” she said. “So it’s a great pairing, the historic highway with our historic courthouse.”

Though planning started earlier, construction of the display did not start until January.

“It’s been a long process that was hard to get to the finished stage,” Wiseman said. “There were no square edges and lots of little pieces to put together.”

Challenges included building the large display, but making sure it would not be too heavy to move, and that it could fit through doors and be carried up stairs.

For that reason, Wiseman said he used wood laminates for stronger, lighter construction materials and built the case in five modules that can be assembled into one unit. The case is not to scale, he said.

“We had to make some concessions. For example, the drive-in has rounded windows, but if we had done that, we would have lost display area.”

The exhibit will include full-size artifacts, including a gasoline pump and air pump. There also will be a flat-screen television that will show slides of Route 66 history.

~Susan Redden, Associated Press


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