December 23: The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) asks residents of Times Beach to evacuate their homes because of the spread of the toxic chemical dioxin. Flooding of the Meramec River contributed to the distribution of dioxin, which had been used to contain dust on roads. The government later burned and buried businesses and homes to clean up the area, according to an EPA history. This building, once the Times Beach roadhouse, now serves as the Route 66 State Park Visitor Center. 

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.