An estimated 8,000 people turned out in downtown Rolla to celebrate the completion of Route 66 across Missouri. The road dated back to 1922 as Route 14, but it was more of a dirt trail in some places. In 1926, the route was designated as a part of the National Highway System and christened US 60. Its number changed yet again during a meeting at the Woodruff Building in Springfield, when it was renamed Route 66.

The final section to be paved was between Rolla and Lebanon, near the town of Arlington. In 1989, the Route 66 Association of Missouri formed to “preserve, promote, and develop” the highway that impacted America as much as any highway in history. Missouri was also the first state to put up a historic marker on Route 66 (at Kearney Street and Glenstone Avenue in Springfield) to forever commemorate the “Main Street of America.”

The song “(Get your kicks on) Route 66,” helped cement the road as a true part of Americana, and was covered by luminaries like Nat King Cole, Chuck Berry,  Bobby Troup, Asleep at the Wheel, Them, Depeche Mode, and more.

Based upon content from the book Missouri 365: This Day in Missouri History by John W. Brown, broadcaster and Missouri historian. Get your copy at Reedy Press.

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