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Local Video

On the Road

One of the first towns you come across on old Route 66 in Oklahoma is the small town of Quapaw. Excerpt from Monroe's State of the Union AddressLondon Times, (England)
December 24, 1818

This unusual name was given to the town in honor of the Quapaw tribe who were uprooted from Arkansas and brought to Oklahoma. An act of the second session of the Twenty-second Congress reported that the Quapaw tribe received $2,000 for the move.

Quapaw Relocate

Just as Joplin and Galena grew due to mining, so was the case in Quapaw. Although the mining of ores didn't occur until about 20 years later than it did in Kansas and Missouri, it still was just as important to the region. The mining of zinc and lead boosted the local economy through the World War I era.

The town of Quapaw honors its Native American heritage every Fourth of July as it has done for nearly 140 years. Quapaw holds the oldest indian pow-pow in the United States at Beaver Springs State Park.

The Oklahoma Department of Education allows Native American languages to be taught as foreign languages in public schools, but the languages are typically taught as upper-level elective courses.

Of the 23 Native languages still spoken by Oklahoma tribes, only two are actively being passed on to the next generation.

Source: Saving Native Languages



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Oklahoma Road Conditions

Miles Traveled: 119 miles


Population: 591,982

The average price for a hotel room in Tulsa is $80.

Tulsa has more convenience stores on street corners than any other city per capita in the U.S.

The surrounding population of Tulsa recently reached one million persons.

In the early years of Route 66, the urgency to get the highway paved put considerable pressure on local governments to come up with the finances to do so.

(click to enlarge)

May 19, 1928

An article from the May 29, 1930, edition of the Miami News-Record shows how important it was to towns to see that Route 66 was paved for the growing traffic flow.


Miami News Record, May 29, 1930

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Route 66

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Day 11: Galena, KS to Tulsa, Oklahoma

Welcome to Tulsa

The stay in Kansas is a short one as Route 66 cuts across the southeast corner and headed  towards Tulsa, Oklahoma. Some of the best Route 66 sites are along this stretch. While traveling on Route 66 adds at least another 10 miles, it is totally worth it. There is plenty of Route 66 sites to see all along the way. Miami NewspaperSome of these towns have adjusted to the new Interstate system and others became ghost towns.

Miami, Oklahoma was one of the towns along Route 66 that exploded with a quick growing population. According to the 1930 census, Miami grew from a population of 2,909 in 1910 to 6,802 in 1920. Partially with the help from the growth of Route 66, Miami increased to just over 8,000 citizens in 1930 (8,004). In this local newspaper from October 24, 1928, the leadership of Miami politics for getting the Route 66 association to hold the March meeting in the town.

The Baxter Springs, Kansas, Route 66 Soda Fountain
The Route 66 Soda Fountain in Baxter Springs Kansas is a youth center and community educational facility beautifully encased in a restored 1940's era soda fountain.
The Rainbow Bridge, The Baxter Springs, Kansas

Bush Creek Marsh Arch Rainbow Bridge is the last remaining of it's kind on Route 66. In Kansas there where 3 of them built around 1923 on what would become Route 66. The bridge was slated for destruction but was finally saved with the help of the Kansas Route 66 Association.

Source: Historic Route 66
Route 66 in Oklahoma
1 Much of Route 66 along this stretch of Oklahoma is intact just as it was before the new Interstate highway system was built.
Hemi's Cafe in Quapaw
2 Many of the businesses and all the towns from Galena to Tulsa try to feed off their Route 66 connection. This includes Hemi's Cafe in Quapaw.
The hometown of Mickey Mantle
Commerce features banners proudly proclaiming herself as the home town of Mickey Mantle. Mantle is regarded by many to be the greatest switch hitter of all time, and one of the greatest players in baseball history. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1974.
The Commerce Conoco
Business along Route 66 was so good that the only place this former Conoco could fit in was on the back of another building.
The Dairy King in Commerce
The Dairy King still has the same drive in window it had back in Route 66's days. The drive-in also still sells either molasses or sugar cookies for 99 cents in the shape of the number 66.
An abandoned hotel
Empty shells of former successful businesses now exist up and down Route 66. This one still has its original sign standing to the right.
The Raimer Hotel with its neon sign in Afton
As traffic left these small towns, so did the demand for hotels and motels such as the Raimer Hotel in Afton.
Oklahoma Range

Texas and Oklahoma are the nation's two biggest producers of beef cattle

The abandoned Rest Haven Motel in Afton
10 The abandoned Rest Haven Motel now serves as a rental.
Pryor Creek Bridge Marker
11 The Pryor Creek Bridge still handles traffic even though it was on the first alignment of Route 66.
The Pryor Creek Bridge near Chelsea
Taking a left turn off of Route 66 leads you into Chelsea on the original route.
The Chelsea Hotel
Chelsea had a solid commercial district and at least one oil refinery when Route 66 was established. The Chelsea Hotel had a booming business in the 1930's, 40's, and 50's until the Turner Turnpike opened in 1953 bypassing Chelsea.
The Catoosa Blue Whale
Thanks to some local college students the Catoosa Blue Whale has been restored to near Route 66 standards. The Blue Whale was a 1972 anniversary gift from Hugh Davis to his wife. Davis was a former curator of the Tulsa Zoo. At one time swimming was allowed. You can still see the old life guard stations and diving boards.
14 About 1/2 mile SW is the site of Fort Spunky, a relay station on The Old Star Mail between St. Louis and California. After the war between the states, Catoosa was founded as the post with John Gunter Schrimsher (1835-1905) an uncle of Will Rogers as post-master.
The Vinitas McDonald Restaurant
14 The Vinitas McDonald Restaurant straddles the Will Rogers Highway. At one time this structure was the largest McDonald's restaurant in the world.

Tulsa is Oklahoma’s second-largest city. It has a population of just under 400,000. First settled by native Americans in 1830 it is was known as the oil capital of the world for most of the 20th century. Tulsa also claims to be the birthplace of Route 66 just as Springfield did.

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