Route 66

Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

Wanda Trotter, 68, thought about her childhood as she watched a play at the Missouri History Museum depicting the experiences of African-Americans traveling Route 66 before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawed discrimination in public accommodations.

“I remember my parents packing our lunches and telling us that certain places you could not go to eat, or to use the bathroom facilities,’’ said Trotter. Her  family drove the famous highway from St. Louis to San Diego, Calif., in the early 1960s to visit her brother who was in the Navy.

Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

Original story published June 23, updated June 30 with audio from "St. Louis on the Air."

Just in time for summer, the Missouri History Museum is taking a road trip down Route 66 with a colorful exhibit on the Mother Road that opens Saturday.

The focus is St. Louis’ place along the famous roadway that opened America’s West to cross-country motoring in 1926.  The ribbon of pavement stretched 2,400 miles from Chicago to Los Angeles, touching eight states along the way. 

Provided by The Coliseum Ballroom Documentary Project

They’ll be rocking to the oldies Saturday night at the civic center in Gillespie, Ill., where a crowd of a certain age will gather to share memories of the old Coliseum Ballroom, which was destroyed by fire in 2011.

Don Harder, Flickr, Creative Commons

A funding crunch is looming and will impact preservation efforts surrounding Route 66 — the historic roadway that stretches from Chicago, Illinois to Los Angeles, California and passes straight through St. Louis, Missouri. Evangelists for the “Main Street of America” are doubling down on efforts to secure new funding for the highway.

A 1941 Packard 120 Convertible starts the Great Race in Kirkwood, Mo. Saturday, June 20, 2015.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Hundreds of people lined the streets of downtown Kirkwood Saturday to see 130 classic cars start an eight-day, 2,400 mile journey along Route 66.

The cars — and their drivers — are competing in the 33rd annual Great Race, a competition judged on arriving at set checkpoints at pre-ordained times. The Grand Champion will be awarded $50,000 after they cross the finish line in Santa Monica, Calif.

(Courtesy: Chaumette Vineyards & Winery)

Ok folks, it’s a good weekend for a road trip. We’ve got Superman, French Heritage and a celebration of Route 66.

(Courtesy Lemp Mansion)

The open road. Curving, meandering highways. Roadside diners and trips to remember yesteryear. These are the types of images most often associated with Route 66.

But in addition to tourists and explorers, some unsavory characters have lived and traveled along the roads that became Missouri's Route 66. Author Lisa Livingston-Martin tells their stories in her new book, Missouri's Wicked Route 66: Outlaws and Gangsters on the Mother Road.