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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Riverton in Cherokee County, Kansas — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)
 

Bridging the American Divide

Kansas Historic Route 66 Byway

 
 
Bridging the American Divide Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., February 21, 2015
1. Bridging the American Divide Marker
Inscription.

When Route 66 first gained federal status in 1926, it traveled over Kansas roads already paved.

At a time when hard-surfaced roads were a rarity in Kansas, Cherokee County was an exception. Prior to the turn of the century, engineers had begun mixing a common byproduct from the mining industry known as "chat" into the roadbeds between Galena and Baxter Springs. Chat is the finely crushed stone that is separated out from lead and zinc ores during sifting. When mixed with the native soil and compacted, it produced a hard cement-like surface. The mining industry not only demanded good roads, it essentially paid for them through the generous tax revenues it generated. The entire Kansas portion of Route 66 was installed or improved between 1921 and 1923, including the Galena Viaduct and Marsh Arch "Rainbow" Bridge.

To drive the bridges of Kansas Route 66 is to experience the dawn of the American highway.

Beyond routine maintenance, the Galena Viaduct and Marsh Arch "Rainbow" Bridge have seen minimal improvements since their construction in 1923. Accordingly, they offer a unique driving experience for the typical American motorist. At 24 feet in width, they are far narrower than modern highway bridges. In the case of the Viaduct, the approach and descent are noticeably steep. Drivers are rewarded at the summit

Kansas Historic Route 66 Byway Information Kiosk image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr.
2. Kansas Historic Route 66 Byway Information Kiosk
with an expansive view of Hell's Half Acre.

In the case of the "Rainbow" Bridge, the view to be enjoyed is that of the bridge's iconic design. Until being dismantled in 1986, a second and similar Mar[s]h Arch bridge brought Route 66 traffic over the Spring River. Negotiations between the Kansas Historic Route 66 Association and the County in 1992 saved the remaining bridge from a similar fate. Though limited to southbound traffic only, it is an attraction not to be missed.

[Photo captions read]
Marsh Arch "Rainbow" Bridge

Named for its designer and patent holder, James Barney Marsh, hundreds of similar bridges were built across the country in the early decades of the 20th century. This one remains the last along the entire length of Route 66.

Galena Viaduct
Safely guiding motorists over the tracks of the Missour[i]-Kansas-Texas (M-K-T, or Katy) Railroad for more than 90 years, this bridge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as part of East Galena's Historic Business District.
 
Erected 2014 by USDOT Federal Highway Administration and the State of Kansas.
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the U.S. Route 66 marker series.
 
Location. 37° 4.54′ N, 94° 43.039′ W. Marker is in

Kansas Historic Route 66 Byway Information Kiosk Map image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr.
3. Kansas Historic Route 66 Byway Information Kiosk Map
Riverton, Kansas, in Cherokee County. Marker is at the intersection of U.S. 400 and State Highway 66, on the right when traveling south on U.S. 400. Touch for map. Marker kiosk is about 300 feet west of the roundabout. Marker is in this post office area: Riverton KS 66770, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 3 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Land's Legacy (here, next to this marker); Boom Towns (here, next to this marker); Cosmopolitan Corner (here, next to this marker); Crossroads of Kansas (here, next to this marker); Baxter Springs Massacre (approx. 0.8 miles away); Marsh Rainbow Arch Bridge (approx. 1.3 miles away); a different marker also named Baxter Springs Massacre (approx. 2.9 miles away); Baxter Springs Massacre 1863 (approx. 2.9 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Riverton.
 
Also see . . .
1. Kansas' Historic Route 66 Byway. (Submitted on February 27, 2015, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
2. Kansas Route 66 Historic Byway on Facebook. (Submitted on February 27, 2015, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
3. Route 66 Travel Itinerary. (Submitted on February 27, 2015, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
4. National Historic Route 66 Federation. (Submitted on February 27, 2015, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
 
Categories. Bridges & ViaductsMan-Made FeaturesRoads & Vehicles
 
Marsh Rainbow Arch Bridge image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., February 21, 2015
4. Marsh Rainbow Arch Bridge
Marsh Rainbow Arch Bridge image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., February 21, 2015
5. Marsh Rainbow Arch Bridge
Route 66 & Frontier Military Historic Byways Signs image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., February 21, 2015
6. Route 66 & Frontier Military Historic Byways Signs
On northbound US Hwy 69/400 at the Kansas-Oklahoma border south of Baxter Springs
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on February 27, 2015, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania. This page has been viewed 230 times since then and 48 times this year. Photos:   1. submitted on February 27, 2015, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.   2, 3. submitted on February 26, 2015, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.   4, 5, 6. submitted on February 27, 2015, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.
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