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

Boom Towns

Kansas Historic Route 66 Byway

 
 
Boom Towns Marker image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr., February 21, 2015
1. Boom Towns Marker
Inscription.

In less than 14 miles, this byway connects 3 towns, each with its own American success story.

The towns that dot Kansas Historic Route 66 were each poised for great success at the time the highway was designated in 1926. Galena was a major hub of one of the largest mineral extraction operations in the world. It's largest employer, the Eagle Picher Smelter, was one of the largest lead and zinc refineries in the nation.

Just to the east, The Empire District Electric Company's Riverton Generation Station provided electricity to 80 communities and the entire Tri-state mining industry. In addition to this business, Riverton sported a country club and the Spring River Inn on the banks of the newly created Lake Lowell.

Baxter Springs, formerly known as Kansas' First Cow Town, had already reinvented itself as the home of mining offices and their executives' families. The town maintained ordinances which strictly limited mining within the corporate limits. Consequently, the town became a refuge from the effects of the industry and the place to settle down for many of the local elites.

It is their connection to Route 66 that might just sustain Galena, Riverton and Baxter Springs into the future.

Interstate 44 bypassed the Kansas portion of Route 66 when it opened in 1961. All of U.S. Route 66 was officially

Kansas Historic Route 66 Byway Information Kiosk image. Click for full size.
By William Fischer, Jr.
2. Kansas Historic Route 66 Byway Information Kiosk
decommissioned in 1986. These facts do not matter to Scott Nelson, Owner of Nelson's Old Riverton Store. His establishment opened before the highway arrived and has remained in business long after its departure. Ironically for his business, and many others between Galena and Baxter Springs, Route 66 never went away. Today, a whole new brand of tourism dedicated to The Mother Road brings thousands of joy riders, Sunday drivers and bikers down Historic Kansas Route 66 every year. These nostalgia seekers are on the hunt for a piece of the American Main Street. Many of them aren't even American. Just take a peak at the guest book in that of an eatery like Cars on the Route. You will see names and addresses from Norway, England, France, China or Japan. The success of the Disney Pixar movie Cars has amplified this resurgence in Route 66 tourism. It is in this way that this corner of Kansas is putting its past forward.

[Photo captions read]
Nelson's Old Riverton Store

When it opened at its present location in 1923, this business catered to workers at the nearby electrical plant. Today, visitors can find a selection of food staples, deli sandwiches and soda pop similar to that sold during the hey-day of Route 66.

Cars on the Route
This Galena business retains the exterior shell and fuel pumps of the byegone [sic] Kan-O-Tex service station that

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
has sat on the site since 1933, but offers up draft beers, diner-style eats and Route 66 souvenirs to the modern day tourist.

Kansas Route 66 Visitors Center
Housed in the restored Independent Oil & Gas Company station in downtown Baxter Springs
 
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 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); Bridging the American Divide (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.)
5. Historic Route 66 in Kansas. (Submitted on February 27, 2015, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
6. Kansas Route 66 Main Page. (Submitted on February 27, 2015, by William Fischer, Jr. of Scranton, Pennsylvania.)
 
Categories. Industry & CommerceMan-Made FeaturesRoads & VehiclesSettlements & Settlers

 
 
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 231 times since then and 46 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.
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