When our family took our Route 66 road trip, one of the towns where we spent the night was in Carthage, Missouri. Carthage is located in the SW corner of Missouri, just a short distance away from Joplin and while a relatively small town (pop. 14,000), there’s plenty to see for tourists.
Here’s were 5 things that our family loved during our brief stay in Carthage.
The Boots Motel.
This classic Route 66 motel dates back to 1939 and is a fantastic example of Streamline Moderne Architecture. Once regarded as one of the “ten most endangered roadside attractions in America”, new owners picked up the motel at a bankruptcy sale and are slowly restoring it back to its original condition. We spend the night in one of the five rooms that have so far been restored (Room 12) and felt we had walked through a time warp back to 1940.
The Jasper City Courthouse.
This Romanesque Revival Courthouse in the center of the town square is one of the most beautiful courthouses our family has ever seen. Built in 1895 (to replace the one that was burned down during the Civil War), this gorgeous building is made of Carthage marble and looks like a medieval castle. Indoors, visitors will find a working old time elevator with an old time elevator operator.
66 Drive-in theater
Carthage is also home to one of the few remaining drive-in theaters left on Route 66. The 66 Drive-in theater was restored in 1998 and now shows movies Fridays, Saturday, and Sundays. We missed the move show times by a couple of days, darn it, and plan on doing a better job with our scheduling the next time we pass through.
Carthage was known for it’s lead and zinc mines and for a time had more millionaires than any other town in America. We were astonished at the number of mansions lining the streets and wish we could have spent several hours in touring some of the homes that were open to the public. If you like Victorian homes as much as we do, be sure to visit the the Convention and Visitors Bureau Office, located at 402 South Garrison Avenue where you can pick up a Victorian Homes Auto Tour.
Andy Thomas mural
Carthage was also home to the The Battle of Carthage, the first trans-Mississippi conflict of the Civil War. We visited the Civil War Museum downtown which displays a 7 x 15 mural showing the Battle of Carthage as the fighting passes through the town square. The mural was painted by a local artist and looks so real that you can almost smell the smoke.
For Route 66 travelers, Carthage, Missouri is a town that is worth spending a full day in sightseeing. For more information about Carthage and its many attractions, Visit Carthage.com will help you plan your trip.
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