Original stretch of Route 66 still being preserved

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An original portion of Route 66 remains at the corner of Glenstone Avenue and Kearney Street in Springfield.

A rumor has been making the rounds that one of Springfield’s most prominent patches of original Route 66 pavement has been completely destroyed.

Fact check: Fake news. It isn’t true.

The curved stretch of road — located at the corner of Glenstone Avenue and Kearney Street — hit headlines in the summer of 2018, when it was purchased from the Missouri Department of Transportation by convenience-store chain Kum & Go. It was reported at the time that Kum & Go planned to pave over the road, which is one of very few original Route 66 stretches still in Springfield.

Public outcry turned to delight when Kum & Go officials decided to keep the road and expand it to meet current regulations. In recent days, however, some folks thought that the pavement had ultimately been removed — perhaps because a pile of pavement debris is visible next to Glenstone.

Yet despite that sight, Kum & Go officials say that a significant part of the original highway is still being preserved.

“Be assured that we have been able to save a large portion of the original Route 66 running through the property,” says Amy Day, senior communications specialist with Kum & Go.”We are going to install an eight-foot fiberglass sculpture that will pay tribute to Route 66 highlights.”

The in-progress Kum & Go

A walk near the construction site shows construction in progress on the original highway. Wooden guides have been placed to expand the road, which ultimately offers a unique tie to the Mother Road.

“Why try to save this stretch? It was the most evocative, pristine, and visible stretch of original pavement in Springfield,” says Tom Peters, local Route 66 historian and dean of Missouri State University Libraries. “Also, because the westward trip on 66 is more important than the eastern trip — does anybody only do 66 from LA to Chicago? — having that stretch at the northeast corner of Springfield, as westward travelers approached Springfield proper back in the day seems important.”

Springfield’s connection with Route 66 goes much deeper than simply having being spot along the Mother Road. It was in downtown Springfield in 1926 that the road was given its iconic name.

“Springfield was the birthplace of Route 66 because, on April 30, 1926, a telegram was sent from Springfield by Cy Avery and B. H. Piepmeier to DC, stating that, if the number 66 is still available, they wanted it for the proposed road from Chicago to LA,” says Peters.

The under-construction Kum & Go is slated to open in the spring of 2019.

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“Happy 90th birthday, Route 66!” Kaitlyn McConnell, Ozarks Alive, April 30, 2016

“Kum & Go changes course and will not pave over original Route 66, official says,” Giacomo Bologna, Springfield News-Leader, Aug. 2, 2018

“What’s going to happen to one of the last original stretches of Route 66 in Springfield?” Wes Johnson, Springfield News-Leader, July 13, 2018