Day 5: October 25th
Driving in to Carterville I’m looking for a BIG breakfast, I found one in the Carterville cafe where the staff are cheerfully friendly and even gave me an extra t, on the bill:
The Carterville website is worth a visit to see photographs of the old town and hear how the township sees itself. Here’s an extract copied from their website describing the town’s history:
Visitor’s from the U.S. and overseas seem to be especially interested in the older and smaller towns that reflect the values of America’s Main Street and Route 66, and Carterville, Missouri is just such a place.
Having celebrated it’s 125th. Anniversary, Carterville’s colorful history was born in the early 1870′s and later prospered during the lead and zinc mining boom of the turn-of-the-century. In those days, the town’s population soared to over 5000. Two trolly tracks ran down the middle of Main street, and business thrived. Overcrowding and wealth, full employment, social clubs and the rowdy miners were common in those days, but the city did not diversify and depended on the mining industry for it’s survival. By 1920 the boom turned to bust, and Carterville’s miners moved on, leaving a dwindling population to deal with closing businesses and fewer income opportunities. The Great Depression would have finished the town off, except for one thing, a new federal road known then as Highway 66.
Carterville’s Main Street bustled once again with automobile and truck traffic. In spite of losing over half of it’s population, the town now had ten filling stations in operation. Old buildings that once housed department stores, newspaper offices and banks were converted in hotels, auto service garages and cafes. Even though the town suffered another set-back when Route 66 was decommissioned in the mid 1980′s, Carterville had evolved into a quiet, friendly community…and seemed to be content. It can also be said today that Carterville owes it’s very survival to the Mother Road, Route 66.
Today, interest in this most famous of all American highways is surging, and Carterville wants to show it’s pride in, and respect of, Route 66. Local residents display the symbol of Route 66 on their homes, businessmen have placed Route 66 banners on Main Street poles and painted the shield on the pavement for all to see. A Route 66 flag flies beneath Old Glory and events are held in the Fall to celebrate being a part of America’s Main Street.
Carterville is now home to “Superman on 66″, a Superman memorbelia museum and ice cream parlor. The first Route 66 Visitors Welcome Center in southwest Missouri opened it’s doors this year in a 1937 era filling station, and several other old buildings have been purchased for a Route 66 themed Bed and Breakfast and restaurant. Plans are also underway to purchase a city block for use as a Route 66 Festival site to attract more regional visitors, and other Route-themed activities are being considered by the new “Festival Committee”.
Everyone seems to be jumping on the Route 66 bandwagon, including the town’s police officers whose uniform shoulder patches sport the Route 66 emblem. Could it be that Carterville has the same spirit as the fictional town residents of “Radiator Springs” in the Pixar movie “CARS” had?