Planning begins for courthouse Route 66 display

John Hacker

The Mother Road will be on display in the halls of the Jasper County Courthouse, but exactly when is still to be determined.

Brad Belk, director of the Joplin Museum Complex, said the preliminary planning work has begun on what’s officially to be known as the Jasper County Route 66 Transportation Museum, planned for the first floor hall of the courthouse in Carthage.

Belk said the display will be set up where the mining and mineral display is now located, across the hall from the old elevator. The display of rocks and minerals will be moved to a different hallway.

“The consulting contract was approved and we’ll be in the preliminary design phase until April,” Belk said. “We’re planning on having a final design in August.”

A total of $128,511.38 has been budgeted for the project. The county’s share of the cost is $29,641.56, and a grant from the Federal Highway Administration for $98,869.82 will pay the remainder of the costs.

In its most recent budget, the county set aside $20,000 for the project.

According to the Missouri Department of Transportation, which is administering the grant, the museum will serve as a welcome center for people traveling Route 66.

Belk said he is visiting several other Route 66 museums as part of his preliminary planning to get ideas regarding the displays that should be shown in the Carthage museum.

“We’re going on fact-finding missions,” Belk said. “We’re going to the museum in Elk City and to the national Route 66 Museum in Clinton, both in Oklahoma. Last week we went to Lebanon to see the display in the Laclede County Library. We also interviewed Scott Springer, who rode the length of the road on a bike in 2006 to mark the 80th anniversary of Route 66.”

Belk said at this point in the process he’s just looking for ideas as to what the display should look like.

“I’m not working with any of the courthouse groups as yet, but that will come,” Belk said. “My boss is the county commission and we will get agreements from all parties involved before we build anything, but I feel I’ve got to get exposed to different Route 66 museums before I design anything.”

Carthage Press