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Route 66 Caravan Road Log:
June 07, 2003

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The Faded Glory of Galena

Galena 1898
Main Street Galena 1898

Galena was named for the ore it produced, "Galena Lead." The town got its start in 1873 from the lead mines and this mining tradition continued until 1973. During the turn of the Twentieth Century, Galena was one of the most prosperous towns west of New York City. In its golden, or should I say "leaden" period it had a population of nearly 30,000 people.
Route 66 came through Galena and added to the prosperity of this Queen of Kansas. When the mines played out and the Interstate bypassed Galena the town fell upon hard times. Compare the 1898 photo of Galena's main street (above) with the 2003 photo I took (right). That's the same building 105 years later!

Historic Galena Building 2003
Main Street Galena 2003


Historic Galena Building
Wouldn't this building make a great ice cream parlor?

A trip down the main street today offers many photo opportunities. If you look closely though you will see the faded glory of a once boom town peeking through. What's left of the downtown district shows promise of a rebirth. I noticed some new businesses that had opened up. This is a good sign because Galena has the history, the architecture, and the friendly people to bring the visitor back off the Interstate and return to the small town charm of this truly American city.
Galena Faded Billboard

Galena Faded Billboard


Faded billboards can still be seen on the sides of the brick buildings in Galena. These are windows to the past glory of this mining town on Route 66. I think Galena has the most painted signs I've seen yet on Route 66.


The Galena Good Old Days celebration brought out many vintage cars and hot rods. I guess I'm still partial to the old classic vehicles like this 1924 Studebaker Touring Car. It just seems to go well on the streets of Galena.

Vintage Auto


Galena Good Old Days





Pappy Litch Park The new Howard "Pappy" Litch Park was named in honor of a local historian and beloved citizen of Galena. The Route 66 Caravan was honored to be a part of it's dedication. The land for the park was once a federal weigh station along old Route 66, and the town of Galena though it a fitting site for a Route 66 park.

Galena Mayor Lynne Hardman, Jim and Park Designer Jim Ray unveil the new Roadside Attraction sign at Galena's Howard "Pappy" Litch Park.

Roadside Attraction Sign Unveiling


Galena Roadside Attraction


Will Rogers Monument and Plaque

Jim Conkle and the Route 66 Caravan was also honored by the dedication of the "new - old" Will Rogers highway plaque in the park. This plaque is one of the original 1952 plaques that was located on the Missouri - Kansas State line. It now resides permanently in the Howard "Pappy" Litch Park for all to enjoy instead of being listed on eBay.
Will Rogers Ceremony

Jim Conkle, Jay Foraker, Jim Ray, Lynne Hardman, Bill Frazier, Sonny Webster and Kathy Anderson prepare to unveil the Will Rogers Plaque.




Will Rogers Highway

The Will Rogers Monument and Plaque. The Will Rogers Monument project was a priority of Darrell Ray of Joplin, Missouri. He made it a goal of his life to put these monuments up and down Route 66 - also known as the Will Rogers Highway. Darrell was supposed to be at the dedication, but he had a heart attack last Thursday.

* It is with a sad heart that I have to update this page and and pass along the sad news that the Mother Road has lost one of   her biggest supporters. Darrel Ray passed away Tuesday June 10th. We will all miss you Darrel but know that we will continue to carry on the work you were so passionate about. God Bless and see you down the highway.


Dairy Dream Drive-In

Judy McCanns Morris has a dream! Someday she would like to open her parent's drive-in, the Dairy Dream, again. This was Galena's hot spot during the hey-day of Route 66! Darrell and Naydene McCanns, Judy's parents, would set up special functions and bring in bands for the young folk of Galena back then. Judy's mom, Naydene, put her heart and soul in the drive-in. Naydene served only quality food, her customers meant everything to her.

Judy Morris

The McCanns in 1975

The McCanns' in 1975 at the Galena Good Old Days celebration. A portion of the Dairy Dream Drive-In is in the background.

Judy showed me a card with a mineral sample that her parents gave out to customers. Seems like the McCanns Family were always going that extra mile for their customers. I've found most "mom and Pop" businesses did. This was America in a simpler time!

Dairy Dream Souvenir


The Old Dairy Dream Drive-In

I kept running into people during the Galena Good Old Days celebration that told me about their own personal experiences with this old drive-in many years ago. You know, things like, "That was my first job," or "I met my boyfriend there," or "I remember Saturday night and all the fun we had there."  This forgotten - now nondescript - building houses thousands of forgotten teenage memories.


The Dairy Dream was the place to be in Galena during the 1950s and 1960s. All the teenagers would make it their headquarters for the Saturday night cruise down Main Street. Sadly, today it stands forlorn and forgotten - except by Judy McCanns Morris. Hopefully she will be able to bring it back someday.


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