Route 66 Caravan

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Route 66 Caravan Road Log:
June 09, 2003


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In Search of the Spook Lights

Sunday, June 8th was another day off for all of us on the Caravan. The Caravan is fun and a once in a lifetime experience, but it is a tremendous amount of work. Some days I wonder if I can physically go on - taking pictures and seeing Route 66 all day then spending most of the night working on this web site. But you know it's worth it. Route 66 is not the pavement - though that's important - but it's the people along the highway that make up the total Route 66 Experience. The Caravan is working for those people and businesses. A new awareness of Route 66 for those unfamiliar with its wonders is the goal of the Route 66 Caravan. Yes all this work is worth it. Sunday was a day off like I said, but we all couldn't sit still. We made plans to meet Dean and Paula Walker at the Eisler Brothers Store in Riverton for another adventure. We were going to get a guided tour of the famous Spook Lights of Quapaw.
Paula and Dean Walker

Paula and Dean pose in Paula's kitchen (Dean acknowledges that this is his wife's domain) before we leave for our little adventure.

        
When we left Dean and Paula's house we had to pass through Baxter Springs again. Dean wanted to show us an old general store just off Route 66 in Baxter Springs. Would you believe it? Bonny and Clyde robbed this place. Not just once either. Two weeks later they came back and robbed it again. Now I know that this just has to be the most robbed town in America!

Old Baxter Springs General Store

     
From Baxter Springs we drove back roads to the Devil's Promenade then on through Witch's Hollow to Spook Light Road. I kid you not; those are the real names! Talk about getting us in the mood for ghostly apparitions. We drove down Spook Light Road a bit and parked in a dense grove of trees. I must admit, this was a spooky place without any strange lights. I kept thinking about Washington Irving's Legend of Sleepy Hollow. This was the kind of place where it wouldn't have surprised me at all to turn around and see the headless horseman galloping down the road in pursuit of Icabod Crane. As the sun set and the forest settled into a darkening gloom the sound of the whip-poor-wills added the final touch to a very lonely place. In the gathering darkness we didn't have long to wait before we all saw a faint orb of light in the distance. At first thought I figured it might be another car or something. It was definitely something though. Funny thing though, it didn't appear to be headlights and the light didn't seem to get any closer to us. It maintained a distance from us. A single small pulsing orb of light, much like a distant campfire, that varied in intensity. Unfortunately the light was far enough away that I couldn't capture it with my camera. I was hoping it would come closer to us (Kevin said he was perfectly happy if it didn't though) so I could get a picture. We watched this mysterious light for almost an hour. There were other cars on the road too. Sometimes one would drive towards the light and the light would dim and go out. Once the car stopped the light would appear again - almost as if this ghostly light knew we were there! There are many explanations to what this light may be, anything from the ghosts of two tragic Indian lovers wandering the forest to UFOs and a portal into another dimension. Nobody really knows for sure, but this mysterious phenomenon has been reported here for centuries. Seems that even the Native Americans of the area knew about it. The light was still visible when we decided to leave, it hadn't come any closer to us and it was getting late. You be the judge folks. All I know is that we saw something out there in the forest. Did we really have a supernatural experience?

 

Joplin's Schifferdecker Park

Joplin really got going from the lead mines that supported it, though it was a settlement on the Santa Fe Trail long before lead was discovered here in 1850. It was a rough and wild town back in the old days and catered to all that a lonely miner might want - for a fee of course. By the time Route 66 came through it had settled down somewhat and catered to all that a traveler might need - for a fee of course.
Schifferdecker Park

Schifferdecker park was here before Route 66. It was started in 1909 and was known as Electric Park back then. In 1922 the golf course opened here, and after Route 66 came through it was a popular stopping off place for the traveler.

         

This old gas station across the street from Schifferdecker Park once was a busy place on Route 66.

Joplin Gas Station

     
Joplin Dedication Ceremony

Schifferdecker Ceremony

 

The Caravan Crew at Schifferdecker Park.

 

Bob Nichols, Tommy Pike, President of Missouri Route 66 Association, Jim, and Brad Belk, Museum Executive Director at the Roadside Attraction ceremony.

      

Schifferdecker Roadside Attraction

 

  Schifferdecker Park houses the Joplin Museum Complex and is a must stop for any Mother Road fan.

         

There's a lot to see on Joplin's Route 66. This old Phillips Cottage Style Filling Station at Utica and Euclid was converted into Dale's Ole 66 Barber Shop. Dale has been in business here for decades. He just retired last Saturday!

Dale's Barber Shop

 

Webb City

Webb City Route 66 Joplin, Missouri was a major town dependent on the lead and zinc mining industry and the railroad. Where Joplin was a miner's town Webb City was a mine owner's town. There was money here during the boom days. The beautiful homes and churches along Route 66 here attest to that fact. Originally the town was platted in 1875 and was a major lead and zinc producer until the end of W.W. II.
       

Beautiful homes and churches still grace the roadside along Route 66 in Webb City.

Webb City Church

     
Webb City House

Webb City House

 


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