Route 66 and Bonnie & Clyde

Leaving Carthage and Kilroy, it’s only 17 miles to Joplin, but there are numerous turns and numerous streets to carefully follow. None of them are named “Route 66” of course, which makes things a little difficult, but the route is fairly well marked with signs. It is a surprisingly nice drive through residential areas with a number of old Route 66 buildings that have been maintained or refurbished and are now used for other purposes, mostly as restaurants.

Zinc was discovered in the area after the Civil War and today, Joplin sits on top of countless abandoned mining tunnels.  After Route 66 came through the town, it had to be rerouted several times due to cave-ins along the road. Most of the tunnels are now filled with water in an attempt to stop the numerous cave-ins that occurred all over the area in the past, but you might still want to walk lightly and don’t let the kids jump up and down in town!
Although the town is rich in history, other than the landmark Dale’s Old Route 66 Barber Shop on the corner of Utica St. and Euclid Ave, there’s not a lot of Route 66 reasons to stop and sightsee in Joplin. But there is an interesting side trip to be taken.
 
The apartment rented by Bonnie and Clyde.
1933 picture taken after the shootout.
On April 1, 1933, Bonnie and Clyde Barrow, Buck and Blanche Barrow along with William Daniel Jones rented a garage apartment at 3347 ½ Oak Ridge Drive in Joplin. Their stay ended less than 2 weeks later on April 13th  when Clyde noticed two police cars pull up in front of the house. A shootout ensued and just a few seconds after the first shots were fired, Blanche, terrified and losing her wits, ran out the front door while screaming.

Having killed one policeman and mortally wounding another, Bonnie, Clyde, Buck, and W.D. Jones made it to the garage, got into their car, and sped away. They picked up Blanche, still running, around the corner.


1933 crime scene the day the Barrow
gang escaped.
The police did not capture Bonnie and Clyde that day, but they found a treasure trove of information they had left in the apartment. Most notably, they found rolls of undeveloped film, which, once developed, revealed the now-famous images of Bonnie and Clyde in various poses. Also in the apartment was Bonnie's poem, "The Story of Suicide Sal."


Picture developed from the film left behind in
the house when Bonnie and Clyde escaped.
Today, the apartment has been refurbished and decorated in the 1930’s style like it was during Bonnie and Clyde’s stay and can be rented for $300 per weekend.

Bonnie and Clyde's garage apartment in Joplin
as of May, 2012.
Bye-bye Missouri.
From Joplin, it is only about 5 miles to the Kansas state line.  Two more miles beyond the Kansas line is sleepy little Galena where we encountered Melba Rigg, the most interesting and engaging character we met during the whole trip and a Route 66 site famous to millions of people.



Go to the first Route 66 entry here.
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