Travel on Historic U.S. Route 66 to Rolla, Missouri

Trip on Route 66 to Rolla, Missouri

Greetings from Rolla, Missouri, on U.S. Route 66 and the Home of the School of Mines

Route 66 across Missouri features a variety of large cities and small towns, connected by roadways over rolling hills and valleys. The Mother Road followed much of the Kickapoo, or Osage, Trail, an Indian trail that later became the Old Wire Road.

Like other Route 66 segments, the actual alignment varied over the years as engineering improvements were constructed.

We've driven much of Route 66, including multiple segments across Missouri.

One of our favorite stops along Route 66 in Missouri is the City of Rolla. It is centrally located within Missouri, at the intersection of I-44 and State Highway 63. The city lies less than 100 miles from St. Louis, Jefferson City, Columbia and Springfield. The city has about 20,000 residents, and is the county seat of Phelps County.

Nestled in the south central Ozarks Highland region, the Rolla is home to Missouri University of Science and Technology, Missouri’s premier technological research university.

Its parks system boasts over 304 acres including over 10 miles of walking trails, outdoor water park and state of the art indoor fitness complex. Rolla boasts a history that predates the Civil War, and has strong influences from U.S. Route 66 which traversed the city.

Historic U.S. Route 66 Byway in Missouri

Attractions and Things to Do

  • Mark Twain National Forest
  • Fugitive Beach
  • Route 66 Museum of Phelps County - in the Mule Trading Post
  • Ozark Actors Theatre
  • Route 66 Summerfest
  • Rolla Lions Club Den & Park
  • Edward Clark Museum of Missouri Geology
  • Leach Theatre
  • Stonehenge at Missouri S&T
  • Dillon Log House Museum
  • Historic Phelps County Courthouse
  • Historic Main Street Footbridge
  • Totem Pole Trading Post - 1413 Martin Springs Drive
  • Frisco Engine 1501

Map showing the location of Rolla, Missouri on Historic Route 66, between Cuba and Lebanon
Map showing the location of Rolla, Missouri on Historic Route 66



Earlier Days of Route 66 Around Rolla

Route 66 through Phelps County replaced Route 14, a graveled "all weather" road. Paving work began in 1928, and the final section to be paved was between Rolla and Lebanon, near the town of Arlington.

The "classic" period of Highway 66 lasted barely two decades before realignments, lane additions, and other improvements in the 1950s left the highway looking much like Interstate 44, which was completed in the 1960s.

On Federal Highway 66
On Federal Highway 66, from Fair Ground Hill, Rolla, Missouri
U.S. Highway 66 Through Rolla
U.S. Highway 66 Through Rolla, in the Missouri Ozarks
Hooker Cut on U.S. Highway 66
Hooker Cut on four-lane U.S. Highway 66 between Waynesville and Rolla, Missouri
Highway 66 Crossing Big Piney River
New U.S. Highway 66 crossing Big Piney River between Rolla and  Waynesville, Missouri

Route 66 Alignments and By-Pass in Rolla

The original 1926 alignment of U.S. Highway 66 in downtown Rolla was on Pine Street, with two-way traffic flowing in both directions. As traffic levels increased over time, westbound traffic on Route 66 was moved to North Rolla Street, and Pine Street was changed to one-way traffic. This alignment is commonly called "City 66".

Pine Street, early years, two-way traffic
Pine Street, Route 66, in Rolla, Missouri, during the early years, with two-way traffic
After Pine Street was switched to one-way traffic
Pine Street, Route 66, in Rolla, Missouri, in later years, with one-way traffic


Highway service in Rolla was provided by U.S. Routes 63 and 66 and Missouri Route 72, together with a network of state supplementary highways and county roads.

U.S. Route 66 passed through the northern and western portions of the city. Rapidly increasing traffic on this route, the usual ribbon development of business along the highway, and its obsolete alignment and construction features created critical traffic and safety conditions. Studies were made of the various possibilities for relieving the condition, and new construction of a by-pass was deemed the best solution.

The by-pass around the central business district was thus built in the 1940s, along the Bishop Avenue corridor.

This new location by-passed the city to the north and west, touching the city limits for a short distance in the extreme north corner. The by-pass, also known today as the "Old Route U.S. 66," was shared with U.S. Route 63 for a major portion of the distance through the city.

Eventually I-44 replaced previous Route 66 alignments, overpaving some sections.

Map of Route 66 Alignments in Rolla, Missouri (courtesy of Missouri DOT)
Map of U.S. Route 66 alignments in Rolla, Missouri

Scenes Around Rolla Today

Downtown Rolla Mural
Downtown Rolla, Missouri mural
Fugitive Beach
Fugitive Beach in Rolla, Missouri
Stonehenge at Missouri S&T
Stonehenge at Missouri S&T in Rolla, Missouri
Havener Center
Havener Center in Rolla, Missouri
Frisco Steam Engine 1501 ... Schuman Park at 16th & Walnut
Frisco Steam Engine 1501 in Rolla, Missouri
Mule Trading Post & Museum
Mule Trading Post & Museum in Rolla, Missouri
Lions Club Park
Lions Club Park in Rolla, Missouri

Totem Pole Trading Post in Rolla ... Missouri's Oldest Business on Historic Route 66
1413 Martin Springs Drive
Totem Pole Trading Post in Rolla ... Missouri's Oldest Business on Historic Route 66 Totem Pole Trading Post in Rolla ... Missouri's Oldest Business on Historic Route 66 Totem Pole Trading Post in Rolla ... Missouri's Oldest Business on Historic Route 66

Lodging & Travel Options in Rolla, Missouri

Rolla, Missouri Travel Guide at TripAdvisor ... hotels, restaurants, things to do, traveler reviews

Rolla Travel Guide

Click for Rolla hotel listings and traveler reviews at TripAdvisor

Hotels in Rolla with Traveler Reviews

Rolla Restaurant Listings & Reviews

Attractions & Things to Do in Rolla


Interactive Map of Rolla, Missouri

Earlier Times in Rolla

We have included below a sampling of our collection of vintage travel postcards dealing with Rolla and Route 66.

What was Route 66 like in its earlier years, as visitors drove around Rolla? What did all the service stations, motels and public buildings look like when they were new? What did the traveling public experience on the Mother Road? We wonder such things when we travel Route 66 today.

Those earlier times in the 1930s, 40s and 50s were not always captured on film. But the use of colorful postcards was common in those decades.

These portray the historic road in its prime and help us to visualize, and appreciate, "earlier times" as we drive Route 66 today in Rolla.

Bypass Motel & Cafe
Bypass Motel & Cafe in  Rolla, Missouri
Hotel Edwin Long
Hotel Edwin Long in Rolla, Missouri
Rolla Rancho Motel
Rolla Rancho Motel in Rolla, Missouri on U.S. Highway 66 West
Carney Manor Inn
Carney Manor Inn, Rolla, Missouri, on U.S. Highway 66 East, at the city limits
The Mule Trading Post
The Mule Trading Post in  Rolla, Missouri
Pennant Hotel
The Pennant Hotel on Route 66 in Rolla, Missouri
Hull's Colonial Village
Hull's Colonial Village on Route 66 in East Rolla, Missouri
Toky's Bar-B-Q
Toky's Bar-B-Q on Highway 66 East in Rolla, Missouri
Schuman's Tourist City
Schuman's Tourist City on U.S. Highway 66 in Rolla, Missouri

More Information & Resources about Rolla website and VisitRolla on Facebook

City of Rolla, Missouri website

Rolla Chamber of Commerce

Route 66 Museum of Phelps County

Route 66 Summerfest

Rolla Missouri Travel Guide at TripAdvisor: Hotels, restaurants, things to do

Route 66 Association of Missouri


Route 66 road trips in Missouri ... click for details!

Route 66 road trip to St. Louis, Missouri Route 66 road trip to Lebanon, Missouri Route 66 road trip to Springfield, Missouri
Route 66 road trip to Carthage, Missouri Route 66 road trip to Cuba, Missouri Route 66 road trip to Joplin, Missouri
Route 66 Road Trip to Sullivan, Missouri Route 66 road trip to Rolla, Missouri Route 66 Road Trip to Webb City, Missouri