Many of us can remember driving along Route 66 as children with our families and seeing the trains running parallel with the road. The excitement of getting mom or dad to toot the horn to get an engineer to blow the whistle is a treasured sound that we can remember to this day.
Cuba, MO is a Route 66 town that owes its development to both the railroad and to Route 66. When Cuba celebrated its sesquicentennial in 2007, the sesquicentennial banners placed the Route 66 logo over the train tracks to highlight the importance of both to Cuba.
In 1857, the town was platted around the anticipated railroad, which did spur the new town’s growth. Along with the development of the main line, there was the 1873 Cuba-Salem, MO branch of the road that brought goods and passengers from outlying towns of Viburnum, Cook Station, and Steelville to the mainline in Cuba.
To commemorate the impact of the railroad to the town, Viva Cuba, a beautification organization, commissioned a replica of the Cuba-Salem branch of the railroad to be installed in the Viva Cuba Garden that sits at the Route 66/Hwy.19 intersection. The steel train is 15’ long and weighs approximately 325 pounds. Father and son team Glen and Curtis Tutterrow sculpted the train in three pieces, which were welded together on May 29 when the train was placed on a decorative brick wall.
When Route 66 intersected the town in the early 1930s, some businesses such as the Southern Hotel and Hotel Cuba, which had faced the railroad, added rear entrances for the convenience of Route 66 travelers. New businesses such as the 1932 Phillips 66 station, at the intersection of Route 66 and Hwy.19, were built. The town prospered and business developed along the road.
The railroad and Route 66 ran a race across the countryside, often meeting at crossroads for a friendly nod with both spurring development wherever they went.
Viva Cuba commemorated much of the original development and the Route 66 influence in a series of 12 outdoor murals along the Route 66 corridor. During this time Cuba was designated Route 66 Mural City by the Missouri legislature. With improvements and growth of the public art project in Cuba, new development is taking place along Route 66 while the trains are increasing their runs across the countryside. Once again, the two friendly rivals are neck and neck with horns and train whistles sending a friendly “hey” across the miles.
Viva Cuba recognizes this partnership in its installation of the train replica in its Route 66 Viva Cuba Garden.
For information on the murals, see crawfordco.com/murals. For information on Cuba, visit cubamochamber.com.
On April 1st a 42'4' inch steel and wood rocker was erected 4 miles west of Cuba, MO on Route 66. It is next to the Fanning US 66 Outpost and General Store. Three local men collaborated to build it. It looks so big next to the small Outpost building. The Outpost is a good place for a cold drink and a snack. You can rock on the front porch or sit by the fire inside in the winter and talk to the owners about the chair.
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