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Missouri Mother Road Festival and Low Cost of Living

Updated on October 5, 2016
Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Ms. Inglish has 30 years of success in medicine, psychology, STEM instruction, and aerospace education for Active USAF Civil Air Patrol.

Classic Chevy
Classic Chevy | Source

A Road That is a National Treasure

This national treasure fell into disrepair and became impassable in spots during the mid-20th Century, as the new Freeway System spread across America.

Towns along the way that were once prosperous lost business, jobs, and visitors as they were bypassed by the new highways. Since that time, local and national groups along the Mother Road have gathered to bring attention to new alignments (roads that road roughly parallel) to Old Route 66 and to the stretches of the road that have been repaired or rebuilt.

International Route 66 Mother Road Festival, Springfield

International Route 66 Mother Road Festival, 2008.
International Route 66 Mother Road Festival, 2008. | Source

Old Route 66 (Will Rogers Highway) and its newer alignments that are reconnecting the across the country are some of my favorite places to travel. Between Springfield, Illinois and St. Louis, Missouri, travelers are treated to more Route 66 landmarks and memorabilia than in any other state of the union. This makes the State of Illinois, and especially Springfield, a drawfor tourists and conventions.

To the northeast, Illinois's own portion of Route 66 is one of the newest US National Scenic Byways and that makes it nearly unmatched for historic scenic traveling at a more leisurely pace than "making time" on a superhighway to some destination. The byway is celebrated at the well known website at

Route 66 overall is a road on which to slow down, meet people, and enjoy the history and the sights of bygone years, as well as the new installations and attractions.

Winter along Route 66.
Winter along Route 66. | Source

Low Cost of Living

Springfield MO is reported to have one of the Top 10 Lowest Cost of Living Indexes in the USA (reference: US News and World Report).

Sperling's Best Places lists it in the top 100 low-cost places to live in America, its cost of living 15% below the US national index. Utilities in Springfield rate even lower. Low utility costs is a top attraction when considering places to live.

Sperling's also lists the median housing cost at a bit over $110,600, much below the $145,700 for America as a whole in 2013.

Future job growth to 2022 is predicted to be 33.8+%, somewhat under the national average and the majority of the workers in Springfield earn $35,000 - $100,000 per year.

The largest cohort of workers earn $50,000 - $75,000.

Route 66 From Chicago to Springfield MO

Route 66, Chicago IL:
W 66th St, Chicago, IL, USA

get directions

Route 66 Springfield, Illinois:
S Old Route 66, Springfield, IL 62712, USA

get directions

Historic U.S. 66, St. Louis Missouri - Historic U.S. 66, St Louis, MO, USA:
Historic U.S. 66, St. Louis, MO, USA

get directions

Springfield Missouri:
Springfield, MO, USA

get directions

Murder on Route 66
Murder on Route 66

This collection of murder mysteries edited by Carolyn Wheat provides the flavor and atmosphere of Old Route 66 and the decades along the timeline from its opening to its fall into disrepair. Some editions are valuable collectibles and I've read the book 5 times. It is one of my favorites.


International Route 66 Mother Road Festival

This festival is held the third weekend in September each year in Springfield,Illinois to commemorate the historic and entertaining Route 66. The 2011 installment of the event was its 10th anniversary and brought out many residents and visitors. Popularity grew further with the 2016, 15th anniversary celebration.

Oldies music plays all weekend and Friday night brings out a cruise in to celebrate Route 66. One of the oldest car shows in the country takes place on the Saturday of the festival and includes over 1,000 hot rods and historic autos. Several races and auto related events occur during the weekend and beginning in 2012, several additional new features will entertain guests.

The Monster Truck Nationals was added in 2012 as a popular event in March to lead up to the festival. The O'Reilly Auto Parts Ozark 4-Wheel Jamboree Nationals takes place in May, and several other events happen in nearby in Indiana.

Abraham Lincoln's National Museum of Surveying

This museum is the only surveying museum dedicated to Lincoln in America. It was constructed in Springfield Illinois, because it is the hometown of President Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln worked in surveying for a time, as did America's first President, George Washington.

In 2012, the museum is meeting the requirements of qualifying as a counselor site for offering the official Merit Badge in Surveying to the Boy and Girl Scouts of America. In addition, the museum offers learning opportunities about the American Civil War.

A new event at the venue is Experience Lincoln's Election Night. Historical actors recreate election night 1860 with costumes, authentic era foods and entertainment, and dialogue. Visitors can mingle with the people that were present on the big night and even talk to Abraham Lincoln. First held in 2011, the event was a major success in the community.

All kinds of things happen on Old Route 66.


Distances From Springfield, Illinois

Selected Destinations
Intersection or Alignment
Selected Attractions
Miles (approx.)
Chicago IL
Lakeshore and Jackson Drives (most traditional starting point)
Buckingham Fountain (1927), Santa Fe Bldg. , Sears Tower (1973), Union Station, Berghoff Restaurant (since 1898)
State Route 55 S to Gardner, using some city streets into towns (follow Route 66 Historical Signs)
Henry's Hot Dog Drive In
Into town: N on S Laramie, turn left on W. Cermak (Route 22) for 2 miles
Rt. 66 Beverages
Into town: Route 43 S, right on Amelia
Hoffman Tower and Dam (1941)
Into town: Continue on Amelia to Joilet Road and I 55 S
*Number 43 Out of the Best 100 Places to Live in the USA: 2010, CNN Money.
Into town: State Route 53 S, right on Independence, right on Belmont
It used to be Romeo and Juliet, now Romeoville and Joliet.
State Route 53 S to Garner
Illinois Pennitentiary - site of The Blues Brothers.Route 66 Welcome Center: Joliet Area Historical Museum - 204 N. Ottawa St.
State Route 53 to County Highway 44 to I-55 S to State Route 29
Provided the name for Elwood Blues.
West on Main Street to I-55 S, to State Route 29
Horsedrawn Streetcar diner frequented by Al Capone: behind the Riviera Roadhouse, for restoration.
See above
St. Louis MO
I-55 S to I-70 W to I-64W
Chain of Rocks Bridge

Sample of Newer Alignments of Route 66: State Route 53 and I-55

Bollingbrook IL:
Bolingbrook, IL, USA

get directions

Romeoville IL:
Romeoville, IL, USA

get directions

Economy and Job Outlook

New Increase in Jobs, Upsurge From 2011 - 2016

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Job listings increased several times between January 2008 and January 2011, dipped somewhat, and have remained steady to January 2012.
Job listings increased several times between January 2008 and January 2011, dipped somewhat, and have remained steady to January 2012.
Job listings increased several times between January 2008 and January 2011, dipped somewhat, and have remained steady to January 2012. | Source

Market Outlook

During Spring 2012, job listings for the Springfield market included approximately 4,000 vacancies, but by October 2016, this number had climbed to 6,000+ open jobs.

The highest demand jobs are:

  1. Healthcare,
  2. Transportation
  3. Healthcare
  4. US Air Force Jobs

The federal and county labor departments involved with Springfield projected the Top 5 Fast growing Career Fields for the metro area for 2016 - 2025, including:

  1. Health Diagnosing and Treating Practitioners
  2. Food & Beverage Servers
  3. Computer Specialists- Engineers, Administrators
  4. Business Operations Specialists
  5. Registered Nurses (RNs, registered)

Most of these job clusters are well represented in the highest demand jobs for the area, as seen below.

Top Hiring Companies

  1. USAF - Nearly 600 job listings
  2. St. John's Hospital
  3. Memorial Medical System Facilities
  4. Schneider International - Trucking and Freight
  5. State of Illinois - Government Jobs
  6. NPC International: Food Services
  7. Builders Transportation
  8. CVS/pharmacy
  9. McDonald's, Pizza Hut, other fast food.
  10. Edward Jones - Financial Products
  11. Sammons Trucking
  12. Engineering Jobs: Several companies.

High Demand Jobs

  1. Company and Owner-Operator Truck Drivers
  2. Engineers - Largely in IT
  3. Patient Care Associates
  4. Registered Nurses
  5. Restaurant jobs: Managers and Crew
  6. LPN Nurses
  7. Retail Salespeople
  8. Shift Supervisors
  9. Pharmacy Technicians
  10. Managers and Assistant Managers - Retail and Services

Local Higher Education and Training

The school listed below offer training and degree programs that are needed by workers in the occupations most likely to be fastest growing in the Springfield area through 2025.

  • Benedictine University at Springfield (Athletics available) -
  • Lincoln Land Community College - Home to the most students of any Springfield College.
  • Midwest Technical Institute, Springfield & East Peoria - Medium-length training to certifications.
  • Robert Morris University - RMU,
  • St. John's College in Springfield, Illinois
  • St. John's Hospital - Teaching Hospital & School of Clinical Lab Science (Lab Sciece is a shorter-term certificate).
  • Southern Illinois University
  • Springfield College in Illinois
  • University of Illinois Springfield - UIS
  • University of Spa & Cosmetology Arts - Medium-length training to related certification.

© 2012 Patty Inglish MS


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