Carthage Sites: Civil War and Route 66

By: Callie Myers

Did you know the very first Civil War land battle happened right here in Carthage, Missouri? And did you know that Carthage was burned to the ground during the Civil War and then completely rebuilt? 

The Battle of Dry Fork (also known as the Battle of Carthage) was fought on July 5, 1861.

You can learn all about it when you visit the Carthage Civil War Museum in historic downtown Carthage. Here you’ll find unique paintings from local artist Andy Thomas depicting some of the nearly unbelievable things that happened before, during, and after the battle. (The sitting governor of Missouri led 6,000 troops into battle!!)

You can also visit the battle site in person. This picturesque park is complete with a little stream running through it just on the edge of town. It’s difficult to imagine what occurred there on that fateful day.

Carthage is a perfect stop along historic Route 66 and has something to offer nearly every kind of history buff. 

The retro Boots Court Motel was built in 1939 to host travelers along the Route. It’s still there today in all its 1940’s glory- complete with the Route 66 neon lights.

In true Route 66 quirky fashion, you’ll find Red Oak II- an entire recreation of artist Lowe Davis’s home town of Red Oak (he bought the buildings and moved them to this location). It’s absolutely wild. Free admission, open year-round. Walk around, take photos, and enjoy the many art installations. 

While cruising down the Route, you’ll also want to stop by the 66 Drive-In. Even if it’s not movie time, the retro look and feel is definitely photo-worthy.

While you’re visiting, make sure you grab a bite to eat from one of our many unique, local restaurants. We’ve also got incredible coffee shops, art galleries, and plenty of boutiques to get your shopping in.