About SpringfieldSpringfield's future location was designated by John Polk Campbell in 1829 when he carved his initials into an ash tree near the site of four springs. Strategically located at the junction of two important roads, the town flourished during the 1850s westward migration. This key location also made it a target during the Civil War in a battle that took place at what is now Wilson's Creek National Battlefield.
Union spy/scout James Butler Hickok, better known as Wild Bill Hickok, stayed in Springfield after the war. He achieved fame as a gunfighter and made national news in 1865, when he returned fire and killed Dave Tutt in Springfield's public square; Hickok was later acquitted.
In 1926 plans for the first paved transcontinental highway in the United States were drafted. Stretching from the Great Lakes to the Pacific Coast, Route 66 earned the nickname Main Street USA. Traces of the original route are visible along Kearney, Glenstone, College and St. Louis streets.
The past also is evident in the historic houses and buildings along Walnut Street and in the Midtown district. Christ Episcopal Church, 601 E. Walnut St., was built in 1870 and features stained-glass windows and ecclesiastical Gothic architecture.
The Pythian Castle, 1451 E. Pythian St., was built as an orphanage by the Knights of Pythias in 1913 and was later used by the U.S. military. A local legend, this 55-room, castle-like structure is said to be haunted. It is the scene of special holiday events and may also be toured; for information phone (417) 865-1464.
In addition to sightseeing, Springfield offers fishing, boating and picnicking at Fellows, McDaniel and Springfield lakes. Table Rock and Bull Shoals reservoirs also are nearby.
The Frisco Highline Trail, Missouri's second-longest rail trail, connects Springfield and Bolivar along the path of a former railroad line traveled by Harry S. Truman as a precursor to his famous “Whistle Stop Campaign” in 1948. This 36-mile-long bicycling trail winds through the scenic forest and pasture lands of La Petite Gemme Prairie Natural Area, crossing over 16 trestles along the way. Horseback riding is permitted between Willard and Walnut Grove. Trailheads are located in Springfield, Willard, Walnut Grove, Wishart and Bolivar. For more information contact Ozark Greenways, P.O. Box 50733, Springfield, MO 65805; phone (417) 864-2015.
The Springfield Cardinals AA minor league team is a big regional draw during baseball season. Games are played at Hammons Field, 955 E. Trafficway; phone (417) 863-2143.
Visitor Centers Route 66 Tourist Information Center 815 E. St. Louis St. Suite 100 Springfield, MO 65806. Phone:(417)881-5300 or (800)678-8767
Self-guiding ToursContact the tourist information center for pamphlets describing attractions and driving tours of the historic downtown area.
ShoppingAntique and craft shops abound in Springfield. Ozark Treasures, 2510 S. Campbell St., features more than 100 dealers. The Commercial Street Historical District offers antiques, collectibles and vintage clothing. Battlefield Mall , Battlefield Road and Glenstone Avenue, has more than 170 stores, including Dillard's, Macy's and Sears.
Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World , 1935 S. Campbell St., caters to outdoor enthusiasts with features like a 140,000-gallon game fish aquarium and waterfall, wildlife exhibits and sporting demonstrations.
In-person hotel evaluations are unscheduled to ensure the inspector has an experience similar to that of members. All hotels must meet the same basic requirements for cleanliness, comfort and hospitality to be AAA Approved. A rating of one to five AAA Diamonds tells members what type of experience to expect, from no-frills to highly personalized.