James Cameron, Wentachee, Wash., and his sister, Kathy Cameron, Pittsburg, Kan., got out of their truck to take pictures of the Jasper County Courthouse on the Carthage Square on Tuesday and immediately became the center of attention.
The two were on a road trip to Wilson's Creek National Battlefield in Springfield and decided to take Route 66 through Carthage, where they became the guests of honor at a Travel Rally, hosted on the Square by the Carthage Convention and Visitor's Bureau to promote National Travel and Tourism Week.
“We wanted to go on Route 66 and my navigator in the truck was going to veer me off,” Jim Cameron said. “I wanted to go straight on Route 66. Then we spotted the courthouse from the highway and I said I remember a town square here that was really cool, so we turned off to to take a walk around the courthouse. That's when we came up to the travel rally.”
The brother and sister received lunch at the Sassy Spoon on CVB Director Wendi Douglas' dime and were interviewed by reporters at the rally.
Douglas said the event was an unofficial kickoff to the tourist season in Carthage and served to highlight the importance of tourism in Carthage.
Among the local businesses catering to tourism in Carthage is the Boots Court, a Route 66 icon on Garrison Street.
Debbie Dee, the volunteer manager of the Boots, said the owners of the motel recently returned to the name the Boots had when it was built in the 1930s and 1940s, and have been renovating the motel to return it to the look it had in its heyday as a stop on The Mother Road.
“We need to draw attention to the travel industry here,” Dee said. “The travel industry drives a lot of the economy in many places and could play a bigger part in Carthage with encouragement and with development of our travel resources, not just motels but all the lovely cafes and eating establishments around the square.”
The Jasper County Courthouse in Carthage seems to be a draw to people traveling through town, especially those on Route 66.
“You've got a unique courthouse, you've got a town square, which we do not have out west,” said James Cameron. “We do not have town squares like this. It's real Americana. You've got a museum and some nice eateries around here. It's just a very pleasant place, a nice town.”
The courthouse also attracted Anna Linderholm, who lives in the United Kingdon, and her mother, Christina Linderholm, who lives in Sweden.
The two were traveling on Route 66 on Tuesday when they paused for refreshments at the Mother Road Coffee, a new business on the Square.
Page 2 of 2 - “We were going to drive through and then we saw that courthouse,” Christina Linterholm said. “We decided lets go have a look and then it looked very nice around the square and we saw this cafe, so we decided to stop for coffee. We were wondering why is there such a big courthouse in sort of a small town?”
Dee said travelers like to stop at nice little places to eat or shop.
“Those bring in tourists, tourists love places to eat and I'm glad to see the city of Carthage is aware of this importance and this responsibility to encourage and develop travel in this county,” Linderholm said. “It would really bring in a lot of people, a lot of economic development and a lot of dollars to the economy.”