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Local History

As Birthplace of Route 66 Festival Begins, Tribute Paid to John T. Woodruff

The Birthplace of Route 66 Festival in Springfield is now underway, with officials this afternoon formally kicking off the fifth annual event with a plaque dedication in honor of John T. Woodruff.

On April 30, 1926, a group of businessmen including John T. Woodruff sent a telegram from Springfield to the Bureau of Public Roads with a suggestion of “66” as the number for the then new Chicago to Los Angeles Road.

“On November 11, 1926, a returned telegram confirmed the name. Thus Springfield became the birthplace of Route 66,” said Springfield Mayor Bob Stephens.

The ceremony took place in front of Sky Eleven, the new premium student housing unit that held its ribbon cutting Thursday. The structure was formerly The Woodruff Building, one of several buildings that Woodruff helped develop in the downtown decades ago, according to History Museum on the Square Director John Sellers.

“He was dedicated to building this city and this community by developing and building structures and then getting them into the hands of people who could take them and make them even better,” Sellers said.

Sellers said Woodruff developed a lot of property in Springfield, but only put his name on one of them. The now Sky Eleven property still showcases “The Woodruff Building” sign out front. Below it is the ceremonial plaque. Inside Sky Eleven also hangs another display sharing the Woodruff’s accomplishments and his connections to Route 66.

Learn more about the Birthplace of Route 66 Festival at route66festivalsgf.com.

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