Positioned along the small but vibrant 13-mile-long Kansas alignment of Route 66 is the town of Galena.
The territory of modern-day Galena got its start in 1871 after the railroad was built through the region. However, the town was not officially named until 1877.
The name “Galena” comes from the natural mineral form of lead sulfide. A common sample of galena is about 86.6% lead and 13.4% sulfur, but some specimens of galena are known to contain traces of silver.
Now home to a humble population of around 3,000, Galena was once part of the Tri-State mining district and had over 30,000 residents. When the mines closed in the 1970s after Interstate I-40 was built, the town’s population began a sharp decline.
Before taking its current name, Galena went through three different names: Cornwall, Short Creek and Bonanza.
Galena holds a special place in the hearts of American Realist aficionados. In the iconic John Steinbeck novel "The Grapes of Wrath," the characters Ivy and Sairy Wilson came from Galena.
Dean Walker is famous for turning his feet around on Route 66. Pixar used this idiosyncratic ability as inspiration for the character Tow Mater when creating the 2006 animated feature film, "Cars."
This authentic Pepsi advertising mural is a great example of the hyper-visual marketing that caught the eyes of travelers on the Mother Road.
Famous advertising murals can be found on the walls of the Front Street Garage. Constructed in 1896, the building was an enormous influence for the town of Radiator Springs in the movie "Cars."
Galena embraces its pop culture legacy with its connection to the Disney hit "Cars." Cars on the Route is a former Kan-O-Tex service station that sells snacks, antiques, Route 66 souvenirs and "Cars" memorabilia. Outside the building, the world-famous “Tow Mater” boom truck can be found.