U.S. Highway 36 four-lane expressway is northern Missouri’s 200-mile spans the state like a belt, linking St. Joseph and Hannibal. Named “The highway of American Genius,” it runs over gently rolling hills, wide-open countryside and more than a dozen quaint towns. It’s a divided highway, fine as an interstate, but without all the traffic on Hwy 29 or 70.
The area known as the Highway 36 corridor extends 36 miles to the north and south of the road and includes more than a dozen additional towns. Attractions are numerous: lakes, parks, wildlife refuges, museums, wineries, cafes, casinos, a dairy that gives tours, a historic covered bridge and more.
The corridor is known for is the remarkable number of notable innovators and folks who have grew up there there:
- novelist Mark Twain, whose boyhood home in Hannibal, MO and the Mississippi River figured in many of his novels.
- Walt Disney is remembered at a small museum in Marceline, MO
- Retailer J.C. Penney was born in Hamilton, MO
- The outlaw Jesse James met his end in 1882 at the hands of Bob Ford in a small house in St. Joseph, MO
- Johnny Fry, first rider of the Pony Express (a man- and horse-powered mail delivery system, that moved letters from St. Joseph to Sacramento in record time)
- Gen. John “Black Jack” Pershing from Laclende, MO earned a law degree and received his nickname, “Black Jack,” for his work with the Buffalo Soldiers, a segregated cavalry unit. Pershing led the American Expeditionary Force in World War I, along with Pacific, Cuba and pursuing Pancho Villa in Mexico.
- Otto Rohwedder from Chillicothe, MO created the bread slicing machine