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Vinita - Crossroads of America

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Main Street/Route 66, Vinita, Oklahoma

Vinita Main Street/Route 66 Today, Kathy Weiser-Alexander, June, 2010.

This image available for photo prints & editorial downloads HERE!



Where the golden prairies meet the foothills of the Ozarks is nestled Vinita, Oklahoma, the second oldest town in the state. Established in 1871, when two railroads, the Atlantic & Pacific, and the Missouri-Kansas-Texas, were extended to the area, it was first called Downingville. Later the town’s name was changed to Vinita, in honor of Vinnie Ream, the sculptress who created the life-size statue of Abraham Lincoln at the United States Capitol.


During these early days, Vinita grew fast and many fine homes and buildings were built, many of which continue to stand today. Several of these homes had electricity in those early days as Vinita was the first town in Oklahoma to establish the new service. During the days when railroad travel was glamorous, Vinita became home to one of the many popular Harvey House Restaurants. Unfortunately there is no sign of the Harvey House today.


In the 1920’s the Center 3 Theatre was built, one of the earliest in the state. Today, it continues to operate, offering first run movies to residents and visitors alike.


Harvey House in Vinita, Oklahoma

Called "America’s Crossroads,” the term is fitting as Route 66, Interstate 44, U.S. Highways 69 and 60, and State Highway 2 bring travelers and motor freight carriers to the town. In addition, Vinita continues to be an intersection point for the Burlington Northern and Union Pacific Railroads.


There are several historic buildings in Vinita from the time before Route 66, including the Craig County Courthouse and the Hotel Vinita. Mother Road icons are also plentiful in this fine city. Be sure to check out the many examples of art deco in downtown Vinita. If you're looking for a bite to eat, Clanton's Cafe is the oldest continuously run family owned restaurant on Route 66 in Oklahoma. Serving a variety of home-cooked meals, the chicken fried steak is said to be one of the best in the nation.


Other points of interest include the Little Cabin Pecan Company (now defunct), the Eastern Trails Museum and the nation’s largest McDonalds, which straddles the Will Rogers Turnpike. This monstrous structure, spanning the four-lane highway, is almost 30,000 square feet. An interesting note, of which not many are aware, is that this tribute to the "fast-food world” was not always so. Before McDonalds took over the interstate, this was home to a restaurant called the Glass House.


Nearby, is the Cabin Creek Battle Site, where in 1864, Confederate forces captured over 100 wagons, 720 mules and other goods valued at $1,500,000.


This city of approximately 6,500 residents is a great place to visit as you roam its historic places and visit with its friendly people before heading on down the Mother Road to the small towns of Chelsea and Foyil, where a great side trip presents itself at Ed Galloway’s Totem Pole Park.




© Kathy Weiser/Legends of America, updated February, 2013 with additional edits by Ron Warnick, Route 66 News.





Clantons Cafe in Vinita, Oklahoma

Clanton's Café in Vinita, Oklahoma has been cookin' up fine chicken fried steaks since 1927, Kathy Weiser-Alexander, June, 2010. This image available for photo prints & editorial downloads HERE!



Largest McDonalds Vinita, Oklahoma

World's Largest McDonald's in Vinita, Oklahoma, June, 2004, Kathy Weiser. This image available for photo prints & editorial downloads HERE!


To White Oak, Okalhoma  Return to Route 66  To Afton, Oklahoma


To White Oak


Return to Route 66


To Afton


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Route 66 Postcard Coloring BookRoute 66 Postcard Coloring BookRoute 66 Postcard Coloring Book - If you love Route 66, enjoy coloring, and like to share with others, this book is for you! The Route 66 Postcard Coloring Book contains 20 postcards of various places along America's Mother Road, each ready for your own artistic touch. Then after you color, remove each and send as a postcard. Complete with stamp placement on the back and information on each location. Or, keep your finished work as a reminder of fun times traveling Route 66.


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