Elvis sightings on Route 66

Room 215, Elvis Room, Trade Winds, Clinton, OK

The Marshfield Mail in Missouri published an extensive listing of Elvis Presley sightings and shows in the Show-Me State in 1956 — the year he came into national prominence.

The future King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s tours brought him to a few Route 66 landmarks that year. According to the newspaper.

— “By May 1956, Elvis was much better known and had already had a couple of No. 1 hits. On May 17, he headlined at the Shrine Mosque in Springfield. He was not so well known that he made a big splash in the local newspapers. Accompanied by both his mother and Colonel Parker, he stayed at the Rail Haven Motel on Route 66 in Springfield,” the newspaper said. The Shrine Mosque and the Rail Haven still are standing and going strong.

— Presley also disappeared for a few hours during his Springfield stop, but was found watching a Glenn Ford western at the Gillioz Theatre, also a Route 66 landmark.

Also, the Jordanaires, who became Presley’s backing singers for many years, were formed in Springfield, although those members soon would be replaced by non-Springfieldians.

I recently was told by a local tourism official Elvis stayed what now is the Route 66 Inn in Shamrock, Texas.

Other places were Presley stopped or slept on the Mother Road:

— Several times at Room 215 at the Trade Winds Inn in Clinton, Oklahoma. This is one of the best-documented spots of Elvis sightings on Route 66.

— The Porter House Diner, an original Valentine diner, in Weatherford, Oklahoma. The diner, relocated to the Heartland of America Heritage Museum in Weatherford, has Presley’s autograph in its guest book offered as proof.

— It’s been reported Presley stayed at the Sands Motel in Grants, New Mexico.

— The Summit Inn restaurant in Oak Hills, California, reputedly had an Elvis sighting, although the circumstances of it sound a tad embroidered, if it happened at all.

Because Elvis drove straight west of his home in Memphis to Las Vegas or Hollywood during his many cross-country trips, Route 66 sightings tend to be scarce east of Oklahoma City.

There may be other genuine Elvis sightings on Route 66 that we’ve overlooked. If you know of any, let us know in the comments section.

(Image of Room 215, aka the Elvis Room, at the Trade Winds Inn in Clinton, Oklahoma, via Facebook)

4 thoughts on “Elvis sightings on Route 66

  1. I lived in Sallisaw Oklahoma about 160 miles east of OKC and on US 64 a direct route (at that time before I-40 ) from Memphis. I was downtown on main street US 64 in the early 60’s and there was Roll Royce and 2 Cadillacs came thru town with Tennessee tags. He reported stopped at a gas station on the west side of town. I remember seeing him at least one more time.

  2. I have three sightings from the mid 1950’s In Williams, Arizona, Smokey’s Pancake House, fed Elvis and Williams people are still talking about it at Rod’s Steakhouse. The original owner of Rod’s owned Smokey’s. I have read that Elvis and his entourage toured Meteor Crater. I guess he had to find something that was as big a hit as he was! Lastly, the Summit Inn near the Cajon Pass was the site of his playful kicking of the juke box as his hits weren’t there. They say that today, there is always Elvis choices on the juke box.

  3. Your story is a bit off. When Elvis played the Shrine Mosque in Springfield in 1956, he was booked into the Kentwood Arms, not the Rail Haven, as it was virtually directly across the street from the Shrine and had a large front lawn to accommodate the screaming masses that tended to show up when he performed.

    His mother was with him on that concert tour, and Colonel Parker booked her up the street at the Rail Haven to spare her all the noise. It is widely documented that Elvis disappeared the afternoon before his concert appearance and was found at the Gillioz. But lesser known is the morning after his performance, his entourage kept waiting for him to appear in the lobby of the Kentwood. He didn’t show, and he didn’t show, and eventually they decided to send word to his mother at the Rail Haven that he was missing.

    However, when they arrived at the Rail Haven and knocked on her door, Elvis was found sleeping in her room. The noise from the screaming masses had kept him awake, so at some point in the night, he had snuck down thru the back of the Kentwood, out an employee entrance, and thru the back yards of the houses and businesses that lined the distance between the Kentwood and the Rail Haven to find a peaceful place in his mother’s room.

    I had this story documented by several former employees of the Kentwood and the Rail Haven during my employment at the Rail Haven.

    And by the way, Elvis thought the Shrine was such an awful place that he refused to perform there again … until he had a band member in the 1970s from Springfield that told him Springfield had built a brand new performing arts building at Southwest Missouri State University. He performed there in the Hammons Student Center on Friday, June 17, 1977 on what would become his last concert tour. I was lucky enough to be taken to that concert for my 11th birthday, which was the next day. We had tickets behind the stage which put us closer to him than those in the front row. Early in the concert, someone threw something up on stage from the front row. It made Elvis mad, so he turned and sang most of the concert to those of us behind him. His last words that night, as the arena went black and he fled the building, were, “You have a nice place here, you’ve been a good crowd, and I will be back.” But sadly, that wasn’t to happen.

    1. Nice story, Tonya. Thank you for sharing.

      I read the second book about Elvis’ life, and I hope you at least saw a good performance from him. He was having some awful problems during that final tour, including an emergency-room visit when he was having trouble breathing. And the over-prescribing of drugs to him was well-documented.

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