Driving to Halltown from Springfield on Historic Route 66 (now Missouri 266), you’ve probably noticed the ruins of a building on the northwest corner of the intersection with Farm Road 45.
Through the large arched windows and doorways, you can see the small forest growing inside. Tree branches reach out wildly through the open roof.
I had seen the rock walls a few times before, but only recently when I stopped to photograph it did I see the Greene County Historic Site marker that reads “Plano, a Ghost Town.”
Inside the structure, paths zigzag through the middle. Beer and soda bottles litter the ground. Vines climb the cracked stone walls. In the back, a tree grows at an odd angle through a window.
Standing in the woods within walls was eerie and made me wonder what this place used to be.
“There’s a lot of misinformation about Plano,” said Jackie Warfel, who prepared the historic site nomination.
A quick Internet search turns up many sites — mostly Route 66 travel blogs — that claim the limestone structure was a mortuary and casket factory.
“It was not,” Warfel said.
According to Warfel’s history, John Jackson and his family built the two-story 50-foot-by-60-foot building in 1902 of local limestone “with the help of neighbors as needed.”
The building became a hub of community activity. Two rooms on the lower level were a general store where farm families could sell their produce, eggs and baked goods.
The store was managed by Jackson’s son, Alfred, and daughters Mollie and Quintilla Jackson, who had taken a course on business administration in Springfield.
Upstairs, along with living quarters, was a large room used for club meetings, dances, court proceedings and even church services.
The Jacksons bought a wooden structure across the street, on the northeast corner, from Steve Carter. In this building, which is no longer standing, they operated a “mortuary and undertakers parlor where caskets could be purchased and a horse-drawn hearse was furnished.”
Warfel also noted in her research, “there was no embalming at that time and the families bought the caskets and lay the deceased family member out at their homes before burial.”
Besides the limestone walls of the general store, the only other current indication of the community of Plano is a rock building on the southeast corner, built by Alf Landon. Now a private residence, it was originally a store and Tydol gas station.
Warfel said Plano was a crossroads that served a large community. When the interstate system bypassed Route 66, the town faded into history, too.
By Valerie Mosley – News-Leader.com