U.S. Route 56

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U.S. Route 56 marker

U.S. Route 56
US 56 highlighted in red
Route information
Length640.250 mi[citation needed] (1,030.382 km)
Major junctions
West end I-25 Bus. / US 412 / NM 21 at Springer, NM
East end US 71 at Kansas City, MO
StatesNew Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri
Highway system
  • State Roads in New Mexico
Oklahoma State Highway System
  • Kansas State Highway System
NM 55NMNM 56
Route 53MORoute 58

U.S. Route 56 (US 56) is an east–west United States highway that runs for approximately 640 miles (1,030 km) in the Midwestern United States. US 56's western terminus is at Interstate 25 Business (I-25 Bus.), US 412 and New Mexico State Road 21 (NM 21) in Springer, New Mexico and the highway's eastern terminus is at US 71 in Kansas City, Missouri. Much of it follows the Santa Fe Trail.

Route description[edit]

The highway passes through New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Missouri. The eastbound shoulder also touches a corner of Texas at a small road junction near the New Mexico/Oklahoma border.

New Mexico[edit]

US 56 runs concurrent with US 412 for its entire length in New Mexico, and are signed as such through the state. The two routes begin in Springer and head east towards Abbot, where they serve as the northern terminus of State Road 39. Continuing east, US 56/412 meet the southern terminus of NM 193 south of Farley, the northern terminus of NM 120 east of Gladstone, and the southern terminus of NM 453. US 56/412 intersect US 64 and US 87 in Clayton, New Mexico, and US 64 joins with US 56/412 in their trek northeast. The three routes serve as the southern terminus of NM 406 as they enter the Kiowa National Grassland. The three routes then cross into Oklahoma together.


US-56's short path through Oklahoma consists of a diagonal slice across the western part of the Oklahoma Panhandle. US-56/64/412 enter Oklahoma near the southwest corner of the Panhandle, where they also enter Rita Blanca National Grassland. They leave the grassland near Felt. Three miles[2] (4.8 km) southwest of Boise City, US-385 joins the concurrency. The routes then enter Boise City, where they enter a traffic circle around the Cimarron County Courthouse that involves US-56, US-64, US-385, US-412, State Highway 3, and SH-325. After leaving the traffic circle, US-56 overlaps US-64, US-412, and SH-3. 1.7 miles (2.7 km) east of the courthouse, US-56 meets US-287 at an interchange. US-56/64/412/SH-3 continue northeast for 6 miles (9.7 km),[2] where US-56 splits to travel northeast on its own.

The route parallels the Cimarron Valley Railroad for the remainder of its time in Oklahoma. Keyes is the next town on US-56, and it also serves as the northern terminus of SH-171 where the two highways intersect. US-56 crosses into Texas County east of Sturgis. Just before crossing the Kansas line, US-56 meets the north end of SH-95. US-56 then enters Kansas on the east edge of Elkhart.


Scranton, Kansas on US 56, in 1974

US-56 enters the state at the Kansas/Oklahoma border near Elkhart. It weaves its way across the state from southwest to northeast, passing through such towns as Dodge City, Great Bend, McPherson, Council Grove, and Baldwin City. It joins with I-35/US-50 east of Gardner, and goes northeast with I-35 into the Kansas City Metro Area. It exits the state as part of Shawnee Mission Parkway in Merriam.


For one mile (1.6 km) in Kansas City's Country Club Plaza, Route 56 follows the noted boulevard Ward Parkway along with 47th St through the Country Club Plaza. The route ends at an intersection with U.S. Route 71. It also includes Blue Parkway and Swope Parkway at certain points.


Green US-56 marker formerly used in Kansas

In the early 1950s, towns along what was then the K-45 corridor, connecting Ellsworth, Kansas to the Oklahoma state line at Elkhart, formed the Mid-Continent Diagonal Highway Association[3] to push for a new highway from Springer, New Mexico (on US 85) northeast across the Oklahoma Panhandle, along K-45, and continuing to Manitowoc, Wisconsin on Lake Michigan.[4] By mid-1954, it was being promoted as U.S. Route 55 between the Great Lakes and the Southwestern United States.[5] The first submissions to the American Association of State Highway Officials (AASHO) to establish the route were made in 1954; all placed the northeast end at Manitowoc, Wisconsin (absorbing US 151 from Cedar Rapids, Iowa[citation needed]), while they varied on whether the southwest end was to be at Albuquerque, New Mexico or Nogales, Arizona.[6] The first route considered in northeast Kansas was via US 40 from Ellsworth to Topeka and K-4 and US 59 via Atchison to St. Joseph, Missouri.[7] A revised route adopted in March 1955, due to AASHO objections to the original route, which traveled concurrently with other U.S. Highways for over half of its length, followed K-14, K-18, US 24, K-63, K-16, and US 59 via Lincoln and Manhattan.[8][9] In July, the US 50-N Association proposed a plan that would have eliminated US 50N by routing US 55 along most of its length, from Larned east to Baldwin Junction, and then along US 59 to Lawrence and K-10 to Kansas City; towns on US 50N west of Larned, which would have been bypassed, led a successful fight against this.[10][11]

However, in September of that year, the Kansas Highway Commission accepted that plan, taking US 55 east to Kansas City.[12] On June 27, 1956, the AASHO Route Numbering Committee considered this refined plan for US 55, between Springer, New Mexico and Kansas City, Missouri, with a short US 155 along the remaining portion of US 50N from Larned west to Garden City. The committee approved the request, but since the proposed route was more east–west than north–south, it changed it to an even number – US 56 – and the spur to US 156.[6]

US 56 originally took a different route between Boise City, Oklahoma and Elkhart, Kansas. The original route followed US 64 east to an intersection south of Eva. It then split off to the north towards Elkhart.[13] By 1961, the section north of US 64 had been overlaid with SH-95.[14] The following year, US 56 was rerouted over SH-114, bringing it to its current diagonal path across the Oklahoma Panhandle.[15] The old alignment is still on the Oklahoma highway system as the north half of SH-95.

Major intersections[edit]

New MexicoColfaxSpringer0.0000.000 NM 21 west (4th Street west) / I-25 Bus. (Maxwell Avenue) to I-25 / NM 58 – Taos Ski Valley, Springer Lake
US 412 begins
Western termini of US 56/US 412; western end of US 412 overlap; highway continues as NM 21
Abbott19.71931.735 NM 39 south – Roy, Mosquero
31.69051.000 NM 193 north – Farley
Union46.68875.137 NM 120 south – Yates
54.04086.969 NM 453 north – Grenville
Clayton82.400132.610 NM 402 (S. 1st Avenue)
82.530132.819 US 64 west / US 87 (1st Street) – Dalhart, RatonWestern end of US 64 overlap
85.890138.227 NM 406 north – Seneca
New Mexico–Oklahoma line
OklahomaCimarron28.4945.85 US 385 south – DalhartWestern end of US-385 overlap
Boise City32.3152.00 US 385 north / SH-3 west (Cimmaron Avenue north) / SH-325 west (Main Street west)Traffic circle, eastern end of US-385 overlap, western end of SH-3 overlap, eastern terminus of SH-325
34.0354.77 US 287 – Stratford, DenverInterchange; US-287 exit 21
40.0964.52 US 64 / US 412 / SH-3 east – GuymonEastern end of US-64/US-412/SH-3 overlap
Keyes48.5478.12 SH-171 south – Kerrick
Texas71.46115.00 SH-95 south – Guymon
Oklahoma–Kansas line
KansasMortonElkhart2.3663.808 K-27 north – Richfield
Rolla17.74628.559 K-51 west – RichfieldWestern end of K-51 overlap
Stevens25.99441.833 K-25 south – Guymon OKWestern end of K-25 overlap
Hugoton33.62954.121 K-51 east – LiberalEastern end of K-51 overlap
35.77557.574 K-25 north – UlyssesEastern end of K-25 overlap
No major junctions
HaskellSatanta61.81399.478 K-190 west – UlyssesWestern end of K-190 overlap
62.893101.216 K-190 east – Liberal, MeadeEastern end of K-190 overlap
Sublette69.316111.553 US-160 – Liberal, Garden City, Meade
Gray87.201140.336 K-144 west – Ulysses
100.191161.242 K-23 – Cimarron, Meade
FordDodge City116.209187.020 US-400 west – Garden CityWestern end of US-400 overlap
119.752192.722 US-283 south – MinneolaWestern end of US-283 overlap
123.182198.242 US-400 east – GreensburgEastern end of US-400 overlap
126.894204.216 US-50 west – CimarronWestern end of US-50 overlap
Wright128.630207.010 US-283 north – JetmoreEastern end of US-283 overlap
EdwardsKinsley156.790252.329 US-50 east – HutchinsonEastern end of US-50 overlap
116.838188.033 US-183 south – GreensburgWestern end of US-183 overlap
Pawnee165.995267.143 US-183 north – La CrosseEastern end of US-183 overlap
K-19 Spur south – Belpre
183.810295.814 K-156 west – JetmoreWestern end of K-156 overlap; former US-156 west
BartonGreat Bend204.229328.675 K-96 west – Ness CityWestern end of K-96 overlap
206.006331.535 US-281 – St. John, Russell
209.801337.642 K-156 east – EllsworthEastern end of K-156 overlap; former US-156 east
RiceLyons236.876381.215 K-96 east / K-14 (Grand Avenue) – Ellsworth, HutchinsonEastern end of K-96 overlap
McPhersonMcPherson265.669427.553 K-153 south – HutchinsonFormer US-81
US-81 Bus. south – Newton, Hutchinson, Opera House
Western end of US-81 Bus. overlap
US-81 Bus. ends / I-135 / US-81 – Salina, Wichita
Eastern end of US-81 Bus. overlap; I-135 exit 60
Marion285.158458.917 K-15 south – NewtonWestern end of K-15 overlap
Lehigh286.642461.306 K-168 north – Lehigh
Hillsboro291.156468.570 K-15 north – AbileneEastern end of K-15 overlap
Marion301.399485.055 K-256 south – Marion
305.390491.478 US-77 south / K-150 east – Emporia, El DoradoWestern end of US-77 overlap
US-56 Bus. east – Herington
US-77 north / US-56 Bus. west – Herington, Junction City
Eastern end of US-77 overlap
Morris337.304542.838 K-149 north – White City
Council Grove351.155–
K-177 – Cottonwood Falls, Manhattan
LyonAdmire372.731599.852 K-99 – Emporia, Alma
376.162605.374 I-335 / Kansas Turnpike – Emporia, TopekaTolls at entrance to, and exit from, Kansas Turnpike; Kansas Tpke. exit 147
Miller378.469609.087 K-78 south – Miller
Osage386.959622.750 K-31 south / 229th Street – Osage CityWye intersection; western end of K-31 overlap
Burlingame393.732633.650 K-31 north – HarveyvilleEastern end of K-31 overlap
383.775617.626 US-75 – Lyndon, Topeka
DouglasBaldwin City426.126685.783 US-59 – Lawrence, Ottawa
436.919703.153 K-33 south – Wellsville
JohnsonGardnerNew Century AirCenterInterchange
448.458721.723 I-35 south / US-50 west – WichitaWestern end of I-35 and US-50 overlaps; I-35 exit 210
Overlap with I-35
Merriam466.340750.501 I-35 north / Shawnee Mission Parkway west – Des MoinesEastern end of I-35 overlap; I-35 exit 228B
Overland ParkShawnee line467.710752.706 US-69 north (Metcalf Avenue)Eastern end of US-69 overlap; interchange
MissionFairway lineRoe Avenue / Johnson DriveInterchange; westbound exit and eastbound entrance
WestwoodMission Woods line471.201758.325 US-169 north (Rainbow Boulevard)Eastern end of US-169 overlap
Kansas–Missouri line
MissouriJacksonKansas City2.9484.744 US 71Interchange; eastern terminus; road continues as Swope Parkway
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

See also[edit]

Related U.S. Routes[edit]


Route map:

KML is from Wikidata
  1. ^ Official Road Map of New Mexico (ZIP File) (Map). 1:1,267,200. Cartography by Louis Hesch. Santa Fe: New Mexico State Highway Department. 1957. §§ 9B,8B. Retrieved August 3, 2019 – via University of New Mexico RGIS.
  2. ^ a b Official State Map (PDF) (Map) (Centennial ed.). Oklahoma Department of Transportation. 2007.
  3. ^ Atchison Daily Globe, December 17, 1953
  4. ^ Great Bend Daily Tribune, October 1, 1953
  5. ^ Great Bend Daily Tribune, New Mexico Okays US-55 Road Proposal, June 2, 1954
  6. ^ a b Oklahoma Department of Transportation, Chronological History Documentation: US 56 (correspondence between ODOT, AASHO, and other DOTs)
  7. ^ Great Bend Daily Tribune, January 6, 1955
  8. ^ Great Bend Daily Tribune, New US-55 Route Approved Here, March 20, 1955
  9. ^ Atchison Daily Globe, March 20, 1955
  10. ^ Great Bend Daily Tribune, July 26, 1955
  11. ^ Great Bend Daily Tribune, July 29, 1955
  12. ^ Great Bend Daily Tribune, Highway Boosters Here Oppose New US-55 Plan, September 16, 1955
  13. ^ Oklahoma's Highways 1957 (PDF) (Map). Oklahoma Department of Highways. Retrieved January 19, 2008.
  14. ^ Oklahoma 1961 Road Map (PDF) (Map). Oklahoma Department of Highways. Retrieved January 19, 2008.
  15. ^ Oklahoma 1962 (PDF) (Map). Oklahoma Department of Highways. Retrieved January 19, 2008.

External links[edit]

Browse numbered routes
NM 55NMNM 56