U.S. Route 56

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U.S. Route 56 marker

U.S. Route 56
Route information
Length: 640 mi[1] (1,030 km)
Existed: 1957[1] – present
Major junctions
West end: I-25 Bus. / US 412 / NM 21 at Springer, NM

US-50 at Dodge City, KS
I-135 / US-81 at McPherson, KS
I-335 / Kansas Turnpike near Admire, KS
US-75 3 miles east of Scranton, KS
US-59 4 miles west of Baldwin City, KS
I-35 / US-50 at Gardner, KS
US-169 / K-7 at Olathe, KS
I-435 / US-50 at Lenexa, KS
US-69 at Overland Park, KS

I-35 / US-69 / US-169 at Shawnee Mission, KS
East end: I-49 / US 71 at Kansas City, MO
States: New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri
Highway system

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

Route description[edit]

The highway passes through New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Missouri. It 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-287, US-385, US-412, State Highway 3, and SH-325. After leaving the traffic circle, US-56 overlaps US-64, US-287, US-412, and SH-3. One mile[2] (1.6 km) east of the courthouse, US-287 splits off the route to head towards Amarillo, Texas. 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, Kansas, and goes northeast with I-35 into the Kansas City Metro Area. It exits the state as part of Shawnee Mission Parkway in Merriam.


Main article: Ward Parkway

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, created 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 Southwest.[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 overlapped 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 U.S. Route 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, Missouri.[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]

U.S. 56 originally took a different route between Boise City, Oklahoma and Elkhart, Kansas. The original route followed U.S. 64 east to an intersection south of Eva. It then split off to the north towards Elkhart.[13] By 1961, the section north of U.S. 64 had been overlaid with State Highway 95.[14] The following year, U.S. 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]

State County Location mi km Destinations Notes
New Mexico Colfax Springer 0.000 0.000 I-25 Bus. (Maxwell Avenue) / US 412 begins / NM 21 west (4th Street) Western end of US 412 overlap
Abbott 19.719 31.735 NM 39 south – Roy, Mosquero
31.690 51.000 NM 193 north – Farley
Union 46.688 75.137 NM 120 south – Yates
54.040 86.969 NM 453 north – Grenville
Clayton 82.400 132.610 NM 402 (S. 1st Avenue)
82.530 132.819 US 64 west / US 87 (1st Street) – Dalhart, Raton Western end of US 64 overlap
85.890 138.227 NM 406 north – Seneca
New Mexico–Oklahoma state line
Oklahoma Cimarron 28.49 45.85 US-385 south – Dalhart Western end of US 385 overlap
Boise City 32.31 52.00 US-385 north / SH-3 / SH-325 west – Kenton Traffic circle, eastern end of US 385 overlap, Western end of SH-3 overlap, eastern terminus of SH-325
34.03 54.77 US-287 – Stratford, Denver Interchange, US 287 exit 21
40.09 64.52 US-64 east / US-412 east – Guymon Eastern end of US 64 and US 412 overlaps
Keyes 48.54 78.12 SH-171 south – Kerrick
Texas 71.46 115.00 SH-95 south – Guymon
Oklahoma–Kansas state line
Kansas Morton Elkhart 2.366 3.808 K-27 north – Richfield
Rolla 17.746 28.559 K-51 west – Richfield Western end of K-51 overlap
Stevens 25.994 41.833 K-25 south – Guymon, OK Western end of K-25 overlap
Hugoton 33.629 54.121 K-51 east – Liberal Eastern end of K-51 overlap
35.775 57.574 K-25 north – Ulysses Eastern end of K-25 overlap
No major junctions
Haskell Satanta 61.813 99.478 K-190 west – Ulysses Western end of K-190 overlap
62.893 101.216 K-190 east – Liberal, Meade Eastern end of K-190 overlap
Sublette 69.316 111.553 US-160 – Liberal, Garden City, Meade
Gray 87.201 140.336 K-144 west – Ulysses
100.191 161.242 K-23 – Cimarron, Meade
Ford Dodge City 116.209 187.020 US-400 west – Garden City Western end of US 400 overlap
119.752 192.722 US-283 south – Minneola Western end of US 283 overlap
123.182 198.242 US-400 east – Greensburg Eastern end of US 400 overlap
126.894 204.216 US-50 west – Cimarron Western end of US 50 overlap
Wright 128.630 207.010 US-283 north – Jetmore Eastern end of US 283 overlap
Edwards Kinsley 156.790 252.329 US-50 east – Hutchinson Eastern end of US 50 overlap
116.838 188.033 US-183 south – Greensburg Western end of US 183 overlap
Pawnee 165.995 267.143 US-183 north – La Crosse Eastern end of US 183 overlap
Larned 182.397 293.540
K-19 Spur south – Belpre
183.810 295.814 K-156 west – Jetmore Western end of K-156 overlap
Barton Great Bend 204.229 328.675 K-96 west – Ness City Western end of K-96 overlap
206.006 331.535 US-281 – Russell
209.801 337.642 K-156 east – Ellsworth Eastern end of K-156 overlap
Rice Lyons 236.876 381.215 K-14 / K-96 east – Ellsworth, Hutchinson Eastern end of K-96 overlap
McPherson McPherson 265.669 427.553 K-153 south – Hutchinson Former US 81
266.667 429.159
US-81 Bus. south
Western end of US 81 Business overlap
269.185 433.211
I-135 / US-81 / US-81 Bus. ends
Eastern end of US 81 Business overlap
Marion 285.158 458.917 K-15 south – Newton Western end of K-15 overlap
Lehigh 286.642 461.306 K-168 north – Lehigh
Hillsboro 291.156 468.570 K-15 north – Abilene Eastern end of K-15 overlap
Marion 301.399 485.055 K-256 south – Marion
305.390 491.478 US-77 south / K-150 east – Emporia, El Dorado Western end of US 77 overlap
Dickinson Herington 324.997 523.032
US-56 Bus. east – Herington
327.060 526.352
US-77 north / US-56 Bus. west – Herington, Junction City
Eastern end of US 77 overlap
Morris 337.304 542.838 K-149 north – White City
Council Grove 351.155–
K-177 – Cottonwood Falls, Manhattan
Lyon Admire 372.731 599.852 K-99 – Emporia, Alma
376.162 605.374 I-335 / Kansas Turnpike – Emporia, Topeka Tolls at entrance to and exit from Kansas Turnpike
Miller 378.469 609.087 K-78 south – Miller
Osage 386.959 622.750 K-31 south – Osage City Western end of K-31 overlap
Burlingame 393.732 633.650 K-31 north – Harveyville Eastern end of K-31 overlap
383.775 617.626 US-75 – Lyndon, Topeka
Douglas Baldwin City 426.126 685.783 US-59 – Lawrence, Ottawa
436.919 703.153 K-33 south – Wellsville
Johnson Gardner 448.458 721.723 I-35 south / US-50 west – Wichita Western end of I-35 and US 50 overlaps
See Interstate 35 in Kansas
Merriam 466.340 750.501 I-35 – Des Moines Eastern end of I-35 overlap
Overland ParkShawnee line 467.710 752.706 US-69 north (Metcalf Avenue) Eastern end of US 69 overlap; interchange
WestwoodMission Woods line 471.201 758.325 US-169 north (Rainbow Boulevard) Eastern end of US 169 overlap
Kansas–Missouri state line
Missouri Jackson Kansas City 2.948 4.744 US 71
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

See also[edit]

Related U.S. Routes[edit]


Route map: Bing / Google

KML is from Wikidata
  1. ^ a b Droz, Robert V. U.S. Highways : From US 1 to (US 830). URL accessed 22:46, 20 February 2006 (UTC).
  2. ^ a b c 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 2008-01-19. 
  14. ^ Oklahoma 1961 Road Map (PDF) (Map). Oklahoma Department of Highways. Retrieved 2008-01-19. 
  15. ^ Oklahoma 1962 (PDF) (Map). Oklahoma Department of Highways. Retrieved 2008-01-19. 

External links[edit]

Browse numbered routes
SH-55 OK SH-56
K-55 KS K-57
I-55 MO I-57