Let us show you the way – The Way of American Genius

Missouri Highway 36 - The Way of American Genius

Missouri Highway 36. The CKC Expressway.  The Apian Way of America.  The four lane stretch of road from Hannibal to Saint Joseph, Missouri, about an hour north of Highway 70 has been called many things in its history.  Let us explain why you should care about this Highway that is unlike others – The Way of American Genius.

The Way of American Genius

The name is grand.  Don’t worry, we live up to it.

Missouri Highway 36 has sparked some of this country’s great innovations and innovators, and the people and ideas continue to make their mark.  There are so many great things along this stretch of Missouri road that you might think it’s impossible to see them all. This is Highway 36, we don’t deal with “impossible.”

So, we’ll break it down for you.  Follow your interests, and let the journey begin.

Biography & Culture

It’s amazing how many American greats got their start along the Missouri Highway 36 corridor.  A few:

  • Mark Twain – world famous author, known for works like Adventure of Huckleberry Finn and as America’s first internationally known celebrity (Hannibal)
  • Molly Brown – of Titanic fame. While most people remember her ‘hitting it big,’ her humble beginnings began along Highway 36 (Hannibal)
  • Walt Disney – Walt famously said that “To tell the truth, more things of importance happened to me in Marceline than have happened since – or are likely to in the future.” Main Street USA in Disneyland was based on Walt’s memories of his youth. (Marceline)
  • JC Penney – A man that changed the way we shop forever, believing that prices should be set and created many of the standards we still enjoy today. (Hamilton)
  • Jesse James – You can’t think of the west without him. And his story ended in St. Joseph, MO.


The ideas that have been sparked along The Way of American Genius are, well, genius.  Here’s a sample:

  • Sliced Bread. Yep, the thing we compare all other great inventions to … was invented here. (Chillicothe)
  • Pony Express. The revolutionary idea designed to deliver mail in the fastest way possible to developing territories began in Saint Joseph.
  • The first community in the US to be powered solely by wind. (Rock Port)
  • Yes, a task that was begun as a necessity, has broken from its humble beginnings. Journey along the Missouri Highway 36 Quilt Trail and you will find examples of this ‘chore’ elevated to high art.  Do you quilt?  You’ll also find the world’s largest selection of pre-cut fabrics and dozens of stores to explore.  You’re welcome.

Military Genius

  • This highway boasts the home of, Gen. John “Black Jack” Pershing, who rose to the rank of “General of the Armies of the United States during World War 1. (In case you’re wondering, that’s one rank above 5-star general. His Boyhood Home & Museum will show that honor was well-deserved. (Laclede)
  • The Way of American Genius is also known as the VFW Memorial Highway, with notables like Gen. Omar Bradley, Gen. Sterling Price and a National Military Museum having a place alone the route.

Planned Communities

The idea of the America as a place to practice religious freedom shows along the way of American Genius.  Multiple Amish Communities open their way of life to others by selling handmade items, furniture and other goods, while a vast array of other intentional communities, like a Benedictine Monastery and a modern day Christian Community can be found during your travels.  The freedom to practice your beliefs?  That’s a genius concept. An American Genius concept.

Nature & Sustainability

Protecting this earth and appreciating its resources can be seen all along the Way of American Genius.  Explore the wonder of nature in one of the many state parks along the route, or enjoy the fruits of others labor at a dairy, winery or brewery.

Enjoy the journey, and rediscover the American Genius all around you.