U.S. Route 56

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U.S. Route 56

US 56 highlighted in red
Route information
Length640.250 mi (1,030.382 km)
Major junctions
West end I-25 BL / US 412 / NM 21 at Springer, NM
Major intersections
East end US 71 at Kansas City, MO
CountryUnited States
StatesNew Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri
Highway system
  • New Mexico State Highway System
  • Oklahoma State Highway System
  • Kansas State Highway System
US 55US US 57
NM 55NM NM 56
SH-55OK SH-56
K-55KS K-57
I-55MO I-57

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

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

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 (Santa Fe Auto Tour Route) east of Council Grove, Kansas

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.


Eastern terminus of US 56 at US 71 in Kansas City, MO

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), 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] 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.[9][10]

However, in September of that year, the Kansas Highway Commission accepted that plan, taking US 55 east to Kansas City.[11] 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]

On June 26, 1958, AASHO denied the New Mexico Department of Transportation's request to extend US 56 west from Springer to Santa Fe, which would have followed US 85, US 84 and US 285.[12]

State Highway 114

LocationNear Boise City, Oklahoma – near Elkhart, Kansas

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.[15] By 1961, the section north of US 64 had been overlaid with SH-95.[13] The following year, US 56 was rerouted over SH-114, bringing it to its current diagonal path across the Oklahoma Panhandle.[14] The old alignment is still on the Oklahoma highway system as the north half of SH-95.

Major intersections

New MexicoColfaxSpringer0.0000.000
NM 21 west (4th Street west) – Miami
Continuation beyond western terminus

I-25 BL (Maxwell Avenue) to I-25 / NM 58 – Las Vegas, Raton, Cimarron, Taos Ski Valley, Springer Lake

US 412 begins
Western terminus of US 56/US 412; western end of US 412 overlap
NM 39 south – Roy, Mosquero
Northern terminus of NM 39
NM 193 north – Farley
Southern terminus of NM 193
NM 120 south – Yates
Northern terminus of NM 120
NM 453 north – Grenville
Southern terminus of NM 453
Clayton82.400132.610 NM 402 (S. 1st Avenue)
US 64 west / US 87 (1st Street) – Dalhart, Raton
Western end of US 64 overlap
NM 406 north – Seneca
Southern terminus of NM 406
New MexicoOklahoma line94.172
Mileposts reset at state line
US 385 south – Dalhart
Western end of US-385 overlap
Boise City32.3152.00

US 385 north / SH-3 west (Cimarron Avenue north) / SH-325 west (Main Street west) – Kenton, Denver Co.
Traffic circle around Cimarron County courthouse; eastern end of US-385 concurrency; western end of SH-3 concurrency; eastern terminus of SH-325
34.0354.77 US 287 – Amarillo, Denver CO, Stratford TXInterchange
US 64 / US 412 / SH-3 east – Guymon
Eastern end of US-64/US-412/SH-3 overlap
SH-171 south – Kerrick
Northern terminus of SH-171
SH-95 south – Guymon
Northern terminus of SH-95
OklahomaKansas line71.68
Mileposts reset at state line
K-27 north – Richfield
Southern terminus of K-27
K-51 west – Richfield
Western end of K-51 overlap
K-25 south – Guymon OK
Western end of K-25 overlap
K-51 east – Liberal
Eastern end of K-51 overlap
K-25 north – Ulysses
Eastern end of K-25 overlap
SewardNo major intersections
K-190 west – Ulysses
Western end of K-190 overlap
K-190 east – Liberal, Meade
Eastern end of K-190 overlap
Sublette69.316111.553 US-160 / US-83 – Liberal, Garden City, Meade
K-144 west – Ulysses
Eastern terminus of K-144
100.191161.242 K-23 – Cimarron, Meade
FordDodge City116.209187.020
US-400 west – Garden City
Western end of US-400 overlap
US-283 south – Minneola
Western end of US-283 overlap
US-400 east – Greensburg
Eastern end of US-400 overlap
US-50 west – Cimarron
Western end of US-50 overlap
US-283 north – Jetmore
Eastern end of US-283 overlap
US-50 east – Hutchinson
Eastern end of US-50 overlap
US-183 south – Greensburg
Western end of US-183 overlap
US-183 north – La Crosse
Eastern end of US-183 overlap

K-19 Spur south – Belpre
Northern terminus of K-19 Spur
K-156 west – Jetmore
Western end of K-156 overlap; former US-156 west
BartonGreat Bend204.229328.675
K-96 west – Ness City
Western end of K-96 overlap
206.006331.535 US-281 – St. John, Russell
K-156 east – Ellsworth
Eastern end of K-156 overlap; former US-156 east
K-96 east / K-14 (Grand Avenue) – Ellsworth, Hutchinson
Eastern end of K-96 overlap
K-153 south – Hutchinson
Northern terminus of K-153; former 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
K-15 south – Newton
Western end of K-15 overlap
K-168 north – Lehigh
Southern terminus of K-168
K-15 north – Abilene
Eastern end of K-15 overlap
K-256 south – Marion
Northern terminus of K-256

US-77 south / K-150 east – Emporia, El Dorado
Western end of US-77 overlap; western terminus of K-150; roundabout

US 56 Bus. east – Herington
Western terminus of US-56 Bus.; no access to US-56 Bus. from US-56 westbound

US-77 north / US 56 Bus. west – Herington, Junction City
Eastern end of US-77 overlap; eastern terminus of US-56 Bus.
K-149 north – White City
Southern terminus of K-149
Council Grove351.155–
K-177 – Cottonwood Falls, Manhattan
LyonAdmire372.731599.852 K-99 – Emporia, Alma
376.162605.374 I-335 / Kansas Turnpike – Emporia, TopekaKansas Tpke. exit 147
K-78 south – Miller
Northern terminus of K-78
K-31 south / 229th Street – Osage City
Wye intersection; western end of K-31 overlap
K-31 north – Harveyville
Eastern end of K-31 overlap
383.775617.626 US-75 – Lyndon, Topeka
DouglasBaldwin City426.126685.783 US-59 – Lawrence, Ottawa
K-33 south – Wellsville
Northern terminus of K-33
JohnsonGardnerNew Century AirCenterInterchange

I-35 south / US-50 west – Wichita
Western end of I-35/US-50 overlap; I-35 exit 210
Olathe451.688726.921214Lone Elm Road / 159th StreetExit numbers follow I-35
US-169 south / K-7 – Paola
Western end of US-169 concurrency
454.468731.395217Old Highway 56Westbound exit and eastbound entrance
455.668733.327218Santa Fe Street
457.998737.076220119th Street
I-435 / US-50 east
Eastern end of US-50 concurrency; I-435 exit 83

I-435 west to K-10
I-435 exit 83
461.658742.96722495th StreetDiverging diamond interchange[16]
LenexaOverland Park line462.908744.978225A87th Street Parkway
Overland ParkLenexa line225C75th StreetEastbound exit only
US-69 south (Overland Parkway)
Western end of US-69 concurrency; westbound exit and eastbound entrance
Overland ParkMerriam line464.788748.00422775th StreetNo eastbound exit
Merriam465.828749.677228A67th Street
I-35 north – Des Moines
Eastern end of I-35 overlap; I-35 exit 228B
Overland ParkShawnee line467.710752.706

US-69 north (Metcalf Avenue) to I-635
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
KansasMissouri line471.450
State Line RoadMileposts reset; no state maintenance inside Missouri
MissouriJacksonKansas City2.9484.744 US 71 (Bruce R. Watkins Drive)Interchange; eastern terminus; road continues as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

Related routes

Herington business loop

Business plate.svg

U.S. Highway 56 Business

LocationHerington, Kansas
ExistedOctober 13, 1979[17]–present

U.S. Route 56 Business (US-56 Bus.) is a short business loop through Herington, Kansas. US-56 begins at US-56 and US-77 south of Herington. At this intersection, there is no access to eastbound US-56 or northbound US-77 from US-56 Bus. and no access to US-56 Bus. from westbound US-56 or southbound US-77. US-56 Bus. heads north through flat lands with scattered trees for 1.1 miles (1.8 km) then enters Herington. The highway continues for roughly 0.55 miles (0.89 km) then curves east and becomes Trapp Street. US-56 Bus. then crosses Lime Creek as it continues through the city. After roughly 0.85 miles (1.37 km) the highway exits the city and reaches its eastern terminus at US-56 and US-77.

US-56 Bus. and US-77 Bus. was approved through Herington in a meeting on October 13, 1979. US-77 Bus. was approved to be decommissioned in a meeting on June 9, 1991, leaving just US-56 Bus.[18]

Major intersections

The entire route is in Dickinson County.


US-56 west / US-77 south
Western terminus; no access to US-56 east/ US-77 north from US-56 Bus. west; no access to US-56 Bus. from US-56 west/ US-77 south
US-56 west / US-77 – Junction City, Lincolnville
Eastern terminus

US-56 east – Council Grove
Continuation beyond eastern terminus
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

Temporary route

Temporary plate 1961.svg

U.S. Highway 56 Temporary

LocationNear Boise City, Oklahoma – Elkhart, Kansas
Length42.9 mi[6] (69.0 km)
ExistedJuly 11, 1956[6]c. 1961[13][14]

U.S. Route 56 Temporary (US-56 Temp.) was a 42.9-mile-long (69.0 km) temporary route of US 56 in Oklahoma. It began on modern US-56 northeast of Boise City, Oklahoma and followed US 64 and SH 3 east to SH 95. It then traveled north along SH 95 to Elkhart, Kansas. The route was approved on July 11, 1956, along existing highways, when the current routing of US-56 was being constructed.[6] By 1962, US 56 was rerouted over SH 114, bringing it to its current diagonal path across the Oklahoma Panhandle.[13][14]

Major intersections

US 56 / US 64 / SH-3 west / SH-114 east
Transitioned to US 56 west; west end of US 64/SH-3 overlap; western terminus of SH-114

US 64 / SH-3 east / SH-95 south
East end of US 64/SH-3 overlap; west end of SH-95 overlap
SH-114 west
Eastern terminus of SH-114
OklahomaKansas line42.969.0
SH-95 ends

US 56 east / K-27 north
Transitioned to US 56 east; eastern end of SH-95 overlap; northern terminus of SH-95; southern terminus of K-27
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi


  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. ^ "Highway Assured". Atchison Daily Globe. December 17, 1953. p. 20. Retrieved October 7, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  4. ^ "Vernon Tip Traylor..." Great Bend Daily Tribune. October 1, 1953. p. 1. Retrieved October 7, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  5. ^ "New Mexico Okays US-55 Road Proposal". Great Bend Daily Tribune. June 2, 1954. p. 7. Retrieved October 7, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  6. ^ a b c d e f Oklahoma Department of Transportation, Chronological History Documentation: US 56 Archived 2016-03-03 at the Wayback Machine (correspondence between ODOT, AASHO, and other DOTs)
  7. ^ "Another Effort to Reroute Proposed Federal Highway". Great Bend Daily Tribune. January 6, 1955. Retrieved October 7, 2020 – via NewspaperArchive.
  8. ^ "New US-55 Route Approved Here". Great Bend Daily Tribune. March 20, 1955. p. 3. Retrieved October 7, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  9. ^ "Call Meeting On Road Proposals". Great Bend Daily Tribune. July 26, 1955. p. 1. Retrieved October 7, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  10. ^ "US 50N Boosters Turn Down New Route, Name". Great Bend Daily Tribune. July 29, 1955. Retrieved October 7, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  11. ^ "Highway Boosters Here Oppose New US-55 Plan". Great Bend Daily Tribune. September 16, 1955. Retrieved October 7, 2020 – via NewspaperArchive.
  12. ^ U.S. Route Numbering Committee (November 29, 1958). "U.S. Route Numbering Committee" (PDF) (Report). Washington, DC: American Association of State Highway Officials. p. 159 – via Wikimedia Commons.
  13. ^ a b c d Oklahoma 1961 Road Map (PDF) (Map). Oklahoma Department of Highways. Retrieved January 19, 2008.
  14. ^ a b c d Oklahoma 1962 (PDF) (Map). Oklahoma Department of Highways. Retrieved January 19, 2008.
  15. ^ Oklahoma's Highways 1957 (PDF) (Map). Oklahoma Department of Highways. Retrieved January 19, 2008.
  16. ^ Carney, Candi (August 16, 2016). "The construction is over! Drivers have access to the I-35 and 95th Street interchange". KSHB. Retrieved 18 August 2016.
  17. ^ Special Committee on U.S. Route Numbering (October 13, 1979). "Route Numbering Committee Agenda Showing Action Taken by the Executive Committee" (PDF) (Report). Washington, DC: American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. p. 508 – via Wikimedia Commons.
  18. ^ Special Committee on U.S. Route Numbering (October 12, 1991). "Report of the Special Committee on U.S. Route Numbering to the Executive Committee" (PDF) (Report). Washington, DC: American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 16, 2017.

External links

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