Muralist painting Pacific’s history along Route 66

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PACIFIC, MO (KTVI) – Illustrator Ray Harvey is dipping his paint brush into Pacific, Missouri’s past.

“So in 1853, 12 flatbed cars full of people and sightseers got on the train in St. Louis and came out here 38 miles to Pacific,” says Harvey. “It wasn’t even called that yet, it was known as Franklin, Missouri.”

By 1859, the train to all points west was firmly established and Franklin soon changed its name to Pacific.

On this last day of June, Harvey’s hues are telling the history of Pacific. The painting along Route 66 is a glimpse into a time when the first train west of the Mississippi River arrived, in a painting entitled ‘The Day the Train Came to Town.’

And how the mural came to be, was the rain and flooding that hit Pacific in December and January.

“I wanted something here for this community to be able to celebrate,” says Cherie Francois, owner of Pacific Plaza. “Because it was incredibly difficult for this town and the people in this community to have their lives thrown upside down.”

Harvey’s painted more than 400 murals along the historic highway.

For the last few weeks, Harvey has been hard at work on the 26-foot wide mural. He imagines he’ll finish it next week, but like the sightseers on old Route 66, he’s taking his time with it.

“You just can’t imagine what a face or train might look like when it’s 12-feet tall until you get it up to 12-feet tall and then you see things that need to be done,” Harvey says. “Some things have to be lightened and darkened.”

“An artist doesn’t ever finish a painting; he just gives up on it. It gets to a point you call it a day.'