Vacation on Missouri's Route 66: St. Louis to Springfield

Pacific MO on Route 66 displays "St. Peters Sandstone" formations.
Pacific MO on Route 66 displays "St. Peters Sandstone" formations.

US Historic Roads in the 20th Century

Route 66 is a favorite historic highway in the USA, extending from Chicago, Illinois to Santa Monica, California in full force for 60 years from 1926 – 1985. By the mid-1980s, the American Superhighway had displaced much of Route 66 and many parts of the Mother Road had become impassible, because of lack of maintenance. Businesses along Route 66 had closed and traffic had died down, taking I-70, I-44, and I-40 westward in its place.

However, parts of Old Route 66 and newer “alignments” (newer roads built in parallel with Old 66) remained open and a movement to restore the entire length of highway began. As of 2010, much of the Mother Road is in action again.

Author Tom Snyder founded the US Route 66 Association and published a collection of official guidebooks for traveling the road across all of its passable sections. Old and newer (yet still old) sections of Route 66 rather wrap around I-44, running roughly parallel.

Bobby Troup Plays Route 66 on the Julie London Show

Bobby Troup wrote Route 66 and helped to write the Guidebooks for the Route with Tom Snyder. You may remember Bobby as Dr. Early in the TV series Emergency, with wife July London as nurse Dixie McCall.

Route 66 Reconstruction

My favorite section of Route 66 is across Missouri, From St. Louis and its suburbs like St. Peters. to Springfield and smaller towns in between. This is the Ozarks Region and has always seemed mystic, because of the rumors, ghost stories, and legends found in this region. It serves the state well in October holidays celebration of Halloween and alternatives along Route 66 (see links below).

Missouri is known for its grape harvests and along Route 66, you will find fruit stands at the side of the road selling them, especially in the St. James Area. A good set of day trips to cover 2 or 3 days in Missouri along Route 66 include the following towns in the lists accompanied by maps.

The better route driven to reach these communities is actually I-44, although many parts of Route 66 weave around it under local or county road names or along roads running parallel to the old impassable parts of Route 66 (these are the new alignments). Historic US Route 66 signs should be posted all along the way to help travelers find the correct turns. Descriptions of driving on the nearly-impassable parts of Route 66 are found in the mystery anthology Murder on Route 66 .

Murder on Route 66

Chain of Rocks Bridge

Today, this is a pedestrian-only bridge and on the National Register of Historic Places.
Today, this is a pedestrian-only bridge and on the National Register of Historic Places.

St. Louis to Stanton MO

show route and directions
A markerKirkwood MO -
Kirkwood, MO, USA
[get directions]

B markerEureka MO -
Eureka, MO, USA
[get directions]

C markerPacific MO -
Pacific, MO, USA
[get directions]

D markerGray Summit MO -
Gray Summit, MO, USA
[get directions]

E markerStanton MO -
Stanton, Meramec, MO 63080, USA
[get directions]

F markerChain of Rocks Bridge MO -
Chain of Rocks Bridge, St Louis, MO 63137, USA
[get directions]

St. Louis to Stanton

This is my favorite part of a Route 66 driving tour through Missouri.

  • Chain of Rocks Bridge - Route 66 was built from east across the Mississippi River to St. Louis on a bridge with a bend in it necessitated by other structures nearby. The original bridge is a footbridge now and fun to walk along.
  • St. Louis- Among many attractions, Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Gateway Arch is another here along the Mississippi Riverfront, with museums and national historic buildings. Between the legs of the Arch you'll find the underground Museum of Western Expansion. Nearby are the Eads Bridge, the historic courthouse, Kiener Plaza, Laclede's Landing, the Old Cathedral, the art deco ship SS Admiral, and the entrance to the St. Louis Riverfront Trail. One the way out of town and westward, you will find several shopping malls.
  • Kirkwood- A registered historic railroad depot, the Missouri Pacific Depot is located here. The National Museum of Transport is also in this locale.
  • Eureka - Route 66 State Park. Visitor's Center and Museum is located near the entrance, which was formerly a location called Times Beach. Six Flags Over Mid-America amusement park is also here.
  • Pacific - National Historic Places include the Red Cedar Inn
  • Gray Summit- From Eureka to Gray Summit and around this region, the State of Missouri built the first Route 66 Park in the nation. It offers greenspace, picnicking, and bike/hike trails with Missouri River access among over 400 acres of land. The Henry Shaw Nature Center is in this locale and a scenic overlook in the park is located at Pacific.
  • Stanton – Meramec Caverns and Meramec State Park. During the 1950s, Art Linkletter’s TV show matched couples up by using the UNIVAC computer. In exchange for the match, their wedding and a honeymoon, a young couple agreed to spend some time each day in the Meramec Caverns dressed as a caveman and cavewoman. As tourists walked by their hideaway in the cave, they came running out, him chasing her, yelling, and scaring the guests. It was a haunted cave for several days and many tourists began laughing after the initial shock. I heard about this on a tour of the caverns and have always remembered it. One cave contains a shallow lake that looks very deep, but it is illuminated with colorful lights and when a recording of Kate Smith singing God Bless America plays, a light show entertains the guests. You might also want to visit the Jesse James Wax Museum, commemorating the legends that Jesse and his gang hid in the caves.

Meramac Caverns in Stanton MO

Art Linkletter asked a couple matched by the UNIVAC Computer, and who married as a result, to spend their honeymoon in the Meramec Caverns, where they entertained guests as cave people.
Art Linkletter asked a couple matched by the UNIVAC Computer, and who married as a result, to spend their honeymoon in the Meramec Caverns, where they entertained guests as cave people. | Source

Sullivan to Arlington MO

show route and directions
A markerSullivan MO -
Sullivan, MO, USA
[get directions]

B markerBourbon MO -
Bourbon, MO 65441, USA
[get directions]

C markerCuba MO -
Cuba, MO 65453, USA
[get directions]

D markerSt. James MO -
St James, MO 65559, USA
[get directions]

E markerRolla MO -
Rolla, MO, USA
[get directions]

F markerDoolittle MO -
Doolittle, MO, USA
[get directions]

G markerArlington MO -
Arlington, MO 65550, USA
[get directions]

Sullivan to Arlington

  • Sullivan - Architecture and old cemeteries make interesting sightseeing and places for doing tombstone rubbings. The Shamrock Court is all hand-cut Ozark stone.
  • Bourbon – The main street of Bourbon is the actual Route 66, although it may be marked Business I-44. The town's water tower is a particular landmark.
  • Cuba and Fanning – Cuba is known as the Route 66 Mural City for its many outdoor murals, including one of Betty Davis by a local artist. A famous attraction here is the historic Wagon Wheel Motel and another is an old Phillips 66 service station. At Fanningf, youcan see the World's Largest Rocking Chair at 42 feet tall. See the links to the right for Fanning and the many murals of Cuba.. 
  • St. James– Grape country is especially productive here for table (eating) grapes. Much of Missouri produces excellent wine grapes. Several wineries are located in nearby Rosati.
  • Rolla – Route 66 Motors features vintage cars out front. Historic buildings and stores are great sightseeing venues. The University of Missouri branch here even has Stonehange (see photo above). A mule trading post is also fun to visit.
  • Doolittle – This town honors Captain Jimmy Doolittle of WWII in the Pacific Theater. He was also a well-known airplane race champion. John's Modern Cabins is a site that contains remnants of individual log cabins in its old motor court.
  • Arlington– Beginning in Arlington, a side route carries travelers to Big Piney River to find Devil’s Elbow, a curve in Route 66 lined with bluffs above the river. Arlington offers historic builds and an old resort called Stoneydell.

 

Stonehenge on the U of M at Rolla.
Stonehenge on the U of M at Rolla.

Hooker to Springfield

Along this portion of the route, family-friendly sights and retail establishements are several and travelers can see trading posts, historic bridges, and several small picturesque towns between the stops.

Hooker to Springfield MO

show route and directions
A markerHooker MO -
Hooker, MO 65550, USA
[get directions]

B markerWaynesville MO -
Waynesville, MO, USA
[get directions]

C markerLebanon MO -
Lebanon, MO 65536, USA
[get directions]

D markerMarshfield MO -
Marshfield, MO 65706, USA
[get directions]

E markerSpringfield MO -
Springfield, MO, USA
[get directions]

Route 66 in Entertainment and Documentaries

Route 66: 75th Anniversary Collector's DVD Set
Route 66: 75th Anniversary Collector's DVD Set

75th Anniversary Route 66 collector's set contains "Route 66: Return to the Road with Martin Milner"; "Route 66: An American Odyssey"; "Drive 66:The Guide to taking a Trip", and "Greetings From Route 66: A Video Postcard". Over 4 and a half hours on two DVDs!

 
  • Hooker– Hooker and Hooker's Cut are uninhabited places that make up a beautiful yet dangerous section of Route 66, containing a river bend known as Devil's Elbow curve. Route 66 was improved to a 4-lane divided highway in 1981, but fell into disuse. The official Bluffs and Outlook above the river are under good maintenance and considered a state-recognized scenic area. Some military museums lie between here and Waynesville.
  • Waynesville - This town has a historic stagecoach stop and buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places. A rock frog (recently named W.H.Croaker) stands on a hill to the north and an annual Frog Fest is held in the middle of May. An entrance to Fort Leonard Wood is found near this town as well.
  • Lebanon– The Munger Moss Motel with bright neon sign and Sandwich Shop are now the Elbow Inn, still a sightseeing place as well as a motel. Between here and Springfield, Route 66 veers far to the east from I-44, but is drivable. The local library hosts a Route 66 Museum.
  • Marshfield – Buena Vista’s Exotic Animal Paradise is a family-oriented venue and the town has a few historic buildings.
  • Springfield – Several preserved buildings and historic Route 66 signs are located here. Dozens of native Ozark stone buildings and underground warehouses are located in Springfield, along with many old motor courts, stores, trading posts, markets, churches, and service stations. National historic places are practically innumerable.The Shrine Mosque (turned into a concert venue) is included, as well as Central Square where Wild Bill Hickock killed a poker opponent over a gold watch. Controversy fills some historical and media sources about this incident shooting, and many feel that it took place in Kansas City, on either the Kansas or Missouri sides of the double-city. Elvis Presley played the Shrine Mosque twice and always swore he'd come back, so it's a place for Elvis-spotters.


TV show from the 1950s in Springfield MO. Today Branson MO, to the south challenges the Nashville music industry.
TV show from the 1950s in Springfield MO. Today Branson MO, to the south challenges the Nashville music industry.

More by this Author


Comments and Vacation Experiences 28 comments

DiamondRN profile image

DiamondRN 6 years ago from Charlotte, NC USA

I took Route 66 to Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri for my Basic Training in 1966, before I went to Vietnam. Ouch!!!


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 6 years ago from North America Author

Oh my, what a memory! There is a story in "Murder on Route 66" about a soldier that has a harrowing incident on Rt 66 before shipping out to Viet Nam. Glad you survived!


Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

Hello, Patty, thank you for writing and showing this famous route. It must be famous because even I heard of it often.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 6 years ago from North America Author

I guess at least 2 songs have been written for it and of course TV shows and all of that have played in several countries. I don't think any one wrote a song for Route 40 (the Nationnal Road), though!

Thanks for visiting Hello, hello!


Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 6 years ago from San Francisco

Ah, the classic Route 66 road trip! Great hub.


PierrePierre profile image

PierrePierre 6 years ago

Hi, Patty. Thanks for sharing your ideas and pics. Eh, "The Main Street Of America" is the Route 66, right?


resspenser profile image

resspenser 6 years ago from South Carolina

Nice hub. I wish I could drive some of this road!


earnestshub profile image

earnestshub 6 years ago from Melbourne Australia

A great hub about a great part of America. I travelled along route 66 the first time I came to the USA as a tourist. I enjoyed this Patty.


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 6 years ago from Wales

Thanks for sharing this Patty. I love to write hubs on beautiful places that we have here in Wales and I also love reading other hubs on different locations anywhere. I was gripped from beginning to end. Brilliant. Take care.


G L Strout profile image

G L Strout 6 years ago from Ohio, USA

What agreat article. This sounds like a wonderful trip that I would love to take sometime. Thank you.


brandrocker profile image

brandrocker 6 years ago

Wonderful hub! I get to learn a lot of events and incidents. Thanks.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 6 years ago from North America Author

I appreciate all of your reading and comments, Everyone! This part of the Old Route 66 tour is full of things to see and do amidst scenery that is magnificent. M


K9keystrokes profile image

K9keystrokes 6 years ago from Northern, California

Route 66 bring so many iconic things to mind. Very informative hub and I love the reminder about the old TV "Jubalee" show.

K9


LillyGrillzit profile image

LillyGrillzit 6 years ago from The River Valley, Arkansas

Excellent with a capital EXCELLENT. thank you for sharing this Rt 66 road trip possibility!


colonial82 profile image

colonial82 6 years ago from Ohio

Thank for the great hub and the great trip idea :)

I love reading about nice short trips :)


mistydove 6 years ago

the frog is still in Waynesville - is a big photo op.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 6 years ago from North America Author

Thanks mistydove; I'll look for a picture of it.

I found they had a Frog Fest in May 2010! This is great.


Columbia Missouri Resident 6 years ago

Missouri is awesome to live in and vacation.


mecheshier profile image

mecheshier 5 years ago

Love the article. Rt 66 has some great history. Thank you


ByChanceTV profile image

ByChanceTV 5 years ago

Looks Like you got Your Kicks On Route 66! Great hub, nice travel locations..


SUSIE405 profile image

SUSIE405 5 years ago from Delray Beach, Florida

Thanks, never though of going to Missouri.


allpurposeguru profile image

allpurposeguru 5 years ago from North Carolina

This hub brings back memories. We used to take Rt. 66 every summer to visit my grandparents in Springfield. The median was so wide at (I think) Cuba that the eastbound lane was a one-way street through town. The westbound lane was a mile north. We especially loved the places where highway builders had to blast through the bright red rocks to make the highway. Northwestern Ohio, where we lived, certainly didn't have scenery like that!


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 5 years ago from North America Author

I remember the first time I saw red riocks and clay! - Not like Ohio at all. Thanks for writing, allpurposeguru.


Gregory Hasman 66 profile image

Gregory Hasman 66 5 years ago from Denton TX

As a roadie, I thought the piece was well written and the novice can find their way. What got you into 66?


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 5 years ago from North America Author

I went to St. Louis with a frend some years back and we went exploring west of the city!


Gregory Hasman 66 profile image

Gregory Hasman 66 5 years ago from Denton TX

What parts of the Mother Road have you seen or want to travel?


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 5 years ago from North America Author

A lot of it is in disrepair or closed, but parallel routes run close by; so, I'd like to start in Chicago and drive the lenth of Route 66 to see what's going on!


Gregory Hasman 66 profile image

Gregory Hasman 66 5 years ago from Denton TX

There are some real neat older alignments such as the pre-1937 route between Afton and Miami, Oklahoma and in New Mexico outside Cuerbo, just west of Albuquerque.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working