The Stony Dell Resort in Arlington, Missouri: A Route 66 Ruin
Hidden in the Brush
While traffic speeds along, those that know to look notice an elaborate stone archway hidden in the brush, near an abandoned house with an old painted sign offering "Gas, Food, Bait, and Hand-made gifts."
This is what remains of Stony Dell Resort.
A resort for soldier and churchgoer alike
In the 1930s and 40s the town of Arlington, Missouri experienced a boom. It was near Fort Leonard Wood which, during the war years, resulted in heavy military traffic. It was also located on Route 66, which carried most of the nation's shiny, new automobiles between Chicago and Los Angeles .
In 1932, George Prewett constructed Stony Dell Resort, with incredible stonework and an enormous swimming pool, to capitalize on the highway near Arlington. It quickly became a destination for soldiers on leave, people traveling along Route 66, and locals like Cordell Webb's church youth group.
During this time, movie star Mae West paid one or more visits to Stony Dell - a fact that became a local point of pride for years.
In Jack Rittenhouse's 1946 Guide Book to Highway 66, the first of its kind detailing Route 66, he notes that the resort has several stone buildings, a swimming pool, a store, several cabins, and a justice of the peace.
Stony Dell was a wedding destination.
The Artesian Well
Stony Dell Resort made the most of its proximity to an artesian well that still exists.
Its best-known feature was a 100 foot long rock swimming pool, fed by the well via a large stone fountain. People remember the pool being extremely cold, as a result. So popular were the swimming pool and picnic areas that traffic along Route 66 would jam, and police would be called to direct traffic.
The well water was sold in the Stony Dell gift shop, as is seen in some pictures, but perhaps most interestingly, artesian water fed tanks in the restaurant where live fish were kept. Diners could select the fish they wanted for dinner that evening.
The war years
A personal memory...
In 2006, local resident Cordell Webb wrote a personal account of growing up near Stony Dell and the Gasconade River.
"Driving a short distance more and one comes upon Stony Dell. An Oasis in the middle of these mountains. A stop for the weary traveler. A place to eat and have fun. To swim and to socialize.
Stony Dell, was an entertainment complex built right on the old Route 66... It was very famous in its time. I remember what a treat it was to go swimming at Stony Dell when I was a kid. If I remember right there were 3 diving boards at 3 different heights. What a thrill it was to dive off the high board."
If I remember right there were 3 diving boards at 3 different heights. What a thrill
it was to dive off the high board.— Cordell Webb
Geographic location of former Stony Dell Resort
Decline and Demise
By 1946, the town of Arlington had already been bypassed by a wider alignment of Route 66, better able to handle the military traffic passing through. It immediately began to fizzle. Jack Rittenhouse listed it, in his 1947 guide, as "a small, old-style village whose main street was cut off by a new highway."
A man named Rowe Carney purchased the buildings of Arlington with the intent to develop it as a resort, though those plans never came to fruition. Arlington exists today in name only, with a few small buildings as a reminder that anything was there at all.
Stony Dell Resort was run from 1954-1967 by Fred Widener, though by the '60s it was showing signs of age and wear. Stony Dell's golden era had passed. Finally, in 1967, the south half of Stony Dell Resort- the entire swimming complex - was torn down to accommodate the interstate that still runs past.
A video including the remains of Stony Dell Resort
Pictures of Stony Dell today
- Stony Dell Resort, Arlington, Missouri Image Gallery
A waymarked image gallery of what remains today of the Stony Dell Resort