Saturday, September 3, 2016

Missouri - St. James ~ Route 66

St. James

Our trip on August 25, 2016 to St. James took us back across the Mississippi River through downtown St. Louis with a great view of the skyline and the Arch. 

We stayed at the Pheasant Acres RV Park. It is on the smaller size, mostly back in sites that are all gravel and fairly level. 

Plenty of open space to walk the dog, and trails through the woods that lead to a conservation area. It is super quiet and lots of trees for shade. Sherry, the owner is great, she supplied us with a ton of local information that kept us busy the whole time.

Route 66 runs through St. James, which is why we picked this area. We had so much fun continuing our explorations of the old highway. One day we headed east, back into St. Louis to pick up where we left off from our last stop. Then we headed west to where we will pick up from our next stop. Our re-cap here will be from St. Louis to Marshfield, which is just east of Springfield. Lots of pictures so settle in and enjoy the ride. 

First stop was in Kirkwood, on the western edge of St. Louis. We explored the Laumiere Sculpture Park, what an amazing place. 
Ball? Ball! Wall? Wall!
Donald Lipski
There are 60 sculptures through out the park, they are laid out along a walking path, the majority are handicap accessible. Some are hidden among the trees, which was fun. 

The Way
Alexander Liberman
It was blazing hot so we only got about half way through. 
The smart ones

Bornibus in scale model
Mark Di Suvero
One of the coolest things in the park is the information stands for the seeing impaired. 

Mark Di Suvero

Beverly Pepper
Some of the sculptures are done in scale models and sit on top of a post with the description of the sculpture in both written word and in braille. We found this to be amazing. 

Untitled by Donald Judd - Captain and his friend enjoyed it too

We loved the large open feel to the park, there are lots of benches and picnic areas, as well as hiking trails in the woods.
Man with Briefcase - Jonathan Borofsky ----- Earthmover - Marie Waft
Mielikki just enjoyed the shade
Eye - Tony Tasset 

Next up was downtown Kirkwood, a very happening place with lots of shops and restaurants and also the artwork of Brother Mel Meyer, his 3-Stacked Chairs are in the middle of town. 

While driving to the next stop we passed a Frank Lloyd Wright house. Construction of the Kraus House started in 1950 and continued through the 60's and was never formally completed. 
The 1,900 square foot house sits on 10.5 acres. This was the first of only five homes thaWright built in Missouri. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and tours can be arranged. 

The Museum of Transportation is also here. They have every type of transportation covered. 
We didn't go in, as we had the dog with us but did get pictures of a few things outside. 

A bonus find was an old car show being held in the parking lot.  

You never know who you will see at these things. Not sure who the character is but looks like a transformer of some sort. 
The two pictures were taken one right after the other - one caught the transformer 
the other a kid riding around in his car. 
Next stop was Times Beach. It was once a resort community founded in 1925. It fell on hard times during the Depression. 
By 1970 the residents could no longer afford to pave the roads, so they hired a company to oil them. Unfortunately, the oil contained toxic dioxin. By 1985 the entire town of 2000 were forced to leave. In 1997 the government purchased and decontaminated the site, removing 265,000 tons of earth, the clean-up cost 33 million dollars and took 15 years. 

It is now the 419-acre  
Route 66 State Park, with hiking, biking and horse trails and boat ramp access to the Meramec River. The incinerator were the contaminated materials were burned and the mound where all the contaminated dirt was moved is in the park.  

The Visitor Center is housed in the old Bridgehead Inn, a 1935 roadhouse, they have a display of photos and memorabilia. 

Now you can sing along! 

The highway runs through the town of Pacific, which started as a railroad and silica mining center. 

The highway cuts through sandstone bluffs and passes the mining tunnels where you can see the silica mine caves. 

Gray Summit is home to Purina Farms, you can take a tour and they have a petting farm as well. We found a cool old motel sign and lots of road signs. Made us think that things were probably a little less crazy back in the day.
Which way do we go?

St. Clair also started out as a railroad town and then moved into zinc and lead mining. This is where we stopped for lunch at the Lewis Cafe
It opened in the 1930's and continues to be a favorite of locals and travelers alike. You will also find the iconic Hot and Cold Water Towers. Someone in town has a good sense of humor. 
Just outside of St. Clair in Villa Ridge we came across this Coke-a-Cola Clock on the side of the road. 

Stanton is home to Meramec Caverns, it's a pretty safe bet you have seen an advertisement on a barn roof at some point in time. Lester Dill opened the caverns as a tourist attraction during the Great Depression, so he had to find ways to bring in business. His was one of the first businesses to use bumper stickers as a marketing tool. Barn signs were their biggest form of advertising. 
Lester and his friend Jim Gauer traveled for 45 years painting hundreds of barns across 40 states. They offered to paint barns for free as long as they could paint the Meramec logo on the roof. At times they offered watches, whiskey, and cave tour tickets for prime roadside sites. In 1968 barn rooftop advertising was banned but the older ones were grandfathered in. 
Had to laugh when
we saw this sign

The town of Bourbon was next. What a great name, it came from railroad workers who liked to drink whiskey at the general store in the 1850's. They called it the "Bourbon Store" and the name stuck. Their water towers are a hoot - can you imagine turning on your faucet and getting a glass of bourbon. 
The Circle Inn Malt Shop is located on Old Hwy 66 where it has been serving customers for 70+ years. 

The town of Cuba, one of eight towns in the US named Cuba, is one of the prosperous towns on the old route. 

They have embraced their history with Route 66 through 12 murals painted throughout town. Some of these are the best murals we have seen in our travels. The murals in the long picture are top to bottom: 
Bette Davis and her husband visited in 1948 and refused pictures but a reporter got one anyways, by Ray Harvery. 
Al West, Mayor from 46-58. He modernized Cuba, with an electrical system, paved roads and water and sewer, by Bob Whitesitt.
 A.J. Bennett the first cashier at Peoples Bank and then became President, brought the first Model T Ford to Cuba. 

Harry Truman campaigned for Senate in 1940
 Jay Ferger 

It was hard to believe that the walls were flat and didn't have actual awnings and signs hanging from them. 
Amelia Earhart made an emergency
landing here in 1928
Shelly Steiger and Julie Balo

In the Hayes Family Shoe Store you will find shoes that belonged to the tallest man in the world, Robert Wadlow was 8 feet 11.1 inches tall. Two of his shoes are on display, one is size 37, the other size 35. The store was closed when we came through so no pictures of these giant shoes. The outside of the shoe store has a mural of the 1900's Prosperity Corner, where citizens met to do business and pass time, by Kelly Polling.

The cute cottage style building was built in 1932 by Paul T. Carr and served as a filling station until the 1960's. The mural is by Ray Harvey.

The historic Wagon Wheel Motel is the oldest continuing operated motel on Route 66. It is celebrating it's 90th year in business. 

The Ozark stone cabins retain their original glass knobs, wood floors, windows and doors but have been updated for modern comfort.
Each cabin has an attached garage, unusual for it's time and even today. 

Fanning was our last stop for the first day. 
We found the World's 2nd Largest Rocking Chair - was the largest but another one just took that title. 

Bob's Gasoline Alley is also in Fanning, (although the mailing address is Cuba).This place is something else. There is so much memorabilia you don't know where to look first. Bob came out and greeted us when we pulled in. Nancy was awestruck with the amount of things he has and asked him how did this all come about, with a shrug and a shake of his head he said "I really don't know, it just happened." 
This diner has old signs - gas pumps and coolers.
We of course loved the Lee Tires -
as Les's family calls him Lee.

He has two diner replicas, a ton of old gas station signs, advertisement signs, coolers, cars and trucks and even more. 

100's of model cars lined the walls and a couple of girls from the 50's who didn't
have much to say were in this diner.

Gas pumps galore - a lot of names we had never seen before. Gas Station Signs from all over. 

He also has llamas, that were enjoying a roll in the dirt and a very inquisitive Emu. 

Heading west out of St.James, on Route 66 you pass by the neon sign for Murdon Concrete Co.  
Rolla, the next town, and is home to the M. U. Science and Technology campus. We found a Stubby Stonehenge on campus. This smaller version was constructed out of 160 tons of granite cut with Waterjet equipment. 

There are two trading post stores in Rolla, one on each end of town. The first one we stopped at was The Mule Trading Post. A large barn filled to the rafters with all kinds of tourist trinkets, post cards, T-shirts, jellies and jams, knifes and a lot more. The old car in the parking lot brought back memories for Les, as he had a white 1961 4-door.
Second stop was at the Totem Pole Trading Post and Antique Store. This one was also filled floor to ceiling with a eclectic mix of items, it was established in 1933, there may be a few items on the shelves from that time!  The gentlemen running both of them were quite friendly and talkative.

We tried to get to the remains of John's Modern Cabins in Doolittle, they were built in the 1930's. But there were no trespassing signs all over the place and the road in looked like the neighbors driveway.
So we ventured on to Jerome where there is a Trail of Tears Memorial. 
The archway was built shortly after the stairs, the headless statue is Baggett and
there is a wishing well that still has water in in.

Segments of Route 66 from Rolla to Springfield follow the 1838 Trail of Tears, where tens of thousands of Native Americans were forced to walk 1,200 miles across the country to reservations in Oklahoma. Thousands died along the way. 
Patio table, fire place and fountain.

Larry Baggett, who lived here was repeatedly woken at night from loud knocking on his door, when he opened the door no one was there. An old Cherokee man told him his house was built on the Trail and camps had been near by. The knocking was from spirits who were still trying to walk the trail, but his house was blocking them.
A young child holding the tail of a buffalo -
ornamental displays - wishing well.
 Baggett built a set of stairs on a stone wall on his property to help the spirits pass and the knocking stopped. He added to the area over the years. He passed away in 2003 and the property was sold, it is now abandoned.

There were a number of details, iron rings that were covered in stone and crystals. Behind the wishing well is a figure of a person bent over with a papoose on their back and also a person that looks like he is digging. 
Devil's Elbow got it's name from a tight bend in the Big Piney River. Lumberjack's struggled with the bend that created logjams and figured the bend must have been put there by the devil. The Devil's Elbow Bridge was built in 1923 and is one of two in the state with a curved shape. 

At the end of the bridge is the Elbow Inn Bar and Barbecue Pit. It originally opened in 1929 as the Munger Moss Sandwich shop, and became the Elbow in 1946. While dining or enjoying a cold beer you are sitting under a sea of bras that hang from ceiling. Unfortunately it wasn't open yet when we went past. 

The next town brings out the middle-schooler in everyone. Uranus, is home to the Uranus Fudge Factory. It sits in a strip of shops and restaurants that makes you think you have stepped back in time. 

Waynesville is another large town on the route. There is another tribute to the Trail of Tears here. 

Sleeper, reminded us of Nancy's dads best-friend, who everyone called by his last name - Sleeper. Here we found the Nancy Ballhagen Puzzle Shop, and it's a good thing we came when we did because after years of being in business they are closing their doors. At one time they had 1000's of puzzles for sale from children's with less than a 100 pieces to one that had 24,000 pieces. We found a couple to occupy what little free time we have. 

The Route 66 Museum and Research Center is in Lebanon. It is located in the public Library and takes you through the history of Route 66 through pictures and displays. 

The Munger Moss Sandwich shop which used to be where the Elbow Inn is, moved locations when Route 66 was rerouted in 1942. They reopened in 1946 as the Munger Moss Motel, with 14 cabins and added garages like the Wagon Wheel Motel. The same people have been running it for over 40 years now. 

We had made a stop at the Redmons Travel Center and Candy Factory in Phillipsburg, while driving from Branson a few months ago. We didn't realize at the time that it is on Route 66. So we stopped again for pictures and of course some candy. Happy Trails RV Park was right down the road, and Nancy snapped a picture while driving by last time but got a much better one this time. 

Marshfield is where Edwin Hubble was born on November 20,1889. His observations in the 1920's and 30's led to the discovery of the expansion of the universe. He opened the world of galaxies for science by showing that there are galaxies beyond the Milky Way that extend to the limit of the universe. The expanding universe of Hubble, now termed the Big Bang, determined the origin of the elements, of galaxies and of the stars. 
The Hubble Space Telescope which was launched in 1990 was named in honor of him. A model scale sits on the court house lawn. 

This mural is just across the square from the telescope. 

The original Route 66 was mostly a two lane highway and rolled with the hills. It's interesting as you drive along in places parallel to I-44 that is pretty well flat. 

Next up is Osceola, MO and more of Route 66 and the Harry S. Truman Museum and Library. 

Till we meet again...

Happy Trails to You!

Tips and things we have learned along the way. 
~ Weighed down
No we are not talking about the weight we have gained. We have a patio rug that we use quite regularly. It is especially helpful when we are on a gravel site.

The chairs sit better and its more comfortable on our feet. The rug came with stakes to hold it down, but sometimes the ground is so hard or there are to many tree roots to use them. We have gathered rocks from various places along our travels, and use them to hold the rug down when we can't use the stakes. We store them underneath in a plastic shoe box and they work wonders. 

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