Route 66 runs almost 2,500 miles from Chicago to Santa Monica. Route 66 is known for its kitschy manmade attractions, as well as natural attractions. Almost 315 miles of the highway run through Missouri. A 50-mile stretch from Waynesville to Cuba provides entertaining and historical points of interest.
During our visit to Pulaski County, the Waynesville area was our base of operations. Route 66 runs smack dab through the city’s downtown. You know you’re entering the city when you see W.H. Croaker (Waynesville Hill). The rock was painted to represent a frog.
The seat of Pulaski County, Waynesville is home to the Pulaski County Museum. Built in 1903, the building was the fourth courthouse for the county. The others had been destroyed by fire.
The Old Stagecoach Stop is the oldest building in town prior to the Civil War. During our visit, Civil War reenactors marched in front of it as during Waynesville’s Old Settlers Day celebration.
St. Robert is located near the army base Fort Leonard Wood. The town has a few military monuments along Route 66. A Route 66 diner is also located in St. Robert. It has a 1950s theme. The food is excellent.
Devil’s Elbow Bridge, which crosses the Big Piney River, was built in 1923. Devil’s Elbow got its name after lumberjacks lamented a large boulder that landed in the river. They supposedly claimed it was put there by the Devil. The Devil’s Elbow Inn – a popular bar with locals and tourists – is located a few feet from the bridge.
Not all attractions along Route 66 are as old as the 91-year-old highway. Uranus Village isn’t a true town; its name is an attempt at humor. Located near St. Robert, Uranus just over a year old. The owner of the attraction also owns a burlesque club on site. Signs and souvenir T-shirts play off a sophomoric interpretation of Uranus. It apparently does well, because we weren’t the only tourists checking out the site. The parking lot had several vehicles parked and people roaming with cameras in hand.
A candy and fudge store is perhaps the most popular stop at the attraction. In addition to the store, Uranus Village features kitsch such as dinosaur statues, a police car and a double decker bus. A fort behind the candy store features “Star Wars” characters in the lookout tower.
Route 66 intertwines between Interstate 44 and other highways. Traveling north toward St. Louis, several attractions challenge travelers. You feel the need to pull off the road and check out all that you can.
We checked out a building that really only has its front façade on display. Gascozark Café has long been closed. A few years ago, volunteers received permission from the owner to redesign the building’s front, so it appears as a café along Route 66.
As we continued our trip, the next stop was the world’s second largest rocking chair. The 42-foot tall red rocker was built to help attract business to the US Route 66 Outpost and General Store. While the chair remains popular, the store closed last summer. By the way, the world’s largest rocking chair is in Casey, Illinois. It’s on our list to visit this year.
Five miles away in Cuba, we found the motherlode for kitsch. Bob’s Gasoline Alley is jampacked with vintage gasoline signs and other advertisements based on Route 66. From Sinclair’s dinosaur to Phillips 66 and Mobil gas, the signs are a throwback to the heyday of auto traffic on the “Mother Road.”
Inside the diner (which provides food during spring and summer) are neon lights and other memorabilia. The theme brings back memories of the 1950s and ‘60s. Owner Bob Mullen and his wife Darlene love the era.
Visitors can also check out mules and llamas at the stop. The animals add an even more unique experience to an already unique attraction.
Cuba is known as the “Route 66 Mural City,” with more than a dozen murals painted alongside downtown buildings. Each mural is related to a historical aspect of the city.
The project started in 2001, with a mural highlighting the local bank’s 100th anniversary. Later, additional murals were added, featuring topics ranging from the Civil War to a surprise visit by acting legend Bette Davis (during her heyday).
With more than 300 miles of Route 66 running through the “Show Me State,” Lisa and I have made it a goal to check out the rest of the attractions that beckon us. Excitement awaits!
For more information on Route 66 and its Missouri attractions, please visit www.theroute-66.com/Missourihtml, www.route66news.com, www.visitmo.com, www.visitpulaskicounty.org and www.cubamomurals.com.