Devils Elbow – Preserving History!

Take a trip back in time as you enter the Historic Route 66 town of Devils Elbow, Missouri!  Once named one of the “Seven Wonders of Missouri” by the Missouri State Planning Commission, it is not hard to see why once you enter this quaint little Ozark town.  The early stages of Devils Elbow began when tie hackers were known for logging short leaf pine, and later hardwood railroad ties, upriver.  The tie rafters would then rope the ties together and float them down the Big Piney River to the Gasconade River.  They did, however, have much difficulty with a rather large bend in the river that continuously caused chaotic log jams, to which the rafters believed only the devil could have caused; hence the name Devils Elbow.

Photo from “Old Pulaski in Pictures” by John Bradbury and Terry Primas.
Photo courtesy of Bob and Geneva Goodrich, George Lane Collection.

The bend in the river, known as the “elbow” of the Big Piney River.
Photo by Cassie Lemus

The beauty of Devils Elbow is unimaginable, breath-taking and untouched.  It lies along the 1920s section of Route 66 that was later rerouted for a more direct four-lane route to and from Fort Leonard Wood in the 1940s.  This new four-lane road completely bypassed the small resort town of Devils Elbow, but left a history now sought out by Route 66 Enthusiasts all over the world.

The community of Devils Elbow and surrounding communities are working hard today to save a great piece of Devils Elbow and Route 66 history!  On Friday, October 24, 2012 at 4pm, the United States Postal Service is holding a public meeting at the current site of the Devils Elbow Post Office to discuss a possible closure.  Why is this so important?  Do you know how many visitors travel the Mother Road through this area just to send out a post card from Devils Elbow?  More than you think!  “New people stop by every day [traveling Route 66] and always want to send a postcard with our postmark.  The loss of this landmark would be felt much further than Devils Elbow itself,” Leona Zeigenbein, Devils Elbow Post Office.

Leona Zeigenbein working in the Devils Elbow Post Office.
Photo by Cassie Lemus


These snapshots came from the guest register at Shelden’s Market.  People come from all over to send out postcards from the Devils Elbow Post Office!
Photos by Cassie Lemus

We hope to have a large crowd at the public meeting, but if you can’t attend in person, and wish for your message to be heard, please write a letter and send it to Leona Zeigenbein at 12175 Timber Road, Devils Elbow, MO 65457.  This is also the address for the location of the public meeting.  Please help us save this important piece of United States history!

Communities coming together to say that “This Place Matters!”
Photo by Cassie Lemus

The Story of Devils Elbow in Photos:

Photo from “Old Pulaski in Pictures” by John Bradbury and Terry Primas.


The Elbow Inn was the original Munger-Moss Sandwhich Shop in the 1930s.  In the 1946 they relocated to west to Lebanon and this building was reopened as the Elbow Inn.  They definitely have a unique way of decorating, but that is what makes it so popular!
Photos by the Pulaski County Tourism Bureau

This steel bridge was built in 1923 and the view from the bridge is known as the Sugar Bowls for their unique shape.  They are the reason Devils Elbow is considered one of the “Seven Wonders of Missouri.”
Photo 1 by the Pulaski County Tourism Bureau
Photo 2 by Cassie Lemus

This aerial view taken during World War Two shows original Route 66 and some of the enterprises at Devils Elbow: (1) Devils Elbow Cafe (2) Hiawatha Lodge upstairs/Devils Elbow Hardware downstairs (3) McCoy’s Market (4) McCoy’s rental cabins, formerly Graham’s Camp (5) The furter site of today’s Shelden’s Market
Photo from “Old Pulaski in Pictures” by John Bradbury and Terry Primas.


This is the community of Devils Elbow, once described on a postcard as “where the main street of America (Route 66) winds its way through one of the most scenic areas in the Ozark region.”
Photos by Cassie Lemus

The distinctive Devils Elbow Café was built around 1932 with locally-quarried sandstone slabs.  The owner, Dwight Rench, served as the Devils Elbow postmaster from 1933-1935 and 1937-941 where he also sold gasoline, groceries, souvenirs and home-cooked food.  Nothing remains today but the rock well house.
Photo from “Old Pulaski in Pictures” by John Bradbury and Terry Primas.

Photo from “Old Pulaski in Pictures” by John Bradbury and Terry Primas.


Shelden’s Market was built in 1954 and originally called Miller’s Market.  The original owners ran it for nearly thirty years before they retired in 1984.  It has since been called Allman’s Market and today Shelden’s Market where it has housed the post office since 1954 and still sells souveniers for Route 66 travelers.
Photos by Cassie Lemus

Photo from “Old Pulaski in Pictures” by John Bradbury and Terry Primas.

McCoy’s Store and Camp was built in 1941 with the help from Fort Leonard Wood construction workers.  Originally wanting a dance hall on the top floor, McCoy turned the top level into apartments because the dance hall became too rowdy.  The ground floor became a store where the post office was located until Miller’s Market was built in 1954.
Photo by Cassie Lemus

Photo from “Old Pulaski in Pictures” by John Bradbury and Terry Primas.

This sharp curve on Route 66 in Devils Elbow was one of the most dangerous sections along Route 66 that gave it the nickname “Bloody 66.”  There was no barrier in 1926, but received a wooden fence in 1928 and later a post and cable fence.  It wasn’t until 1938 that the Works Progress Administration built a stone barrier around the curve which can still be seen today.
Photo by Cassie Lemus

Devils Elbow has a rich history along with most of Pulaski County.  To learn more about Devils Elbow and the rest of the county, make sure you check out the book “Old Pulaski in Pictures” by John Bradbury and Terry Primas which is where most of the information and photos in this blog came from.  Copies can be purchased at the Pulaski County Visitors Center, 137 St. Robert Blvd, Suite A, St. Robert, MO 65584.

Interested in traveling Route 66 through our county?  Dowload our Route 66 Historic Auto Tour, with turn by turn directions of the history through our beautiful county in the Ozarks.
http://www.visitpulaskicounty.org/pdf/route_66_auto_tour.pdf

Don’t forget about the public meeting tomorrow at Sheldon’s Market to help us save the Devils Elbow Post Office!  Make your voice heard!

Come back tomorrow for more and have a great day in Pulaski County USA!
Cassie Lemus
Pulaski County Tourism Bureau

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6 thoughts on “Devils Elbow – Preserving History!

  1. Don’t let this place go by the way… It is an important place of our history. Too much of our past life has been let go. Let’s perserve this for our children and Grandchildren.

  2. Pingback: Hitchhikers Guide To Pulaski County | Pulaski County USA

  3. My uncle David Eddington and his wife June lived in Devil’s Elbow in the early 1930’s. David ran the resort and facilitated canoe float trips on the Little Piney river. He had many stories to tell about their time at Devil’s Elbow. The lived in the rock house on the corner as you turn into the road that runs past what is now the post office and store. The house has changed quite a bit since David and June lived in it as the front addition has been added since they were its occupants. I so enjoyed hearing him talk about Devil’s Elbow and his time there.

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