I’m Dreaming of a NEON Christmas!

By Laura Huffman

I’m a traditionalist at heart when it comes to Christmas. However, it is hard not to get hopped up on neon when you work with Beth Wiles. Wiles, in addition to serving as the Executive Director of Pulaski County Tourism Bureau, also volunteers as the President of Pulaski County Route 66 Preservation.

Why does Wiles dream of neon year-round? Pulaski County Route 66 Preservation’s signature project is the installation of a Neon Park at George M. Reed Roadside Park in Saint Robert, Missouri. The Neon Park will feature neon signs rescued from Route 66’s roadside and professionally restored to their colorful glory.

Route 66 Neon Park rendering by Ireland Architects. Rendering and signs are for illustration purposes only.

Route 66 Neon Park rendering by Ireland Architects. Rendering and signs are for illustration purposes only.

Pulaski County Route 66 Preservation, a 501 (C) (3) not-for-profit, has already acquired five noteworthy signs for the completed project: Modern Cabins (Oaks Court, Saint Robert), St. Louis Motel, Stanley Cour-Tel Motel, and LinAir Motel. The group is in discussions concerning acquisition of several more neon beauties.

Route 66 Neon Park rendering by Ireland Architects. Rendering and signs are for illustration purposes only.

Route 66 Neon Park rendering by Ireland Architects. Rendering and signs are for illustration purposes only.

The completed Neon Park will be a brilliant, iconic beacon for Route 66 travelers, neon sign enthusiasts, photographers, and folks from all walks of life. After dark the Neon Park will be magical!

How can you play a part in making Saint Robert’s Neon Park a reality? One way to help is by purchasing neon items from the Pulaski County Tourism Bureau & Visitors Center gift shop. A variety of fun and splashy novelty items, from fedoras to sunglasses, will make for unique stocking stuffers and are New Year’s Eve essentials! To plan your purchase visit the online store at: https://squareup.com/market/pulaski-county-tourism-bureau-and-visitors-center. ALL proceeds from these items will go towards the completion of the Neon Park project.

For other ways to make your tax-deductible donation or contribution please visit https://www.visitpulaskicounty.org/rt66preservation/contact.html. For corporate sponsorship considerations contact Beth Wiles at 573-336-6355 or via email at bethw@pulaskicountyusa.com

In the meantime, have a very Merry Neon Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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Z Loft Hotel, Bar, & Grill- Saint Robert, MO.

By Laura Huffman

Gasser Tourist Court was a mid-century landmark in Phelps County on Route 66. The combination of a modern motel complex and delicious barbecue and chicken was irresistible to Mother Road travelers. Today, 15 miles west, Z Loft Hotel, Bar, & Grill in Saint Robert is a hip, colorful, sophisticated update that rekindles the spirit of Fred & Vernelle Gasser’s model.

Innovative Twists on Classic, Flavorful Cuisine

Just off Route 66, tucked into an Ozarks “holler”, Z Loft first opened its doors to the public in 2013. The Farris family envisioned an “eat, play, stay” concept between Saint Louis and Springfield, Missouri- and they succeeded. The family combined their culinary roots with their hotelier skills and Z Loft was born.

Z Loft Bar & Grill promises “innovative twists on classic, flavorful cuisine” and “expertly crafted cocktails served in just the right glass”.

Cosmopolitan Text

The menu presents an elevated take on typical pub offerings. For starters, take into consideration Santa Fe Egg Rolls, Pork Pot Stickers, and Hummus that is served with fresh vegetables and Focaccia Bread. The menu lists six salad options- including the colorful Shrimp Goat Cheese Salad. This salad is a feast for the eyes and a treat to the taste buds- grilled shrimp served with fresh mixed greens, tomatoes, red onions, strawberries, goat cheese, and bread drizzled with house dressing. Entrees range in price between $9 to $28 and each choice is packed with flavor. Quesadillas can be ordered gluten free/meat free or with traditional grilled chicken or beef. The Philly Steak Sandwich has been described as “money”, and that description is spot on. One of the most popular, and unique, items is the Infamous Bourbon Burger. This hand crafted, hand-pattied creation is glazed in a special mixture of sauces including bourbon & brown sugar. The menu attests that the Kansas City Strip Steak is cooked to perfection- and diners agree! Even beef lovers will enjoy Z Loft’s chicken, pork, and fresh fish entrees. Chef Mitchie shows off her talent and skill daily with a variety of special creations.

Elevated Take on Typical Pub Offerings

Shrimp Goat Cheese Salad Opaque Text

You may decide to linger after your meal- consider moving the after dinner drinks and conversation to the outside patio. This area is welcoming year round and the comfy seating near the fire pit invites conversation and laughter.

Outdoor Service with Text

Comfy seating near the fire pit

Whether you need a dining spot during your Route 66 trip through Missouri, or are looking for a special place for the road to lead you to, make sure to add Z Loft Bar & Grill to your itinerary.

To learn more about Z Loft Hotel, Bar, & Grill please visit www.ZBarandGrill.com.
For a complete listing of dining and lodging options in Pulaski County, Missouri please visit www.PulaskiCountyUSA.com.

4 Places To Stuff Your Face on Route 66 in Pulaski County USA!

Route 66 and great food go together like two peas in a pod. “Roadies” yearn for the heyday of the Mother Road when Mom & Pop diners dished out platters of handmade deliciousness to hungry and road weary travelers- and still seek out these hidden gems along the route.

We have picked out four of our favorite places to stuff our faces along the Mother Road on Pulaski County’s 33 miles of Route 66. Grab your road trip buddies and bring along your taste buds!

Elbow Inn Bar & BBQ Pit, 21050 Teardrop Road, Devils Elbow

For many, the Elbow Inn Bar & BBQ Pit needs no introduction. This joint is known all around the world and dates back to the early 1930’s when it was opened as the Munger- Moss Sandwich Shop. During your meal here you might come across diners who rode in for bike night, have kayaked the Big Piney and stopped in for a PBR, or Japanese tourists- maybe even a film crew. One thing that you can always count on at “The Elbow” is amazing wood smoked BBQ served up with laughter floating around the room. It’s very hard to have a bad time at this roadhouse!

10-devils-elbow.jpg

Elbow Inn Bar & BBQ Pit, Devils Elbow. Photo by Pulaski County Tourism Bureau.

 

Jitters Eatery & Drinkery, 948 Old Route 66, Saint Robert

In many places across the United States it would seem odd to find a hidden gem that has both authentic Korean bulgogi and fresh burgers with perfectly cooked fries and an ice cold beer. Luckily, that isn’t the case in Saint Robert, MO, thanks to the international influences that Fort Leonard Wood has brought to the area. If Guy Fieri ever discovers Jitters he would proclaim it as “off the hook”!

Jitters Bar & Grill in St. Robert

Jitters Bar & Grill in St. Robert. Photo provided by Jitters.

Hoppers Pub, 318 Historic 66 East, Waynesville

Across from the historic Route 66 courthouse, Hoppers has become an anticipated stop for Czech Route 66 Association (Česká asociace Route 66) as they travel across Missouri’s Route 66. Hoppers is most famous for their selection of 66 beers on tap- including the house favorite, Frog Drool IPA. Don’t overlook the food menu though. Their burgers are a best seller. The Jam Burger features Hoppers very own signature sweet and spicy jam that turns the flavor knob up to 10!

Hoppers Pub in Waynesville

Hoppers Pub in Waynesville. Photo provided by Hoppers Pub.

Nona’s Kitchen, 103 North Benton Street, Waynesville

The newest location on our list has been a popular stop on the road before Missouri State Highway 14 was designated as Route 66. Nona’s Kitchen is housed in the iconic Rigsby House which was the living quarters for the Rigsby family who owned and operated Rigsby’s Standard Service Station. The home has been lovingly converted into Nona’s Kitchen, complete with an outdoor patio where the gasoline pumps once stood. Chef Julie creates comfort food fit for a king in her kitchen. The menu varies by the month but normally includes plates of stick to your ribs favorites like meatloaf, steak chili, smoked pork loin- even bangers and mash. If Nona’s Kitchen had been serving in the 1960’s it surely would have been Tod and Buz’s favorite place for home cooking in the Ozarks!

Cover Photo

Nona’s Kitchen in Waynesville. Photo via Get Your Pics On Route 66 Facebook.

Route 66 Neon Park Proposed In Saint Robert, Missouri

Pulaski County Route 66 Preservation announced Monday its plan to develop a Route 66 Neon Park within George M. Reed Roadside Park in Saint Robert, Missouri.

This development will be the first of its kind along the 2,448 miles of the Mother Road that stretches from Chicago, IL to Santa Monica, CA. It will feature restored, orphaned Route 66 neon signs in an outdoor park-like setting with corresponding story boards to inform visitors about the history of each sign.

Artist rendering of proposed Route 66 Neon Park in St. Robert, MO.

Artist rendering of proposed Route 66 Neon Park in St. Robert, MO.

Eligible signs would be those that were originally along the Route between 1926 and 1985, have been abandoned and do not have a home, and would not otherwise return to the Mother Road without a park such as this.

Currently the roadside park is home to a US Army M-60 tank which will remain within the park, and be embellished to tell the story of the importance of Route 66 as a thoroughfare for transporting war material to the west coast during WWII. For additional information on the namesake of the roadside park refer to “George M. Reed Roadside Park“.

“Pulaski County Route 66 Preservation is excited to offer a prime location to preserve and memorialize this particular element of the Route’s culture,” said Beth Wiles, President of the organization. “Pulaski County has an opportunity to become an anchor destination along the Route with this development. Mother Road enthusiasts from around the world will want to make Pulaski County a preferred stop to see the ‘neon at night’ in this unique park.”

The opportunity for this development began in November 2013 during the “The Road Ahead” Strategic Roundtable hosted by the World Monument Fund in Anaheim, CA, where Beth Wiles, Executive Director of the Pulaski County Tourism Bureau, was in attendance. One of the speakers there was a representative from the Neon Heritage Preservation Committee of the Route 66 Association of Missouri who described the Association’s vision to establish a neon park in Missouri for orphaned Route 66 neon signs. Ensuing discussions between those two parties then led to St. Robert becoming the proposed home for these former icons of the Mother Road.

The Route 66 Association of Missouri and the City of St. Robert will also be the organization’s partners in this endeavor.

A Kickstarter campaign focuses on raising funds for architectural designs and the layout of the park. The campaign offers various levels of backing designed to appeal to individuals, associations and corporations. Pulaski County Route 66 Preservation reminds those who want to “have a hand” in this development to back the project TODAY. The campaign runs for a limited time.

For more information about the Route 66 Neon Park project visit http://www.Route66Preservation.org and http://www.facebook.com/PulaskiCountyRoute66Preservation.

The Historic Route 66 Bridges of Pulaski County, Missouri

Compiled by Laura Huffman for Pulaski County Tourism Bureau

The recent closing of the Hazelgreen Bridge on Route 66 in Laclede County, between Waynesville and Lebanon has brought massive amounts of attention from across the globe to the historic river crossings of the Mother Road.

This vintage postcard of Hazelgreen Bridge on Route 66 between Waynesville and Lebanon, MO is undated. Image courtesy of 66postcards.com.

This vintage postcard of Hazelgreen Bridge on Route 66 between Waynesville and Lebanon, MO is undated. Image courtesy of 66postcards.com.

The Hazelgreen Ridge on Route 66 over the Gasconade River was closed to traffic indefinitely December 18, 2014. A rally, organized by Route 66 enthusiast “Roamin” Rich Dinkela was held at the bridge December 23, 2014. Those in attendance asked for MODOT to seek out ways to rehabilitate and repair the bridge. Photo courtesy of Pics By Jax.

Pulaski County is a not-so-hidden gem on the crown of Route 66 bridges. Three bridges are distinct ties to the promise and heyday of Route 66- the 1923 Devils Elbow Bridge (which pre-dates Route 66), the 1942 Devils Elbow Arch Bridge, and the 1923 Roubidoux Bridge (also pre-dating Route 66) in Waynesville.

Vintage postcard of the Devils Elbow Bridge over the Big Piney River on Route 66 between Rolla and Waynesville. Image courtesy of 66postcards.com.

Vintage postcard of the Devils Elbow Bridge over the Big Piney River on Route 66 between Rolla and Waynesville. Image courtesy of 66postcards.com.

Vintage postcard of the Devils Elbow Concrete Arch Bridge over the Big Piney River on Route 66 between Rolla and Waynesville. Image courtesy of 66postcards.com.

Vintage postcard of the Devils Elbow Concrete Arch Bridge over the Big Piney River on Route 66 between Rolla and Waynesville. Image courtesy of 66postcards.com.

Vintage postcard of the 1923 Roubidoux Bridge on Route 66 in Waynesville, MO. Image courtesy of 66postcards.com.

Vintage postcard of the 1923 Roubidoux Bridge on Route 66 in Waynesville, MO. Image courtesy of 66postcards.com.

The fate of the 1923 Devils Elbow Bridge was questioned for years. This crossing is unique in the fact that it was bypassed by a new bridge on a later alignment of Route 66 in 1942. Missouri Department of Transportation relinquished control of the bridge to Pulaski County. Drawing mainly local traffic and Route 66 enthusiasts the bridge continued to deteriorate until a solid plan to rehabilitate the bridge was finalized. The 1923 Devils Elbow bridge closed to all traffic October 2013 and re-opened May 2014. Today, the bridge is like new- strong, sturdy, and safe and ready to carry travelers from around the globe across the river. The refurbished bridge has reenergized the village of Devils Elbow.

Residents of Devils Elbow have decorated the recently rehabilitated Devils Elbow Bridge for the holidays. Photo by Pics By Jax.

Residents of Devils Elbow have decorated the recently rehabilitated Devils Elbow Bridge for the holidays. Photo by Pics By Jax.

The 1942 Devils Elbow Arch Bridge, was designed by the Missouri State Highway Commission. Composed of three open spandrel arches and five arched girder approach spans, it was constructed by Maxwell Construction Company. Maxwell Construction Company constructed almost a dozen, if not more, bridges in Kansas, Arkansas, and Missouri between 1912 and 1942. They were also the company that constructed the Pikes Peak through truss bridge between Waynesville and Crocker on Highway 17 in 1932. Pikes Peak Bridge was demolished October, 2009. After completing the 1942 Devils Elbow Arch Bridge the company was paid $47,707.00. Federal financial sources played an important role in the construction of this bridge- money was made available through the Strategic Highway Fund and the Emergency Relief Fund, both byproducts of World War II. The open spandrel design was used frequently by the Missouri State Highway Department between 1920 and the early 1940’s. According to HAER Inventory- Missouri Historic Bridge Inventory, regarding the open spandrel bridges this bridge has “one of the longest spans of those identified by the statewide bridge inventory.” The report also states that that due to the late construction date that the bridge has “no noteworthy technological significance”. However, in a National Register of Historic Places Multiple Property Documentation Form prepared by Ruth Keenoy and Terri Foley they state that “concrete open spandrel arch bridges signify one of the great engineering accomplishments of early twentieth century bridge construction” and further states that “the Big Piney River Bridge is an excellent example”. The 1942 Devils Elbow Arch Bridge is unchanged from its original construction.

A rare image of the 1942 Devils Elbow Arch Bridge during construction. MODOT photo.

A rare image of the 1942 Devils Elbow Arch Bridge during construction. MODOT photo.

1942 Devils Elbow Arch Bridge over the Big Piney River on the 4 lane alignment of Route 66 between Rolla and Lebanon as seen in 2014. Photo by David Harbaugh.

1942 Devils Elbow Arch Bridge over the Big Piney River on the 4 lane alignment of Route 66 between Rolla and Lebanon as seen in 2014. Photo by David Harbaugh.

The 1923 Roubidoux Bridge was also designed by the Missouri State Highway Commission in 1922 to carry traffic across the Roubidoux on Missouri State Highway 14. Missouri Highway 14 was later designated as Highway 66. Builder Koss Construction Company of Des Moines, Iowa was paid $44,035.00 for their work after completion. Koss Construction Company constructed almost a dozen, if not more, bridges in Missouri, Iowa, Alabama, Minnesota, and Michigan. At least two of their bridges, Galena Y Bridge in Stone County, Missouri and Mendota Bridge over the Minnesota River in Dakota County, Minnesota have been added to the National Register of Historic Places. This bridge is a closed, or filled concrete spandrel bridge, a variation of the concrete bridge design that was often used by Missouri State Highway Department in the 1920’s, 1930’s, and 1940’s. This bridge, along with the Meramec River Bridge in Crawford County were the only two remaining examples of this bridge type in a five span formation when the Historic American Engineering Record completed its Missouri Historic Bridge Inventory. The Meramec River Bridge on Highway 19 was lost in 2000. The 1923 Roubidoux Bridge was widened in 1939 when the bridge was 16 years old and has had no further alterations in the following 75 years.

Vintage postcard of Roubidoux Bridge in Waynesville on Missouri State Highway 14, later Route 66. Image courtesy of Steve Rider and 66postcards.com.

Vintage postcard of Roubidoux Bridge in Waynesville on Missouri State Highway 14, later Route 66. Image courtesy of Steve Rider and 66postcards.com.

Roubidoux Bridge on Route 66  in Waynesville as seen in 2014. Photo by Pics By Jax.

Roubidoux Bridge on Route 66 in Waynesville as seen in 2014. Photo by Pics By Jax.

The historic bridges on Route 66 in Pulaski County are more than just bridges. These bridges are links, connecting Chicago to Los Angeles and also connecting travelers from around the world to tangible Americana in the largest open air-museum in the United States.

*Thank You to Jim Ross, author of “Route 66 Crossings: Historic Bridges of the Mother Road”; Terry Primas of the Old Stagecoach Stop, and http://www.bridgehunter.com for their contributions to this article.

Christmas Cheer in Devils Elbow, MO

A taillight flare adds an extra zip to the festive lights on the Devils Elbow Bridge. Photo by Shawn Helgerson.

A taillight flare adds an extra zip to the festive lights on the Devils Elbow Bridge. Photo by Shawn Helgerson.

The Devils Elbow Bridge was dedicated July 4, 1924 and is considered by many to be a Route 66 icon. The bridge has allowed safe passage across the Big Piney River during its 90+ years of service.

The bridge recently had a second life breathed into it when it went under a massive rehabilitation project overseen by Great River Engineering. Today, the bridge is like new- strong, sturdy, and safe and ready to carry travelers from around the globe across the river.

The citizens have celebrated the revitalization of their beloved bridge in a new way this year- a first in the bridge’s history. The bridge has been decorated with Christmas lights and it is fabulous! This is sure to become a tradition in the ‘Bow and we hope that visiting the bridge during the holidays becomes a tradition for you and your family also. Devils Elbow has always been a very special place on the Mother Road- the lights make it magical.

Devils Elbow Bridge, December 2014. Photo by Pics By Jax.

Devils Elbow Bridge, December 2014. Photo by Pics By Jax.

Devils Elbow Bridge, December 2014. Photo by Pics By Jax.

Devils Elbow Bridge, December 2014. Photo by Pics By Jax.

Devils Elbow Bridge, December 2014. Photo by Pics By Jax.

Devils Elbow Bridge, December 2014. Photo by Pics By Jax.

Historic 1923 Devils Elbow Route 66 Bridge Reopened

Photo by Pulaski County Tourism Bureau.

Photo by Pulaski County Tourism Bureau.

Without fanfare, a Route 66 icon returned to service May 22, 2014. The 1923 Devils Elbow Bridge reopened to traffic after being closed for rehabilitation since October 24th, 2013. The project was completed 3 months ahead of schedule, just in time for the peak of tourist season. Pulaski County Commissioner Gene Newkirk noted that the first vehicles to cross the bridge were all from out of state, and that the second group, several motorcycles, were international Route 66 enthusiasts.

Photo by Pulaski County Tourism Bureau.

Photo by Pulaski County Tourism Bureau.

During an impromptu chat on the bridge, Devils Elbow resident Cheryl Dalgetty spoke of her excitement that it had reopened and how much the bridge, and the tourists who flock to Devils Elbow to see it, mean to her community. She recalled that since moving to the area in 1978 she has seen motor coaches filled with tourists cross, and even walk across it to take photos of the bridge itself and the beauty of the Big Piney River and her majestic bluffs.

Photo by Pulaski County Tourism Bureau.

Photo by Pulaski County Tourism Bureau.

One excited motorist even honked their horn in celebration as they crossed the bridge that had been closed to traffic for seven months.

Photo by Pulaski County Tourism Bureau.

Photo by Pulaski County Tourism Bureau.

Some of the signage that was removed during the bridge rehabilitation is now located at Pulaski County Visitors Center (137 St. Robert Boulevard, Suite A, Saint Robert) for Route 66 fans to see and photograph.

Photo by Pulaski County Tourism Bureau.

Photo by Pulaski County Tourism Bureau.

Commissioner Newkirk stated that a formal ceremony marking the reopening will be held in approximately 7 to 10 days. Stay tuned to Pulaski County Tourism Bureau on Facebook (www.facebook.com/PulaskiCountyUSA) or Twitter (@PulCoUSA) for details as they are released.

Stay connected with Pulaski County Tourism Bureau on Facebook & Twitter!

Stay connected with Pulaski County Tourism Bureau on Facebook & Twitter!