I’m Dreaming of a NEON Christmas!

Neon Christmas (1)By Laura Huffman
Updated 11/27/19

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.

Route 66 Neon Park (1)

A portion of ALL purchases of  items in the Visitors Center gift shop, with the exception of consignment items, will be added to the Route 66 Neon Park fund! Need an item for a Route 66 fan? Have a Pulaski County history buff on your list?

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!

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.

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!

Hitchhikers Guide To Route 66 In Pulaski County

Located between Route 66 icons John’s Modern Cabins (Phelps County) and Munger Moss Motel (Laclede County), Pulaski County, Missouri, has more than its fair share of Mother Road landmarks.

No other Highway in the history of the United States is as celebrated as Route 66. It is a throwback to a simpler time, when the idea of extended traveling was still a novelty. If you’re traveling the 300 miles of the Mother Road that spans ten counties in Missouri, it means tearing a page out of history as you travel through quaint towns that provide glimpses to, and even memories of, a younger America.

The stretch of Route 66 that winds through Pulaski County is lush with brilliant scenery and breathtaking landscapes. Rivers cut through limestone and dolomite rock leaving dramatic bluffs and fertile valleys. The 200 foot tall bluffs visible in the Devils Elbow area were once described as being one of the “seven scenic wonders of Missouri” in literature from the Missouri Planning Commission. Jack D. Rittenhouse described one of Pulaski County’s segments as “one of the most beautiful sections of the Ozarks” in his Guide Book To Highway 66.

Vintage postcard of Big Piney River and Bridge at Devils Elbow, Mo., U.S. Highway 66.

Vintage postcard of Big Piney River and Bridge at Devils Elbow, Mo., U.S. Highway 66.

Following the road in Pulaski County you will visit cities whose heyday was years ago, as well as cities just finding their roots. The tour will captivate travelers as they twist along the 30+ miles of historic road in our area.

The highway through Pulaski County holds particular appeal for modern-day travelers, with its blend of historic landmarks and natural preservation. Scenic overlooks and rivers are interspersed with historic buildings. Still visible is the historic Hooker Church and Graveyard, which dates back to the late 1800’s. As you travel through Hooker Cut, take in the popular postcard landscape that was once rumored to be the deepest road cut in America. Rittenhouse described it as “an engineering triumph and truly a joy to the traveler”.

Travel through the beautiful hamlet of Devils Elbow, which was bypassed in the 1940’s when Highway 66 was realigned, and find out why lumberjacks cried in frustration at a large boulder lodged in the sharpest bend in the Big Piney River. They reasoned the boulder could only have been put there by the devil. Many landmarks of the once popular fishing & canoeing resort community still stand. Today’s visitors can still cross the Big Piney River on the original 1923 Devils Elbow truss bridge, sign the visitor register at Shelden’s Market & Post Office, or bend your Elbow at the world famous Elbow Inn Bar & BBQ. Housed in the original Munger-Moss Sandwich Shop this stop has been a travelers favorite for mouth watering barbecue since the late 1930’s. While in the Devils Elbow /Grandview area make sure to drive across the 1942 Big Piney River Bridge (an excellent example of a concrete open spandrel arch bridge) and stop at the Scenic Overlook to view the picturesque 1941 United States Army Railroad bridge in the Ozark valley below. Grandview is also known for having some of the best 1943 curbed pavement in Missouri. The half curb was designed to keep autos on the road but, often as not, would tip them over.

Vintage postcard of Miller's Market located at Devils Elbow in Pulaski County, Missouri.

Vintage postcard of Miller’s Market located at Devils Elbow in Pulaski County, Missouri.

Vintage postcard of Munger-Moss Sandwich Shop, well known for its Old Kentucky Barbecue.

Vintage postcard of Munger-Moss Sandwich Shop, well known for its Old Kentucky Barbecue.

In neighboring Saint Robert, travelers can still have a picnic at George M. Reed Roadside Park. This park is the only remaining original roadside park on Route 66 in Missouri. Remnants of three of St. Robert’s Route 66 motels remain, all near the roadside park- Ramada Inn, built in 1959, Ranch Motel that was constructed in the 1940’s and DeVille Motor Inn and Motel dating back to the 1960’s.

Vintage postcard of Ranch Motel, on Route 66, in Saint Robert, Missouri.

Vintage postcard of Ranch Motel, on Route 66, in Saint Robert, Missouri.

Descending into the county seat of Waynesville, watch for Frog Rock overlooking Route 66. Stop by the Old Pulaski County Courthouse Museum, one of two courthouses located along Route 66 in Missouri and while in the neighborhood visit the historic Old Stagecoach Stop that has stood since the 1850’s. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the building has served as a stagecoach stop, private residence, post office, and Civil War hospital. Also on the downtown Square is the Rigsby House and, next door, the building that was formerly Rigsby Standard Oil Station. Victory Pub, established in 1942, was once a popular stop for the thirsty traveler. Although the building is now just a memory many locals can tell tales of the tavern as if they were there yesterday. The Roubidoux Bridge crosses the Roubidoux Creek, a scenic tributary to the Gasconade River that was named after French explorer , fur trapper, and founder of St. Joseph, Missouri, Joseph Roubidoux. The stream is still well known for its fishing, especially trout fishing. The former Bell Hotel & Resort has been converted into a funeral home but is still easily recognizable from vintage postcards. Bell’s Sinclair filling station still stands as well, converted into a flower shop. Also in that area is Mallows Market and Bohannon Cafe Garage, built in 1934.

Vintage postcard of Bell Hotel, on U.S. Highway 66, "Main Street of America", Waynesville, MO.

Vintage postcard of Bell Hotel, on U.S. Highway 66, “Main Street of America”, Waynesville, MO.

On the western outskirts of Waynesville, in an area called Buckhorn by the locals, is Witmor Farms building. Originally a Nickerson Farms restaurant, this was the second location of the popular roadside eatery chain. Headquartered in Eldon, Missouri, I.J. Nickerson’s restaurants were a spinoff of Stuckey’s Pecan Shoppes. Roy Moorman purchased the restaurant in 1963, and he and his wife Norma served many hungry travelers.

Update: This building was demolished September, 2014.

Vintage postcard depicting Nickerson Farms, Fine Country Candies, Waynesville, Mo.

Vintage postcard depicting Nickerson Farms, Fine Country Candies, Waynesville, Mo. The building was demolished September, 2014.

Closing in on the Laclede County line, Pulaski County’s Route 66 still has treasures to share. Spring Valley Court was established in the late 1920’s and had four rock cabins and a rock shower house. The Gascozark Trading Post & Court, originally Caldwell’s Cafe, also had four cabins. Across the road is the abandoned Gascozark Service Station and Cafe, built in the early 1930’s by Frank A. Jones. This giraffe-rock structure is a fine example of a style of architecture that was popular between 1920 through 1940. Also called slab-rock, many of these giraffe-rock buildings can be seen in Pulaski County, including Piney Beach Cabins, near Hooker, and a mix of residential and commercial examples remain in Waynesville.

Vintage postcard of Gacozark Service Station & Cafe, Hi-way 66, Hazlegreen, Mo.

Vintage postcard of Gacozark Service Station & Cafe, Hi-way 66, Hazlegreen, Mo.

For even more points of interest along Pulaski County USA’s Route 66 segments, including turn by turn directions with mileage (in the style of Jack Rittenhouse’s 1946 “A Guide Book To Highway 66″) historical photos and facts contact Pulaski County Tourism Bureau at 877-858-8787 to receive your complimentary Route 66 Historic Auto Tours brochure. Make sure to ask for your FREE Waynesville Walking Tour brochure also. This guide will direct you to points of interest in historic downtown Waynesville, MO.

Pulaski County’s 3,000+ hotel rooms, and 100+ dining options makes us the perfect overnight stop between Saint Louis and Springfield for Route 66 explorers. Plan your trip with our complimentary Official Visitors Guide. Order yours today by calling 877-858-8787 or via email at email@pulaskicountyusa.com.

Like Us*Tweet Us*Share Us! #PulaskiCountyUSA

Like Us*Tweet Us*Share Us! #PulaskiCountyUSA

Ranch Motel- Vintage Route 66

Vintage postcard featuring Ranch Motel on Highway 66 in Saint Robert, Missouri.

Vintage postcard featuring Ranch Motel on Highway 66 in Saint Robert, Missouri.

Ranch Motel has been a landmark on Route 66 in Saint Robert, Pulaski County, Missouri since the 1940’s. Although not original to it’s construction, the facility was “rocked” later on.

More than a map, our Route 66 Historic Auto Tours brochure has turn by turn directions with mileage (in the style of Jack Rittenhouse’s 1946 “A Guide Book To Highway 66”) historical photos and facts, including information about Pulaski County’s “best 1943 curbed pavement in the state” in the Grandview area. To receive your FREE brochure contact Pulaski County Tourism Bureau at 877-858-8687 or email@pulaskicountyusa.com.

A New Chapter for the Devils Elbow Bridge

Devils Elbow took center stage in Pulaski County, Missouri earlier today.

The Devils Elbow Bridge over the Big Piney River, in Pulaski County, Missouri, before the renovation project begins.

The Devils Elbow Bridge over the Big Piney River, in Pulaski County, Missouri, before the renovation project begins.

Named by tie raft loggers, referring to the nearby bend in the Big Piney River, this quaint hamlet steeped in history has an international reputation as a destination landmark on storied Route 66.

Before the age of the automobile, travelers and vacationers made their way to the banks of the peaceful river via the railroads and hired “hacks”. They came in droves from the City to breathe the clean Ozarks air and to hunt and fish for the plentiful game around one of Missouri’s most scenic spots.

After Highway 14 was designated as Route 66, the Main Street of America that ran from Chicago to Santa Monica, generations of travelers took to their motor cars and set out to see the beauty of their country first hand. They surely would have been inspired when they made it to Devils Elbow. Millions of carloads of happy, vacationing families have made the crossing of the Big Piney River over the Devils Elbow Bridge since it carried its first passengers across the river below.

The Bluffs at Devils Elbow were once listed as one of Missouri's scenic wonders.

The Bluffs at Devils Elbow were once listed as one of Missouri’s scenic wonders.

The two-span through truss bridge was built in 1923 by Riley and Bailey. Route 66 was rerouted in Devils Elbow in 1942 to accommodate large materials that were being shipped on trucks by the United States Military to Fort Leonard Wood and Oklahoma. The curved east approach made it tricky for the larger vehicles to cross with their loads, and a new route was carved out of, and through, the Ozark Mountains to make a straighter, wider passage. Although the new four lane alignment of Route 66, and later the new Interstate 44, appealed to those in a hurry, or with a cumbersome load on their truck, the old route still held an appeal to purists and those who ambled along the road, taking in the sights and sounds.

Devils Elbow Bridge, over the Big Piney River, on Historic Route 66. Image courtesy of www.bridgehunter.com

Devils Elbow Bridge, over the Big Piney River, on Historic Route 66. Image courtesy of http://www.bridgehunter.com

That appeal still calls today to tourists and visitors from all corners of the world who make the Route 66 pilgrimage. Many had worried for years that the bridge would deteriorate to the state of being impassable, and some even feared that it would crumble into the river that it had stood over for 90 years.

Those fears were laid to rest today. Pulaski County Commissioners held a groundbreaking ceremony to signal the start of the construction project to renovate the iconic Route 66 bridge. Local dignitaries and Route 66 enthusiasts, including Mr. Tommy Pike of the Missouri Route 66 Association made remarks. Mr. Pike spoke briefly about the bridge’s historic value. Mr. Bill Farnham, former Pulaski County Commissioner, also spoke at the ceremony. He praised the bridge for the thousands of visitors that it brings to Pulaski County annually. Mr. Farnham’s tenacity, persistence, and doggedness was key to this renovation project moving forward. Gary Bockman of Great River Associates also addressed the gathered crowd. He spoke about the attention to detail of the historic characteristics that will be carried throughout the project. An example is that Missouri Department of Transportation has given the go ahead to the decking material to contain materials that would match the look and feel of the original, vintage Route 66 pavement that is in the Devils Elbow area. The ceremony officially ended with photo opportunities of the project officials with the ceremonial groundbreaking shovels and an announcement that there would be a ribbon cutting ceremony when the project was completed, approximately 10 months from now.

Mr. Bill Farnham addresses those in attendance at the Devils Elbow Bridge renovation project groundbreaking ceremony.

Mr. Bill Farnham addresses those in attendance at the Devils Elbow Bridge renovation project groundbreaking ceremony.

Mr. Tommy Pike addresses those in attendance at the Devils Elbow Bridge renovation project groundbreaking ceremony.

Mr. Tommy Pike addresses those in attendance at the Devils Elbow Bridge renovation project groundbreaking ceremony.

Mr. Gary Bockman addresses those in attendance at the Devils Elbow Bridge renovation project groundbreaking ceremony.

Mr. Gary Bockman addresses those in attendance at the Devils Elbow Bridge renovation project groundbreaking ceremony.

Devils Elbow Bridge Groundbreaking Ceremony.

Devils Elbow Bridge Groundbreaking Ceremony

Unofficially, the ceremony ended as the gathered crowd milled around in conversation and people broke off to walk across the bridge that is so near and dear to their hearts. They admired the views, took snapshots, and ran their hands across the steel bridge railings, literally touching the bridge that has touched their lives in so many memories. They said a temporary good bye to a very familiar friend and smiled approval of its new future.

Devils Elbow Bridge, an old friend.

Groundbreaking Ceremony At The Historic Route 66 Bridge Over Big Piney River In Devils Elbow

Devisl Elbow Bridge, circa 1923. Image from www.bridgehunter.com

Devisl Elbow Bridge, circa 1923. Image from http://www.bridgehunter.com

GROUNDBREAKING CEREMONY AT THE HISTORIC ROUTE 66 BRIDGE OVER BIG PINEY RIVER IN DEVILS ELBOW

After many years of planning and searching for funds, the Pulaski County Commission has entered into a contract with a contracting firm to renovate this 90 year old structure for the future use by of area residents and numerous Route 66 visitors from various foreign countries.

Participating funding agencies are Federal Highway Administration, Missouri Department of Transportation, National Park Service, Department of Housing and Urban Development, United States Department of Agriculture and Pulaski County Commission.

On Thursday, October 24 at 11:30 AM, the Pulaski County Commission will conduct an official groundbreaking ceremony to signal the start of construction activity which is expected to take about 10 months to complete.

You are invited to attend this historic event and meet some of the participants that have worked together to renovate the only curved bridge still in use by vehicles traveling on Historic Route 66.

Gary J. Bockman, PE, PLS

2826 S. Ingram Mill Rd.
Springfield, MO 65804
Phone: (417) 886-7171
Fax: (417) 886-7591
Cell: (417) 860-9263
gbockman@greatriv.com