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!

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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.

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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

The Normandy: Historic Route 66

Image

The Normandy: Historic Route 66

The Normandy, near Buckhorn, was a favorite eating place for locals, as well as Route 66 travelers. The restaurant, hotel, and gas station complex was razed circa 1978. A quarry is on the site now. The pillars that marked the entrance to The Normandy are still visible on the south side of the road close to the turnoff for the Pulaski County – Fort Leonard Wood Shrine Club.

Photo and background information courtesy of Terry & Jan Primas of Old Stagecoach Stop Foundation.

To obtain turn by turn directions of historic Route 66 visit: http://www.PulaskiCountyUSA.com/pdf/pulaskidrivingtours.pdf

 

St. Robert: Pulaski County USA’s Business Hub

St. Robert rises to life on Interstate 44 as a welcome destination for weary travelers. Boasting over 1,700 hotel rooms and a wide variety of American and International cuisine restaurants, St. Robert is the perfect stop as the sun fades on a long day- but it also provides a destination in itself.

Saint Robert Municipal Center

Saint Robert Municipal Center

The youngest city in Pulaski County, Missouri, St. Robert is the business hub for surrounding communities. National franchises and local merchants give way to the main entrance of Fort Leonard Wood, home of the U.S. Army’s Maneuver Support Center and training post for the Engineer, Chemical, and Military Police Corps.

Visitors have always enjoyed sunny afternoons in St. Robert’s parks. The town is proud of its dedication to community and family; picnic areas, playground areas, skate park, and Tiger Pride Aquatic Center provide afternoons of diversion for families. The St. Robert Community Center is home to car shows, the Pulaski County Fair, Black Powder trade show and many more events throughout the year. Learn more about St. Robert at the Municipal Center Museum, play a round of golf at Municipal Golf Course, a par 3, 9 hole, pitch & putt course.  Be one of the first to play the only course in the Midwest with synthetic greens! The paved walking trails that line the city complete the local landscape and provide an outdoor diversion for travelers. There are even park areas that pay proud tribute to the Armed Forces and neighboring Fort Leonard Wood with the presence of decommissioned Army and Marine vehicles. The authentic pieces make great photo opportunities.

Visitors have always enjoyed sunny afternoons in St. Robert’s parks.

Visitors have always enjoyed sunny afternoons in St. Robert’s parks.

Tiger Pride Aquatic Center provide afternoons of diversion for families.

Tiger Pride Aquatic Center provide afternoons of diversion for families.

Learn more about St. Robert at the Municipal Center Museum.

Learn more about St. Robert at the Municipal Center Museum.

play a round of golf at Municipal Center Golf Course.

Municipal Golf Course in St. Robert is the only course in the Midwest with synthetic greens.

Reed Park, on historic Route 66 in St. Robert is a great photo opportunity!

Reed Park, on historic Route 66 in St. Robert is a great photo opportunity!

On January 7th, 2013 St. Robert became a Purple Heart City on the Interstate 44 Purple Heart Trail. Pulaski County became a Purple Heart County on the I-44 Purple Heart Trail February 14th of the same year, and St. Robert’s sister city, Waynesville, became a Purple Heart City on March 21, 2013. Receiving the Purple Heart designation expresses the desire of the cities and the county to remember and recognize veterans who are recipients of the Purple Heart Medal and is another indicator of the prevalent patriotism that runs deep in Pulaski County USA.

Saint Robert's patriotic themed water tower was a finalist in Tnemec's 2012 Tank of the Year competition.The three legs of this water tower point to the three rivers (Big Piney, Gasconade, & Roubidoux)  in Pulaski County USA.

Saint Robert’s patriotic themed water tower was a finalist in Tnemec’s 2012 Tank of the Year competition.The three legs of this water tower point to the three rivers (Big Piney, Gasconade, & Roubidoux) in Pulaski County USA.

Saint Robert was the second city in Missouri, and the first on Interstate 44, to be recognized as a Purple Heart City.

Saint Robert was the second city in Missouri, and the first on Interstate 44, to be recognized as a Purple Heart City.

For more information on the City of Saint Robert, Missouri in Pulaski County USA visit www.saintrobert.com

To learn more about lodging, dining and recreation in St. Robert and surrounding areas visit www.pulaskicountyusa.com

For events, activities, and things to do in Saint Robert, Missouri visit our online calendar at: http://tinyurl.com/PulaskiCountyUSAEvents