Interstate 44 follows the same path as Route 66 and when the roads run close together old signs compete with the new. Totem Pole Trading Post, with it’s sign lost in the jumble, has been in business since 1933.
But for the most part this portion of Route 66 travels through the countryside, far enough away from the interstate that it’s possible to forget it existence for a little while, but there are reminders that this was once a busy road.
Side trip - Vernelle’s Motel was built in the late 1930s when Route 66 was a two lane road. 66 was widened to four lanes in 1957, then became part of I-44 in 1967. In 2000 I- 44 was re-aligned to straighten the bends and Vernelle’s was bypassed completely. They’re still in business but I doubt many people drive down this stretch of road that goes nowhere.
Drive a little farther to the turn off to John’s Modern Cabins. Built in 1931 and unmaintained since 1971, they’re falling down but the sign is still legible.
The road dead ends at Arlington which was once a popular resort served by the railroad and later by Route 66. The bridge across the Gasconade River was demolished in 1967 and the town consists of a handful of houses and this empty building.
We backtracked to the newer alignment of Route 66 and made another side trip to drive a bit of the road where the Gasconade River bridge once led. The gate to the Trail of Tears Memorial is locked and the memorial is crumbling away but you can still see a little of it from the road. Larry Baggett built the memorial using rocks and concrete after he learned that the Trail of Tears ran right through his property. He died in 2003 and it seems like no one is going to take over the upkeep. :-( There’s a small area where you can pull over to take pictures.
A picturesque old building that once housed a small store is located a short distance farther down the road. This is a good place to turn around and get back on Route 66.
The little community of Devil’s Elbow started as a timber camp and was named after a bend in the Big Piney River that caused log jams. Devil’s Elbow was bypassed in 1946 but it still gets enough business to support a little store/post office built in 1954.
This pretty little park in Waynesville was an overnight stop for the Cherokee as they were forced to marched from Georgia to Oklahoma, a journey that became known as the Trail of Tears because of the sickness and death that they encountered along the way. A paved trail with a few interpretive signs follows the river for a mile. Small RVs will fit in the lot.
Back along I-44 – a giant bowling pin beside a giant Adult Superstore sign.
Rock cabins from an old motor court.
Loren and Norma Alloway built the Satellite Café in 1965. It burned down in 1999 but this sign survived. There’s also a rocket which was at the entrance to attract the attention of travelers. Since there’s no sign of any structures existing here I didn’t realize it was part of the café complex and didn’t take a picture of it. Room enough to pull off along the side of the road.
Lebanon, Missouri is home to the Munger Moss Motel with it’s wonderful neon sign. The strange name is a combination of the last names of Nelle Munger and her second husband Emmett Moss.
The Lebanon Library houses a small Route 66 Museum which has a complete gas station display and a room from a motor court cabin along with information about road conditions and attractions in the early years of 66.
Back near the interstate we found the World’s Largest Gift Store, a new tourist trap selling all kinds of things that no one needs. We hoped to get some retro candy at the Candy Factory but no luck there.
Another old building, a gymnasium, but no signs indicating anything else about it.
Side trip - Edwin Hubble, inventor of the Hubble telescope, was born in Marshfield so it’s only fitting that a 1/4 scale replica should sit on the town square. RVs can be parked on the side streets or you can just drive around the square to view it.
We also noticed this interesting building on one corner of the square. It features a galvanized sheet-metal front made by Mesker Brothers Iron Works.