Whitehall Mercantile started it’s life as a general store and post office and now is packed with antiques and Route 66 souvenirs.
Paris Springs Junction isn’t even a dot on the map but it’s the home of a favorite 66 stop the Gay Parita Sinclair Station. The original station, built in the 1930s, was owned by Gay and Fred Mason until it burned down in 1955. Gary Turner and his wife, Lena bought the property, rebuilt the gas station and filled it with a collection of old cars and signs.
Gary, who from all accounts warmly welcomed visitors and could tell stories for hours, passed away in January and Lena followed just a few months later, so the future of the station is in jeopardy. At the moment the station looks unchanged but the gate is locked. There’s enough room on the side of the road to pull over.
The little town of Spenser had a grocery store, a Phillips 66 station and a garage, a dry goods store and a barbershop, all abandoned when I-44 was finished. The buildings have been beautifully restored by Francis and Marie Lynn Ryan. There’s enough room in the parking lot for RVs.
For convenience we’ve spent almost every night in a Walmart parking lot so this little free camping spot in the Robert E. Talbot Conservation Area was a nice change. It’s bit more than a mile south of Route 66. The four sites are close together but the area is very quiet.
Red Oak II is a side trip of a few miles but it’s definitely worth seeing. Lowell Davis grew up 23 miles away in the town of Red Oak. After spending some time in Texas as an art director for an advertising agency he came back to Missouri and started making figurines of farm animals and country life. The figurines were a bit hit with collectors giving Lowell the money he needed to move buildings from the dying town of Red Oak and other locations to his new village of Red Oak II. Look for the farm jalopy sculpture along Hwy 96, turn north on Hwy V and follow the signs.
This is more than a restored village. It’s a giant art project full of marvelous creations.
We had a chance to meet and talk a while with Lowell. His house is the green one with the fountain made of water pipes.
The buildings in the village have been sold and are carefully tended by their owners but that means none are opened to the public. Visitors are free to walk or drive the loop road but must stay off of the private property. The road is rough gravel and not accessible without help.
There isn’t a place anywhere to park a large RV. Smaller RVs will fit in the wide section of the road just inside the entrance but do not drive down the road as the wooden bridge does not look sturdy enough to support a heavy vehicle.