Established in 1926, Route 66 served travelers for some 50 years before succumbing to the nation’s interstate system. Missouri was the first state to complete construction of Route 66. Many communities along the 2,448-mile highway from Chicago to Los Angeles built businesses that catered to this new American era of travel.
Today, some of the best vintage sites of this historic roadway can be found between St. Louis and Joplin.
Route 66 runs through the heart of Rolla, and step-on tours are available.
Hotel Edwin Long, now owned by Phelps County Bank, was rushed to completion in March 1931 so that it could serve as the headquarters for the Route 66 dedication and celebration.
On the west end of town, a giant 1933 totem pole marks the oldest original business still in operation on Missouri’s Route 66, Totem Pole Trading Post. On the east end, folks are welcomed by the iconic Route 66 Mule and two-story hillbilly.
“Both shops are great places to get Route 66 memorabilia,” said Aimee Campbell, tourism director at the Rolla Area Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center. “Owner Tim Jones, at the Mule Trading Post, enjoys sharing stories about people who have come from all over the world to drive this historic road.”
“Only available for groups, Pulaski County Tourism’s step-on tour continues to be a motorcoach favorite,” said Beth Wiles, executive director of the Pulaski County Tourism Bureau and Visitors Center. “Guide Terry Primas delights all who listen to his intriguing tales of the Mother Road.”
Groups can customize their trip to include the Elbow Inn and BBQ Pit, originally the Munger Moss Sandwich Shop; a drive down the original Wire Road into Waynesville to explore revitalized Waynesville Square; or a tour of the Pulaski County Courthouse Museum and Old Stagecoach Stop.
Visitors get a kick out of mailing a Route 66 postcard, postmarked from Sheldon’s Market and Post Office in Devil’s Elbow.
Near Richland, the Gascozark Flea Market, located in the original Gascozark General Store building, offers an ever-changing treasure hunt. More than 3,000 square feet houses antiques, collectibles and used items.