Apr 092014
 
devil-elbow-bridge










Construction is progressing on a project to rehabilitate the aging, historic Devil’s Elbow Bridge in rural Pulaski County.

“This is a project that began 10 or 11 years ago, and we are finally seeing the construction phase, so its very exciting,” Pulaski County Presiding Commissioner Gene Newkirk said. “It’s moving right along, and, so far, it’s been very smooth.”

The Pulaski County Commission took note of the bridge’s deteriorating condition—including severe rusting, cracked substructure and considerable soil loss near the south abutment—several years ago and began working to secure funding for a $1.3 million restoration project.

The funding for the project was found last year when the county commission was able to combine Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) Bridge Replacement Off-System (BRO) and MoDOT’s Surface Transportation Program (STP) funds with a mixture of grant funds awarded.

MoDOT BRO and STP funds are covering 80 percent of the project, and the Missouri Department of Economic Development Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program along with a small grant from the National Parks Service and a local match from Pulaski County make up the remaining project funding.

The Meramec Regional Planning Commission (MRPC) helped prepare the CDBG, STP and National Park Service grant applications and is serving as the administrator for the $250,000 CDBG grant awarded.
Not only will the rehabilitation of the project address safety issues, but it also maintains the historic significance of the structure.

“We have so many people from all over the country who come down to the bridge while traveling Route 66 because it is historic,” Newkirk said. “Many pictures have been taken of that bridge, and many people in our local communities, too, have pictures taken on that bridge from many, many years ago.”

The pages of the nearby Elbow Inn guestbook indicate that the picturesque place not only draws travelers from other states but from several other countries as well. Entries have included guests from France, Italy, Germany, New Zealand, Canada and Australia to name a few.

“We are very fortunate here in Pulaski County to have 33 original miles of Route 66, and we are internationally known for that,” Pulaski County Tourism Bureau Director Beth Wiles said, noting that the stretch is also known as one of the most beautiful in the country.

“They look at Route 66 as that key component of America,” Wiles said of the international travelers.
The influx of tourists seeking a part of American history is greatest from April through October, and brings tourism dollars not just to businesses near the bridge like the Elbow Inn, but also into the cities of Waynesville and St. Robert.

Built in 1923, the bridge was part of the original Route 66. The portion of the nostalgic highway that passes through Devil’s Elbow, however, proved to be dangerous and soon came to be called “Bloody 66.”

As a result, the Hooker Cut realignment took place in 1940, bypassing the bridge. At that time, it was the deepest rock cut in the country.
According to the HAER Bridge Inventory, a list of historic bridges in Missouri, the Devil’s Elbow Bridge may be eligible for a place on the National Register of Historic Places. It is believed to be one of the earliest examples of Missouri State Highway Department long-span truss design still in existence.

Additionally, Newkirk noted it is also one of only two remaining bridges in the state containing a curve. The second is the Chain of Rocks Bridge in St. Louis, which was recently converted to a pedestrian bridge. Wiles added that it is the only curved bridge on the original Route 66 still open to traffic.

A groundbreaking ceremony for the rehabilitation project was held in October, and, by the end of March, the 400-foot deck of the bridge began to retake its original shape.

The framing of the new deck is in place and half of the decking concrete has been poured with the remaining half expected to be poured by mid to late April. Once the remaining portion of the deck has been poured, the bridge will be painted and additional structural work will be completed.

Engineering services for the project have been provided by Great River Engineering out of Springfield, Mo. The engineer currently supervising the project, Steve Brown, expects it to be re-opened to traffic by August at the latest. Phillips Hardy, Inc., out of Columbia, is the general contractor for the project. The contractor was selected through a competitive bid process.

For individuals interested in touring the 33-mile stretch of Route 66 in Pulaski County, a turn-by-turn brochure is available for download at visitpulaskicounty.org. Alternately, the brochure is available in audio format for listening as you drive the route.

By Rolla Daily News

Mar 202014
 
2012-race-to-rocker









Runners, joggers, walkers, and strollers will all hit the pavement for the Sixth Annual “Race to the Rocker” at 9 a.m. Saturday, March 22 in Cuba. The four-mile, straight-shot run starts at the Mizell Funeral Home at 904 W. Washington and heads out to the unique 42-foot-tall steel rocking chair that sits next to historic Route 66 at the Fanning 66 Outpost.

Anyone and everyone is welcome and encouraged to participate or attend this event, sponsored by JOG, Inc. (Joggers of God, In Cuba). The race from historic uptown Cuba to the site of the World’s Largest Rocking Chair in Fanning is one that has steadily grown in popularity for a variety of reasons, with both new and old participants taking part each year. Proceeds from the event go to support local charities each year.

But it’s not only the running and the gifts to charities that make this a special event in Crawford County. As the race has continued to grow, organizers have heard stories about how deeply it has affected some of the individual participants. So, this year, they sent out a call for personal accounts of what the “Race to the Rocker” has meant to them.
These inspirational stories of personal triumph, dogged determination, and life-changing decisions have been shared as the race approaches. These stories are written by the participants, so readers can hear, in their own words, the impact of this event on their lives. Organizers hope that this year’s event will inspire new stories for the future.
Registration information and additional details about the event are available on the organization’s website at www.jog-inc.com.

Don and Lesa Mizell: Proud to Be the Starting Line
Mizell Funeral Home has been the meeting, registration, and beginning place of the Race to the Rocker for the last five years, and it will be again this year.
Having the opportunity to watch the amount of people growe each year has been amazing. “Not even sleet keeps them away.”
The first year, getting everyone a chance to the restroom was hectic, but with the Cuba United Methodist Church’s help and portable potties delivered, that issue was solved.

Parking was the second hurdle that had to be addressed, for there isn’t a big enough parking lot to park everyone. But with the buses picking most of the runners up at the Cuba High School, that issue was solved.
The committee that works year round on the Race to the Rocker does a great job making sure everyone is taken care of and any issues this year are resolved by the next year.
To be the place that everyone starts arriving at on a Saturday morning in March, before the sun rises, is just a great opportunity to give back to the community. We feel proud to be the starting point for the Race to the Rocker.

Dan Sanazaro: The Man with the Finish Line
In the fall of 2008, Brad Austin of JOG, Inc. approached me about a race that would finish at the rocker. I said, “Sounds great. Let’s do it.” That was the birth of the “Race to the Rocker” as far as Fanning 66 Outpost was concerned.
I thought to myself that it was really nice of him to end this race at our store. Then he told me what our portion of the donation would be. That’s when I figured out it was a community event that would help make lots of things happen for different programs.

We are glad to be a part of this great event as a sponsor and finish line. The rocker is owned by Fanning 66 Outpost, but it belongs to Route 66 and the community. I don’t know if it will always be the largest in the world, but it will always be the Route 66 Rocker.
It’s been fun to watch the race over the years—all the different people, costumes and teams. My favorite so far was the firemen running in full gear. That was impressive! It’s inspiring to see the people who finish the race that maybe all along the way had to keep telling themselves they could make it. I see a lot of people who have done it every year, but there are also new faces.
JOG, Inc. is a great group to work with. They set this race up and break it down fast. By one in the afternoon, you can’t even tell they were here. Brad Austin leads his group well, but one little known fact about Brad is that he cannot back up a trailer. It’s kind of funny to watch him. In fact, the whole Friday set up and Saturday race is fun to watch.

In the summer of 2015, the rocker is going to get a new paint job, and we are considering a contest of some kind of who can come up with the new look. So, while you’re here at the outpost this year, run some ideas in your head and look for the contest to begin early in 2015.

By Amy England – Cuba News

Dec 162013
 

missouri-hick-bbq








Missouri Hick BBQ

I kept driving by this place for the past few years wanting to stop in – but never had the chance.
Then earlier this year, I decided to bite the bullet (or the beef rib!) and stop in – and I am glad I did!!

I love BBQ and will eat it any chance I can get. The three times I have been there this year (actually 3 times in 4 months) I always have the ribs – and they are just that good!

The food is great – the service is almost too quick! As soon as you order, the food is pretty much ready.
Twice I ate on the patio and once inside the diner area – and all three times it was busy.
A nice added bonus – the Wagon Wheel Motel is right next door! So I decided to stay at the Wagon Wheel AND walk next door to grab a beer and, of course, more BBQ!

Another bonus is it is in Cuba MO and while there – make sure you check out the great murals they have throughout town.

I would recommend this place to ANY Route 66 traveler, so time it so you can stop in for lunch or dinner.

You can check out their website by going to www.missourihick.com

Dec 042013
 

plano-mo-route-66









Driving to Halltown from Springfield on Historic Route 66 (now Missouri 266), you’ve probably noticed the ruins of a building on the northwest corner of the intersection with Farm Road 45.

Through the large arched windows and doorways, you can see the small forest growing inside. Tree branches reach out wildly through the open roof.

I had seen the rock walls a few times before, but only recently when I stopped to photograph it did I see the Greene County Historic Site marker that reads “Plano, a Ghost Town.”

Inside the structure, paths zigzag through the middle. Beer and soda bottles litter the ground. Vines climb the cracked stone walls. In the back, a tree grows at an odd angle through a window.

Standing in the woods within walls was eerie and made me wonder what this place used to be.

“There’s a lot of misinformation about Plano,” said Jackie Warfel, who prepared the historic site nomination.

A quick Internet search turns up many sites — mostly Route 66 travel blogs — that claim the limestone structure was a mortuary and casket factory.

“It was not,” Warfel said.

According to Warfel’s history, John Jackson and his family built the two-story 50-foot-by-60-foot building in 1902 of local limestone “with the help of neighbors as needed.”

The building became a hub of community activity. Two rooms on the lower level were a general store where farm families could sell their produce, eggs and baked goods.

The store was managed by Jackson’s son, Alfred, and daughters Mollie and Quintilla Jackson, who had taken a course on business administration in Springfield.

Upstairs, along with living quarters, was a large room used for club meetings, dances, court proceedings and even church services.

The Jacksons bought a wooden structure across the street, on the northeast corner, from Steve Carter. In this building, which is no longer standing, they operated a “mortuary and undertakers parlor where caskets could be purchased and a horse-drawn hearse was furnished.”

Warfel also noted in her research, “there was no embalming at that time and the families bought the caskets and lay the deceased family member out at their homes before burial.”

Besides the limestone walls of the general store, the only other current indication of the community of Plano is a rock building on the southeast corner, built by Alf Landon. Now a private residence, it was originally a store and Tydol gas station.

Warfel said Plano was a crossroads that served a large community. When the interstate system bypassed Route 66, the town faded into history, too.

By Valerie Mosley – News-Leader.com

Aug 162013
 






The National Park Service (NPS) Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program announced last week the awarding of six cost- share grants to assist with the restoration of significant historic properties along Route 66. The old Milan Motel, today known as the Kachina Country Trading Post, is one of the recipients, according to a press release from the National Park Service.

Grant funds will assist with the electrical rehabilitation of the trading post to address serious fire and other safety concerns. The private owner will match the $10,000 NPS grant with an equal amount.

The Milan Motel and Trading Post has a rich history on Route 66. The motel complex was built in 1947 by the Milan family, for which the town was named. The family also managed a booming carrot industry in the area, which became known as the “Carrot Capital of the United States.” Although a second story was added to the trading post in the 1970s, the motel and trading post retain much of their historic integrity today and are eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. Plumbing and electrical system issues have forced the closure of the motel units, but the trading post remains open today.

Long-term goals are to restore the motel units to operating condition.

Others recipients include: Hilltop Motel, Kingman, Ariz.; Vic Suhling Neon Sign, Litchfield, Ill.; DeCamp Junction, Staunton, Ill.; Santo Domingo Trading Post, Santo Domingo Pueblo, N.M.; and, Whiting Bros. Gas Station, Moriarty, N.M.

The cost-share grant program provides financial assistance for eligible historic preservation, research, oral history, interpretative, and educational projects. Grants are offered through an annual, competitive grant-cycle.

Since the program’s inception in 2001, 114 projects have been awarded $1.6 million with $2.7 million in cost-share match, totaling $4.3 million in public-private investment toward the preservation and revitalization of the Route 66 corridor.

By Cibola Beacon

Aug 092013
 




A piece of Route 66 history will be restored this afternoon in Springfield, kicking off a weekend of celebratory events.

A wayfinder sign (see above) that was damaged in a wreck in February 1952 will be reinstalled at the corner of Glenstone Ave. and St. Louis St. at 2:30 p.m. Friday.

Gordon Elliott, who owns the Best Western Route 66 Rail Haven at that location, says he wants to keep the Route 66 tradition alive for generations to come.

The resurrection kicks off the hotel’s 75th anniversary celebration festivities. The hotel will open a new pavillion at 4:30 p.m. with live entertainment by Mike Mac & The Rockabilly Cats.

A Classic Car Cruise down Route 66 will leave the hotel at 7:30 p.m. and travel west to Park Central Square, which will be the site of a Birthplace of Route 66 Festival Saturday, Aug. 10. That event will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

In the meantime, the city is using Springfield-based website “CrowdIt” to gather donations to help fund the Route 66 Roadside Park. City leaders plan to discuss that project during Saturday’s festival.

By – Ozark First News

 

Aug 072013
 




As celebrations go, we think the Route 66 International Festival was top-notch. On behalf of our community and our readers, we want to thank the Route 66 Alliance for choosing Joplin as the site of the festival.

We also tip our hat to the Joplin Convention and Visitors Bureau and all the local volunteers who made it a great event.

Michael Wallis, one of the co-founders of the Route 66 Alliance and the man providing the voice of the sheriff in the Disney-Pixar movie “Cars,” signed about 2,200 autographs in Carthage. He called his fan base “future road warriors.”

We like the idea that there are those who are keeping the story of America’s Mother Road alive. As a result of the festival, it’s clear that our own appreciation has been rekindled. Events promoted the history of the route from Vinita, Okla., to Carthage, Mo., with stops in Kansas in between.

And it seems like every time there’s a discussion about Route 66, we learn something new or discover something new right here in our own backyard.

A lot of work and planning went into the event, from the car cruising, to the kids roadie parade.

With that said, it would be a shame to wait 20 years for Joplin to get another turn to be hosts for the festival.

Wallis described the success of the event this way:

Route 66 is a linear village that has no state lines, county boundaries or city limits. We have to work together, and we saw that beginning to happen for the first time in Joplin.”

It’s an experience we would love to repeat again somewhere down the road.

Aug 052013
 




Kingman residents and businesses have a year to dust off their saddle shoes, glam up their retro rides and spruce up their storefronts before putting out the welcome mat for the Route 66 Alliance’s annual Route 66 International Festival.

“It’s an opportunity to showcase Kingman as more than just a stop on Route 66,” said Mother Road historian Jim Hinckley. “It is an opportunity to come together as a community and say with pride, ‘Welcome to our town.’”

The Alliance announced that Kingman was the winner of next year’s Route 66 festival as this year’s festival in Joplin, Mo. wound down Saturday evening. The annual event brings approximately 10,000 people to the event city.

Hinckley has been working with Josh Noble, the executive director of tourism for the Kingman Chamber of Commerce, and Steve Wagner from Re/Max on Hualapai Mountain Road for more than a year to bring the festival to Kingman.

“It started after I ran into Rick Freeland (one of the co-founders of the Route 66 Alliance) last year at the festival in Victorville, Calif.,” Hinckley said.

Freeland told him that the location of the 2013 festival was already set, but the Alliance would be more than happy to consider Kingman for the 2014 festival. When Hinckley returned to Kingman, he met with Wagner and Nobel about the idea.

“The trick was, we had to show that there was community support and involvement with the idea,” Hinckley said. “Wagner really picked up the ball and ran with that.”

While Hinckley and Nobel worked on ideas for events and contacted local artists, authors and car enthusiasts, Wagner collected more than 30 letters of support from area businesses.

And then they had to wait for word from the Alliance. The official approval came at this weekend’s festival in Joplin.

“We’ve already got a basic foundation for the festival. The theme is ‘Kingman – Crossroads of the Past & Future,” said Hinckley, who traveled Joplin this weekend.

The Kingman festival will run from Aug. 13-17 next year. It will include events at the Hualapai Mountain Resort; an exhibit of Route 66 authors, artists and collectors at the new events center in historic downtown Kingman; a film festival featuring movies that were filmed on Route 66, in Kingman or feature Andy Devine; a bowling tournament; a golf tournament; tours of Desert Diamond Distillery; activities in Hualapai Mountain Park; and car cruising at night.

Electric highway

It will also feature a special edition of Kingman’s Chillin’ on Beale car show with an exhibit of alternative energy vehicles. Hinckley and Wagner hope to get a very special guest for the display that night, a 1902 electric Studebaker owned by Don Robertson of Jerome, Ariz. The car still runs.

They also hope to install electric recharge stations along Route 66 for the festival and turn the historic highway into one of the first electric highways in the nation.

“We wanted to plan more things for people to do than they could do in one day,” Wagner said. “We wanted them to say, ‘There’s too much going on. I have to come back tomorrow.’ This is great exposure for Kingman.”

Hinckley echoed those words from Joplin.

“There are people here from as far away as Australia and Tasmania. They came here just for this festival,” he said. “The potential for Kingman is astounding.”

With all of that international and national attention focused on Kingman, it’s a great opportunity to sell Kingman as a great place to visit, and a wonderful place to start a business and raise a family, Wagner said.

“I see it as a catalyst for the transformation of Kingman,” Hinckley said. “If we can just ignite the passion for a sense of community.”

He pointed to Galena, Kan., which also sits on Route 66. The city’s economy picked up after it started marketing its connection to the historic highway, Hinckley said.

The city is home to the International Harvester truck that was the basis for the character Mater in the Disney movie “Cars.” People started moving to the area, sales tax revenues went up, new businesses started moving in, old businesses were revitalized and historic buildings were restored, he said. Kingman could do the same thing.

By Suzanne Adams-Ockrassa – Daily Miner

Jun 012013
 





I do hope they reopen the restaurant (and orange juice stand) one day in the near future as I know EVERYONE will want to stop and get a chance to experience this place….

On a day when Fontana was celebrating its 100th birthday, Joe Bono on Friday did just what his family has done for the last 77 years: He offered his hospitality to tourists traveling on Route 66.
Sitting along the parking lot of Bono’s Old Route 66 restaurant on Foothill Boulevard was something Glen Heitritter and Linda Swenson of Omaha, Neb., had not yet seen on their ride down the Mother Road.

They stopped to take a look at the Big Orange, a 7-foot-high stucco ball from which thirsty travelers could buy glasses of fresh orange juice before the age of the freeway.

After the couple posed for the requisite photo, Bono gave them a tour of his place.

An attorney and former deputy district attorney, Bono grew up at the rear of the property at the corner of Sultana Avenue. A neighbor suggested to his mother in 1936 that she ought to sell juice to travelers along Foothill, which at the time had plenty of vineyards but was short on any places to stop for refreshment.

“It was all you could drink for 10 cents,” he told me in an interview some time ago.

That evolved into an Italian market and ultimately a restaurant. Especially during the Great Depression, Mama Bono would hear lots of hard-luck stories from many weary, and penniless, travelers seeking a new life in California and often fed them for free.

For Heitritter and Swanson, the Big Orange proved the perfect Route 66 distraction.

In their striking red Pontiac GTO — naturally, a 1966 model — they have traveled what remains of Route 66 since picking it up first in Carthage, Mo.

Among the notable experiences they’ve had was spending a night in one of the storied Wigwam Motels — with rooms shaped like teepees — in Holbrook, Ariz. They had passed the Inland Empire’s Wigwam Motel on the western edge of San Bernardino a few moments before pulling into Bono’s parking lot.

Before leaving for the end of the road at Santa Monica Pier that afternoon, they viewed Bono’s restaurant and its array of photographs and mementoes.

On a wall is a picture of young Joe and his father working in the vineyards not far away.

“Everything you see out there was vineyards,” he told the visitors, pointing out the windows toward Foothill.

But now Bono has big plans for his landmark business.

Looking over architect’s drawings, Bono said the restaurant, whose front windows are just a few feet shy of the now-four-lane Foothill Boulevard, will be moved south back from the highway. This will accommodate widening of the street as well as the construction of a huge warehouse planned on the other side of Sultana.

He said he was confident that Bono’s restaurant would reopen in the near future, to accommodate Fontana’s next century and for future travelers seeking the romance and adventure of Route 66.

By Joe Blackstock – Inland Valley Daily Bulletin

Apr 132013
 





Historic Route 66 hotel dedicated a themed room to late musician John Wilkinson, a former Springfield resident who played guitar for Elvis Presley.

The room, located in the Best Western Rail Haven motel next to the Elvis-themed room, honors the musician who played more than 1,200 shows with Presley from 1968 until Presley’s death in 1977.

Wilkinson, 67, died in January after a four-year battle with cancer and is survived by his wife, Terry, whom he married in 1983.

Tears were shed and memories were shared as Wilkinson’s friends and family gathered at the motel on Friday to view the room for the first time.

Tom Petit met Wilkinson in 1972 while working at a hotel in Aurora, Ill., and they became close friends.

Petit was unaware of who Wilkinson was when he checked in, Petit said. Later that evening, two women came to the hotel, asking for Wilkinson’s room number.

Petit refused to share the information and told the women, “Sorry, that’s not the way we operate.”

“The next morning, before I got off work, (Wilkinson) was down in the bar having breakfast, having it served to him in the lounge because he didn’t want to be around all the people,” Petit said. “Somebody came and told me there was a gentleman down in the lounge who wanted to have a word with me.”

Petit approached Wilkinson and asked, “So you wanted to see me?”

Wilkinson held up a finger to pause Petit and listened to a song that was playing on the jukebox.

A few moments after the song was over, Wilkinson told Petit, “Sorry, but that’s the only song we play that you can hear me play in.”

Petit said he thought, “Who is this guy? What are we talking about here?”

Wilkinson had two notes in the song “Burning Love” that could be heard. Petit said now he can’t listen to the song without hearing the guitar and those notes.

Wilkinson thanked Petit for taking care of things for him the night before.

“We sat down and we talked for a few minutes,” Petit said. “Next thing you know, we’re talking for half an hour.”

Gordon Elliott, owner of the Rail Haven motel, said the Elvis-themed room was updated for the motel’s 75th anniversary in August.

“We didn’t get the chance to do anything to tie (Wilkinson) into Elvis when he was alive,” Elliott said. “We ended up getting the room right next door to Elvis’.”

Elliott said creating the room for Wilkinson would be a great idea since he and Presley were close friends.

“And it ties into Springfield history,” Elliott said.

Presley appeared at the Shrine Mosque in 1956, and Wilkinson, then 10 years old, took the opportunity to tell the king of rock ‘n’ roll how he felt about his guitar playing.

Wilkinson sneaked into the mosque and approached Presley while he was in his dressing room. After some small talk, Wilkinson said, “Elvis, you can’t play guitar worth a damn.”

Presley, slightly insulted but amused, let Wilkinson play his guitar and said, “You’re pretty good.”

Wilkinson responded, “I know.”

Presley hired him 12 years later.

By Katie Lamb – News Leader