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

Nov 122012
 




This is our third guest article on Route 66. This one focuses on the ‘winter’ of, or ON, Route 66!

Traveling down the historic Route 66 is a unique way to get your family together during the Christmas holiday. Gather the troops from across the country and reconnect on the old historic “Mother Road” that, at one time, was best passageway from the Midwest to the West.


Drive through the streets of a fabulous world of kitschy Americana, follow each other in a caravan of cars or pile in an RV (try to avoid motorcycles during winter — it can get cold!). Each little town you pass has a legend attached to it. You may find yourself touring an old school house, visiting a nostalgic ice cream shop and looking over your shoulder in one of the many ghost towns along the tour. With the wind in your hair and not a worry in the world, this will be the best Christmas EVER!

Step into a history rich with roadside attractions, neon signs, rusty gas stations, 50s diners and vintage motels. It’s all part of the experience, part of the adventure. What do you need to know and where do you go?

Driving Tips

  • Be sure you have appropriate car insurance (with roadside assistance) so you are 100 percent protected and carefree on your journey.
  • Don’t advertise you are away from home. When in a city with inhabitants, keep your maps out of plain sight when stopped and use the truck stops if in need of rest — they are generally the safest place to rest your eyes.

Great Idea No. 1

Before you go on this fabulous family vacation, make a playlist of Christmas songs and old country driving tunes (Willy Nelson would be a great choice). Burn it to a few disks and bam! Christmas gifts, done! You’ll be singing all the way from Amarillo to Tucumcari. Pair that with the EZ66 Guide for sale at Route 66 World Bookstore and Roadfood and you’ll be on your way to worry free holidays.

Great Idea No. 2

Roadfood. It’s a must-get book. Ever wanted to eat at little off the beaten path at classic regional restaurants but don’t know how to find them? This book was written by a couple who went on a country-wide trip, finding and rating the best unknowns. While the directions are good, a navigational device is extremely helpful.

Fun Places to Stop

Christmastime along the Route 66 is vibrant with life and lights. It’s quirkiness illuminates with decorations aglow.

  • Chain of Rocks Bridge — Constructed in 1929, the bridge crosses the Mississippi from Alton, Ill. to St. Louis, Mo. and has a 30-degree turn midway across a mile-long bridge, according to nps.gov. Today, it has trails for walking and biking — fun for the whole family.
  • The Blue Whale — Sitting in Catoosa, Okla. is an 80-foot long smiling blue whale that Hugh Davis built for his whale-collecting wife, Zelta, as a gift. The attraction dates back to the 1970s.
  • Sandhills Curiosity Shop — Located in Erick, Okla., this wacky shop is full of music memorabilia. But it’s not just a shop, it’s an experience. Sit for awhile and have a chat with the owners, Harley and Annabelle Russell.
  • Restored Phillips 66 Gas Station – Between Clinton and Amarillo, Texas, this is where gas is 19 cents a gallon. That was all the way back in 1927, according to ridingroute66.us.
  • Cadillac Ranch — Amarillo, Texas has a mythical land covered with 10 historic Cadillacs, noses stuck in the earth as they erect from the land. You are free to graffiti your presence on the pieces of art, says legendsofamerica.com. They are open to the public to decorate.
  • Tucumcari, New Mexico – A pleasant reminder of the good old days. With historic motels like the Blue Swallow and Motel Safari, you can sleep under the pretty neon signs which light up the route through town.
  • Winslow, Ariz. — Simply, so you can stand on the corner in Winslow, Ariz. and live in the Eagles song, “Take it Easy.”
  • The Grand Canyon Railway’s Christmas Polar Express — In Williams, Ariz., a charming little town sits along the Route 66. During Christmas, the railway turns into a magical Christmas train to the North Pole.
  • Santa Monica Pier — Route 66 ends with an amusement park, an old carousel and the lovely California coast.

Lastly, be sure to take special care of our Route 66. Help preserve historic landmarks along the 2,400 -mile stretch. What can you do? Clean up after yourself and others, drive slow and enjoy the sites and get into the nostalgia by helping the local businesses survive.

Article by Olivia Lewin

Oct 022012
 





You know me – any relighing of any old sign on Route 66 is a great thing!!!

A relighting of the vintage Crestwood Bowl neon sign in Crestwood, MO is scheduled to take place on Saturday evening, October 20th, 2012. Each of you are cordially invited to attend this special event to celebrate the restoration of this neon sign along Missouri Route 66 in southwestern St. Louis County, MO.

Since 2008, a fall relighting ceremony of one of our classic Route 66 neon signs has become an annual event. Our past 4 projects, under the direction of the Neon Heritage Preservation Committee (NHPC) within our Route 66 Association of Missouri, have included the Donut Drive-In in St. Louis, the Sunset Motel in Villa Ridge, the Munger Moss Motel in Lebanon, and the Luna Cafe in Mitchell (IL). With each subsequent year, these relighting events grow in interest and attendance as we support the preservation of these wonderful examples of commercial art along America’s Main Street.

Here are the details at this time for the Crestwood Bowl event on 10/20:

Crestwood Bowl is located at 9822 Watson Road, Crestwood, MO 63126. It is located on the south side of Watson approximately halfway between Lindbergh Blvd to the west and Sappington Rd to the east. Watson Road was the primary Route 66 pathway west coming out of the city of St. Louis in the heavy post WWII travel era.

The relighting (throwing of the switch!) will take place near dusk ……. estimated to be in the 6:30 to 6:40 PM time frame. However, you may want to plan for a bit earlier time should we have an overcast day. You are welcome to arrive an hour or so earlier, in order not to miss the speakers and presentations leading up to the actual relighting of the sign.

Current owners Mike and Ray Bluth welcome all to attend this event and are planning to serve refreshments. As noted above, we will have several speakers that evening, including representatives from the communities of Crestwood and Sunset Hills.

The bowling alley has a parking area out front of the building, which may be quite limited space-wise that evening, but also another parking lot behind the building as well.

Crestwood Bowl was the recipient of a $9,500 cost-share grant from the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program to assist in the restoration of this sign. It is one of only three signs in St. Louis County to earn designation as a “County Landmark” by the Historic Buildings Commission of St. Louis County.

Please join us this special Saturday evening in October to welcome back this Route 66 beacon of light!

If you should have any questions, please feel free to contact myself or Jim Thole, our NHPC Chairperson, at 66thole@sbcglobal.net.

Hope to see you in Crestwood!

Robert Gehl – Director, Membership Services Route 66 Association of Missouri

Aug 212012
 



 

It almost makes sense seeing the way the (electric) car is going – BUT it is VERY pricey to install each charging station….

ATLANTA — It’s back to the future for the village of Atlanta.

Route 66, which runs through the village of 1,600, was the impetus for the original development and growth of gasoline service stations, said Bill Thomas, a director for the Atlanta Betterment Fund, an economic development group based in Atlanta. Now, local leaders think they can jump-start a movement for the next wave of fueling stations, this time for electric cars.

“Prior to Route 66, there really was no established infrastructure of business at which the new traveling public could fill up their car with gas,” Thomas said. “All sorts of other businesses, like hardware stores, grocery stores and general stores, installed gas pumps in front of their establishments where motorists could fill up. What we think of as gas stations didn’t exist. They came when entrepreneurs recognized the need for them and built them as a way of making money from Route 66 travelers.”

The city has installed two EV (electric vehicle) charging stations in the city parking lot, just one-half block from Old Route 66. The charging stations will be available free of charge to the traveling public.

“We’re into the next evolution of Route 66, and we hope that it becomes an opportunity to promote tourism and what we have to offer here,” Mayor Fred Finchum said. “Every time you draw someone to your community, you have a chance of selling something. For a full charge on a car, it takes three to four hours, so people have time to eat, shop, and visit our downtown.”

Thomas and Finchum believe the highway may become a destination for travelers going from St. Louis to Chicago.

Atlanta is the perfect spot for a charging station because it is right in the middle of the state,” Thomas said.

The city purchased and installed the machines, but Finchum said he anticipates they will quickly pay for themselves.

“Our research indicates that the power it takes to charge a vehicle is really pennies on the dollar,” he said.

The machines will be dedicated during a ceremony at 10 a.m. Wednesday. Among the first people to take advantage of the charging stations will be Joe Mikulecky, the Bloomington-Normal Electric Vehicle Task Force chairman.

“For this to work, the timing has to be right,” Mikulecky said, “and I think Atlanta has some foresight to showcase their tourism trade. It’s about public perception and thinking ahead. Electric cars are the wave of the future, and I am anxious to see how this works.”

“What you have with electric vehicles is kind of a ‘chicken and egg’ argument,” said Bill Kelly, the executive director of the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway Heritage Project. “Electric cars are coming, and Route 66 is a perfect venue for them, because they don’t go as fast as fuel-powered cars. But people need to have the confidence that they can find charging stations, and so the more power stations that are available, the more people will be willing to use the electric cars. It’s a great idea for Atlanta, and I believe it will work well.”

By KEVIN BARLOW – Lee News Service Writer

Aug 262011
 



About a year ago – I took (4) folks who are in a Mini Cooper Car Club pretty much the entire drive of Route 66 in Illinois - I ended up finishing ‘my part of the tour’ in Edwardsville as they continued to St. Louis the next day.

When we drove it back then, the street car was ‘in hiding’ and the pad had not yet been poured…

Fast forward to today – and my friend decided to take another mini ‘MINI’ trip and took this pic of the street car.

As you can see – the pad is finished, the ‘skirt’ or base is in place, a plaque is up and the stairs are put back in it’s correct place (even though the door is nailed shut).

This is how I remembered it looking as we painted it with primer and then a coat of white exterior paint while it was located in its hiding place.

The roof was supposed to be completed this year – but the year is still not over and they still have a good month or two before the weather starts going south.

If not, there is always next year!!

For those of you who may not remember where the street car was relocated to after the Riviera Restaurant fire – it is right next to the Historic Jail Cell in downtown Gardner.

Jun 222011
 



The mission was to get from Chicago to Scottsdale as fast as possible – with minimal stops. Now – add in the fact we follow Route 66 for 85% of the drive – there are several people and places I have to / want to see, and 1800 miles is tough on just about anyone – ‘as fast as possible’ turned into ‘whenever we get there….’

I started our trip by making a quick stop over to the Sprauge Super Station in Normal IL to say ‘hi’ to Terry Ryburn and check on her progress with the station.

She updated me and we walked around the property for 20 minutes as she was pointing out what still had to be done. She mentioned the Route 66 Association of Illinois were coming out in Aug to do some interior work – if you want to help them / her in Aug – contact them association – I am sure they would love for you to stop out! If you want to help by sending a few dollars to further her progress – click HERE for more information.

After I said my ‘good-byes’ - we headed south. Now – I will almost NEVER travel throughout the southern part of Illinois on the route without stopping in and seeing Rich Henry at Henry’s Rabbit Ranch! Although he was closed and he was running around bar-b-queing he took 15 minutes and spoke to Juliana about the property, Big Red and Montana. She enjoyed the time and thought Rich was nothing but a ‘sweet man’.

So, for the first time of all the times I have been at Rich’s place, I hoped on the Giant Rabbit and took a picture!











We continued our way thru St. Louis and stopped the night in Springfield MO. We wanted to stop short of Joplin so we can tour it in the daytime.











Low and behold – we listening to air raid sirens and the hotel asked everyone to gather in a conference room for the fear of possible approaching tornados.











All was good – for the time and we decided to turn in and in the morning drive the 60 minutes to Joplin to check out the damage.
More on that tomorrow…