Motor Thru Missouri, The Show Me State, heading westbound travel through these cities and towns in Missouri, St. Louis, Cuba, Rolla, Lebanon, Springfield, Carthage, Brooklyn Heights, and Joplin. Here’s a look at a few of the historic places in Missouri.
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Chain of Rocks Bridge
As you motor thru Missouri look for Chain of Rocks Bridge. In the past, Route 66 travelers used the Chain of Rocks Bridge to cross the Mississippi River and continue on Route 66. The bridge was not a favorite of boat captains. The big concrete piers and water intake stations made the area difficult and treacherous to navigate. Protests from riverboat captains made the engineers change the plans and add a 22-degree bend, which allowed southbound riverboats to align with the current, slip between the Bridge’s piers, and avoid crashing into two water intake towers midstream just south of the Bridge.
The bridge was closed in 1970 to vehicular traffic but is still open to pedestrians and cyclists and some say the strangely shaped bridge is haunted, and that only makes the lore of the bridge even more sensational.
An amusement park operated in the shadow of the bridge called Chain of Rocks Fun Fair Park.
After the bridge keeping motoring west to The St. Louis Arch. If you have the time it’s worth the trip to the top!
Times Beach, Missouri
Continuing west past the town of Eureka, and head to an area formally known as Times Beach, Mo. Times Beach was a weekend getaway town, founded in the 1920s for people to enjoy the Meramec River. Over time it grew to a town of 2000 working class people. The only paved road in Times Beach was Route 66 and it ran through the middle of town. The unpaved roads were sprayed with industrial oil. to keep the dust down. It was later discovered in 1982, that the oil contained dioxin, a toxic chemical. The use of Dioxin and a flood that covered the town for over a week, caused Times Beach to become uninhabitable.
In 1983 the government paid $33 million dollars to purchase the land. After the area was decontaminated Route 66 state park was created. Now it’s a beautiful park and worth the stop. Times Beach should always be remembered as an important part of Route 66 history.
Cuba, MO is known for arts, history, water, and wine and is also known as the Mural City. It’s the perfect place to stop and stretch your legs as you browse the city for beautiful indoor and outdoor murals. A great photo op before you leave Cuba is at the Fanning Outpost and check out the World’s Largest Rocking Chair which was erected in 2008. While it’s not an authentic attraction, it’s certainly fun to stop and see.
There are many attractions in Rolla. Totem Pole Antiques claims to be the “oldest business on Route 66 in Missouri” is Totem Pole Antiques. It was first opened in 1933, and due to re-alignment of Route 66 later moved to Rolla. but it is still open and operating. Totem Pole Antiques is your place to stop and get all your Missouri Route 66 souvenirs.
Springfield is home to Rockwood Motor Court, a Route 66 motel that has survived the decline of The Mother Road. Route 66 travelers have been staying at the Rockwood since 1929, and you should too!
Carthage and Joplin
Carthage is home to the historic Route 66 Drive-In. Popular in its heyday it still draws crowds for current movies.
Take a side trip off Route 66 and check out Red Oak II, a replica of Lowell Davis’ childhood home Red Oak, Missouri.
On to Joplin, the last city in Missouri on Route 66. There are many fun places to check out, but the Route 66 Mural Park (more murals) is a nice place to stop and see before you head into Kansas.
There are so many historic places in Missouri and it would take a long trip to see them all. Click here to see the ones that I didn’t showcase in this post.