Route 66 in the News

Set Your Sights West of St. Louis

2011-07-31 20:51:22

If you're tired of haunting the same old Route 66 landmarks in St. Louis, point your car west, including Eureka's own Route 66 State Park.

If you’re a native of St. Louis, you’re probably familiar with the ghost of Route 66 as it wanders through town. The famed Mother Road was slowly replaced by bigger and better highways—most notably in our area by Interstate 44. In 1985, it was officially removed from the U.S. Highway system.

Retracing Route 66 is a fun way to spend an afternoon in St. Louis. You can visit the old road by taking a trip to Ted Drewes, check out what’s left of the Coral Courts at the Museum of Transportation or take a slightly eerie bike ride around the abandoned town of Times Beach, which is now called the Route 66 State Park outside of Eureka.

And if you want more? Just point your car southwest and follow Highway 44 out of town.

About an hour’s drive from St. Louis County will bring you to a stretch of Route 66 that still has plenty of life, complete with the sometimes whacky tourist attractions that used to lure drivers from their destinations long ago.

Stanton: Meramec Caverns and the Jesse James Wax Museum

Meramec Caverns is a trip all by itself. It was one of the best advertised stops along Route 66, thanks to the efforts of owner Lester Dill, who paid farmers to paint their barns with giant billboards advertising the caverns. The cave is open seven days a week and has tours every half hour. Adult admission is $19; kids younger than 11 years are $9.50; and children under 5 years are free.

Jesse James Wax Museum is also in Stanton. The museum opened in the early 1960s, so it’s not really a “genuine” Mother Road tourist attraction. But the tales of Jesse James having a hideout in Meramec Caverns have been around since Lester Dill found James' artifacts in his cavern back in 1941.

Cuba: Wagon Wheel Motel

The Wagon Wheel Motel was established in 1936 as a haven for weary motorists and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2003. It’s still open for business, so drop in and visit the gift shop for some unique Route 66 memorabilia.

Fanning: The World’s Largest Rocking Chair

Not all landmarks on Route 66 are as old as the road itself. One of the more interesting curiosities was built in 2008. The World’s Largest Rocking Chair is 42 feet tall and 20 feet wide, and is in the Guinness Book of World’s Records. The chair is located at the Fanning 66 Outpost General Store, which has the interesting combination of food, drinks, gifts and an archery range.

~Denise Bertacchi,


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