Monday, October 1, 2012

Route 66 - Day 9 - St. Clair, MO to St. James, MO

Route 66 - Part 1
Day 9 St. Clair, MO to St. James, MO
49 Actual Miles / 2311 Actual Elevation




 Meramec Caverns Zipline
            Meramec Caverns - [573-468-2283] First opened commercially in the 1930s; Meramec Caverns is a tourist attraction just a few miles southeast of Stanton, MO (via State Highway W) billing itself as "The Greatest Show Under the Earth." The caverns are well known due in part to the fact that many barns along US 66 were painted as advertising billboards for the caves, few examples of which still remain.

Meramec Caverns is a set of limestone caves first developed during the Civil War when the natural saltpeter was mined for use in manufacturing gunpowder, the caves were later popularized as a place for local farmers to get together for dances; the largest room in the caves is still used for Easter Sunrise services and occasional crafts shows and chamber of commerce meetings.  Jesse James used these caverns as a hideout, and at least once took advantage of the underground river to escape through the secret "back door." In addition to the caves, Meramec Caverns offers tourists a campground, motel, boating, and gold panning.
 Lester Dill [1898-1980] Cave entrepreneur whom some say was Missouri's answer to P.T. Barnum. Lester Dill explored caves as a young boy, and by the age of 12 was already conducting tours. He opened Meramec Caverns as a commercial venture in the 1930s after having already held the tour concession at nearby Fisher Cave for a number of years. He is often credited with inventing the bumper sticker, a form of advertising that unsuspecting cave visitors found affixed to their cars after they completed their tours. Dill also promoted Meramec Caverns by convincing farmers up and down nearby Route 66 to agree to have their barns painted with the Meramec logo. There are still a few of those advertising barns left for today's tourist to see.
 Ozark Court - This former motel included a distinctive sign featuring a prancing deer visible to passing Route 66 travelers long after the motel went out of business; the sign has since been removed.
 Jesse James Wax Museum [573-927-5233] this little museum insists, despite all evidence to the contrary, that a 100-year-old man who turned up in Stanton in 1948 was in fact Jesse James. They claim the bandit died in 1952 under the name J. Frank Dalton (instead of being shot to death in 1881).
 Antique Toy Museum [573-927-5555] is fully of old toy trains, truck tractors and cars, plus lots of dolls.

 Riverside Reptile Ranch – Old fashioned snake and alligator roadside exhibit.

Snell’s Café (Slogan: “Awful Good Food”) is long gone, but the building now houses the Sullivan Antiques Mall.

 The name is kind of a misnomer since this is wine country. It is infamous for its water tower labeled “Bourbon.” Town slogan: “Make Our Bourbon Your Bourbon.”
 Circle Inn Malt Shop has good food as you can see from the bikes out front.

Skippy's on Route 66 -- great stop...
however some riders just pedaled on by! 

            Onondaga Cave State Park

Proclaimed the “Route 66 Mural City,” Cuba’s many murals include a depiction of bygone “Al West Motor/Tractor Sales,” and another of soldiers going off to war on the “FRISCO.”

 Missouri Hickory Bar B Q greets you with their sign of a stereotypical coverall-clad hillbilly, holding his favorite hog.
The Wagon Wheel Motel immortalized our trip by taking a photo of some of the riders who visited the gift shop!

 Wagon Wheel Motel - 901 E. Washington Street [573-885-3411] An old (1934), well-kept motel that still offers trav elers a taste of what the simple accommodations of yesteryear was like. The motel also features a unique sign in fine condition that includes a neon-trimmed wagon wheel.

        US 66 Outpost General Store – “World’s Largest Rocking Chair”

Old Gas Station
Home to Rosati and St. James Wineries.

St. James
  Finn’s Motel - 777 Grover Street

Weare at the Days Inn St. James, MO tonight and tomorrow we are off to St. Robert, MO..

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