Today began with a visit to the Route 66 State Park near Times Beach. The local townsfolk would escape the summer heat by going to the Meramec River beach located in the today’s park.
Eventually, toxic dioxin was found throughout the town — it had contaminated the oil sprayed on streets to reduce dust. In 1982, the town was buried by a flood which enabled the government to declare Times Beach uninhabitable — today there is no town.
It took 15-years and $33 million to remove the town and declare the area clean. In 1998 400 acres of the town was converted to the current park. In addition a small museum was opened in a roadhouse located near the site. Here are some photos from inside the museum:
Since Route 66 has disappeared through most of Missouri we hopped on I-44 and began the search for remnants of its past.
We drove by Eureka — the home of Six Flags St. Louis and onto Gray Summit. We stopped to smell the grasses, wildflowers and other flora at the Shaw Nature Reserve:
Traipsing through Reserve was enjoyable today because the temperature was 65 degrees — versus the 98 degrees we’d experienced closer in the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie. We saw many plants and gardens:
As well as a restored home (the Bascom House) that once belonged to a former confederate officer–Thomas Crews:
The house had belonged to Crews’ father-in-law until 1862. At that time Crews, his wife and children took possession of the house. Later In 1925 it was the purchased by the Missouri Botanical Garden.
The name Bascom was given to the house in memory of a Shaw Trustee. It was re-opened after a restoration had been completed in 1996.
The quiet of the Nature Reserve was great, but I itched to move on to Cuba. Yup, you read this right — Cuba, MO. (I wonder how the Missiles of October fared there?)
We went to a restored and functional motel. The “Wagon Wheel Motel” dates back to the 1930’s:
Unfortunately for us the office was closed and so we were unable to see a room. What I do know is it looked very inviting perhaps another time?
Next door was the Missouri Hick BBQ joint:
Wish I’d been hungry because it sure smelled great!
From Cuba we travelled to the “Fanning Outpost” to gander at:
That’s right — the famous “world’s largest rocking chair”. It was indeed a sight to behold — 40-feet tall and the anchor for the touristy Danny’s Gas Hole aka store:
Leaving the chair was necessary if we were going to see the “Totem Pole Trading Post” in Rolla (Raw-la):
I can unequivocally say this site was the first site not worth visiting except to see:
That’s right your eyes don’t deceive you–“Devil Fish” — these are authentic copies — so saith the proprietor–brought to this very establishment by his daddy in the early 1960’s. Who knew — right?
We by-passed a couple of sites in order to visit Lebanon. Here we walked through a museum attached to the town library:
It was jam-packed with Route 66 memorabilia including a room from a cabin (circa the 1940’s):
as well as dioramas and photos of the times:
And a Route 66 board-game that had the stars — George Maharis (Buz Murdoch) and Martin Milner (Tod Stiles) on the cover riding in their trademark red Corvette:
Seeing this game simply blew my mind — I remember playing it as a kid.
After this revelation there was no way I could go on today so my companion and I drove into Springfield, MO for some well earned R & R. We left the past behind as we enjoyed a wonderful Thai dinner (at Everyday Thai) a truly 2018 experience:
We’re now recharging tonight so that we can hit the road tomorrow.
On Sunday it’s off to the Ozarks near Branson, MO.
My companion has looked up a long lost cousin — not visited for 40+ years.
This visit fits our ongoing theme of visiting yesteryear don’t you think?
Bye for now!