A day in Missouri and a change in plans

Sunday morning I headed out from Edwardsville, which is only about 15 miles from the Missouri state line. And since I got my usual late start, I skipped on around St. Louis on I-270. St. Louis is a maze of myriad old 66 routes and heavy traffic on its contemporary arteries. But once you're out of St. Louis, you start finding long stretches of rolling highway and quaint towns. Missouri is full of curving, hilly highways and an abundance of vegetation and humidity.

My first stop was at the Route 66 State Park Visitors Center in the former Bridgehead Inn just east of the Meramec River Bridge. This old Route 66 bridge is now closed, cutting off the visitors center from the rest of the state park. The park is the former site of Times Beach, originally a resort community, abandoned because of dioxin contamination from oiling the streets in the 1970s. It's safe to visit now. Some great vintage roadside signs, including those from the Pennant Hotel and the Sylvan Beach Restaurant, anchor an attractive exhibit inside the visitors center. Other displays tell the story of Times Beach. A spacious gift shop offers a wide array of Route 66 souvenirs and books. After a chat with Madeleine and a Route 66 Soda root beer, I was on my way.

The Missouri Route 66 State Park Visitors Center in the Bridgehead Inn building, built in the 1930s.
The Keys Twin Bridge Cafe sign, located at the Route 66 State Park Visitors Center. The cafe was operated by Noble and Nellie Key, and the sign donated by their family.

The Pennant Hotel sign from Rolla on display at the visitors center.
At Allenton it was off I-44 and onto 66 for a pleasant drive through some of Franklin County's charming towns with their remnants of times past. I really like Pacific, a Union Pacific Railroad official "Train Town USA" since 2012. No surprise there, as I like trains and old hilly towns with steep streets and colorful painted houses. Beautiful limestone bluffs greet you coming into town on the north side. Two freight trains announced their passing through town while I drove around snapping photos. Nice timing.

Love the Opera House of Pacific. It is said to be built of materials from the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair. The opera house on the third floor can be rented for weddings and other events.

Not such great timing for neon photography. Bright sunlight doesn't do these gems justice, but here they are anyway.

Lebanon is a city I always look forward to stopping in when I go through Missouri. Some of the city's Route 66 heritage has been preserved, most notably the Munger-Moss Motel. And the very fine Route 66 Museum in the Lebanon-Laclede Library is well done and contains many original artifacts.  

The Munger Moss Motel in Lebanon, lovingly preserved by Bob and Ramona Lehman.
The Route 66 Museum in the Lebanon-Laclede Public Library is not to be missed when you're in town. The library-museum occupies an old K-Mart building.
As for the change in plans I mentioned, the virus I was fighting off for several days before I left Sunday wasn't finished with me. I'm back home resting up for a few days or a week before I head out again. In the meantime, I'll post some other things I've gotten backlogged on. But just think, we get to go through Missouri again.


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