About Eureka Missouri
Facts, Trivia and useful information
Elevation: 456 ft (139 m). Population 10,189 (2010).
Time zone: Central (CST): UTC minus 6 hours. Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5).
Eureka is a city located on the western edge of St. Louis County, on the 1932-1977 alignment of Route 66 in the central-eastern Missouri. (Map of Eureka).
1960s Phillips gull wing gas station, Eureka, Route 66, Missouri
History of Eureka
Eastern Missouri has been inhabited since the end of the last Ice Age some ten thousand years ago. More recently, its Native American inhabitants were members of an Algonquin nation known who called themselves "Illiniwek" which meant "men" in their language. They were hunter-gatherers who also grew crops of squash, corn and beans
Explorers from the French Canadian colony reached the area in 1683 and claimed it for France, naming it after their king Louis XIV (Louisiana). They called the natives using a deformed form of their name: "Illinois". Later during the Seven Year War, France lost the territory to Spain, and the Spanish explored the area and set up some settlements.
What would become the city St. Louis was settled in 1764 by Laclede and Chouteau, followed by Carondelet in 1767, Florissiant (then St. Ferdinand) in 1785. Then, in 1800 Napoleon recovered the territory from Spain but needing cash for his war against Britain, sold it in 1803 to the U.S. In the new territory, St.Louis incorporated as a municipality in 1809. The Territory of Missouri was established in 1812, and it achieved statehood in 1821. St. Louis became a city the following year.
During the 1830s, the Illinois people were forcibly relocated together with all the other Natives that had in the past lived east of the Mississippi, to reservations in what is now Oklahoma. This opened the way to white settlers in the region.
A Missouri Pacific Railroad camp set up there in 1853 was, of course named Eureka and in 1858 the town was platted. The post office opened in 1860 and was named Eureka.
The Name: Eureka
While surveying the terrain for the Missouri Pacific Railroad, an engineer found the narrow valley next to the Meramec River and was delighted because it avoided a lot of earth moving to grade the tracks. He is said to have cried out "Eureka!", which comes from a story about Archiemedes who while bathing in the Greek colony of Syracuse in Sicily found the way to determine if the king's crown was made of pure gold or had been adulterated with cheaper silver. He sprang out of his bath and ran naked down the street crying out "Eureka!" (from "heureka" = "I've found it). He did, he'd discovered the density of materials and the incompresibility of water.
The town was a small farming community next to the Meramec River and when a new paved alignment for Route 66 was built through it in 1932, it provided some services to travelers using it. Eureka incorporated as a city in 1954.
Where to Lodge in Eureka, Missouri
Accommodation and hotels near Eureka
>> Book your accommodation in town: Eureka Hotels and Motels
More Lodging near Eureka along Route 66
More motels and Hotels close to Eureka
Hotels, Westwards in Missouri
- 8 miles Pacific
- 27 miles Saint Clair
- 43 miles Sullivan
- 61 miles Cuba
- 74 miles Saint James
- 84 miles Rolla
- 112 miles St. Robert
- 113 miles Waynesville
- 147 miles Lebanon
- 177 miles Marshfield
- 190 miles Strafford
- 199 miles Springfield MO
- 260 miles Carthage
- 278 miles Joplin
Heading East in Missouri, more accommodation
Hotels further East, in Illinois
- 30 miles East St. Louis
- 36 miles Granite City
- 40 miles Pontoon Beach
- 46 miles Glen Carbon
- 47 miles Troy
- 56 miles Edwardsville
- 57 miles Hamel
- 66 miles Williamson
- 69 miles Staunton
- 84 miles Litchfield
- 99 miles Raymond
- 157 miles Springfield IL
- 171 miles Lincoln
- 181 miles Atlanta
- 203 miles Bloomington
- 205 miles Normal
- 228 miles Chenoa
- 239 miles Pontiac
- 296 miles Joliet
- 336 miles Chicago
>> Check out the nearby RV campground in neighboring Pacific
Weather in Eureka
Eureka has four well marked seasons. It is located in the area where humid continental climate shifts towards a humid subtropical climate, so summers are hot and humid while winters are cold. It gets cold Arctic air and hot damp tropical air from the Gulf of Mexico. Spring is wet and may have extreme weather (tornados, thunderstorms and even winter storms). Fall is sunny and less humid, with mild weather.
The average high in winter (Jan) is a cool 39.9°F (4.4°C) while the average low is a chilly 23.7°F (-4.6°C). The summer (Jul) average high is 89.1°F (31.7°C) and the average low is 71°F (21.7°C).
Rain is on average 41 in. (1.041 mm) with the rainiest months being May through July with over 4.1 in monthly (104 mm). Snow falls between Nov. and Apr., with a total snowfall of 17.8 in. (45 cm). Relative humitiy ranges averages 69.7% and is fairly stable year round.
Eureka is located in Missouri's "Tornado Alley" and St. Louis County is struck by some 7 tornados every year.
Tornado Risk: read more about Tornado Risk along Route66.
Getting to Eureka
You can reach Eureka along historic Route 66 or along MO-100, and also via Interstate I-44 that links it with Pacific, St. Clair, Rolla and Springfield to the west and with St. Louis in the east. US 63 runs through Rolla to the west and US 50 passes just to the north of the town (with I-44). I-55, I-70 and I-64 go through St. Louis too.
Map of Route 66 in Eureka
Map of Eureka and US Highway 66 in Missouri.
Orange marks the 1926 to 1932 alignment of Route 66 from St. Louis to Gray Summit, to the north of Eureka.
Pale Blue, east of Eureka, and west up to Gray Summit, is the 1932 to 1953 Route 66 that bypassed the previous Orange alignment located north of it. It may also mark the current road that you can use to avoid those sections bypassed in 1953 by the Four-Lane Route now buried by the interstate.
Red shows where you must drive on the Interstate as the old segments are cut by it.
Blue shows the original parts of Route 66's 1932 to 1977 roadbed that can still be driven but are not located on the Pale Blue road, they end in dead ends and the Black segments show the orginal but now gone parts of the old road.
See Route 66's alignment in Missouri Map
Remove or restore State shading
Alignment of Route 66 in Missouri: Historic U.S. 66 through Eureka
Route 66 across Missouri
U.S. Route 66 in Missouri is a State Historic Scenic Byway in Missouri and this also includes the old alignment in Eureka and Saint Louis County, however it is still pending Federal designation as a Byway.
Click on the following link and see our overview of Route 66 across the state of Missouri.
Below you will find full details on Old Route 66 in Eureka
Sights and Attractions in Eureka, Missouri
What to Do, Places to See
Route 66 on Meramec River
Eureka and its Route 66 attractions
Eureka next to the Route 66 State Park, has a U.S. 66 Phillips 1960s Gas station and the Former Phil's Bar-B-Cue.
Other attractions include the Black Madonna Shrine, the Endangered Wolf Center, Hidden Valley Ski Resort and the Six Flags Amusement Park
Historic context, the classic Route 66 in Eureka
The WPA travel guide "Missouri, a guide to the "Show Me" state" published in 1941 tells the story about the origin of its odd name, and of the nearby "Camp Wyman", 3 mi. away for underprivileged children and mothers, established in 1897.
The St. Louis Children's Industrial Farm, was established in 1898 to give children from the low class slums of St. Louis tenement a chance to experience rural life. The Farm became Camp Wyman (now part of Wyman Center) one the oldest camps in the US
Jack DeVere Rittenhouse in his "A Guide Book to Highway 66" published in 1946, also mentioned it; after Sylvan Beach, the only place he mentions east of Eureka and that from there, westwards into Eureka the higway "... is a pretty, semi-rural route, well paved". Eureka had 663 residents at that time and had "gas" it was "A small community established before the Civil War". No reference to hotels, motels or local attractions.
Sights in Eureka
There are some local attractions which are not related to Route 66, but can be of interest to some travelers:
Black Madonna Shrine
100 St. Joseph Hill Road, 7 mi. to the south, Map with Directions.
Open Year Round, admission is free (full details at their website). The Black Madonna (Virgin Mary Shrine and Grotto) was built in 1938 by a Polish priest of the Franciscan order, Brother Bronislaus Luszcz as a replica of the original shrine in Poland. It is dedicated to the "Black Madonna of Czestochowa".
Endangered Wolf Center
6750 Tyson Valley Rd. Exit 269, 6.9 mi. to the N.E. Map with Directions.
For over 40 years conducting a captive breeding program to preserve and protect Mexican wolves, red wolves and other wild canid species and reintroducing them into the wild. More information at endangeredwolfcenter.org.
Hidden Valley Ski Resort
17409 Hidden Vallley Dr. 3.2 mi. north, Map with Directions.
Yes, a ski resort in the hills just next to Eureka. Check out their website.
Six Flags Amusement Park
4900 Six Flags Road, 3.7 mi. to the N.W. Map with Directions.
This is the St. Louis Six Flags, open April to Oct., check website.
Route 66 Attractions
There were several buildings on the original alignment, along both Central Ave. and N Virginia Ave. on the south side of Route 66, but these were razed when first four-lane alignment was built in the 1950s was replaced by a much wider roadbed for I-44 (1968)- Only some buildings survived on the north side of that important junction with Hwy. 109 and they can be seen in the following "Then & now" set of images:
Central Ave. and Route 66 overpass, nowadays in Eureka, Missouri
Vintage 1956 photo of Central Ave. and Route 66 overpassin CEureka, Missouri
1956 photo and today's view are very similar look at Drake's real estate gabled roof on the right side of the image, which is identical and the red brick Tudor Castle-style Rockwood School Disrict Admin Annex building in the central part. What has changed is the overpass. At that time route 66 was a four-lane divided highway but with no space between east and westbound lanes. I-44 on the other hand has a wide space separating the lanes. This views looking north on N Central Ave.
Phillips 1960s Gas Station
19 W 5th St, Eureka. Just past the overpass.
Phillips Petroleum Co. standardized their gas stations across the country in the 1960s, adopting a "gull-wing" canopy held up at the narrow tip by a pole designed to look like an oil derrick. Atop the pole was their revolving sign. This is one of those stations.
Now it is Assured Automotive, a car repair shop, but it has kept the main office, garage and canopy intact. It is Pictured above, at the top of this page.
On the next block, to your right is another building, a former Restaurant known as Phil's Bar-B-Cue:
Former Phil's Bar-B-Cue
114 West 5th St. Eureka
The building with a semi-cylindrical shape like a large sized quonset hut, was a restaurant which has closed recently. It had been open as Phil's since the mid 1980s, but must have been some sort of diner before that. This is its Street View. It was surveyed in the Maura Johnson and John F. Bradbury, Route 66 Association of Missouri. 1993, "Architectural ⁄ Historical Inventory Survey. Route 66 in Missouri".
Key Cafe -originally at Villa Ridge- neon sign; now at Route 66 State Park, Best Western Hotels
Tours & Itineraries
National and State Parks
Route 66 State Park
Site of the former town of Times Beach
3.4 miles east of Eureka along I-44 (Map with Directions.
Created in what used to be Times Beach a town on the Meramec River which had to be urgently evacuated and condemned, due to contamination with dioxin. The buildings were razed and the soil decontaminated. Now it is the "Route 66 State Park" which apart from it historic bridge and outdoors also has a visitor center with a historical display area complete with Route 66 memorabilia (like the neon sign from Key’s Twin Bridge Gas Station and Cafe shown in the picture), set in the former 1935 Bridghead Inn on the Old Route 66.
Old Route 66 in Eureka
Deer and buffalo opened the first trail through the woods along the Meramec River into the Ozark highlands thousands of years ago. Later they were used by Illinois and Osage Natives and then by the French and Spanish trappers and explorers. During the 1850s there were cart trails linking St. Louis with Eureka and were used to build the railroad. The main state higway from St. Louis to the state capital in Jefferson City ran to the north of Eureka along what is now MO-100 (and then west on present US 50).
When cars became more popular during the 1910s, those roads, which were suitable for carts but not for cars were improved: State Higways (#14 and#100) were built, including bridges and better road surfaces. In 1926 Route 66 was aligned along both of these highways and had a paved surface from St. Louis to Gray Summit.
From Eureka to Allenton
Then, in 1932 a more southern course was built for Route 66, between St. Louis and Gray Summit, this new alignment went through Pacific and was a paved road. The former alignment became US 50 until the 1950s.
It is a short 3.4 mile drive along Route 66 to Allenton, this is its Map with Directions, just head west along Old Route 66 from Exit 264 to Exit 261 and there take BL-44 to Allenton.
As you can see in the Map above, we have colored the different segments of the old alignment as follows: the original alignment from 1926 to 1932 from St. Louis to Gray Summit runs north of Eureka, and is shown in Orange. The original 1926 - 1950s alignment west of Gray Summit and the 1932 to 1950s alignment east of that town, including the road through Eureka are shown in Pale Blue. Red shows where you must drive on the Interstate as the old segments are cut by it. Blue shows the original parts of Route 66's 1932-77 roadbed that can still be driven but are not located on the Pale Blue road, they end in dead ends and the Black segments show the orginal but now gone parts of the old road.
1933 Map of Route 66 from Villa Ridge to St. Louis, Missouri, notice that US 50 runs along the former 1926-32 US 66 alignment which is now MO-100 and Route 66 runs along its present course, through Eureka which appears next to the US 66 shield- lower left part of the map.
1933 Map of Route 66 from Villa Ridge to St. Louis, Missouri, by Missouri Highway Map Archive
1950s: Four Lane Freeway
By the early 1940s Route 66 was congested and the heavy traffic made it unsafe. Rittenhouse mentions in 1946: "From here (Gray Summit) into St. Louis, US 66 has three or more lanes.". In the early 1950 most of the original road was bypassed by a new four-lane divided dual carriageway highway which replaced the old US 66. The 1954 USGS map of Eureka shows a three-lane Route 66 running eastwards to the Meramec River, through Times Beach and then, after the bridge, it became a four-lane road through Ranken. To the west, it continued as a four-lane road from Central Ave. up to the western tip of town, where it becomes a 3-lane road again up to Allenton.
The state petitioned in 1962 to have the Interstate renamed as I-66 instead of I-44, but this was denied by the AASHTO because the number "66" had already been used elsewhere.
1965 New roadbed
The old four lane US-66 ⁄ I-44 Freeway was improved again in Missouri after 1965, and the old US 66 was upgraded to Interstate standards. The 1968 USGS map shows how the highway had become a divided highway east of Eureka but, it split at Times Beach: with the westbound lanes following the old 1932 alignment from what is now Exit 266 west up to almost reaching Votaw Rd. The two eastbound lanes were new, and they are part of modern I-44. A new bridge was built to carry it across the meramec River. Times Beach at that time was a thriving community. By 1972 the whole of Route 66 had been replaced by the Interstate system. In 1974 it was decided that US Hwy 66 between Joplin and Chicago be eliminated, but his was delayed until I-55 in Illinois was completely brought up to Interstate standards. In 1977 the US 66 shields and signs were removed.
> > See the previous segment Times Beach to Eureka (east)
> > See the next segment Allenton to Pacific (west)
Image Used as per Google Street View Image Api Updated Dec. 31, 2014.
Jack DeVere Rittenhouse, (1946). A Guide Book to Highway 66.