About St. Clair Missouri
Facts, Trivia and useful information
Elevation: 769 ft (235 m). Population 4,724 (2010).
Time zone: Central (CST): UTC minus 6 hours. Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5).
St. Clair is a city on Route 66 in Franklin County, in the central-eastern Missouri. (Map of St. Clair).
Hot and Cold water tanks, Route 66 in St. Clair Missouri
History of St. Clair
Eastern Missouri was peopled at the end of the last Ice Age around 10,000 years ago by the first Americans. Much later, the local Native Americans that lived here were an Algonquin nation known who called themselves "Illiniwek" which meant "men"; they were hunter-gatherers and also grew crops of beans, corn and squash. Explorers from the French colony in Canada reached the area in 1683 and claimed it for France, naming it Louisiana (after their King Louis XIV). They called the natives by a deformed version of their name: "Illinois". France lost the territory to Spain, and the Spanish explored the area, returning it to France in 1800. Napoleon Bonaparte, needing cash, sold it to the US in 1803, who organized the Missouri Territory in 1812.
Franklin County was established in 1818 and was named after Founding Father Benjamin Franklin. Missouri was admitted as a state in 1821.
In the 1830s, the Illinois were forcibly relocated together with all the other Natives that had lived east of the Mississippi to reservations in what is now Oklahoma. This opened the way to white settlers in the region who cleared the forests and established their farms. The first to settle here was B. J. Inge in 1843 and the place was known as "Taveler's Repose" until 1859, when the local residents decided to change the name to "St. Clair", It was in 1859 that the town was platted and was the railroad terminus.
The Name: St. Clair
Named after a the engineer of the St. Louis and San Francisco or "Frisco" Railroad who lived there; some say that they changed it from "Traveler's Repose" because that name sounded like some kind of cemetery or tavern.
The main road from Springfield to St. Louis, known as the "Wire Road", which ran next to the military telegraph passed through the town. Later this road would be the basis for Missouri State Highway 14, and in 1926 Route 66 was aligned along it. The town got good business from those travelling along Route 66. But in the early 1950s Route 66 was too congested and, all through Missouri it was moved out of the towns and cities, bypassing them. Saint Claire was no exception, and US 66 became a four-lane highway which went along its western flank.
Where to Lodge in St. Clair, Missouri
Accommodation and hotels in Saint Clair
>> Book your hotel in Saint Clair
More Lodging near St. Clair along Route 66
More motels and Hotels close to St. Clair
Hotels, Westwards in Missouri
- 16 miles Sullivan
- 34 miles Cuba
- 47 miles Saint James
- 57 miles Rolla
- 85 miles St. Robert
- 86 miles Waynesville
- 120 miles Lebanon
- 150 miles Marshfield
- 163 miles Strafford
- 172 miles Springfield MO
- 233 miles Carthage
- 251 miles Joplin
Heading West... Hotels & Motels in Kansas...
- 266 miles Baxter Springs
Further West... Hotels & Motels on Route 66 in Oklahoma...
- 284 miles Miami
Heading East in Missouri, more accommodation
- 11 miles Villa Ridge
- 18 miles Pacific
- 26 miles Eureka
- 42 miles Fenton
- 44 miles Kirkwood
- 54 miles St. Louis
Hotels further East, in Illinois
>> Check out the RV campgrounds in neighboring Sullivan
Weather in St. Clair
St. Clair has well defined seasons, because it combines wet continental and humid subtropical climates.
The winter (Jan), the average high is around 39°F (4°C) and the aveage low is a freezing 21.8°F (-5.7°C). The summer (Jul) average high is 88°F (31°C) with an average low of 68°F (20°C). Rainfall averages 43 in. (1.092 mm) yearly and takes place during some 90 days each year. There are around 205 sunny days yearly. Snowfall is around 12.8 in. (32.5 cm), which falls from Dec. to Mar.
St. Clair is located in Missouri's "Tornado Alley" and Franklin County is struck by some 7 tornados every year.
Tornado Risk: read more about Tornado Risk along Route66.
Getting to St. Clair
You can reach St. Clair along historic Route 66 and Interstate I-44 that links it with Cuba, Rolla and Springfield to the west and with Villa Ridge, Eureka and St. Louis in the east. US 63 runs through Rolla to the west and US 50 passes through Villa Ridge to the east.
Map of Route 66 in St. Clair
Map of St. Clair and US Highway 66 in Missouri.
Pale Blue is the original 1926 to 1953 Route 66, or the current road that you can use to avoid those sections bypassed in 1953 by the Four-Lane Route which now is beneath I-44's roadbed (those sections now covered by the freeway are shown in Black). In Blue are the original parts of Route 66's 1926 roadbed that can still be driven and are not located on the Pale Blue road. In Red is the original 1926 course of Route 66 in SW St. Clair.
See Route 66's alignment in Missouri Map
Remove or restore State shading
Alignment of Route 66 in Missouri: Historic U.S. 66 through St. Clair
Route 66 across Missouri
U.S. Route 66 in Missouri is a State Historic Scenic Byway in Missouri and this also includes St. Clair and Franklin 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 St. Clair
Sights and Attractions in St. Clair, Missouri
What to Do, Places to See
Placid Route 66 Town
St. Clair and its Route 66 attractions
The Route 66 attractions in St. Clair include several Motels: the St. Clair Motel,
a 1950s Motel, the Skylark Motel with its neon sign, and Scully's Sunset Inn
which also had a gas station.
The town includes Ritter Motor Co. and the Historic International Shoe Company Building. Close by are the teepees of Indian Harvest Trading Post and the Meramec Caverns painted Barn sign.
Historic context, the classic Route 66 in St. Clair
The travel guide published in 1941 by the WPA ("Missouri, a guide to the "Show Me" state") describes it as a peaceful town with "... red-brick stores and rambling frame residences typical of rural trading centers.". Jack DeVere Rittenhouse in his "A Guide Book to Highway 66" published in 1946 tells us that it had "gas; garage; Commercial Hotel; Johnson's Mo-Tel... US 66 passes town on the west edge." he added that it was a "peaceful town, full of sedate old residences". To the west, 5 mi. ahead there was a large shop that sold Missouri minerals specimens. And to the east, 2 mi. from town was a Gas Station.
Sights in St. Clair
Start your tour 3.5 milres to the east of St. Clair, at a Route 66 Kitsch sight:Indian Harvest Trading Post
Indian Harvest Trading Post
1245 N Service Rd W, St. Clair; Map with directions.
See its Trip Advisor ratings (1.5 stars out of 5 with 24 reviews), which is quite discouraging. We mention it here because it seems to be a typical Route 66 kitsch with Indian teepees.
Teepees at Indian Harvest, Route 66 St. Clair, Google
Click on image for Street View
Just ahead, at Exit 242 you will have to cross the freeway to its southern side because the old alignment ends in a dead-end shown in Blue in the map above and is then buried beneath I-44 (Black in the same map). Follow the road as it heads away from the freeway into St. Clair becoming N. Commercial Ave. Take a left along Kitchell Ave. and when you reach Main St. ahead, to your right you will see a historic site:
The International Shoe Company Building
Listed in the National Register of Historic Places
160 N Main St. On the SE corner of Main and Park Ave. Map showing location
This company which closed in 1982, the International Shoe Company, was, for 60 years the largest employer in St. Clair. The three-story building was built in 1922. See its Street View.
Drive down Main St. (which was not Route 66) to get a feel of the red-brick fronts of the old town's shops. And return to Route 66 along E North St., take a left and head west again, here you will reach the main intersection in town, where US 66 and MO-30. Later realigned, it led to the loss of several Route 66 buildings:
Some lost Route 66 classic buildings
Route 66 realigned in St. Clair
When State Highway 30's junction with Route 66 in St. Clair was modified, several buildings were lost. The original 1926 -50s Route 66 ran with a diagonal course between Sincox St. and Walnut St., where it met MO-30, this is shown in Red in the map above. Maple and W. Oak streets now cut off on the western side of the present alignment of US 66 in those days continued east, crossing Commercial Ave., which ran straight southwards, ending at the junction of Walnut St. and Gravois Ave. The two stunted forks of S. Lay Ave. which have dead ends to the east of current Commercial Ave. both reached it in those days.
Later, maybe during the late 1950s, after Route 66 was realigned where I-44 is now located, a curved road was built to link Gravois Ave with Commercial Ave. This eliminated Walnut St. west of Route 66, which still kept its slanted orientation. The link between Commercial Ave. and Gravois was also kept.
Much later, in 2009, the present alignment was built, abandoning the old Route 66, a portion of which can still be seen at the dead end of W. Oak St. The curved link between Gravois and Route 66 was moved north and is the road you drive now.
Among those buildings lost were the 1936 "Johnson's Mo-Tel", mentioned by Rittenhouse, which was later renamed Art's, "Coventry" motorcars Garage on the 700's block of Commercial Ave., and a Service Station on the 600's block.
Keep westbound and just where Route 66 takes a right towards the freeway, ahead to your right you will see a classic Automobile dealer:
Ritter Motor Co.
401 Commercial St., Map showing location.
Ritter Motor Co., Route 66 St. Clair, Google
Click on image for Street View
This brick building was built in different periods and served as an automobile dealer (also named Ritter & Sons Inc.) selling Chrysler and Plymouth cars. It dates back to 1927 -one year after Route 66 was created and was modified in 1931, 1947 and again in 1949. It was located on the 1926-1950s original Route 66 alignment on the western side of St. Clair.
Continue west along the old Route 66 which ends ahead, cut off by the Interstate (this is shown in Black in the map above) and visit a classic Motel, to your right:
St. Clair Motel
620 W Springfield Rd, Map showing location
Vintage Postcard of the St. Clair Motel, Route 66 St. Clair, www.hippostcard.com
Click on image for larger View
Built in 1943 it is a one-story wood-frame structure with a "T-shaped" layout with a gabled roof and a porch overhang. The original building had 2 units and later, in 1948 another 8 units were added. It was bypassed when Route 66 became a four-lane highway, and realigned just behind the motel in the early 1950s; now I-44 runs along that old US 66 roadbed and the motel has placed its Sign facing the freeway. There is also a neon sign mounted on a pole that is worth seeing (St. Clair Motel - Modern Rooms) It was operated by different owners the Krifks, Leen and Crumbackers.
The bypassed 1926 Route 66 ends just ahead.
Turn around and head back to St. Clair, take a left on Historic Route 66 and cross the freeway at Exit 239, turn left and drive along the North Service Road for roughly 1.3 miles, and visit a Route 66 classic:
2150 North Service Rd. on the NW corner of Co. Rd. WW.
View of the Skylark Motel, Route 66 St. Clair, Google
Click for larger image
Neon sign at the Skylark Motel, Route 66 St. Clair,
National Center for Preservation Technology and Training
Charlie Johnson, owner of the now demolished "Johnson's Mo-Tel Cabins" foresaw a drop in business once the new four-lane alignment of Route 66 was built. So in 1952 they opened a new motel on the brand new super highway.
The concrete block motel is a two-story building in a Streamline Moderne - International style, with a glass and concrete corner that juts out towards the highway built in a beautiful curved "fin" Streamline Moderne style. It was cut-off from the highway when Route 66 reached Interstate level, it had to readapt in the late 1960s to other uses. The glass blocks were lit up from behind with neon lights.
It was bought in 1993 by the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) who worked with the Route 66 Association of Missouri’s Neon Heritage Preservation Committee to restore the tower and sign to its original appearance.
Across the street (Co. Hwy WW) is a classic "Motel and Restaurant":
Scully's Sunset Inn
1095 N Service Rd W
Now a charity (Agape House Hunger Line) it was a 1920s classic ervice station, Inn and restaurant. In its postcards it announced itself as an "AAA Approved, Restaurant, Hwy 66, 2 miles west, St. Clair Mo". Below are a "Now and Then" comparison, we can see that the building is relatively untouched, the eastern section where the gas pumps once stood, now have a gabled roof, and the entrance of the building on the western side has been closed in.
Scully’s Sunset Inn nowadays, Route 66 St. Clair, Google
Click for larger image
Scully’s Sunset Inn in an old postcard, Route 66 St. Clair, www.hippostcard.com
Click for larger image
Next to it is another Motel from the 1950s, which we have not managed to identify by name:
N Service Rd W., Map showing location
An "L-shaped" layout motel with eight units, surely dating from the 1950s on the later alignment of the four-lane US 66, it now has no signs to identify it. Now it is also part of the Agape charity.
Continue westwards along the service road (US 66) and three miles ahead is a Route 66 Attraction:
Meramec Caverns Barn sign
5.1 mi. west of St. Clair, on Historic Route 66, Map with directions
As part of a vast advertising scheme, Lester Dill painted barns over most of the midwest, spanning 14 states with his "Meramec Caverns" barn signs. Read more about this attraction, the Meramec Caverns in neighboring Stanton, Missouri which still draws 150,000 visitors each year.
Meramec Caverns Painted Barn sign, Route 66 St. Clair, Google
Click on image for Street View
Arch Motel - Gone
In case you are wondering where was the Arch Motel, which had a "mini" replica of the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, it was located on the SW corner of Davis St. and the N Service Rd W., at 410 W Davis St., at this spot (see map). Arch and motel have been demolished.
This ends the tour of St. Clair.
Tours & Itineraries
Old Route 66 in St. Clair
The first trail through the woods along the Ozark highlands was trampled by wild animals thousands of years ago. Later they were used by Illinois and Osage Natives. The French, Spanish and English explorers went inland along it, and by the 1850s it had become a cart trail from St. Louis to Springfield. The Federal Government laid a military telegraph line between St. Louis and Fort Smith in Arkansas next to the road which then became known as the "Wire Road".
When cars became more common in the Ozarks in the 1910s, this dirt trail with potholes and muddy spots when it rained was hardly adequate so the local citizens lobbied to get better roads. The State of Missouri designated it as a State Higway (#14) and built bridges and improved its surface in the early 1920s, and by the time it became Route 66 in 1926, MO-14 in St. Clair had a gravel surface which was being paved from St. Clair to Gray Summit eastwards and west into Stanton.
From St. Clair to Stanton
It is a short ten mile ride from St. Clair to Sullivan along Old Route 66. 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 the early 1950s is shown in Pale Blue. However as some parts of the old US 66 were cut off or buried beneath the later four-lane US 66 alignment of the 1950s -these now vanished sections are shown in Black, new road segments were built, and we also show them in Pale Blue. These are what is known as "Historic Route 66". Some segments of the original road lie isolated or as dead-ends and we show these in Blue. There is a small section of Route 66 in town which was also realigned -we describe this above- which is shown in Red.
1926 Map of Route 66 from St. James to St. Louis, Missouri, notice that this first map calls it "US 60", instead of US 66 (read more about this: Route 66 was born as US 60). St. Clair is in the central part of the map.
1950s: Four Lane Freeway
By the late 1940s Route 66 was very congested and there were many accidents. Something had to be done, and in 1953 the original road was bypassed by a new four-lane road, it was divided dual carriageway highway which replaced the old US 66 until the late 1950s when it was also numbered as I-44. It had an overpass on MO-47 north of town, with a cutting through the rock (it was widened when I-44 was modernized).
Missouri petitioned in 1962 to name the highway I-66 instead of I-44, but this was denied by the AASHTO because number "66" had already been used in another freeway.
1969 New roadbed
The old four lane US-66 ⁄ I-44 Freeway was improved again in Missouri after 1967, and the old US 66 was upgraded to Interstate standards. And in 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 Villa Ridge to St. Clair (east)
> > See the next segment Stanton to Sullivan (west)
Image Used as per Google Street View Image Api Updated Dec. 31, 2014.
Jack DeVere Rittenhouse, (1946). A Guide Book to Highway 66.