About Avilla Missouri
Facts, Trivia and useful information
Elevation: 1,122 ft (342 m). Population 125 (2010).
Time zone: Central (CST): UTC minus 6 hours. Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5).
Avilla is a small village on Old Route 66 on the eastern edge of Jasper County, in southwestern Missouri. (Map of Avilla).
Avilla Post Office building, from 1915, Route 66
History of Avilla
Missouri was peopled over ten thousand years ago at the end of the last Ice Age. These Paleoindians became the hunter gatherer tribes of more recent times. Around 700 BC the Osage people moved into the Ozarks from their homeland on the Mississippi and Ohio rivers evicted by the belligerent Iroquois.
French explorers from Canada claimed the region in 1682 and named it "Louisiana" after their king Louis XIV. Napoleon sold the territory to the U.S. in 1803 and this part of vast Louisiana became the Missouri Territory in 1812 and part of the Union in 1821.
White settlement forced the Osage people to cede their land (the 1808, 1818 and 1825 treaties), moving them to a new Reservation in the Indian Territory (which would later become Oklahoma).
The first settlers arrived in what would become Avilla in the 1830s, and Jasper County was organized in 1841. Avilla's first school was called White Oak School as it was close to the creek of the same name. In 1858 D. S. Holman and A.L. Love platted the township, which they named Avilla. They became Postmaster (the post office opened in 1860) and Justice of Peace respectively.
The name: Avilla
It is said to have been named after Avilla Indiana which in turn was settled between 1836 and 1844 and named so because one of its settlers, Judge Edwin Randall liked the name which came from the Spanish word for villages, "villa".
During the American Civil War, despite Missouri being a Confederate state, the town's leaders were unionists, and after 1862 it was garrisoned by the Union Army, and did not suffer the ravages of the war. After the war it boomed while the neighboring towns were being rebuilt.
The Ghosts of Avilla
There is a local legend ("Avilla Phantom Bushwhacker") about a Confederate soldier (Rotten Johyn Reb, who was a "Bushwhacker") who remained unburied and the "Death Tree" where his skull was hung. The headless ghost is seeking revenge while he looks for his missing head. Read more about it.
It was located on a main stage coach line and prospered until the railway bypassed the town in its route from Springfield to Carthage. This stunted growth and the town stagnated.
Then, in the early 1900s, cars took to the roads and trails across the area, which were in terrible condition so the Ozark Trails Association was created in 1913 by W. H. "Coin" Harvey (1851-1936), a teacher and businessman and entrepreneur he believed in good roads and promoting car travel and tourism.
The Ozark Trail crossed Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas and reached the Santa Fe Trail in New Mexico.
Travel along the mother road in the 1930s brought relief to the small village and it survived until US 66 was bypassed by I-44, which had opened in 1958 from Oklahoma City to Joplin and continued east along former US-166, south of Avilla, to Springfield. Despite the new freeway, Route 66 remained in use in Missouri until it was decertificied.
Where to Lodge in Avilla, Missouri
Lodging close to Avilla: in neighboring Carthage...
> > Book your hotel in neighboring Carthage
More Lodging near Carthage along Route 66
Motels and Hotels close to Carthage
Hotels, Westwards in Missouri
Heading West... Hotels & Motels in Kansas...
- 45 miles Baxter Springs
Further West... Hotels & Motels on Route 66 in Oklahoma...
Heading East in Missouri, more accommodation
>> Check out the RV campgrounds in nearby Carthage
Weather in Avilla
Avilla has a wet & subtropical climate with dry and cold winters and very wet summers (the rainy season spans from April to July, with thunderstorms).
Averages rainfall is 46.5 in (1.180 mm) yearly plus some 11.9 in. of snow (30 cm) in winter.
The winter (Jan) the average high is 44.9°F (7.2°C) and the average low is below freezing, with 25.0°F (-3.9deg;C). The summer (Jul) average high is 90.6°F (32.6°C) and the average low is 69.° (21.1°).
Avilla is located within the infamous "Tornado Alley" and Japer County has an average of 6 tornado strikes per year.
Tornado Risk: read more about Tornado Risk along Route66.
Getting to Avilla
You can reach Avilla along historic Route 66 and Interstate I-44 that links it with Tulsa and Oklahoma City in the west and with Springfield and St. Louis in the east. US Hwy. 71 (overlapping I-49) links it with Fort Smith, Arkansas and Kansas City.
Map of Route 66 through Avilla Missouri
Display Avilla Route 66 Map
Click Map will appear below
Below is the color key for Route 66’s alignment in Avilla:
(for the other parts of Missouri, check the color key in the corresponding city's web page)
Black: The 1926 to 1933 alignment at neigboring Carthage.
Blue the 1933 alignment which was known as U.S. 66 Alt. in neighboring Carthage.
Pale Blue: The 1926 and later alignments of Route 66 through Avilla
Route 66's alignment in Missouri: the Historic Route 66 through Avilla
Route 66 across Missouri
Historic U.S. highway 66, "Route 66" has been designated as an All-American Road and National Scenic Byway in the state of Missouri.
Click on the following link for a Full description of Route 66 across the state of Missouri.
Route 66 Sights in Avilla
Landmarks and Places to See
A Vanishing Town
Avilla and its Route 66 attractions
Avilla is a "Living Ghost Town", still hanging on to life on Route 66. It is known for the 1915 Avilla Post Office and former Bank, its Flo's Tavern (Bernie's Bar) and the Odd Fellows Lodge. It has an 1800s Church and close by are the remains of the U.S. 66 Log City and Midway Service & Cafe.
Historic context, the classic Route 66 in Avilla
Jack DeVere Rittenhouse wrote his book "A Guide Book to Highway 66" in 1946 and it provides a very good idea of what Route 66 was like during its heyday.
Rittenhouse mentions the town as follows: "Avilla (Pop 178) Gas, cafe, stores" it was an important agricultural trading and supply center. One mile east of the town were two gas stations and the "White Oak Cabins". He added that Log City (4 mi. east) and Stone City (3 mi.) were resorts with cabins built of logs and stone. There were service stations and cafes. There were gas stations 6 miles, and 8 miles east and, nine miles east was Rescue.
Tour the route 66 landmarks in Avilla
Avilla is set in the Ozarks, and its main attractions are the few buildings that face Route 66, its 1915 Post Office and the City Park.
Route 66 crossess the Missouri Ozarks from St. Louis to th Kansas state line.
The Ozarks, is a highland region in south-central Missouri, northern Arkansas and northwestern Oklahoma. It covers 47,000 sq. mi. (122.000 km2. The name drives from French "aux Arcs" where "Arcs" is an abbreviation of "Arkansas", meaning: "From ⁄ at Arkansas".
The karst limestones of the Springfield Plateau (Joplin to Stafford along US 66) has sinkholes, caves and springs, which are also found in the dolostone rocks of the Salem Plateau north and east of Stafford towards St. Louis.
The land is mostly gently rolling in this region and Missouri is known as the "Cave State" with more than 6,000 caves, mostly in the Ozarks.
Begin your tour on the western side of town. At the City Park (Street view):
To your left is the small park facing Route 66 on the NW corner of Lamar. Beside it is the old building of Semmons & Rives, which during the Civil War was a commercial business run by D. B. Rives and T. J. Stemmons (Street View).
Turn at Lamar and just ahead to your left is the Historic Post Office:
Avilla Post Office: former Bank of Avilla
205 Greenfield St, Avilla NW corner of Lamar and Greenfield.
Pictured at the top of the page, the bank was created in 1914 and the building opened to the public in 1915. It was the local farmers' and merchants' bank and managed to weather the Great Depression during the 1930s.
On May 18, 1932, the "Irish O'Malley Gang" robbed the bank and kidnaped the cashier, Ivy Russell who was released unharmed in Carthage. The gang members were eventually jailed or shot.
In 1944 it merged into the Bank of Carthage and the business remained empty until 1952 when it became the Post Office's building.
Keep north along Lamar, take a right on Binney St. and visit the old church:
Avilla 1800s (United) Methodist Church, Credits
19th Century Church
SE corner of Binney St. and Church St..
The Avilla (United) Methodist Church was actually the first church established in the town and dates back to the 1800s.
Head back to Route 66 and head east, on the next block, between MO-37 and Short St., to your left are some old ruinous buildings, from west to east:
Route 66 Avilla
What is nowadays Bernie's Bar used to be Flo's Tavern it was run by Thomas W. Melugin (1903 - 1968) and his wife Florida Pratt Melugin (1910 - 1995). They had married (he for a second time) in 1947 and had two children.
Apart from the tavern, they also ran the Hotel next to it.
Avilla's central district along Route 66
In the image above, from left to right: Bernie's Bar (former Flo's Tavern), the stone building was a grocery store (Old French's) and the two-story wood frame one was the Old Fellows Lodge.
Odd Fellows Lodge
It is a wood frame building built in Victorian style around 1885, it was the IOOF meeting hall and the most impressive building on Route 66 in Avilla.
The Odd Fellows Lodge formed its chapter in Avilla at a very early date (ca. 1870s) together with the Freemasons.
The Independent Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF) (Odd Fellows for short) is a secret society without any political or sectarian orientation. It was founded by Thomas Wildey in Baltimore, USA in 1819 (curious? check their website). Here is a street view of both the IOOF and the old stone builging, the grocery store, next to it. And this ends the "city tour".
Right beside it, to the west was a stone building sandwiched between "Bernie's Bar" to the west and Odd Fellows building to the east:
Stone Grocery Store
This stone building with two boarded windows and a door in the middle is a commercial structure sharing a common wall with the lodge. The stone rubble is randomly laid giving it a strange appearance.
Tours & Itineraries
Log City Camp
Co. Ln 6 and Route 66 just west of Plew
Established in 1926, by Carl Stansbury, 1938 it had a service station a cafe, diner, (liquor store) and fourteen cabins with bathtubs. It was located east of the town (3.5 mi.) After I-44 bypassed Route 66 in the late 1960s, they had less visitors and eventually closed.
More recently the former service station was reformed and converted into an auto body shop.
Forest Park Camp - Gone
This competitor of Log City, opened in 1928, right across the highway from Log City Camp. It had rock cabins, café and restaurant. It too declined and now no trace remains.
View of the Midway Service & Cafe, Google
Click on image for Street View
Midway Service & Cafe
To the east of Avilla, roughly 0.5 miles before White Oak Creek, north side of the road.
See its Map with Location.
Mary Maynard and her husband bought it in 1953, it also had a gas station that burned down in the '70s. The side gabled, gold and red stone (in "giraffe style) building was brought to this place from another site in the early 1950s and had been built ca. 1930.
Old Route 66 in Avilla, Missouri
From Plew to Avilla
Route 66 follows a straight course from Plew to Avilla, and it has followed it since Route 66 was created back in 1926, which is shown in Pale Blue in the Map above.
West of Avilla, the road that linked Avilla with Carthage prior to Route 66, was known as the "Old Carthage Road".
The 1926 map of the Missouri State Highway Commission shows what then was Route 60 (yes, 60 and not 66 because they had taken the original planned numbering and not the one that was later agreed upon and which prevailed: U.S. 66). The paved surface ended at Springfield and the road from there to Avilla it was already being paved with concrete, after Avilla it was again paved all the way to Kansas. By 1929 it was completely paved. The Missouri DOT roadmap of 1945-46 only shows the towns of Avilla, Phelps and Halltown between Springfield and Carthage.
Route 66 and Interstate I-44
Route 66 and Interstate 44 lived along together for many years (like many U.S. Higwhays do today), From Springfield west, to Halltown, they overlapped and at this point US 66 went northwards to Spencer and west to Carthage along its original alignment (now MO-96) while I-44 turned southwest and then west to Oklahoma. They coexisted until the federal government officially decommissioned Route 66 in 1985.
> > See the previous segment Halltown to Plew (east)
> > See the next segment Avilla to Carthage (west)
Jack DeVere Rittenhouse, (1946). A Guide Book to Highway 66.
Banner image: Dead Man's Curve, Laguna New Mexico by Perla Eichenblat.