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Buckhorn attractions include Route 66 kitsch like the Giant Bowling Pin, and two motels, the S & G Motel and the 1930s Bell Haven Court; don't miss its 1960s landmark: Nickerson Farms.

Buckhorn MO

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About Buckhorn Missouri

Facts, Trivia and useful information

Elevation: 1,111 ft. ft (339 m). Population n⁄a (2010).
Time zone: Central (CST): UTC minus 6 hours. Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5).

Buckhorn was a village located on old Route 66 in Pulaski County which in 2003 was annexed by neighboring Waynesville. It is located in the Ozarks inSouth central Missouri. (Map of Buckhorn).

Buckhorn skyline US 66 in Buckhorn, Missouri: giant bowling pin, water tank and adult shop sign.

Buckhorn skyline on Route 66 in Buckhorn MO
Buckhorn skyline on Route 66 in Buckhorn, Missouri
click image for street view

History of Buckhorn

For the general history of the area check the History of Waynesville.

Pulaski County was created in 1833; it was named for a Polish patriot, Kazimierz Pułaski who died fighting during the American Revolution. People settled along the ancient Osage Trail, that crossed the area. Later, in the early 1860s, a telegraph line was built from St. Louis Missouri to Fort Smith in Arkansas and a road ran alongside it. This "Wire Road" passed by Buckhorn. Eventually it became the main road in the area.

There were other settlements in the region such as Debruin, close to present Buckhorn (now gone), Laquey, and other now defunct hamlets like Bellefonte, Flynn and Francis.

The name: Buckhorn

The original name of the area wa Pleasant Grove, but a stagecoach stop built here was known as Buckhorn Tavern because of a pair of large deer antlers on the tavern's sign. The name stuck and the area around it adopted it.

In the early 1910s, the "Old Wire Road" was improved and became Missouri State Hwy. 16, in 1926 Route 66 was aligned along it until the late 1950s when US 66 was improved, upgraded to a four-lane freeway and its alignment straightened out bypassing the town and slicing through the old Route 66 alignment at its eastern end.


Where to Lodge in Buckhorn, Missouri

Accommodation and hotels near Buckhorn...

> > Book your hotel in neighboring Waynesville

More Lodging near Buckhorn along Route 66

Motels and Hotels close to Buckhorn

Hotels, Westwards in Missouri

Heading West... Hotels & Motels in Kansas...

Further West... Hotels & Motels on Route 66 in Oklahoma...

Heading East in Missouri, more accommodation

Hotels further East, in Illinois

Find your room in neighboring Waynesville

>> Check out the RV campground in Buckhorn

Weather in Buckhorn

Weather widget for Waynesville (Buckhorn is now part of Waynesville)

Latest Buckhorn, Missouri weather
Route 66: Buckhorn map with town location
Location of Buckhorn on Route 66

There are clearly defined seasons in Waynesville and Buckhorn. During summer, the average high (Jul) is 88°F (31.2°C), while the average low in 67°F (19.2°C). During winter (Jan) the average high is 42°F (5.6°C) and the average low is below freezing at 20°F (-7°C).

Rainfall averages 44.5 in (1.131 mm) per year and falls regularly each month in roughly the same amount. Snowfall is around 9 in. (23 cm), and falls between Dec. and Mar.

Tornado risk

Buckhorn (now part of Waynesville) is located in the "Tornado Alley" and Pulaski County is hit by some 8 tornado strikes every year.

Tornado Risk: read more about Tornado Risk along Route66.

Getting to Buckhorn

Drive down Route 66 and Interstate I-44 which link the town with Springfield, Joplin, and Oklahoma City in the west and with Rolla, Cuba and St. Louis in the east. US 160, 60 and 65 all run to the west, through Springfield while US 63 runs through Rolla, to the east.

Map of Route 66 through Buckhorn Missouri

See the alignment of US 66 in Buckhorn, on our Missouri Route 66 Map, it has the complete alignment across the state with all the towns along it.

Below is the color key for Route 66’s alignment in Buckhorn:

Pale Blue and Green: The 1926 to 1957 alignment of Route 66. The green section remained disconnected after it was cut at its eastern tip. The alignments after 1957 became part of what is now I-44.
Blue: is the "new" (post 1958) Route 66 segment built to link the old ones cut by the four-lane higway built in 1957.
Black: Is the old Route 66 roadbed cut by U.S. 66's 1957-1979 alignment (now I-44).

Route 66's alignment in Missouri: the Historic Route 66 through Buckhorn

Route 66 logo

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.

Below is more information on the different Route 66's alignments through Buckhorn (they are shown in the Map above)

Route 66 Sights in Buckhorn

Landmarks and Places to See

Old Town in the Ozarks

Buckhorn and its Route 66 attractions

Buckhorn, now formally part of Waynesville has some Route 66 landmarks and attractions: two motels, the Bell Haven Court and S & G Motel a 1960s icon: Nickerson Farms and pure Americana in the shape of a Giant Bowling Pin.

Historic context, the classic Route 66 in Buckhorn

In his book "A Guide Book to Highway 66", published in 1946. Jack DeVere Rittenhouse gives us an idea of what Buckhorn was like in those days. He wrote: "... a small community here, with a few homes, gas stations, Bowden garage, and cafe...", one mile west "Gas station and a cafe here".

Tour Buckhorn

Begin your to the east of Exit 153, on the north side of I-44; strictly speaking the attractions on this side of the highway are not part of historic Route 66, but they have a touch of Americana and Route 66 Kitsch:

Buckhorn Lanes Giant bowling pin

Americana - Route 66 Kitsch

25915 MO-17, Waynesville

Just east of Exit 153, on its northern side is the bolwing alley built by Ted Williams in 1976. The main attraction is its giant Bowling Pin which was once blown over by a storm. See it Pictured above, at the top of this page.

Head towards the Overpass, to your left is the site of the former Buckhorn Tavern that gave its name to the town (the tavern is no longer there), but you will see the old "Restaurant":

Nickerson Farms ⁄ Witmor Farms

25876 Red Oak Rd and Hwy. 17, at Exit 153

To your right is what used to be Witmor Farms Restaurant, and before that, it was the second location of the Nickerson Farms chain. A roadside restaurant franchise that operated between the early 1960s and the 1980s. It was the creation of I. J. Nickerson, and it grew to 60 restaurants in the Midwest, along the freeways. They also had a gas station selling Skelly gasoline.

Ray and Norma Moorman bought the place in 1963 renaming it "Witmor Farms":

Vintage postcard of Nickerson Farms

Vintage postcard of Nickerson Farms,
Click for larger image

Former Nickerson ⁄ Witmor Farms, Buckhorn MO nowadays

Former Nickerson ⁄ Witmor Farms, Buckhorn MO. Click image for Street View

The red-roofed barn-shaped building survived, but that Origami-style canopy over the gas pumps has vanished.

Hogan Cemetery

This is a small cemetery right behind Witmor Farms. As it was vandalized in the 1970s only one original tombstone remains, that of N.J. Hogan (1822-1888), the others were replaced with concrete markers.

Head west to Buckhorn proper, crossing the freeway. To your left, along Spruce Road is a Classic Motel on the Route 66 1926-57 alignment:

S & G Motel

23000 Spruce Rd. (and Sumpter Drive.)

This "L" shaped complex is now the "Buckhorn apartments", but once was a Route 66 motel.

S & G Motel today in Buckhorn (Waynesville), Missouri

S & G Motel today on Route 66 in Buckhorn (Waynesville) MO
S & G Motel today on Route 66 in Buckhorn (Waynesville),
click image for street view
S&G motel in the 1990s in Buckhorn MO

S&G motel in the 1990s in Buckhorn MO on Route 66. Maura Johnson and John F. Bradbury

Its postcard announced: "S.G.Motel and Restaurant, Waynesville, Mo. - Rt. 66. (Interstate 44) at Rt 17 Interchange 7 miles west of Fort Leonard Wood - Modern Air-conditioned rooms with T.V. - Family Units and Apartments by Day, Week or Month". You can see a color postcard of the motel.

Now tour the south side of Buckhorn, a 2.2 mi. round trip (Map with directions), head south along Highway 17 towards Lebanon (follow the blue Route 66 Byway signs) and 0.5 mi. west of I-44 is a classic Route 66 Court:

Bell Haven in vintage postcard, US 66 Buckhorn MO

Bell Haven in vintage postcard, US 66 Buckhorn MO
Click on image to enlarge

Bell Haven Court

26367 Rte 66 - Highway 17, Waynesville

To your left. Originally named Hamilton's Pleasant Grove Cabins and built in 1932, it had a Sinclair gas station and five cabins at that time. The Bell family purchased it in 1948 and renamed it Bell Haven Court.

The cabins have all gone, but the former service station and office is still standing and became a private residence. You can see by comparing the present street view with the 1940s postcard, that the former gas pump area under a flat canopy has been enclosed and the roof converted into a gabled one.

View of Bell Haven Court today in Buckhorn, Missouri

View of Bell Haven Court today on Route 66 in Buckhorn MO
View of Bell Haven Court today on Route 66 in Buckhorn, Missouri,
click image for street view

There was, 0.6 mi. west of Bell Haven, a grocery shop and gas station named "Hillcrest" built in 1932, but it has been demolished.

And further south, (at 1.1 mi. from I-44) is where the Normandy Hotel once stood.

The complex included a gas station, hotel and restaurant and was demolished around 1979. The quarry on the right side of the road marks its former location. You can make out the pillars that marked its entrance right next to the junction with the road leading the Pulaski County Fort Leonard Wood Shrine Club and Park, the largest outdoor venue in the region, it has camping areas, primitive RV and a club house.

You can continue west towards Laquey, or turn around and head eastwards to Waynesville.


Tours & Itineraries

Old Route 66 in Buckhorn

From Buckhorn to Laquey

The ancient animal trail along the Ozarks divide was probably created by roaming buffalo or deer. Millenia later it was used by the Indians and more recently by trappers and explorers.

They named it the "Great Osage Trail" (after the Osage Natives who lived here). During the Civil war period (1860s), a telegraph line was laid from St. Louis Missouri to Fort Smith in Arkansas and it passed through Buckhorn.

By the early 1900s cars became more common in the countryside but the dirt tracks used by carts were in terrible state: full of potholes during the dry season and muddy traps during the rainy period. John Woodruff lobbied for better roads throgh the Inter-Ozarks Highway Association he presided and this led to the creation of Missouri State Highway 14 built from Springfield to St. Louis, passing through Buckhorn. Later, in 1926 Route 66 would be aligned along it.

Route 66 1926-57 alignment in Buckhorn

See this Map with directions (0.9 mile-long stretch).

Cross the Interstate to its southern side. Here, to your left is the old alignment of Route 66 (1926 - 1957) which was replaced when the highway was upgraded to a four lane freeway in the late 1950s. The original 1926 - 1957 road ran along what is now Spruce Rd. (Shown in Green in the map above), and then headed towards the NW, (now cut by I-44 - shown in Black in the map) becoming what is now Old Route 66 ⁄ MO-17 on the north side of I-44 ( in Pale Blue). After the freeway was built, a new link was built (Blue) between the two alignments across Exit 153.

Alignment During the late 1950s

In 1952 the Missouri Highway Department started work to improve Route 66 to make it safer and shorter, this meant eliminating the winding course in many sections in the county, it bypassed Buckhorn and all towns in the area.

1953 and 1958 roadmaps of US 66 near Buckhorn

Missouri D.O.T. 1953 and 1958 Roadmaps, Route 66 from Rolla to Hazelgreen

The 1953 (bottom) and 1958 (top) roadmaps show the section from Hazelgreen to Rolla. Notice how it all became a four lane freeway (but still named US 66). Route 66 was bypassed from Hazelgreen through Waynesville to MO-17, but still ran through Hooker cut. Notice how it bypassed Buckhorn (to the left of Highway T in both maps)

Eventually the whole of US 66 in this area was upgraded into a four lane highway with overpasses, and after 1958 it coexisted with the new interstate I-44 (a state petition in 1962 to name the highway I-66 was denied by the AASHTO). Finally in 1972 the whole of Route 66 had been replaced by the freeway and in 1974 it was decided that the whole of US 66 from Chicago to Joplin would be eliminated. However this was delayed until I-55 in Illinois was completely brought up to Interstate standards. The signs were removed in 1977 but the last segment of the old Route 66 to be bypassed was the section in Powellville, in 1981.

> > See the previous segment From Waynesville to Buckhorn (east)

> > See the next segment Lebanon to Springfield (west)

> > See the next segment Laquey to Gazcozark (west)

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Jack DeVere Rittenhouse, (1946). A Guide Book to Highway 66.

The Ramsay Place Names File

Banner image: Dead Man's Curve, Laguna New Mexico by Perla Eichenblat.