About Devil’s Elbow Missouri
Facts, Trivia and useful information
Elevation: 747 ft (228 m). Population n⁄a (2010).
Time zone: Central (CST): UTC minus 6 hours. Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5).
Devil’s Elbow is an unincorporated community located on the 1926-1943 alignment of Route 66 in Pulaski County Missouri. (Map of Devil’s Elbow).
Elbow Inn, former Munger Moss Cafe in Devil’s Elbow, Missouri
Below is a photo looking west, the old bridge can be seen behind the café
1930s photo of the Munger Moss Cafe in Devil’s Elbow, Missouri
History of Devil’s Elbow
For the general history of the area check the History of Waynesville.
The first settlement was after the Civil War around 1870 as a small lumberjack settlement. The railroad bypassed it so it was relatively isolated. The village grew in the late 1910s, once State Highway 14 was built and improved in the area, linking St. Louis with Springfield. The construction of the old Bridge in 1923 promoted travel and tourism -because before that, the river had to be forded, which was complicated.
The name: Devil’s Elbow
The Ozark lumberjacks sent their logs downstream on the Big Piney River but the sharp "U" shaped bend jammed the logs leading them to call that point "A devil of an elbow", the name became "Devil's Elbow".
In 1926 Route 66 was aligned along MO-14 and paved. The town grew and catered to the tourists both in-state and those travelling along US 66. A dam had been planned in the 1930s at Arlington which would have flooded the village , but it was never built. In 1940, when Fort Leonard Wood was created, traffic increased considerably and a new safer road became necessary, so Route 66 was widened to a four-lane divided highway between Hooker and Grandview, bypassing the town in 1943.
Where to Lodge in Devil’s Elbow, Missouri
Accommodation and hotels near Devil’s Elbow...
> > Book your hotel in Waynesville
More Lodging near Devil’s Elbow along Route 66
Motels and Hotels close to Devil’s Elbow
Hotels, Westwards in Missouri
- 7 miles St. Robert
- 8 miles Waynesville
- 42 miles Lebanon
- 72 miles Marshfield
- 85 miles Strafford
- 94 miles Springfield
- 155 miles Carthage
- 173 miles Joplin
Heading West... Hotels & Motels in Kansas...
- 188 miles Baxter Springs
Further West... Hotels & Motels on Route 66 in Oklahoma...
Heading East in Missouri, more accommodation
- 21 miles Rolla
- 31 miles Saint James
- 43 miles Cuba
- 60 miles Sullivan
- 78 miles Saint Clair
- 88 miles Villa Ridge
- 94 miles Pacific
- 101 miles Eureka
- 129 miles St. Louis
Hotels further East, in Illinois
>> Check out the RV campground in neighboring Waynesville
Weather in Devil’s Elbow
There are clearly defined seasons in Devil’s Elbow. 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.
Devil’s Elbow is located in the "Tornado Alley": Pulaski County experiences around 8 tornado hits each year.
Tornado Risk: read more about Tornado Risk along Route66.
Getting to Devil’s Elbow
Drive to Devil’s Elbow via historic Route 66 or Interstate I-44 that link it with Springfield, Tulsa and Oklahoma City in the west and with Cuba and St. Louis in the east. US 160, 60 and 65 run to the west, through Springfield, US 63 runs through Rolla, to the east.
Map of Route 66 through Devil’s Elbow Missouri
Display Devil’s Elbow Route 66 Map
Click Map will appear below
Below is the color key for Route 66’s alignment in Devil’s Elbow:
(for the other parts of Missouri, check the color key in the corresponding city's web page)
Blue: this is the 1926 to 1943 alignment of Route 66 from Hooker in the east to Morgan Heights in the west that bypassed Devil's Elbow.
Pale Blue: the 1943 to 1957 alignment of Route 66, in that same area when it became a four-lane divided highway.
Black: where the old road is now cut by I-44 which was built in 1981 through this area, replacing the earlier 1943 alignment.
Route 66's alignment in Missouri: the Historic Route 66 through Devil’s Elbow
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 Devil’s Elbow
Landmarks and Places to See
A Devil of an Elbow
Devil’s Elbow and its Route 66 attractions
Devil’s Elbow has many classic Route 66 icons:
two bridges: 1923 Bridge at Devil's Elbow and the 1942 Big Piney River Bridge.
Stores and Cafés Old Munger-Moss Sandwich Shop, the Site of Devil’s Elbow Café, Miller’s Market and McCoy’s Store.
Hotels, Courts and Motels: Hiawatha Lodge, Graham’s Camp, Ernie and Zada’s Inn or E-Z Inn, Piney Beach Resort and Devil’s Elbow Motel.
Attraction and Beauty Spot
In 1941 it was named "one of the Seven Beauty Spots of Missouri" and an old postcard promoted it as the place "Where the Main street of America (U.S. Hwy. 66) winds its way through one of the most scenic areas in the Ozark region".
The village itself is a "Route 66 Roadside Attraction" of the Hampton Hotels Save-A-Landmark program.
Historic context, the classic Route 66 in Devil’s Elbow
The WPA wrote in the 1941 "Missouri, a guide to the "Show Me" state": "Devil's Elbow (15 pop) is a group of tourist and weekend cottages on a bend of the Big Piney River. It tells that the bluffs were listed as one of the seven beauty spots in the state and that the lumberjacks "feared and cursed the log jams" There was also a trailer camp at that time (Grahams?). A few years later, in 1946, Jack DeVere Rittenhouse published his "A Guide Book to Highway 66" and he mentioned the following: "Before the new highway was built, the road went past an odd geological formation known as DEVIL'S ELBOW. If you are interested in seeing this, you can take a fork off US 66 from Hooker".
Begin your tour on the north side of the Big Piney River, just east of town.
Bras decorating Elbow Inn on Route 66 , by Jimmy Emerson, DVM
Click on image to enlarge
Old Munger Moss Sandwich Shop
21040 Teardrop Road Devil's Elbow
Nellie Draper Munger who operated a resort south of the village with her husband Howard, became a widow in 1930. She married Emmett A. Moss and both built this cafe and sandwich shop in 1936 which was famous for its "Old Kentucky barbecue" (pictured above). But when the new four-lane highway was completed in 1942 it bypassed their cafe. So they sold it to Jessie and Pete Hudson in 1945 and moved to Lebanon and opened the Munger Moss Motel there.
The cafe had a wooden building with a gabled roof and is still there, and after being ran by the Thompsons in the 1960s, it closed. It reopened now as the Elbow Inn & BBQ Pit, frequented by bikers and decorated with the bras of its patrons (see photo above).
Just ahead, after a curve -which was dangerous during the Route 66 days, is the Old Bridge:
Route 66 Bridge at Devil's Elbow
Teardrop Rd. and Big Piney River, Location map
The bridge is 589 ft. long (180 m) and its deck is 19.4 ft. wide. It has two steel spans and is a through truss bridge. It carries the original Route 66 alignment across the Big Piney River at Devils Elbow (now named Teardrop Road). Built in 1923 by Riley-Bailey Construction Co. (so it predates Route 66 by three years), it originally formed part of Missouri State Highway 14. It consists of a Warren pony truss, two Parker through trusses and a curved eastern section with four concrete girder spans. After the new bridge was built in 1943, it was bypassed and only used by local traffic, lack of upkeep condemned it, but it was saved and restored in 2013.
1923 Route 66 Bridge in Devil’s Elbow, Missouri
On the north side of the sharp bend in the river are the sandstone bluffs known as the Sugar Bowls. On the south side of the river once stood the Devil's Elbow Cafe:
Site of Devil’s Elbow Café
21104 Teardrop Rd.
The Conoco gas station and Devil's Elbow Café built in 1932 by Dwight Rench was also the local post office from 1931 to 41. It was located on Timber Lane and Route 66, and burned in 1970. The original well pump house survived, built in Ozark "giraffe" stonework.
Here along Timber Lane are some interesting local sights:
Shelden's former Miller's Market in Devil’s Elbow on Route 66, by Missouri Division of Tourism
12175 Timber Lane
To your left, on the left side of Timber Lane is this old post office. It was known as Millers Market and was built by Atholl Miller in 1954 (he was the son-in-law of McCoy -who owned the store and hotel next to it. Miller was postmaster and ran the store until 1982. Now it is Shelden's Market.
12177 Timber Lane
To the right of Millers, this two-story building was known as McCoys Store and Camp, it was built in 1941 by Charles McCoy (1892-1972) who relocated here during the Depression. He was postmaster and his store and hotel had rooms on the upper floor, a dance hall and seven cabins built in 1948, which have now gone. The place closed in 1954. You can see a vintage postcard of the store.
McCoy’s Store in Devil’s Elbow, Missouri
12198 Timber Lane on the SE corner at Teardrop Rd.
Now a private home, it was built in 1917 by Thomas Edward Hunter and his wife Rhoda ("Tilda") Matilda Hunter as a hotel.
Head west and see the remains of a former Camp with cabins, to your left:
21150 Teardrop Rd.
It was owned by Walter Edward Graham and his wife Fern. He had been a guide in the Ozarks and in 1927 built 14 cabins on the new Route 66, it was a fishing camp and resort with caféa and gas. Later it became the Big Piney Lodge. The old camp's office ozark stone building still standing.
Tours & Itineraries
Now take a short ride out of the village. It is a 3.3 mi. drive (Map with directions). The road now curves to the west as it leaves the village, climbing. There is a Scenic Overlook ahead:
Get a great view of the valley below and the Frisco Spur Wood Railroad tressle that carries cargo to Fort Leonard Wood. Built in 1941 it was part of the 14 mile long spur from Newburg.
This was a dangerous sector, as the road runs next to a steep drop towards the river below. It helped give the road its ominous nickname "Bloody 66". The stone wall that is still in place served as a guard rail and was built in 1938 by the WPA.
Ernie and Zada’s Inn or E-Z Inn
21755 Teardrop Rd. Location Map
This is at the western tip of Devil's Elbow, the postcards from the 1930s announced that it was "1 mile West of Devil's Elbow" and offered "Dancing, fishing, hunting, shady trailer camp, dinners, lunches, beer, modern cabins with In-Spr. Mattress". It opened in 1932, closed a few years later. In the 1950s the property changed hands and was renamed Oak Park Cabins and 20 years later became known as Grandview Apartments or Grandview Courts. They had a Sinclair gas station which still stands and the old canopy has been closed in. Some cabins still stand.
You can see it in a Vintage postcard.
Just ahead you will meet the 1943 four-lane Route 66 divided highway. Cross it and take a left along Teardrop Rd. on its north side, here to your right is a 1960s motel:
Devil’s Elbow Motel
21815 Teardrop Rd. Location Map
The building is still there, in poor shape, but recognizeable as you can see by comparing the 1960s postcard with its current street view:
Turn around and head east towards Hooker along Hwy Z, the 1943 - 1977 Route 66 alignment (later I-44 until the 1981 bypass was bompleted).
The highway had curbs which were designed to guide cars and keep them on the road and also to channel rain water. They were dropped in later freeway design as they caused accidents if hit by cars.
Ahead, to your left is a road that leads to a 1940s resort:
Piney Beach Resort on Route 66 , by www.pineybeachcabin.com
Piney Beach Resort
12800 Tank Rd. Location Map
The cabins have been renovated preserving their original 1940's style. Learn more at their website www.pineybeachcabin.com.
Just ahead is the "new" Bridge:
1942 Big Piney River Bridge
Hwy. Z and Big Piney River Location Map
Big Piney River Bridge on Route 66 , by www.66postcards.com
Click on image to enlarge
This concrete bridge carried the four-lane Route 66 over the Big Piney River. It was designed by the Missoury State Highway Commission as an open spandrel bridge, called so because the "spandrel" or space between the arch and the roadbed above it, is open and not solid.
It has three arches and five arched girders. Built by Maxwell Construction Co. in 1942 and remains unchanged to this day. See its Street View.
Passing the bridge the higway Z meets Teardrop Rd. at the intersection are two landmarks, Dale’ Sporting Goods and Sunset Rest which we describe in our Hooker page. You can take a right along the 1926 alignment of Route 66 (Teardrop Rd.) and head back to Devil's Elbow.
Old Route 66 in Devil’s Elbow
The original trail along the divide in the Ozarks was probably created by roaming buffalo. Centuries later it was used by the Natives and after them by the trappers and explorers.
They named it the "Great Osage Trail" (after the Osage people who lived in the area). During the Civil war period (1860s), a telegraph line was laid from St. Louis Missouri to Fort Smith in Arkansas and it passed through Devil’s Elbow.
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. The Inter-Ozarks Highway Association lobbied and the the state built the Missouri State Highway 14 from Springfield to St. Louis, passing through Devil’s Elbow (the old Bridge dates back to this time), Later, in 1926 Route 66 would be aligned along it.
USGS Map from 1942 showing Devil’ Elbow MO and Route 66.
Red arrows mark the 1926-43 alignment of US 66.
1926 to 1943 alignment
The 1943 to 1977 alignment
The creation of Ft. Wood led to a surge in traffic, which tripled between 1939 and 1941. The road was congested and dangerous so a new one was built and finished in 1943. It had four lanes and was a divided highway from east of Hooker through Morgan Heights and into St. Robert. It is shown in Pale Blue above and this is the 1943-1977 Map.
It bypassed Devil's Elbow and remained in use until I-44 replaced its signs in 1977. It was later bypassed in 1981 by a newer alignment of I-44 which eliminated a section of the old 1926 road (shown in Black in the map above).
US 66 after 1952
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.
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) it went through Hooker (this was the highway built in 1943) but bypassed Devil's Elbow, now located (see both maps) on what was then called Highway "V".
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 north of Devil's Elbow, in Powellville and Hooker, in 1981.
> > See previous segment Hooker to Devil's Elbow (east)
> > See the next segment Morgan Heights to St. Robert (west)
Missouri, a guide to the "Show Me" state, WPA, 1941.
Maura Johnson and John F. Bradbury, Route 66 Association of Missouri. 1993, Architectural ⁄ Historical Inventory Survey. Route 66 in Missouri
Jack DeVere Rittenhouse, (1946). A Guide Book to Highway 66.
Banner image: Dead Man's Curve, Laguna New Mexico by Perla Eichenblat.