About Fenton Missouri
Facts, Trivia and useful information
Elevation: 433 ft (132 m). Population 4,022 (2010).
Time zone: Central (CST): UTC minus 6 hours. Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5).
Fenton is a city whose northernmost fringes touch old Route 66. It is located in St. Louis County, in the central-eastern Missouri. (Map of Fenton).
1950s BP gas station on Route 66 in Fenton, Missouri
History of Fenton
Eastern Missouri has been inhabited for the last thousand years and Native Americans built two conical earth mounds here, the "Fenton Mounds" ca. AD 1050 - 1400, now gone (leveled for a Wal-Mart Supercenter in 2001) which are associated with those found in nearby Cahokia Mounds State Historic Park in Illinois. They were related to the historical Indians who were members of an Algonquin nation known who called themselves "Illiniwek" which meant "men" in their language; a group of hunter-gatherers who grew crops of corn and squash.
French explorers from Canada arrived in 1683 and named it after their king Louis XIV: "Louisiana", they also deformed the Indian's name to "Illinois". France lost the territory to Spain in the mid 1700s. The city of St. Louis was settled in 1764 by Laclede and Chouteau; and the first settlers in what would become Fenton arrived in the 1770s. Napoleon recovered Louisiana from Spain in 1800 but sold it to the U.S. in 1803 as he needed the cash to wage war against England.
St.Louis incorporated as a municipality in 1809 and the Territory of Missouri was established in 1812 and William Lindsay Long, who had migrated from England to the U.S. founded Fenton in 1818; he chose a spot on the western side of the Meramec River southwest of St. Louis. The State of Missouri joined the Union in 1821.
The Name: Fenton
Long is said to have named the town after his mother's supposed noble ancestor, the Earl of Fenton or (another version) after his Welsh grandmother, Elizabeth Fenton Bennett. The surname "Fenton" comes from the Old English words "Fenne" = "marsh" and "Tun" = "fenced enclosure".
During the 1830s, the Illinois people and the other natives in Missouri were forcibly relocated to reservations in what is now Oklahoma. This opened the way to more white settlers in the region. Fenton's post office opened in 1833 as did the ferry across the Meramec River and replaced in 1854 by a covered toll bridge. It incorporated in 1874 and again in 1948.
It was a small farming community until the mid-1950s. Linked by MO-141 to Route 66 in the north and I-55 in the southeast. Missouri Hwy 30 linked it with Affton and downtown St. Louis in the east and with St. Clair on Route 66 in the west. It hardly had any association with Classic Route 66.
Chrysler chose the town to open its large plant, which opened in 1959. This led to a growth in population as laborers flocked to the area. A second plant was built in the 1960s to manufacture light and medium sized trucks. The crisis of 2008 led to the closure of both plants in 2008 and 2009 respectively.
Lodging in Fenton, Missouri
Accommodation and hotels near Fenton
> > Book your accommodation in town: Hotels in Fenton
More Lodging near Fenton along Route 66
More motels and Hotels close to Fenton
Hotels, Westwards in Missouri
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Heading East in Missouri, more accommodation
Hotels further East, in Illinois
- 14 miles East St. Louis
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>> Check out the RV campground in Fenton
Weather in Fenton
Fenton 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.
Fenton 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 Fenton
You can reach Fenton along historic Route 66 and also via Interstate I-44 and then MO-141. To the east are I-270 and I-55.
Map of Route 66 through Fenton Missouri
See the alignment of US 66 in this location, on our Missouri Route 66 Map, it has the complete alignment across the state with all the towns along it.
Route 66's alignment in Missouri: the Historic Route 66 through Fenton
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 Fenton
Landmarks and Places to See
Home of the Pink Elephant
Fenton and its Route 66 attractions
Historic context, the classic Route 66 in Fenton
Fenton is not mentioned in the WPA travel guide "Missouri, a guide to the "Show Me" state" published in 1941 and Jack DeVere Rittenhouse in his classic "A Guide Book to Highway 66" published in 1946 does not mention it either. There was little relationship between Route 66 and Fenton in those days, as US 66 grazed the northern tip of the city, which at that time did not even comprise the area where Route 66 was located.
Detail of a 1962 USGS map showing Fenton and Route 66.
In the USGS map (1962) shown above we can see where Fenton actually is (red arrow) and three airfields in the flat terrain next to the Meramec River: Weiss, Sylvan Beach and Meramec Airfields. Also, Route 66 east of the Meramec River has "4-lanes" (red arrow) and the whole area is open countryside with no urban or suburban sprawl along the highway.
The Fenton Route 66 Tour
Actually the tour in Fenton along Route 66 spans less than half a mile, but we have added the Pink Elephant to it, making the tour a 10.3 mile drive; this is its Map with Directions. Begin on South Highway Drive -the south frontage road of I-44, in Fenton:
Former BP Service Station
870 S Hwy Dr, Fenton
Now converted into a pawn shop, the Missouri Gold Buyers, it was a 1950s BP gas station. Pictured above, at the top of this page. It is a gabled building flat-roofed canopy with the pumps gone. It has an office and a two-service-bay garage. It sold BP gas until the late 2000s. It is, nonetheless a well preserved example of a gas station type built during the early 1950's and BP used this home-like style across the US (see station in Fair Haven VT).
Drive east, go under the overpass, and to your right is the site of a Route 66 Motel:
Sunset Ranch Site
650 S Hwy Dr, Fenton
Sunset Ranch Motel which opened in 1952 is gone and nothing remains. It had "... soft water and electric heating, the Park n' Eart restaurant -also gone- was next to it. There were several motels along this part of Route 66, serving not only the highway travelers but also those using the nearby Weiss Airport, but all have gone. A Super Motel 8 stands on the former Ranch site. current Street View).
And this ends the Route 66 section of the trip. There is an example of Americana - Kitsch ten miles south: the Pink Elephant.
Americana & Kitsch
2599 MO-141, Fenton
Pink Elephant, Fenton Missouri, Click on image for Street View
This life-sized elehant is what remains of a former mini-golf: the Pink Elephant Batting Cage & Mini Golf. It is now part of a gas station on MO-141.
Your trip ends here.
Tours & Itineraries
Old Route 66 in Fenton
From Fenton to Times Beach
It is a 9.2 mile drive from the Meramec River in Fenton to Times Beach. This is Map with Directions, the whole of the 1933-1950s US 66 is buried beneath I-44 except for the final part, when you turn off the freeway at Exit 266, which is the original road.
Route 66 1926
The original 1926 alignment of Route 66 ran further north and therefore avoided crossing the Meramec River, it is shown in Orange in the Map above running through Kirkwood, up to Gray Summit. A more southern route was built and paved in 1933, and it did cross the river twice, once in Fenton-Kirkwood and a second time at Times Beach. This road is now entirely overlaid by I-44 from the Meramec bridge to the turnoff into the Visitor Center at Times Beach, and is shown in Red in the Map above. Those sections (near Times Beach) which are beneath or cut by later alignments are marked in Black and the parts that can still be driven but are dead ends, are shown in Blue.
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, north of Fenton which, as said, is not on US 66.
There were many Route 66 alignments in St. Louis, including the Bypass US 66, that went around the city along its north and western sides.
1933 Map of Route 66 from Villa Ridge to St. Louis, Missouri. Missouri Highway Map Archive
1950s: Four Lane Freeway
By the early 1940s Route 66 was becoming congested and the heavy traffic made it unsafe. The war truck traffic made it even worse. But it was gradually improved: Rittenhouse mentions in 1946 that "From here (Gray Summit) into St. Louis, US 66 has three or more lanes.".
We have seen a webpage indicating that Route 66 from 1933 to 1954 adopted a course along what now is Soccer Park Rd. west of the Meramec river, crossing to what now is the south side of I-44, continuing with a SW course along Rudder Rd., and then heading west along Horan Dr. until meeting I-44 again at present Exit 272. But a careful analysis of USGS Maps of 1940 and 1954 (Kirkwood 1:24,000) disprove it. The old road ran along the north side of present westbound I-44's lanes.
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. 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 Sunset Hills to Fenton (east)
> > See the next segment Times Beach to Eureka (west)