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Powellville, Missouri

Ghost Town in the Ozarks

Powellville is now a ghost town which at one time had the motel with cabins, restaurant and gas station. It was also near the now closed Onyx Caverns or Onyx Caves

Powellville MO

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About Powellville Missouri

Facts, Trivia and useful information

Elevation: 990 ft (302 m). Population n⁄a (2010).
Time zone: Central (CST): UTC minus 6 hours. Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5).

Powellville is a ghost town on the 1926-1981 alignment of Route 66 in Phelps County, central Missouri. (Map of Powellville).

Motel and Cabins in a vintage postcard, Powellville, Missouri

Motel and Cabins in a vintage postcard, on Route 66 in Powellville MO
Motel and Cabins in a vintage postcard, on Route 66 in Powellville, Missouri, , Click on image to enlarge

History of Powellville

Check our page with the History of Rolla and Phelps County to learn about its early history.

The state legislature created the county in 1857 and named it after John S. Phelps (1814-1866) congressman and state governor (1876).

The "Wire Road" was built in the 1860s next to the telegraph line that linked St. Louis with Fort Smith in Arkansas and passed close to what would become Powellville. In 1867, the railroad built a line west of Rolla through Arlington and Jerome, just north of Powellville. In the 1930s the Powell Brothers established a complex that included a filling station, motel with cabins, store and restaurant. It was demolished when I-44 was built in 1967. Now it is a ghost town.

The name: Powellville

After the surname of the tourist complex owners. It is a Welsh surname derived from the old Welsh name "Hywel" or "Huwel" which means "eminent" and becae "Howel" in English. The Celtic prefix "ap" meaning "son of" preceding "Howel" meaning "son of Howel" was "ap Howel" and deformed into "Powell".

When cars became more popular in the 1910s, State Highway 14 was created and it crossed a new bridge over the Little Piney River in 1923. MO-14 was made part of U.S. 66 in 1926, paved by 1931 and this attracted the Powell Brothers, who set up their business here, between Arlington and Clementine. After WWII in the 1950s, Route 66 was upgraded into a four-lane freeway and later it was improved to Interstate standards, during this process in 1967, Powelville complex was demolished.

Where to Lodge in Powellville, Missouri

Accommodation and hotels near Powellville...

> > Book your hotel in Waynesville

More Lodging near Powellville along Route 66

Motels and Hotels close to Powellville

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

Book your Route 66 hotel now
Book your Hotel along Route 66

>> Check out the RV campground in neighboring Waynesville

Weather in Powellville

Weather widget for Jerome the town nearest Powellville to the east

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

Powellville has well defined seasons, cool winters and warm summers: the average summer high (Jul) is 88°F (31.2°C), while the average low in 67°F (19.2°C). The winter (Jan) average high is 42°F (5.6°C) and the average low is 20°F (-7°C), below freezing .

Rainfall is around 44.5 in (1.131 mm) yearly and snowfall averages 9 in. (23 cm), falling from Dec. to Mar.

Tornado risk

Powellville is in the "Tornado Alley" and Phelps County, Missouri has around 8 tornado hits per year.

Tornado Risk: read more about Tornado Risk along Route66.

Getting to Powellville

You can reach Powellville from US 160, 60 and 65 that run to the west, through Springfield or US 63 runs through Rolla, to the east. Then head along historic Route 66 and Interstate I-44 to Powellville.

Map of Route 66 through Powelville 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 Powellville

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 Powellville (they are shown in the Map above)

Route 66 Sights in Powellville

Landmarks and Places to See

Ghost Town

Powellville and its Route 66 attractions

Powellville at one time had motel with cabins, restaurant and gas station, now gone and was the access point to the historical Onyx Caverns or Onyx Caves (now closed).

Historic context, the classic Route 66 in Powellville

The WPA in its 1941 book, "Missouri, a guide to the "Show Me" state" does not mention it; instead, 2.4 miles west of Stony Dell it mentions the "graveled road... past tow large sinks, to ONYK PARK AND CAVE" which charged an admission of 35¢ and had a cavern almost one mile long.

The 1946 "A Guide Book to Highway 66" by Jack DeVere Rittenhouse places it 1 mile east of Clementine and 3 miles west of Stony Dell (Jerome), he says the following: "POWELLVILLE. A gas station, cafe and a few cabins.", one mile east of it was another "Cafe and a few cabins". He adds that this area in the Ozarks has many "small tourist camps" catering to week-end tourists from St. Louis and those traveling on cross-country trips. These accommodations were "more Spartan than... deluxe" because they also served fishermen.

Powelville Motel Tourist Complex

N. Outer Rd. Powelville

1942 USGS map of Powelville MO

1942 USGS map showing Powelville, the Onyx Cavern and Route 66 (red) and County line (hatched red).

It was a service station with a restaurant, general store and an auto-court (Motel) with ten cabins. The complex was owned by three brothers, Harry, Herman and Jewell Powell. They also owned a trucking company (Read more about Powell Brothers) which they established in 1927 and sold to T I M E Inc. in the late 1950s.

It was demolished when Interstate 44's new alignment was built in 1967. This is its Location map.

You can see in the 1942 USGS the semi-circular distribution of the cabins around the central building. The vintage postcard pictured above announced: "POWELLVILLE - 24 Hr. Service - Modern Cabins- Restaurant". Its mailing address was in Arlington.

Onyx Caves

Listed in the National Register of Historic Places

14705 Private Drive 8541 (Map with directions).

On Private Property and Closed avoid trespassing, it can be reached via Co Rd 8540 and Pvt Rd 8541 which passes between two recently (some thousands of years ago) formed sinkholes: Slaughter Sink to the north and Conical Sink to the south.

The dolomite rock, which is Calcium magnesium carbonate or CaMg(CO3)2, is dissolved by acids contained in water that leaches through the soil. The acids form when water absorbs carbon dioxide or nitrogen oxides.

Ahead is the Onyx Cave also known as King Cave and Onyx Mountain Caverns was once mined for onyx. It is 200 ft. above, and 1⁄4 mi. east of the Gasconade River (see map above "Onyx Cave"). It was a tourist attraction from the early 1900s to the 1930s and then owned by Harry and Agnes Thiltgen since 1963 it was open to the public from 1990 to 2006 when Harry passed away.

Boiling Springs

Boiling Springs is on the shores of the river close (see map above "Boiling Spr.") to Onyx Cave it has a flow of some 84 million gallons per day (336 million liters). And can be seen from the western side of the Gasconade River (via I-44, MO-28 and MO-PP to the Boiling Spring Campground - see this Map with directions).

Tours & Itineraries

Head west to drive the old road through Clementine, Hooker Cut and Devil's Elbow into Waynesville.

Old Route 66 in Powellville

From Powellville to Clementine

The Indian trail used by explorers and trappers was known as the "Great Osage Trail" (after the Osage Indians). It became a road used to service a telegraph line in the 1860s and the main road between Springfield and St. Louis.

During the 1900s cars became more common in the Ozarks but the earth tracks used by carts were unsuitable for cars. This led to the creation of the Inter-Ozarks Highway Association which lobbied for better highways and finally obtained the creation of Missouri State Highway 14 which ran from St. Louis, through Powellville and into Springfield. In 1926 Route 66 was aligned along it -by then it was a gravel surfaced road.

Old Route 66: 1926-1950s Alignment in Powellville

The original alignment is shown in the Map above in Pale Blue, it was a regular two-lane highway, paved by 1931. During WWII the section south of Clementine became a four lane highway into Fort Wood and St. Robert.

1950s Alignment South of Powellville

This four lane-road was extended north from Hooker into Clementine. And from there, north towards Powellville two new eastbound lanes were built. The original US 66 became the new westbound lanes of this highway (these westbound lanes are shown in Pale Blue above). The "new" eastbound lanes ran separately with a much straighter course, and in the 1960s became part of I-44.

Both east and westbound lanes met as a divided highway just south of Powellville, but split again and separated north of it, past the exit to Goodall Cemetery.

1960s New roadbed

Beginning in 1967 the old US-66 ⁄ I-44 Freeway was improved. The winding westbound lanes (which were the original 1926 Route 66) were inadequate. So, north of Powellville towards Arlington:

  • New straighter eastbound lanes were added, splitting from the older alignment at Powellville.
  • The straighter eastbound lanes of the 1950s alignment became the "new" westbound lanes of the 1960 alignment ones from Arlington to a point just north of Powelville
  • Through Powellville, the old 1950s four-lane divided freeway was upgraded separating the North Outer Rd. from the new westbound lanes. This led to the demolition of the tourist complex at Powellville.
1953 and 1958 roadmaps of US 66 near Powellville

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).

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 here, in Powellville, in 1981.

> > See the previous segment Jerome to Powellville (east)

> > See the next segment Clementine to Hooker (west)


Jack DeVere Rittenhouse, (1946). A Guide Book to Highway 66.
Banner image: Hackberry General Store, Hackberry, Arizona by Perla Eichenblat.

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