About St. James Missouri
Facts, Trivia and useful information
Elevation: 1,093 ft (333 m). Population 4,216 (2010).
Time zone: Central (CST): UTC minus 6 hours. Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5).
The town of St. James is located on Route 66 in Phelps County, central Missouri next to the Ozarks Region. (Map of St. James).
View of the Derby gas station, Route 66 in St. James, Missouri
History of St. James
People have lived in this area since the end of the last Ice Age some 10,000 years ago. The French explored the region in the late 1600s and named it after their king, Louis XIV: "Louisiana". Here, in the plains next to the Ozarks foothills they came across the Illinois Indians, an Algonquin nation who called themselves "Illiniwek" (men), this became "Illinois". They were hunter gatherers and farmed some maize, squash and beans next to their semi-permanent villages. Their homeland spanned Illinois, Michigan and northeastern Missouri. However like all Natives east of the Mississippi, they were forced by the Indian Removal Act to relocate (1830s) in the Indian Territories (which later became the state of Oklahoma).
After the Seven Years' War (1763) France ceded Upper Louisiana to Spain, recovering it during the Napoleonic wars. But in 1803, Napoleon sold it to the U.S. government, it was organized as the Missouri Territory in 1812 and in 1821 it became a state of the Union.
Thomas James from Chillicothe, Ohio and his patrner Samuel Massey began building the Maramec Iron Works in 1826, close to what would become St. James. Thomas' son William managed it after 1843.
Maramec Iron Works
Built there to use the hydraulic power from the river spring, coal made from the forest's wood and iron ore from a nearby mine. It was the First Iron Works in the US west of the Mississippi. The remains of the furnace can still be seen. The iron was used for plows, kettles and cannonballs. The foundry closed in 1876 and the mine in 1891.
The word "Maramec" is an Illinois Indian word for "catfish" or "ugly fish" (myarrameekwa), very common in thee river's waters.
In the meantime John Wood had reached the area (1859) and established a town on a prairie close to the Iron Works anticipating the arrival of the St. Louis-San Francisco Railway. It was originally named Big Praire and then Scioto (after Scioto Ohio, where many of its settlers had come from), however by 1860 it was known as Jamestown, and later St. James.
The Name: St. James
Named Jamestown after Thomas James, the Iron Works owner. They added "Saint" as there already was a post office with that name.
James is an English name derived from Latin Iacomus which cam from New Testament Greek "Iakobos": the Hebrew name Ya'aqov (Jacob), the name of two apostols.
In the 1870s Germans settled in the area and in 1897 Italian immigrants arrived, the town grew into a farming community. The main road from St. Louis to Rolla and Springfield (the "Wire Road") was improved in the early 1900s and became Missouri highway 14 in the early 1920s and in 1926 it was included in the alignment of U.S. Highway 66. At that time Mayme Ousley became the mayor of St. James, and was the first woman elected mayor of a town in Missouri (1921). Route 66 provided additional income to the town and only in 1956 was it realigned around the downtown area, bypassing it.
Where to Lodge in St. James, Missouri
Accommodation and hotels in town...
> > Book your hotel in Saint James
More Lodging near St. James along Route 66
Motels and Hotels close to St. James
Hotels, Westwards in Missouri
- 10 miles Rolla
- 38 miles St. Robert
- 39 miles Waynesville
- 73 miles Lebanon
- 103 miles Marshfield
- 116 miles Strafford
- 125 miles Springfield MO
- 186 miles Carthage
- 204 miles Joplin
Heading West... Hotels & Motels in Kansas...
- 219 miles Baxter Springs
Further West... Hotels & Motels on Route 66 in Oklahoma...
Heading East in Missouri, more accommodation
- 12 miles Cuba
- 29 miles Sullivan
- 47 miles Saint Clair
- 57 miles Villa Ridge
- 63 miles Pacific
- 70 miles Eureka
- 109 miles St. Louis
Hotels further East, in Illinois
>> Check out the RV campgrounds in neighboring Rolla
Weather in St. James
St. James has well marked seasons, which are the combination of humid continental and humid subtropical climates.
The winter (Jan), the average high is around 39°F (4°C) and the aveage low is a freezing 20°F (-7°C). The summer (Jul) average high is 89°F (32°C) with an average low of 68°F (20°C). Rainfall averages 44.5 in. (1.130 mm) yearly which ranges from 2.21 in (56 mm) in Jan. to 4.81 in (122.2 mm) in May. Snowfall is around 18.9 in. (48 cm), which falls from Dec. to Mar.
St. James is located in Missouri's "Tornado Alley" and Phelps County is hit by some 8 tornado strikes every year.
Tornado Risk: read more about Tornado Risk along Route66.
Getting to St. James
Reach St. James via the historic U.S. 66 and Interstate I-44 that links it with Springfield in the west and with Cuba and Eureka eastwards. Just west is Rolla with US 63 runs and east lies Villa Ridge with US 50.
Map of Route 66 through St. James Missouri
Display St. James Route 66 Map
Click Map will appear below
Below is the color key for Route 66’s alignment in St. James:
(for the other parts of Missouri, check the color key in the corresponding city's web page)
Pale Blue is the original 1926 to 1956 Route 66 (in Black the segment that no longer exists, cut by later alignments).
The Four-Lane Route 66 built in 1956 is now under I-44.
Route 66's alignment in Missouri: the Historic Route 66 through St. James
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 St. James
Landmarks and Places to See
St. James and its Route 66 attractions
St. James has plenty of Route 66 attractions: from motels like Finn’s Motel,
Gateway Inn Motel, the Rock Haven Tourist Court, the
Motel & RV Park and American Way Motor Court.
Some classics such as Route 66 Motors, Johnnie’s Bar, New Cardetti store and the Derby Service Station.
And some interesting local sights: the Vacuum Cleaner Museum & Factory, Maramec Spring Park and Wine Tasting at the local wineries.
Historic context, the classic Route 66 in Saint James
The 1941 book, "Missouri, a guide to the "Show Me" state" published by the WPA called it "... the business and commercial center of the Big Prairie", producing berries, truck, dairy products, spirits and even garments.
Jack DeVere Rittenhouse mentions it in his 1946 "A Guide Book to Highway 66" as having "...garage; hospital; gas; cafes; courts: American Way and Kozy Kottage)" he also mentioned the Federal Soldiers Home and the town's "grape festival each September" adding that this was the last community on the plains before the Ozarks. He mentioned gas station 3 mi. east and a station with cabins 5 mi east (near Rosati).
Sights in town
Begin your tour at I-44's Exit 195. The old Route 66 ran through the business district of St. James from 1926 to 1956, then it was realigned around the town as a four-lane freeway now under I-44. Head to the south side of the exit and visit a Classic 1950s motel:
777 Grover St. Map showing location.
This 1950s motel is on the south side of the freeway; its postcard invited guests: "Rest with us tonight, to drive your best tomorrow". It was owned and operated by Roy Finn and his wife; the place had "Marvelous beds, very clean, free room T.V... individual thermostat control heat" and it is still open, though its neon sign has gone.
Vintage postcard of Finn’s Motel, www.ebay.com
Click image to enlarge
Now cross to the north side of I-44 to visit another 1950 US 66 motel:
Gateway Inn Motel
110 N Outer Rd. N.W. corner I-44 and MO-68. (Map showing location).
This motel which dated from the 1950s (it was on the 1956 alignment of Route 66 that bypassed the town), had "15 large rooms, individual controlled A.C. & Thermo... T.V. (some color)" -lucky those with color TV!
It is still there, altered of course, and is now the Greenstay Days Inn.
Vintage postcard of the Gateway Inn Motel, www.ebay.com
Click image to enlarge
Further afield: now head west along the North Outer Rd. (the old Route 66 was cut by the four-lane US 66 -now I-44 in 1956) and visit a classic Tourist Court:
Rock Haven Tourist Court
Present appearance of Rock Haven Tourist Court, click on image for Street View
N. Outer Rd, 1.9 mi. west of Exit 195. Map with directions.
The Rock Haven Tourist Court and Restaurant also had a Standard Gas station. It is now a private residence. Built in 1950 it was bought by Frank and Ruth Waring. At one time six stone cabins stood on the property. They sold out in 1954 to Ruby Gilder. It was a nightclub in the 1970s.
Heasd west for 1.7 mi. and see another Route 66 motel:
Motel & RV Park
13511 Old Highway 66, 1.7 mi. west of Rock Haven Court (Map with directions).
Vintage postcard of Motel & RV Park, www.ebay.com
Click image to enlarge
It is laid out in a semicircular pattern, facing the highway with a driveway in the center. Just 0.3 mi. ahead, is a old gas station:
Route 66 Motors
12651 Old Highway 66
A 1950s gas filling station it became a souvenir shop and later still classic cars. If your into collectibles, this is a nice place to stop, see its Street view.
Keep west and at Exit 189, cross to the south side of I-44 and head back to St. James along the South Outer Road, which was not U.S. 66, but will take you to what used to be the old road through St. James: the old road was cut by the 1950s US 66 four-lane roadbed at the point where I-44 takes a N.E. course and the S. Outer Rd. becomes W James Blvd. Drive east, and after 0.5 mi., you will see another classic, to your right, on the south side of the street: S & K Cottages:
American Way Motor Court or S & K Cottages
712 W. James Blvd. (Map with directions).
American Way Motor Court, also known as S & K Cottages, were built ca. 1940 as a service station with seven cabins built around it. They were "Modern heated cottages. Cool in summer". In the 1960s the place was run by Stanley and Katherine Kozlowski (hence the S and K name) as low cost rental.
American Way Motor Court in St. James, Missouri
Head west past the now gone Kozy Kottage Kamp and reach the Divided Highway:
Scenic Divided Road Section
A short (0.2 mile-long) section of W James Blvd. between N Jefferson St. and N. Jackson St. (Map with directions).
Apparently this divided section was built because when the state bought the land for the highway, its owner Mr. Pace insisted it become a divide boulevard. This was the The first divided section of US 66 in Missouri. At the end of the section, to your right is a Classic Café and Bar:
225 N Jefferson St. On the SW corner of James Blvd. and N Jefferson St.
Present appearance of Johnnie’s Bar. Click on image for Street View
Known under different names as time went by: Rose Cafe, Commercial Cafe, Johnnie's Bar, this building dates back to 1929, just 3 years after Route 66 was created.
A flat roof, L-shaped building with stucco facing, it was first named Commercial Cafe and was owned by Jesse Rose (hence the name "Rose Cafe") from 1929 to the 1940s, it was a cafe and restaurant. After Rose's death, it became the Rose Café and, after the 1960s, purchased by John Bullock it became Johnnie's Bar.
Take a right along N. Jefferson St. to visit a replica building (to your left, across the road), the "New Cardetti" building:
Leo Cardetti Store, St. James, click on image for street view.
Leo Cardetti Flags & Flag Pole
210 N Jefferson St.
This flag store has the words "R.M. CARDETTI & SONS MERCANTILE CO. - Rosati Mo" written on its false front. This is a homage to the "old" Cardetti Storeold store in neighboring Rosati which Peter Marchi originally opened in 1905, selling it in 1913 to R. M. Cardetti who in 1949 sold it to his son Joseph. The store closed in 1976 and was demolishe din 2014.
Turn around and head back to James Blvd.; take a right and just on the next corner, at N Seymour St. to your right is the classic Derby Service Station:
Derby Service Station
SW corner of N Seymour St. and Route 66
Archibald Leon "Al" Derby (1875 - 1956) worked as a wildcatter, drilling oil wells and in 1917 moved to Wichita Kansas where in 1922 he formed the Derby Oil Company pumping oil, refining it and selling it through 100 gas stations in the region. He expanded the retail chain after WW II. The company was acquired in 1955 by Colorado Interstate Gas, in turn purchased by Coastal Corp. in 1973, who rebranded them as Coastal in 1988. Check this link to a Vintage photo of the Derby gas station, its current view is Pictured at the top of this page.
St. James Blvd. continues north, towards Rosati, but there are no motels or gas stations standing on the old road. From here you can visit the Vacuum Cleaner Museum or Wineries, or both:
Vacuum Cleaner Museum & Factory
Industrial Dr. St James, Map with directions.
Private museum in a vaccum cleaner factory and store with a good collection of those appliances. Retrace your steps back to downtown St. James and on N. Jefferson St. take a right towards I-44 for some wine tasting (don't drink and drive!) it is a 1.5 mi. drive, see this Map with directions to two wineries. St. James is part of the Ozark Highlands American Viticultural Area, and the first vines were brought by Italian immigrants in the late 1800s:
Missouri Veterans Home
0.3 mi. west of James Blvd., to your right is the "Soldiers Home" mentioned by Rittenhouse in 1946. It dates back to 1896.
Wines and Wineries
Cross I-44 and turn right to the wineries:
St. James Winery
540 State Route B
Learn more at their website.
600 State Route B.
More details at their website.
Tours & Itineraries
Old Route 66 in St. James
The very first trail in what would be St. James was trampled by buffalo and deer, and much later followed by the Indians, Illinois and Osage. The Europeans also used it. It was later the main road following the telegraph line from St. Louis to Fort Smith via Springfield; the "Wire Road", used by the stagecoach.
When cars became popular in the countryside in the early 1910s the road was in very poor conditions: a track with ruts, dusty and full of potholes or a muddy mire when it rained. The Inter-Ozarks Highway Association managed to get the state to build a highway (MO-14) from Saint Louis through St. James to Springfield. It had a gravel surface to St. James but was graded earth west into Rolla.
From St. James to Rolla
The first alignment of Route 66 (Pale Blue in the Map above) was created in 1926 along MO-14 and ran along James Blvd. through the town of Saint James. At the town's western tip, where the S. Outer Road now runs towards the west, the road kept straight ahead (now it is cut by I-44 - this is shown in Black in the map above) and continued along what is now the N. Outer Rd. towards Rolla.
Further west, between I-44's Exit 169 and the dead end on County Road 2000, (shown in Black) in the map above, the old alignment is now buried under the roadbed of I-44. To get to Northwye, you must continue along County Road 39. In Northwye, US 66 met US 63 and both entered Rolla together.
Deadly Route 66
There was a "Dead Man's Curve" between Rolla and St. James now buried under I-44 just west of exit 169.
1926 Map of Route 66 from St. James to St. Louis, Missouri, notice that this first map calls it "US 60", instead of US 66 (read more about this: Route 66 was born as US 60).
1950s: Four Lane Freeway
In 1951 a new four-lane highway was built around Rolla and it advanced to St. James, bypassing the town to the north in 1956. This cut across the older alignment of US 66 in some parts, shown in Black in the map above.
1966 New roadbed
Beginning in 1967 the old four lane US-66 ⁄ I-44 Freeway was improved again.
Eventually the whole of US 66 in this area was upgraded into a four lane divided highway with overpasses and it coexisted with the new interstate I-44. A state petition in 1962 to name the highway I-66 was denied by the AASHTO as that number had been used already.
Finally in 1972 the whole of Route 66 had been replaced by the Interstate system and in 1974 it was decided that the whole of US 66 from Chicago to Joplin would be eliminated and decertified. However this was delayed until I-55 in Illinois was completely brought up to Interstate standards. The signs were removed in 1977 but even then, the last segment of the old Route 66 was bypassed in 1981.
> > See the previous segment Rosati to St. James (east)
> > See the next segment Rolla to Doolittle (west)
Outdoor Parks near St. James
Maramec Spring Park
6.9 mi SE along Hwy B, Map with directions.
The land for this private park, ran by a non-profit organization, was donated by Lucy Wortham James, granddaughter of Thomas James, the owner of the iron foundry. It has 1,860 acres of land and contains the state's fifth largest spring. Lean more at their website.
You can also see the Remains of the Iron works.
Jack DeVere Rittenhouse, (1946). A Guide Book to Highway 66.
Maura Johnson and John F. Bradbury, Route 66 Association of Missouri. 1993, Architectural ⁄ Historical Inventory Survey. Route 66 in Missouri
Banner image: Dead Man's Curve, Laguna New Mexico by Perla Eichenblat.