About Stanton Missouri
Facts, Trivia and useful information
Elevation: 872 ft (266 m). Population n⁄a (2010).
Time zone: Central (CST): UTC minus 6 hours. Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5).
Stanton is an unincorporated community on Route 66 in Franklin County, in the central Missouri Ozarks foothills. (Map of Stanton).
Jesse James Wax Museum on Route 66 in Stanton Missouri
History of Stanton
The post office opened in 1857 and was named Stanton. It was a small farming community in the forested hills, located on the main road from Springfield to St. Louis, known as the "Wire Road", which ran next to the military telegraph. Later this road would become Missouri State Highway 14, and in 1926 Route 66 was aligned along it. The town served the tourists who drove down US 66 and also those who visited the Caverns. Even today 150,000 visitors come to the Caverns each year. But in the early 1950s Route 66 was moved out of the town and it became a four-lane highway which was upgraded later with full Interstate freeway features, including an overpass at Stanton.
The Name: Stanton
Named after Peter Stanton who owned a mine and the gun powder mill in the area in the 1850s. The surname Stanton has an Anglosaxon origin: "Stan" = stone and "Ton" = village or enclosure.
Where to Lodge in Stanton, Missouri
Accommodation and hotels close to town
> > Book your hotel in neighboring Saint Clair
More Lodging near Stanton along Route 66
More motels and Hotels close to Stanton
Hotels, Westwards in Missouri
- 24 miles Cuba
- 37 miles Saint James
- 47 miles Rolla
- 75 miles St. Robert
- 76 miles Waynesville
- 110 miles Lebanon
- 140 miles Marshfield
- 153 miles Strafford
- 162 miles Springfield MO
- 223 miles Carthage
- 241 miles Joplin
Heading West... Hotels & Motels in Kansas...
- 256 miles Baxter Springs
Further West... Hotels & Motels on Route 66 in Oklahoma...
- 274 miles Miami
Heading East in Missouri, more accommodation
Hotels further East, in Illinois
>> Check out the RV campgrounds in Stanton
Weather in Stanton
Stanton 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.
Stanton is located in Missouri's "Tornado Alley" and Franklin County is struck by some 7 tornados every year.
Tornado Risk: read more about Tornado Risk along Route66.
Getting to Stanton
Map of Route 66 through Stanton Missouri
Display Stanton Route 66 Map
Click Map will appear below
Below is the color key for Route 66’s alignment in Stanton:
(for the other parts of Missouri, check the color key in the corresponding city's web page)
Pale Blue is the original 1926 to 1953 Route 66, or the current road that you can use to avoid those sections bypassed in 1953 by the Four-Lane Route which now is beneath I-44's roadbed (those sections now covered by the freeway are shown in Black). In Blue are the original parts of Route 66's 1926 roadbed that can still be driven and are not located on the Pale Blue road.
Route 66's alignment in Missouri: the Historic Route 66 through Stanton
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 Stanton
Landmarks and Places to See
Site of Meramec Caverns
Stanton and its Route 66 attractions
Stanton has a several Route 66 Motels: Delta Motel, Cavern City Hideout Motel and Restaurant,
Stanton Motel, Ozark Court Motel, Benson’s Modern Cabins, Kovac’s Cafe and Motel
and the El Rancho Motel.
It has two classic Route 66 attractions, the famous Meramec Caverns and the Jesse James Wax Museum.
Historic context, the classic Route 66 in Stanton
"Missouri, a guide to the "Show Me" state" a guide published by the WPA in 1941 mentions the town which had 200 residents, adding that it was named after Peter Stanton, who ran a powder mill in the area back in the 1850s. It goes on to describe Meramec Cavern, which was accessible from Stanton on a "graveled road (slippery when wet)" and that the cavern was "open day and night" with an admission fee of 40¢; there was parking space for 300 cars.
Jack DeVere Rittenhouse in his 1946 book, "A Guide Book to Highway 66" said that its population was 115 and had "Stanton garage; AAA garage; gas; cafe; store; few cabins." the best café was Wurzburger's, later razed when I-44 was built, to make space for the access ramps. He mentioned te caverns along a "well-marked road", as a "Remarkable cave, one of the most popular in Missouri and worth visiting". To the east, 3 mi. from Stanton, he mentions was a "gas station, with a cafe with a few tourist cabins" and 1 mile further east was "Benson’s Tourist City, an elaborate establishment with cabins, cafe, gas and trailer camp.", and one mile east of it was yet another gas station and cafe. Regarding the scenery, he tells us that "US 66 winds through rich farm country. The low hills are the beginnings of the Ozarks...".
Sights in Stanton
Begin your trip 3.8 mi. to the east at the site of the former Ozark Court Motel (Map with directions).
Ozark Court Motel
N Service Road West.
Ozark Court Motel, in Stanton on Route 66, Click on image to enlarge
This was a roadside court belonging to Mr. Duke, dating back to the 1930s is now in ruins and its famous prancing deer sign is now gone (it was at one time on the concrete block wall that stands next to the former motel office which is the tiny building on the right side of the image). The cabins have also gone but the cottage remains, some sau that was probably a curio shop, but this old postcard shows it as part of the motel units building so it was very likely the cafe or dining area. It became a laundromat in the 1960s. In the postcard you can see the office and the iconic sign too.
Head west for 0.9 mi and see what remains of Benson's Tourist City and drive along Old Route 66 westwards towards Stanton (this is the Map with directions.
Benson's Modern Cabins
N Service Road West.
Also known as Benson's Tourist City and Del-Crest, it was an important complex comprising several buildings dating back to 1938, when it had four cabins and communal toilets.
Rittenhouse mentioned it in his 1946 Route 66 Guide; at that time It announced itself as being 7 miles west of St. Clair, and had 16 "AAA" Approved Moder Cabins, a 24 hour Cafe and sold Mobil gasoline. Their motto was "Your Home away from Home" and it was ran by Mr. and Mrs. Lewis J. Benson. Now only a few buildings remain.
Later they sold it to a couple, the McGinnis, who renamed it "McGinnis Sho-Me Courts" which offered comfortable sleeping with "famous Ozark food".
Benson’s Tourist City today in a vintage postcard www.pcclick.co.uk
Click on image for larger view
Two miles ahead, to your right is another former Cafe and Motel:
Kovac's Cafe - Motel Meramec
1.8 mi. east of Stanton, on the N Service Road West, Map with directions.
On the north side of the service road at Lollar Branch Rd. and old Route 66, between Stanton and St. Clair. It began as Motel Meramec, with Cabins and home cooked "Chicken Dinners". Later it became Kovac's Motel Cafe, "Where chicken & dumplings are dee-licious" and, rather oddly, it advertised as being located in Sullivan. The building is still standing and is now a private home. As you can see below it is relatively unchanged; the postcard with early 1960s cars and a wooden boat with an outboard motor is great.
Kovac’s Cafe and Motel in an old postcard www.66postcard.com
Click on image for larger view
Passing Lawrence Lane, to your right is the former El Rancho Motel:
El Rancho Motel in Stanton on Route 66. Click on image to enlarge
El Rancho Motel
1 mi. east of Stanton, along N Service Rd. West, Stanton. Location map.
This long L-shaped building on the north (west) side of Route 66 was built ca. 1950. It has eight units with brick walls and a gabled roof. It is now a private property.
Shady Rest Center - gone
Just 0.2 miles past El Rancho, on N. Service Rd. West (the north side of I-44) was the former "Shady Rest Center", a motel and cabin complex. All that remains is the circular shaped drive-in area. (See this Map showing its location). Keep straight go past Exit 230 and just ahead visit Stanton Motel:
N Service Rd. West, Stanton, just 0.1 mi east of Exit 230. See this Map with directions
Stanton Motel is still operating as such, and its main feature is its red "T" shaped sign. Built around 1950 to cater to the newly realigned Route 66 (which until then ran further to the east. Now it lies beneath I-44).
It has seven units under a gabled roof, in a linear layout. It had Modern air cooled and central heated cabins at "winter rates - reasonable rates". It promoted itself as bieng the one closest to the famous Meramec Caverns. Below are a set of "then and now" photo and postcard so you can see how it evolved through time:
Stanton Motel street view today, Route 66 in Stanton, Missouri
Stanton Motel on Route 66, vintage postcard in Stanton, Missouri
Turn around and take the overpass eastwards at Exit 230, into Stanton. To your left is the Route 66's 1926 alignment runs for a short distance and halts at a dead end (this is shown in Blue in the map above). Straight ahead is the main attraction in town: Meramec Caverns, but first see the other sights along Route 66, take a right towards Sullivan. Just past the Exit is the Wax Museum followed by Delta Motel:
Jesse James Wax Museum
Route 66 Roadside attraction
East of I-44 Exit 230, on N Service Rd. E.
The theme of the museum is that the bandit did not die in 1882 during a shootout. Instead he lived to the age of 102, dying in 1951 under another name. With wax figures and plenty of memorabilia, you can see it Pictured above. In case you are wondering, Jesse James and his brother Frank and cousins were bank and train robbers. More info at the Museum's website. And yes, the Antique Toy Museum next to it is permanently closed.
N Service Road East, Stanton; just east of I-44 Exit 230. This is a Map showing its location.
Delta Motel in Stanton on Route 66, click on image to enlarge
The motel at one time had 11 rooms, built in concrete blocks, with a flat roof. It later closed and became apartments. Built ca. 1940 it's streamline moderne rounded 2-story north wing with a restaurant on the second floor and the office beneath it. It catered to the steady flow of visitors that flocked to the Meramec Caverns.
Continue west towards Sullivan and just 0.2 mi. ahead, to your right is another Classic Motel:
Cavern City Hideout Motel and Restaurant
N Service Road East, Stanton. See this Map showing its location.
Now a private property, it has changed a lot since Lester Dill (owner of the famous Caverns) opened it as Cavern City Courts in 1939. At that time it faced what is now the North Service Road East (Route 66 in its 1926 alignment) and had four cabins and a campground. The gas station and garage (now gone) were added in 1949. In 1956 it was sold to the Wall family and by then, Route 66 had been realigned to the north of the old highway so the property moved its entrance to face it (the 1950s Route 66 is now under I-44's roadbed). They added another unit with 6-rooms which can still be seen (if you look to your right from the eastbound lanes of I-44 as shown in this Street View), also check this Vintage postcard.
Turn around and head back to Highway W and head east to the Caverns:
Classic Route 66 attraction
4 mi. east of Route 66. Map with directions.
Meramec Caverns in Stanton, Missouri, Route 66 , by Tydence
Click on image to enlarge
"Missouri's Buried Treasure", the largest cave West of the Mississippi, was discovered in 1720 by French explorer Philipp Renault, he found the cave had saltpeter (so he named it Saltpeter Cave). This compound is potassium nitrate used in those days to make gunpowder. It was mined for the mineral until the Civil War.
Though used as a dance venue in the 1890s, it was not until Lester Dill (1898 - 1980) bought it in 1933 that it became a tourist attraction. Dill already ran Fisher's Cave in Meramec State Park, so Dill renamed it as the "Meramec Caverns".
Dill promoted his tourist attracton in very cunning ways: He paid farmers so that they painted the words "Meramec Caverns" on barn roofs all across the region, 14 states in all (See some surviving barns on Route 66 here: in Conway MO St. Clair MO and Chandler OK) and he also used bumper stickers which he paid kids to affix to the cars of his visitors. He gave the caverns catchy names: "Jesse James Hideout", "Moonshiners Cave", "The Stage Curtain", "Wine Room" and more. He was dubbed "America's Number One Cave Man" and the caverns attract over 150,000 visitors each year. More information at their website.
At the cavern there is a marker informing that outlaw Jesse James (1847-1882) and his men hid there in the early 1870s with his band. He is said to have used it also during the Civil War, when he rode with Quantrill's Guerrillas.
This ends the tour of Stanton.
Tours & Itineraries
National and State Parks
Meramec State Park
Historic Missouri sites: Beach, Shelter and Observation Tower and Pump House.
8 miles west of Stanton map with directions.
Created in 1926 it protects over 40 caves and a forested landscape. Don't miss Fisher Cave with massive columns and bear claw marks from the past. Rafts and canoes can be rented to have fun on Meramec River. Or fish, trek along its 13 miles of hiking trails or swim. The park has RV campsites, cabins and hotel
Read more at the Park's Website (there is an RV campsite there too).
Old Route 66 in Stanton
The first trail through the woods in the Ozark was trampled by deer and buffalo and used later by the Illinois and Osage Indians. French, Spanish and English explorers also used it. By the mid 1800s it had become the main road from St. Louis to Springfield and it ran next to the telegraph line that linked St. Louis to Fort Smith. It was known as the "Wire Road". Its poor conditions made it hard to use when cars became more common in the Ozarks during the early 1910s. Therefore the state upgraded it as Missouri State Highway 14 from Saint Louis to Springfield in the 1920s, and built bridges and improved its roadbed. Route 66 was aligned along MO-14 in 1926 and it ran through the town, in those days it was paved from Stanton to Sullivan and was being paved from Stanton to Gray Summit.
From Stanton to Sullivan
It is an easy drive from Stanton to Sullivan along Old Route 66 (which runs along the south side of I-44). See its map with directions. The original alignment from 1926 to the early 1950s is shown in Pale Blue in the Map above, but since some sections of this original alignment were overlaid with the four-lane alignment of Route 66 in the 1950s and now lie beneath the Interstate - we mark these sections in Black in the map- the service road of the freeway bridges these gaps and are also shown in Pale Blue despite not being part of the original road.
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). Stanton is in the central part of the map.
1950s: Four Lane Freeway
By the late 1940s Route 66 became too congested and unsafe, so it had to be improved. In 1953 the original road was bypassed by a divided dual carriageway highway which remained as US 66 until the late 1950s when it was also numbered as I-44. This highway can be seen in the 1965 USGS map of Stanton, as a four-lane US 66 highway - I-44, lacking overpasses: the intersection of Hwy W with Route 66 was a graded one. As mentioned above the new roadbed covered some sections of the 1926-53 alignment of Route 66. A state petition in 1962 to name the highway I-66 instead of I-44 was denied by the AASHTO as that number had been used already in the east.
1969 New roadbed
Beginning in 1967 the old four lane US-66 ⁄ I-44 Freeway was improved again in Missouri and the old US 66 was upgraded to Interstate standards. The overpass into Stanton was built at this time.
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 in Missouri was bypassed in 1981.
> > See the previous segment St. Clair to Stanton (east)
> > See the next segment Sullivan to Bourbon (west)