About Villa Ridge Missouri
Facts, Trivia and useful information
Elevation: 659 ft (201 m). Population 2,636 (2010).
Time zone: Central (CST): UTC minus 6 hours. Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5).
Villa Ridge is an unincorporated community on Old Route 66 in Franklin County, in the central-eastern Missouri. (Map of Villa Ridge).
Tri County Truck Stop, Route 66 in Villa Ridge Missouri
History of Villa Ridge
For a general history of the area (Franklin County) visit our St. Clair History post. The station and siding on the Chicago Rock Island and Pacific Railroad were built in the early 1880s, just 5 mi. south of the Missouri River and 8 mi. east of the county seat in Union. The first post office opened in 1889 and was named after its geographic setting.
The Name: Villa Ridge
Named after the ridge that marks the divide between the Meramec and Missouri rivers watershed with the word "Villa" for "village or town".
It was located on the main road linking St. Louis with the state capital, Jefferson City (now MO-100 and US-50) and in 1926 the newly US highway 66 and 50 were both aligned through the community. In the early 1950s Route 66 was too congested and, all through Missouri it was moved out of the towns and cities, bypassing them, this also happened to Villa Ridge.
Where to Lodge in Villa Ridge, Missouri
Accommodation and hotels in Villa Ridge
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More Lodging near Villa Ridge along Route 66
More motels and Hotels close to Villa Ridge
Hotels, Westwards in Missouri
- 11 miles Saint Clair
- 27 miles Sullivan
- 45 miles Cuba
- 58 miles Saint James
- 68 miles Rolla
- 96 miles St. Robert
- 97 miles Waynesville
- 131 miles Lebanon
- 161 miles Marshfield
- 174 miles Strafford
- 183 miles Springfield MO
- 244 miles Carthage
- 262 miles Joplin
Heading West... Hotels & Motels in Kansas...
- 277 miles Baxter Springs
Further West... Hotels & Motels on Route 66 in Oklahoma...
- 295 miles Miami
Heading East in Missouri, more accommodation
Hotels further East, in Illinois
Find your room in Villa Ridge
>> Check out the RV campground in Villa Ridge
Weather in Villa Ridge
Villa Ridge has clearly marked seasons, and it combines wet continental and humid subtropical climates.
Its summers are hot and damp and its winters are cold. Spring is quite wet and can surprise you with extreme weather (tornados, thunderstorms and even winter storms). Fall is milder, sunny and less humid.
The winter (Jan), the average high is around 39°F (4°C) and the aveage low is a freezing 21.8°F (-5.7°C). The summer (Jul) average high is 88°F (31°C) with an average low of 68°F (20°C). Rainfall is around 43 in. (1.092 mm) yearly. There are around 205 sunny days each year and snowfall is on average 17.8 in. (45 cm), which falls between November and April.
Villa Ridge 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 Villa Ridge
You can reach Villa Ridge along historic Route 66 and Interstate I-44 that links it with Cuba, Rolla and Springfield to the west and with Pacific, Eureka and St. Louis in the east. US 63 runs through Rolla to the west and US 50 passes right through the town.
Map of Route 66 through Villa Ridge Missouri
See the alignment of US 66 in Villa Ridge, on our Missouri Route 66 Map, it has the complete alignment across the state with all the towns along it.
Below is the color key for Route 66’s alignment in Villa Ridge:
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. Orange marks the 1926 to 1932 alignment of Route 66 from St. Louis to Gray Summit right northeast of Villa Ridge.
Route 66's alignment in Missouri: the Historic Route 66 through Villa Ridge
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 Villa Ridge
Landmarks and Places to See
Placid Route 66 Town
Villa Ridge and its Route 66 attractions
The Route 66 attractions in Villa Ridge include the famous Tri County Truck Stop restaurant and the Sunset Motel. The Zephyr Service Station, in ruins and the Wayside Stop gas station; don't miss the Old Garage and the now gone Bud & Roy’s Place - Perkins Oak Grove Cafe, the Twin Bridges and Site of Key’s Twin Bridge Gas Station and Cafe.
Historic context, the classic Route 66 in Villa Ridge
The WPA travel guide "Missouri, a guide to the "Show Me" state" published in 1941 does not mention it by name, but does describe the region, it tells us that US 66 and US 50 unite for 6.5 miles at Gray Summit, passing the Missouri Botanical Garden and 1.9 mi. west "is a junction with State 100. West of the junction the highway rides a curving ridge that descends into the Bourbeuse River Valley. Approaching the river, the highway divides into one-way lanes and crosses the river on twin steel and concrete bridges."
Jack DeVere Rittenhouse in his "A Guide Book to Highway 66" published in 1946 does not mention it eithe. He does mention Gray Summit, followed by a Truck Weighing Station and then informs that "US 66 crosses the Bourbeuse River here on a double bridge. From here into St. Louis, US 66 has three or more lanes."
Key Cafe originally at Villa Ridge neon sign; now at Route 66 State Park, Best Western Hotels
Sights in Villa Ridge
Start your tour along Route 66 in Villa Ridge at the eastern end, on Higway AT, just north of the interchange between Hwy 100 and I-44 at Exit 251. Here, is an Old Gas station:
3302 MO-100, Villa Ridge, Location map.
On the south side of the road, now it is Wayside Liquor, and a gas station. It was build in 1946 as a long and narrow building with sheet metal walls. It is a Quonset prefabricated building, typical of that time. This is its Street View.
Head west, MO-100 takes a right here, but keep straight and go west along US 66 for 0.4 mi. to visit the iconic Tri County Truck Stop:
Tri County Truck Stop
The First "Diamonds"
Old Hwy 100 and Hwy AT, Villa Ridge. Map with location.
This Streamline Moderne building pictured above (at the top of this page) is better known as the Tri County Truck Stop, but few know that it was the original location of the famous Diamonds restaurant.
Spencer Groff started off selling plumbs to passing motorists from his family's farm in Gray Summit in the early 1920s. Cash strapped, he expanded his business to a non-seasonal one, by selling meals and sodas and then kept it open 24⁄7. In 1927 he built a diamond-shaped building (hence its name) due to the shape of the plot of land where it was located: on the junction of Old Highway 100 (in those days it was the Ozark Trail) and the recently created US 66 & US 50. It called itself "the old reliable eating place".
It appeared in the 1947 USGS map as a landmark but, one year later the original building burned down so Groff and his business partner Louis Eckelkamp rebuilt it. This second building had a modernistic curved Streamline Moderne style; it also had 25 cabins and a pool which were located on the now vacant plot of land on the west side of MO-100, they later became the Mission Bell Motel (which appear in the 1969 USGS map).
The 1967 realignment of Route 66 ⁄ I-44 bypassed the location (although it could still be reached from Exit 251). It closed from 1969 to 1972 and then moved to a better location on the south side of Exit 253 in neighboring Gray Summit (Read more about The Diamonds, here) where they kept the original sign which they brought from their old location. The place remained open until the mid 1990s. Closed and was later demolished.
Sunset Motel, Villa Ridge neon sign, NCPTT
Eckelkamp also owned the Gardenway Motel so he added his motel to the sign. It called itself the "World's Largest Roadside Restaurant", and boasted it served over 1,000,000 customers a year.
Tri County is reborn
Their former location was bought by the Reeds, Arla and Susan, in 1971 who moved there from their previous truck stop which they too closed when I-44 bypassed it (it was 20 mi. west of Sullivan). They opened the The Tri County Truck Stop and Restaurant.
Head west along Old Route 66 for 1 mile (Map with directions) and visit the classic Sunset Motel, to your right on the north side of the highway:
Highway AT, Villa Ridge, Map with location.
Opened by the Lovelace family in 1947 it was bought by Oliver and Loleta Krueger in 1971, it is still in the family but now as weekly rentals. The motel has 12 units with a "V-shaped" single story layout, brick walls and gabled roof; it advertised itself in the 50s as: "12 Units - 12 Baths - Panel Ray Heat - Beautyrest Mattresses - Air-Conditioned - Quiet".
Sunset Motel Neon Sign
Route 66 neon sign
Its neon sign, (see picture) was restored in 2009. Don't miss it: it has a distinct red arrow showing the "Entrance" and the classic "Vacancy" sigh. The setting sun on a sea completes the sign with the motel's name on it. Below is an old postcard of the motel:
Vintage postcard of the Sunset Motel, Route 66 Missouri
Continue west and 0.3 mi ahead, to your left is an old Route 66 Garage:
AT Highway and American Inn Rd., SW corner. Map with location.
A building with stone and masonry has a gabled garage bay and a "cupola" roof. It dates back to the 1930s and in the 1990s became a child care center. This is its Street View.
Now head west for 1.9 mi. (Map with directions) to visit the Zephyr Service Station:
Zephyr Service Station
1238 Highway AT, Villa Ridge
This building is located on the south side of the road, to your left. It is abandoned and has two sections, the western tip seems to have been a Quonset hut ( a prefabricated semicircular building of corrugated galvanized developed during WW II) and an eastern section with a flat roof.
Zephyr Service Station Villa Ridge US66. Click for larger view
Zephyr was the brand of J.D. Streett Co., from Maryland Heights Missouri. They produced lubricants in the 1920s and gasoline after 1939. It had 500 stations during its peak, but after the oil crisis in 1973 it cut back and refocused on its midwestern states business.
Drive west for 0.4 mi (Map with directions) to visit the site of the old and now gone Key’s Twin Bridge Cafe and gas station:
Site of Key’s Twin Bridge Gas Station and Cafe
AT Hwy, Villa Ridge, see its Map with location.
To your left, on the south side of the road. Nothing remains of this once busy café and filling station which opened in 1948; it was razed. However you can see the concrete foundations. It was ran by Noble and Nellie Key, the distinctive key-shaped neon sign was saved and donated by the Key family to the Route 66 State Park and you can see it there as a "Key" from the Past. You can see it Here, next to the Park's visitor center, and this is a Street View and its photo is above.
Just ahead, 0.3 mi. west is the site of the Twin Bridges (actually now there are three bridges, one for Route 66 and two for I-44).
Route 66 (Hwy AT) and I-44, at Borbeuse River
Twin Bridges Villa Ridge US 66 www.hippostcard.com
Click on image for larger view
The first bridge across the Bourbeuse River was built in 1925 and one year later it carried US 66. In 1935 another bridge was built next to it, and the eastbound lanes were aligned along it. The old bridge carried the westbound traffic.
They are mentioned in the WPA book of 1941; at that time they were steel truss bridges. In 1958 when the highway was improved to four-lanes all across the state, the old bridges were replaced with steel girder bridges. The old 1949 postcard shows both bridges: this is looking west with the 1925 bridge on the left side of the image, and is its street view today, at that same spot.
There is a Flea Market just past the bridge. Cross US 50 and continue westwards for 2.1 mi (Map with directions), to visit Perkins a former cafe and tourist camp with gas station. Only the concrete pump islands remain:
Bud & Roy’s Place - Perkins
Located 6 mi. east of St. Claire, it offered Hot Lunches and sold gasoline (it had two pumps under a wide gabled canopy). The building had a sign on its roof: "Oak Grove Cafe" At one time it sold Mobile gasoline under the name of "Perkins Tourist Camp", which had "Clean, cool, comfortable cottages. Pure deep well water - Modern rest rooms".
Located on a sharp bend of the curving road in a spot which today would be considered unsafe. The remnant of the concrete pump island can still be seen, there is a deep shoulder on the higway, paved in concrete which was the parking area of the old gas station and store. This is its Street View and here you can see an Old Postcard.
This is the end of your tour through Villa Ridge Missouri.
Tours & Itineraries
Old Route 66 in Villa Ridge
Deer and buffalo opened the first trail through the woods into the Ozark highlands thousands of years ago. Later they were used by Illinois and Osage Natives and by the French, Spanish and English explorers. Later, during the 1850s it had become a cart trail linking St. Louis with Springfield. The Federal Government laid a military telegraph line between St. Louis and Fort Smith in Arkansas next to the road which then became known as the "Wire Road" the second road from St. Louis to Jefferson City ran along what is now MO-100 to Gray Summit and then west along what is now US-50.
With automobiles becoming popular in the 1910s, roads had to be improved, they were suitable for carts, but not for cars. The State of Missouri improved those roads and created State Higways (#14 and#100), building bridges and improving them by paving them or placing gravel on the roadbed. Route 66 was aligned along both of these highways in 1926, and was paved between St. Louis and Gray Summit and was being paved west towards St. Clair and Stanton. It is worth pointing out that Route 66 did not go through the center of the small village itself, which is located on MO-100, instead it bypassed it along its eastern fringes.
From Villa Ridge to St. Clair
It is a short 12.7 mile drive from Villa Ridge to St. Clair along Old Route 66, and this is its Map with directions. As you can see in the Map above, we have colored the different segments of the old alignment as follows: the original alignment from 1926 to the early 1950s is shown in Pale Blue. However as some parts of the old US 66 were cut off or buried beneath the later four-lane US 66 alignment of the 1950s -these now vanished sections are shown in Black, new road segments were built, and we also show them in Pale Blue. These are what is known as "Historic Route 66". Some segments of the original road lie isolated or as dead-ends and we show these in Blue.
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). Villa Ridge does not appear, but it is to the left of Gray Summit in the central part of the map.
1950s: Four Lane Freeway
By the early 1940s Route 66 had become congested in this area, heavy traffic made it dangerous so the road was widened; as Rittenhouse mentions in 1946: "From here into St. Louis, US 66 has three or more lanes.". In the early 1950 most of the original road was bypassed by a new four-lane divided dual carriageway highway which replaced the old US 66. In the late 1950s when it was also numbered as I-44.
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.
1969 New roadbed
The old four lane US-66 ⁄ I-44 Freeway was improved again in Missouri after 1967, and the old US 66 was upgraded to Interstate standards. And in 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 Gray Summit to Villa Ridge (east)
> > See the next segment St. Clair to Stanton (west)
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