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On the Roubidoux Creek

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Waynesville has many Route 66 attractions: Frog Rock, Clark Motel and Bell Hotel. Gas stations like Bell’s Cafe & Sinclair gas station, the Rigsby Station and Home and the Bohannon Café Garage. Historic landmarks such as the Site of Waynesville Fort, Historic Stagecoach Stop and the Historic County Courthouse and more US 66 sights: Mallow's Market and Roubidoux Bridge.

Waynesville MO

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About Waynesville Missouri

Facts, Trivia and useful information

Elevation: 807 ft (246 m). Population 4,830 (2010).
Time zone: Central (CST): UTC minus 6 hours. Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5).

Waynesville is Pulaski county seat, and is located ont the old U.S. 66 South central Missouri's Ozarks. (Map of Waynesville).

Below is a "Then and Now" set of photos of one of Wanyesville's Route 66 classics: Rigsby’s Service station:

Rigsby’s Standard Oil Service Station in Waynesville, Missouri

Rigsby’s Standard Oil Service Station on Route 66 in Waynesville MO
View today of Rigsby’s Standard Oil Service Station on Route 66 in Waynesville, Missouri, by , Click for street view

1950s photoRigsby’s Standard Oil Service Station in Waynesville, Missouri

1950s photo Rigsby’s Standard Oil Service Station on Route 66 in Waynesville MO
1950s photo Rigsby’s Standard Oil Service Station on Route 66 in Waynesville, by

History of Waynesville

This part of Central Missouri has been inhabited for over 10,000 years, since the end of the last Ice Age. Its Native people, the Osage reached the region ca. 700 BC after being expelled by the Iroquois from their original territory along the Ohio and Mississippi rivers.

The French, explored the area in the 1680s, and annexed it as "Louisiana", named so after King Louis XIV. In 1803, a cash-strapped Napoleon Bonaparte, sold it to the U.S. for 15 million dollars. It was subdivided into territories and one of them became the state of Missouri in 1821.

At that time even more natives had been resettled by the U.S. Government in Missouri (like the Delaware and the Kickapoo) from their lands east of the Mississippi. In 1832, the Osage were also forced to relinquish their territory and eventually were relocated in Texas, Kansas and Oklahoma.

Trail of Tears

The Cherokee Tribe was also relocated in Oklahoma, in 1839, their march is known as the "Trail of Tears" during which thousands of natives perished. Route 66 follows the ancient trail used by the Cherokee.

Laughlin Park in Waynesville (donated by the Laughlin family in 1971 in honor of Roy Laughlin), was one of the Cherokee encampments during the Trail of Tears Migration. It was certified in 2006 by the National Park Service as a site on the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail.

There was a mill at Roubidoux Creek and a settlement grew up next to it in 1826. It moved in 1831 to G. W. Gibson's homestead at the old Osage Trail which became the first county seat in 1833. The town was platted in 1834 on 25 acres of land donated by William Moore and Josiah Christeson, it was named after its post office (which opened that same year).

The name: Waynesville

Named after American Revolution War general Anthony "Mad Anthony" Wayne (1746-1796) plus the suffix "ville". The surname was an occupational name for a driver or builder of a "wain" or waggon. It comes derivation is from Old English "Waegn" - "Waegen" which meant cart, wagon.

The "Wire Road" built during the 1860s to service the telegraph line from St. Louis to Fort Smith in Arkansas, passed through Waynesville, and would become the main road from St. Louis to Springfield, and the stage coach served the town three times a week.

It was captured by the Union troops of Col. F. Siegel in 1862 who built a Fort here. In the 1870s, the railway bypassed it so it grew slowly.

The late 1800s and early 1900s county maps show Waynesville linked to Lebanon via Laquey and to the St. Louis and San Francisco Railroad to the north at Crocker and that there was a trail east towards Ford (now defunct) and Hooker which was linked to Arlington and Jerome. These trails, part of the Old Wire Road became State Hwy. 14 in the early 1920s and U.S. 66 in 1926. It was paved in 1931 and traffic grew. Neighboring Fort Leonard Wood gave the town's economy a boost during World War II. Later during the 1950s, Route 66 was completely upgraded to a four-lane freeway and its alignment straightened out, it bypassed the town.


Where to Lodge in Waynesville, Missouri

Accommodation and hotels in Waynesville...

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Motels and Hotels close to Waynesville

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Find your room in town, Waynesville's hotels:

>> Check out the RV campgrounds in Wayensville

Weather in Waynesville

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

Waynesville has well defined seasons: the summer (Jul) average high is 88°F (31.2°C), while the average low in about 67°F (19.2°C). In winter (Jan) the average high is 42°F (5.6°C) and the average low is a chilly-below freezing 20°F (-7°C).

Rainfall is around 44.5 in (1.131 mm) yearly average, at a contstant rate each month. About 9 in. (23 cm), of snow falls from Dec. to Mar.

Tornado risk

Waynesville is within the "Tornado Alley" and Pulaski County is hit by some 8 tornados every year.

Tornado Risk: read more about Tornado Risk along Route66.

Getting to Waynesville

Drive to Waynesville along historic Route 66 and Interstate I-44 that links it with Springfield, Carthage, Joplin and Oklahoma City in the west and with Rolla, Cuba and St. Louis to the east.

Map of Route 66 through Waynesville Missouri

See the alignment of US 66 in Waynesville, 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 Waynesville:

Pale Blue The 1926 to 1957 alignment of Route 66. To the west at Buckhorn, the Green section remained disconnected after it was cut at its eastern tip. The alignments after 1957 became part of what is now I-44.
Blue: is the "new" (post 1958) Route 66 segment built to link the old ones cut by the four-lane higway built in 1957.
Black: Is the old Route 66 roadbed cut by U.S. 66's 1957-1979 alignment (now I-44).

Route 66's alignment in Missouri: the Historic Route 66 through Waynesville

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 Waynesville (they are shown in the Map above)

Route 66 Sights in Waynesville

Landmarks and Places to See

Historic Town on Route 66

Waynesville and its Route 66 attractions

Waynesville has classic Bell Hotel and Clark Motel, the historic Stagecoach Stop and County Courthouse and the site of Waynesville Fort.
Americana like the Frog Rock and cafes and gas stations: Bell’s Cafe & Sinclair gas station and the Rigsby Station or Bohannon Café Garage among others.

Historic context, the classic Route 66 in Waynesville

In 1946, Jack DeVere Rittenhouse published his "A Guide Book to Highway 66" and in it tells us that Route 66 which in this area was a "divided highway", ended just before entering the town and that "US 66 goes down a fairly steep grade into Waynesville...". The town had: "...garages, C.C., Bell, OK; cafes, stores; Bell Hotel; few cabins.". He added that during WW II it was frequented by soldiers from Fort Leonard Wood, and that it boomed at that time but was declining.

Touring Waynesville

We wil begin our tour on the eastern side of town,

Frog Rock

On Hwy 17, 0.5 mi. north of the Courthouse. (Map with location, west side of the road (right).

Frog Rock in Waynesville MO

Frog Rock in Waynesville on Route 66 , by Pulaski County
Click on image to enlarge

The town's unofficial mascot is "W.H. Croaker", "Frog Rock", which was discovered when the Missouri D.O.T. widened Route 66 to three lanes north of town.

Painted by a local, it is now maintained by the military from Fort Leonard Wood.


Celebrated on the first Saturday in October it is a family friendly event in honor of "Frog Rock".

Keep westbound and when you reach the main square. Stop and take a short walking tour. Turn left on N. Lynn St. to visit the Historic Stagecoach Stop:

Old Stagecoach Stop

Listed in the National Register of Historic Places

105 N Lynn St. Waynesville

Historic Stage coach stop in Waynesville, Missouri

Historic Stage coach stop on Route 66 in Waynesville MO
Historic Stage coach stop on Route 66 in Waynesville, Missouri, by , Click for street view

Built by William McDonald in the mid-1850s, it was originally two log cabins. Antebellum style built in wood, it has been restored. It was a stagecoach stop for the Burden and Woodson stage; and also a tavern. During the Civil War served as a Union hospital. It is the oldest standing structure in the county but by 1982 was in such bad shape that it had been condemned by the city. The local citizens saved it and restored it.

Cross the road to the square and visit the Historic Courthouse:

County Courthouse

Listed in the National Register of Historic Places

123 N Benton St

Built in Italian Renaissance style in 1904, it is now a museum that displays artifacts from the county's history, the old courtroom and a piece of the World Trade Center from the 9/11 attack.

Historic Route 66

Missouri Governor John Ashcroft signed Bill 1629 in front of Pulaski's County Corthouse in 1990 officially designating Route 66 as "Historic Route 66"

Cross the road and visit Rigsby Station and Home:

Rigsby's Station and Home

103 N. Benton St.

See the two Then and Now photos at the top of the page.

The home of Claude and Eva Rigsby since 1924, it is located on the NW corner of Main and Benton St. Claude ran his Standard Oil Service Station next to his home until 1957. They rented rooms in their home to those building Fort Leonard Wood in the early 1940s and it was also a gift shop and restaurant.

To your left, 0.1 mi. along Benton St. is a historic marker:

Waynesville Fort Site

County Historic Marker

Benton St. and Fort St.

Remembers the fort built in 1862 by Union forces under Col. Siegel who took the town and guarded the telegraph line along the "Wire Road". It was demolished after the war in 1865.

Head west along Route 66 and visit the old bridge:

Looking north across Roubidoux Bridge in Waynesville MO

Looking north across Roubidoux Bridge in Waynesville on Route 66, Click on image to enlarge

Roubidoux Bridge

Route 66 and Roubidoux Creek

Designed by the Missouri State Highway Commission, it was completed in 1923, carrying State Hwy. 14 across Roubidoux Creek and therefore predates Route 66. It replaced a steel bridge on North Street and gave the road a straighter alignment. It is a concrete arch bridge which was widened in 1939.

The Creek a tributary of the Gasconade River has its headwaters at a spring close by. It was named after Joseph Roubidoux, a French trapper who founded St. Joseph MO.

Beyond the bridge, to your right, just ahead is the Bell Hotel:

Bell Hotel

202 Historic Rte 66 W

Mentioned by Rittenhouse, it was originally the home of judge Robert Bell who turned his home into a hotel in 1925 knowing that Route 66 would be aligned through town. He promoted it as "Every Facility for the Traveler's Pleasure". The family ran it until 1937. Now it is the Memorial Chapel of the Waynesville funeral parlor. Despite some changes the old building is clearly recognizeable:

vintage 1930 postcard Bell Hotel Waynesville MO

Vintage 1930s postcard of the Bell Hotel by
Click for larger image

Former Bell Hotel in Waynesville Lebanon nowadays

Former Bell Hotel in Waynesville nowadays. Click on image for Street View

Next to the hotel is the old Sinclair gas station and Bells Cafe and cabins:

Bell’s Cafe & Sinclair gas station in Waynesville MO

Bell’s Cafe & Sinclair gas station on Route 66. Click on image to enlarge

Bell’s Cafe & Sinclair gas station

206 Historic Rte 66 W

Café, camp with nine cabins, garage (mentioned by Rittenhouse) and gasoline next to the hotel. Later run by the Thomas its motto was "Sleep in Safety and Comfort". The service station sold Sinclair gas. Now it is a flower shop.

Across the street, is a rock building:

Shelter Insurance

209 Historic Rte 66 W

This gabled stone building was listed in the 1993 Architectural ⁄ Historic Survey of Route 6 in Missouri but no particulars given. By its lay out it appears to have been a service station. See its Street View.

Mallow's Market

309 Historic Rte 66 W

Street View. The brick building to your right, (just west from the Shelter Insurance) is old Mallow's Market and store.

Just ahead, to your right is the former Clark Motel:

Clark Motel

310 Rte 66.

Operated by Mildred and Russell Dial who bought it in 1960. The property was sold in 2001 to the Pulaski County Library. They lived on the site, in the house on the western side of the property; see its current Street View.

Old Service Station

Across the street, next to Mallow's is an old service station, but no clues as to which brand of gas it sold, this is its Street View.

Also on the south (east) side of the road, just west of this service station is the old Bohannon Garage:

Bohannon Café Garage

321 Rte 66.

The old Bohannon Cafe and garage is now "Ed Wilson Auto Works" it was built in 1934 and was remodeled not long ago; see its current Street View.

This marks the end of the tour. You can drive west to visit Buckhorn, 5 mi. down old Route 66.


Tours & Itineraries

Drive the Mother Road in town:

Old Route 66 in Waynesville

From Waynesville to Buckhorn

The first trail along the forests at the divide in the Ozarks was created by roaming buffalo. Much later it was used by the Natives and then by the trappers and explorers moving inland from the Mississippi.

They called it the "Great Osage Trail" (after the Osage Indians). During the Civil war period, a telegraph line was built from St. Louis MO to Ft. Smith in Arkansas and it passed through Waynesville.

By the early 1900s cars grew in popularity but the poor state of the rough tracks used by carts hindered their use: they were muddy traps during the rainy season and full of deep holes when the weather was dry. The Inter-Ozarks Highway Association lobbied for better roads and this led to the building of State Highway creation of Missouri State Highway 14 between St. Louis and Springfield, which passed through Waynesville. In 1926 Route 66 was aligned along MO-14

Old Route 66: 1926-1957 Alignment in Waynesville

The original alignment is shown in the Map above in Pale Blue.

The highway to the east of Waynesville -only to Fort Leonard Wood- was widened and became a four-lane separated highway when World War II began. This was done to adapt the road to the heavy traffic of trucks during the war, and make it safer and less congested. By 1943 the new road was completed. However, the section west of what is now St. Robert trough Waynesville remained a regular two lane road until the 1950s, when the four lane highway was extended west from Exit 159 through 156 and 153 of modern I-44.

1953 and 1958 roadmaps of US 66 near Waynesville

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). Route 66 was bypassed from Hazelgreen through Waynesville to MO-17, but still ran through Hooker cut. Notice how it bypassed Waynesville (to the left of Highway T in both maps)

Alignment after 1957

You can drive the Old pre-1957 road south of Exit 153 in Buckhorn: The original 1926 - 1957 road ran along what is now Spruce Rd. Buckhorn (Shown in Green in the map above), and then headed towards the NW, (now cut by I-44 - shown in Black in the map above) becoming what is now Old Route 66 ⁄ MO-17 on the north side of I-44 ( in Pale Blue). After the freeway was built, a new link was built (Blue) between the two alignments across Exit 153. The old route through the town became "City Route 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 in Powellville, in 1981.

> > See the previous segment St. Robert to Waynesville (east)

> > See the next segment Buckhorn to Laquey (west)

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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

The Ramsay Place Names File

Banner image: Dead Man's Curve, Laguna New Mexico by Perla Eichenblat.