Route 66 - Rolla to Lebanon

The Rolla, Missouri Hampton Inn provided us with a safe and comfortable night's rest. We checked in just as they were bringing out another platter of cookies fresh from the oven. Yummy! In a change from the usual Hampton Inn, the A/C wasn't limited to not go below 74 so we were able to get a good night's rest. I still don't understand why Hilton properties always have those huge comforters on the bed. Those things weigh about 25 pounds and would keep you warm at the North Pole! I always just pull the darn thing off and ask for a blanket at the front desk. This location had 2 blankets wrapped in plastic on the shelf in the closet so extra points! Fast, free wi-fi, decent quality toilet paper, nice free breakfast in the morning and fresh coffee and cookies all evening. This place gets 2 thumbs up from us!

The oldest trading post in Missouri.
Rolling out of Rolla the next morning at 7:30, our first stop was just a couple of blocks down the road at the Totem Pole Trading Post. Open since 1933 and located at 1413 Martin Springs (N37 56 32.6 W091 47 33.6), it has seen thousands of Route 66 travelers and celebrities such as Buck Owens, Janie Fricke, Tony Orlando, and the Harlem Globetrotters (who had to duck due to the post's low ceilings) stop for the clean restrooms, road snacks, soda's (including Route 66 Root Beer), sugar-cured ham sold in burlap bags, fuel, beer and Ozarks souvenirs. The place was closed while we were there so we didn't get to browse around inside, but it looked interesting through the windows.

4-lane section of Route 66. Bridge over the
Big Piney River.
Continuing through Missouri, Route 66 skirts the edges of the Mark Twain National Forest, through Hooker Cut, and over the Big Piney River and the infamous Devil's Elbow. Hooker's Cut is a section of the road which was deeply cut out of solid rock. The now ghost town it was named after, Hooker, was itself named after Union General Joseph Hooker, (a reputed lover of the bottle and the ladies) who during the Civil War, maintained a stable of professional "fallen doves" that followed his army and serviced the soldiers to keep up their morale. Just after this comes Devil's Elbow, a severe bend in the Big Piney River where lumberjacks who constantly fought log jams claimed the huge boulder which caused the river to bend must have been put there by the devil himself. This piece of the Mother Road, built in 1941 - 1945 for World War II use, is one of the few 4-lane sections not just in Missouri, but the full distance.

A "rescued" turtle safely on the other side
of the road.
Next to the bridge pictured above, we came across the first of what would soon be dozens of turtles crossing the road over the next 10 miles. It was very strange. We would no sooner get past one then there would be another. Several times we saw two just a few yards apart. Youngest-daughter wanted to stop every time we saw one so she could carry it to its desired side of the road before a car could send it to turtle heaven, but after the first couple, I wouldn't stop because we would have spent several days performing turtle rescue. Besides, it wasn't like there was an abundance of traffic along this stretch so the turtles would just have to hope for good luck and a clear road. No turtles were harmed in our traverse between Hooker and Lebanon!

Route 66 icon - Munger Moss Motel.
Lebanon, Missouri was named for Lebanon, Tennessee, which was the original home of most of the town's settlers. On the east side of town is the Munger Moss Motel. It has a grand tradition of serving Route 66 roadies. Originally, there was a small barbecue cafe which was operated by Mr. & Mrs. Munger at Devil's Elbow. Mr. Munger passed on and Nellie Munger ran the place by herself until eventually getting remarried to Emmet Moss. The name of the cafe then became Munger Moss Barbeque. A few years later, the Moss' retired and sold the cafe to the Hudson's. When Route 66 was realigned and the cafe was no longer on the main road, they closed the cafe and opened the motel on the route in Lebanon. When it opened in 1946, there were 14 "modern" cabins. Over the next few years, carports were constructed between the cabins, then the carports were enclosed and the cabins were joined together. By the late 60's though, the old girl was showing her age. In 1971, Bob & Ramona Lehman bought the motel and renovated and modernized every room. Most of the rooms are now decorated in Route 66 themes. It's not unusual for it to be filled so call ahead if you plan to stay a night or two.

Lebanon was a nice little town with a great library, the Lebanon-Laclede County Library, which holds a wonderful collection of publications documenting the development of Route 66 from the beginning. Youngest-daughter and I stopped at a convenience store to restock our road food and gas up the truck and then we were off again, headed to Springfield and a story about Wild Bill Hickok.

Go to the first Route 66 entry here.
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