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Ghost Stretch Beyond Springfield - Page 2

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Paris Springs Junction - Revival on the Mother Road

 

Just a few more miles down the road you will come upon Paris Springs Junction. Though current maps, as well as the Missouri Highway Department, identify this little burg as Paris Springs, that is not correct. Paris Springs was actually located one-half mile north of this junction. The small settlement that would become Paris Springs was first settled in 1850s and called Chalybeate Springs, for the iron-rich healing waters flowing from Clover Creek. Later, when the company of Cherry & Johnson utilized Clover Creek to run a mill that ground flour and cornmeal at the site, the town's name changed to Johnson Mills. O.P. Johnson also built a sawmill and wool mill, and a chair factory was operated by E.L. Davis. Other businesses also included a blacksmith, shoemaker, a wagon-maker, and an attorney. 

 

Gay Parita, Paris Springs Junction, Missouri, 1930's.

Gay Parita in the 1930's. This image available for photographic prints  and downloads HERE!

 

 

 

The town's name changed once again in 1872 when Eli Paris opened a hotel to cater to the many people flocking to the town to partake of its healing mineral waters. Named for the hotel operator, it became Paris Springs and not only provided a dip in its rich springs but also produced bottled waters.

 

When Route 66 barreled through in the 1920's, it bypassed Paris Springs by mile. Before long, a few businesses were set up to the south to take advantage of the many travelers along Route 66. This small cluster of buildings soon took on the name of Paris Springs Junction.

 

A dome shaped cobblestone garage was one of the first buildings to be built at the junction in 1926. Four years later a Sinclair station was built next to the garage. Owned by Gay and Fred Mason, the couple also added a cafe and three cabins to their little enterprise, which they called Gay Parita, after Mrs. Mason. Taking advantage of the busiest road in America, the masons did a brisk business fixing flat tires, and selling gasoline, sodas and sandwiches for the next 25 years. When Gay Mason died in 1953, Fred continued to operate the business, but when tragedy struck again, burning down the Sinclair station in 1955, Fred retired to his home behind the burned out station. He died in 1960.

 

Shortly thereafter, Route 66 was decommissioned and the junction was bypassed by I-44. For the next several decades, the property sat silent, utilized only as a residence. However, this small burg gained new life when the Gay Parita property was purchased by Gary and Lena Turner. Working with his son, Steve, Gary rebuilt the old Sinclair Station, which today sits shining and new, beckoning to a new generation of Route 66 travelers. While the "new" station is not an exact replica of its predecessor, its facade is in character for the 1930's era. The "station" doesn't sell anything --no gas, no sundries, no gimmicks or tourist memorabilia -- just memories and enthusiasm spilling from one of Route 66' biggest fans - Gary Turner. Gay Parita's new proprietor spends his days welcoming roadies from all over the world, sharing Route 66 history, and promoting the road.

 

The restored station, old garage, and a meeting with Gary Turner, himself, is a "must stop" for any Route 66 enthusiast.

 

Several other buildings also continue to stand in Paris Junction, including the 1929 Paris Springs Junction Store, that once sported a cafe and station, as well as Dot Mason's Log Cabin Station, which later served as as an auto sales building, and a 1944 slab stone garage.

 

As to the original Paris Springs, mile north of the junction, the only remaining building is a small church.

 

Gary Turner, Gay Parita, Missouri

Gary turner spends his days entertaining Route 66 Roadies, September, 2007, Kathy Weiser.

 

Gay Parita Station, Paris Springs Junction, Missouri

Gary and his son built this "1930's era" Sinclair station in 2006, September, 2007, Kathy Weiser. This image available for photographic prints  and downloads HERE!

 

Paris Springs Junction, Missouri

The Paris Springs Junction Store once sported a cafe  and gas station. Today, it serves as a residence, September, 2007, Kathy Weiser. This image available for photographic prints  and downloads HERE!

 

Gay Parita Garage

Gay Parita Garage, September, 2007, Kathy Weiser.

This image available for photographic prints  and downloads HERE!

 

 

Spencer - Quiet Now

 

Past Paris Springs Junction, old Route 66 takes a jog off of State Road 96 onto County Road N on its way to Spencer. This very old piece of concrete pavement first crosses a 1923 triple pony-struss bridge over Turnback Creek, before meandering on to traverse the 1926 one-lane steel truss Johnson Creek Bridge. Just beyond are the few remains of Spencer, Missouri.

 

This tiny little settlement, that was never much more than a "spot in the road," was first founded in the late 1870s when a post office was established. Later a store and a church were built to cater to the small agricultural population of the area. However, by 1912, it was already a ghost town when the road to Spencer became impassable and most people moved on. When Route 66 made its way through town, the community saw a small resurgence, with a grocery store, a Tydol station and a garage, a dry goods store and a barbershop. These businesses all died when Route 66 was bypassed by I-44.

 

Up until recently, the "entire town" was but one row of vacant buildings. Though they were in good condition, they sat silent and lonely on this old stretch of the road. However, this historic site has been purchased by Francis and Marie Lynn Ryan of Salina, Kansas. The Ryans obtained the property from Kent Casey,  who's grandfather, Sydney Casey, first acquired the land in 1925. Sydney Casey built the buildings and ran the businesses at the time the Mother Road was blazed through the area. For the first few years, the gas station was a Tydol station but later it changed to Phillips 66, to which the Ryans have restored it to today.

 

Today, the gas station and garage have been restored to their former glory, welcoming a new generation of Route 66 travelers. The gas pumps, signs, and other memorabilia are from the Ryan's personal collection. Helping with this project are locals, Quentin and Cathy Stockham, who have placed the vintage police car in the front of the buildings. Though tiny Spencer was never large enough for a police department, it adds yet, another touch of great nostalgia to this historic site. 

 

More plans are in the works to restore all of the buildings, bringing yet more character to the forgotten little town of Spencer.

 

Be sure to add little Spencer to your "must-see" list along your journey.

 

Continued Next Page

 

Steel truss bridge over Johnson Creek, Spencer, Missouri

Steel truss bridge over Johnson Creek, Spencer, Missouri,

Kathy Weiser, September, 2007.

 

Spencer, Missouri

All that was left of Spencer in 2007, Kathy Weiser, September, 2007.

This image available for photographic prints  and downloads HERE!

 

Spencer, Missouri

Spencer's row of buildings is being restored today, photo courtesy Quentin and Cathy Stockham, August, 2009.

 

Spencer, Missouri gas station

The gas station and garage have been beautifully restored today, photo courtesy Quentin & Cathy Stockham, August, 2009.

 

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From Legends' General Store

Route 66 eight state map seriesThe Route 66 Map Series -  Created by Mother Road Experts Jerry McClanahan and Jim Ross, the Route 66 Map Series, consisting of a separate fold-out map for each Route 66 state, provides an easy-to-follow through route and clear, simple directions to keep you on the right track as you take the historic journey down America's legendary highway. Each map is generously illustrated with original nostalgia art by McClanahan, and text by Ross includes the history of the road, tips on finding abandoned segments, and information pertaining to each state. These eight maps are an absolute must for every Route 66 cruiser.

 

 

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