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Pulaski County - Page 2

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Historic Waynesville, MissouriWaynesville Epitomizes Main Street USA

 

After leaving Devil’s Elbow, you will enter Saint Robert which features the George M. Reed Park, one of the last remaining roadside parks along the route in Missouri. Then you'll enter Waynesville with its quaint downtown district that epitomizes Main Street USA. Waynesville got its start in 1831 when a man named G.W. Gibson "squatted” on the land where the town sits today. Just one year later Pulaski County was formed and Waynesville was soon designated as the county seat. In 1835, James A. Bates opened one of the first stores in the settlement, which also served as a temporary courthouse. In 1839, the town was platted and a post office opened, named after famous General "Mad Anthony" Wayne, the daring Revolutionary War hero and Indian fighter.

 

Like much of Missouri, Waynesville declared itself as "Confederate” during the Civil War, flying the rebel flag over its courthouse. However, this was short lived due to hits strategic location on the Wire Road. On June 7, 1862, Federal troops marched in, taking over the town and building a fort to protect the Wire Road.

 

The town existed due to lumber and agricultural interests until Route 66 came through and developed into more of a tourist community, as it is today.

 

At the junction of Route 66 and Highway 17 you officially enter Waynesville. On the historic square are several historic buildings including the Old Stagecoach Stop Museum, which first served as a stage waystation and post office when it was built in 1850. During the Civil War, it was commandeered by the Federal Army and used a hospital as the Union forces built the fort on the south side of the square. Later it would serve as a hotel, boarding house and a private residence. More than a century later, it had fallen into sever disrepair and was condemned by the city in 1982. However, Waynesville citizens rallied and saved the building. Today, it is listed on the national Register of Historic Places. Also on the square is the Old Route 66 Courthouse Museum, built in 1903 and serving Pulaski County until 1989.

 

At Route 66 and Benton Street, you can see a building that was originally the Rigsby Standard Oil station, serving Route 66 travelers in its heyday. You may want to download the Waynesville Downtown Walking Tour or pick a copy up at one of the many shops around the square.

 

According to Beth Wiles, Executive Director of the Pulaski County Tourism Bureau, downtown Waynesville has undergone a major renovation. There is now a tourist district located a few doors down from the Rigsby Station which offers up Route 66 Candy Shop, gift shops that carry Route 66 memorabilia, wine and moonshine tastings. Hoppers across the street from the Route 66 Courthouse Museums offers up 66 beers on tap. It is named in honor of Frog Rock, the huge frog that overlooks Route 66 as you come into town. Waynesville also partnered with the National Park Service on the Trail of Tears Memorial and Interpretive Trail. This is located just before the Roubidoux Bridge, on the left, in Laughlin Park. The storyboards take visitors along concrete pathways that follow the river, as well as along the pathway and boardwalk to the Roubidoux Spring and underwater cave.

 

As you begin to head out of town you enter area known as Buckhorn, cross the overpass of Interstate 44 where you will see the small Pleasant Grove Church which has been serving its congregation since 1926. Just a bit further down the road sits the building that once housed the Hillcrest Grocers & Station, pumping KanOTex gas in 1932..

 

Route 66 takes a right turn on County Road P, where you will drive through the old town of Laquey (pronounced "Lakeway.”) Continuing to follow the old route, you’ll soon see signs of the area once called Gascozark and the small town of Hazelgreen before reaching Lebanon. Along this stretch, keep an eye out for a number of historic buildings that once catered to travelers along the old highway.

 

 

 

©Kathy Weiser/Legends of America, updated with additional edits courtesy of Beth Wiles and the Pulaski County Tourism Bureau, May 2015.

 

 

 

Witmore Farms in Waynesville, Missouri

Witmore Farms in Waynesville, Missouri has been

serving customers of the Mother Road for years, February,

2005, Kathy Weiser.

 

Abandoned garage in the Gascozark area of Missouri

Abandoned garage in the Gascozark area,

February, 2005, Kathy Weiser.

 

  Return to Route 66 

 

To Lebanon

 

Return to Route 66

 

To Jerome

 

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