Sullivan, Missouri – A Lead Mining Maven

Meramec River near Leasburg, Missouri.

Meramec River near Sullivan, Missouri courtesy Wikipedia.

Sullivan, Missouri, located on Route 66, straddles the border of Franklin and Crawford Counties.

A community was first settled here more than 160 years ago by Stephen and Dorcas Sullivan, who migrated to Missouri from South Carolina. They learned of the Meramec River and the surrounding country, rich in game and minerals, from Daniel Boone. They settled in the area, built a cabin, and cleared a large tract of land they farmed.

In June 1856, the couple purchased 169 acres of property, which would later be the site of the original town of Sullivan. In July 1856, a post office opened in Clark Store, and the local postmaster named it “Mount Helicon” for a mountain in Greece.

St. Louis & San Francisco Railroad

St. Louis & San Francisco Railroad

When Stephen Sullivan heard that the St. Louis & San Francisco Railroad Company was planning to extend their Southwest Branch from Franklin (Pacific) to Rolla, he donated property to the railroad and constructed a building for a depot. The railroad then named the station “Sullivan,” prompting the post office also to change its name.

People began to migrate to the area in no time, working as farmers and mining the rich mineral deposits. Before long, the community bustled as a center of mining operations.

The mining of lead, iron, zinc, and copper remained a strong economic base for Sullivan until an industrial lull in 1877. Nearby Stanton, which had initially been the more prosperous of the two communities, began to decline during the 1880s, but Sullivan continued to prosper.

The old Shamrock Court Motel in Sullivan, Missouri by Sara Neave-Google Maps

The old Shamrock Court Motel in Sullivan, Missouri by Sara Neave-Google Maps

Today, this small town of about 7,100 souls, with its revitalized historic downtown area, provides a great opportunity to relax while visiting the region’s many attractions.

One shining example of Sullivan’s Route 66 heydays can still be seen at the old Shamrock Motor Court. Located on the west end of Sullivan on the south side of Route 66, the old tourist court has been owned by the Weiland family for more than than 60 years. The court-shaped structure, faced with native stone, was built in about 1947. After serving travelers along the Mother Road for years, it was converted into efficiency apartments in the late 1970s. It then stood unoccupied for about a decade, and now it is for sale. It is located at 1240 West South Service Road.

© Kathy Weiser-Alexander/Legends of America, updated November 2021.

Also See:

Missouri Main Page

Missouri Route 66

Missouri Route 66 Photo Gallery

Route 66 Main Page