Route 66 Missouri ~ Devils Elbow To Springfield

Route 66 Missouri ~ Devils Elbow To Springfield

Cruising sections of old historic Route 66 is what most travelers do while on vacation.  Some folks inadvertently drive on Route 66 while heading to a destination without realizing what road they are on, then it clicks when the first Route 66 sign is seen through the windshield.  There also are a few travelers of this road that do not have a clue as to what Route 66 culture is all about and nor do they care.  

Casually stumbling upon Route 66 while traveling can result in a pleasant surprise and a subtle awakening, which inspires taking interest in the history and tradition of the Mother Road at a later time.  Memories of the good times at a place on the old historic Mother Road eventually beckon casual travelers to come back for more.  After looking into booking a return visit via internet resources, more information about regional Route 66 attractions appear and a complete section trip is planned.  Hopping on Route 66 from point “A” to point “B” and experiencing every attraction in between is the way to get the most bang for the buck, especially when fuel prices are high.

A popular section of Route 66 for doing a day tour runs from Devils Elbow to Springfield, Missouri.  It only takes a couple hours to do a casual sight seeing tour of this section, but those who have more time on their hands will find a few days worth of fun things to do and plenty of Route 66 history to experience.  

There is a bit of meandering involved with driving this section of the Mother Road, because there are several old Route 66 alignments in this region of Missouri.  In some parts, Route 66 is nothing more than a modern frontage road that runs adjacent to Interstate Highway 44.  Route 66 is also an abandoned four lane highway that used to be a heavy Ozark vacation corridor before the Mother Road was bypassed by a the modern freeway.  Most of Route 66 in this region is a two lane country road that runs through small towns that once catered to tourists going west during the golden age of automobile travel.  When a visitor finally gets to Springfield, this is where the traditional Route 66 big city experience awaits those who are drawn to the neon lights.

Following the old nearly abandoned concrete four lane highway section of Route 66 will lead to the narrow country road that runs to Devils Elbow.  The narrow two lane country road is marked as National Scenic Byway Route 66, so this old alignment is fairly easy to find on a map.  The community of Devils Elbow was established in the 1920s, but the history of this perilous section of the Big Piney River dates further back to an age when river boat travel was the only mass transportation option.  Devils Elbow is named after a dangerous sharp bend in the river that caused many a captain to lose their boat. 

The sharp Devils Elbow bend can be seen from the antique steel bridge that spans the Big Piney River and recent extreme flood damage can be noticed too.  The great flood of 2017 practically wiped out the Devil’s Elbow CafĂ©, which has been a Route 66 landmark since the 1950s.  The resilient owners rebuilt and they recently reopened the doors.  Avid fans of Route 66 historic preservation have answered the call and many make the pilgrimage to this landmark business just to spend a few dollars to help the cause.  As one can see, it is the Route 66 nostalgia buffs that keep old historic places like this alive all along this old highway.  The only reward for being a philanthropist in this case is the good feeling that one gets from performing a good deed along the Mother Road, which will keep the heart warm for many years to come.

A meandering we will go!  Traveling from Devils Elbow to the old historic Route 66 attractions in Rolla, Doolittle, St Robert, Lebanon, Phillipsburg and Conway on the way to Springfield does take some planning.  Plotting the points of interest in a GPS system then selecting the most efficient route choice is a good method for creating a travel path, but there are always a few kinks to deal with.  Timing is essential, because if one wants to do lunch at a specific historic Route 66 restaurant, it is no use showing up at 8:00AM. 

Historic points of interest and oddities featured in the article’s photos include Devil’s Elbow, The Mule Trading Post, Cookin’ from Scratch Chicken Car, Munger Moss Motel, Dowd’s Catfish & BBQ, Route 66 Antique Mall, the I-44 Route 66 Welcome Center, The World’s Biggest Gift Shop and the very first Steak ‘n Shake on the Mother Road in Springfield.  As one can guess, there are plenty more places along this section of Route 66 that are not featured in the photo collection that are well worth checking out too.

It is the nostalgic attraction that draws travelers to the Devils Elbow to Springfield section of Route 66 in Missouri.  Part of the attraction may be one of traveling on the same road that previous family generations experienced long ago.  Stopping at the same places that the parents, grandparents and great grandparents were attracted to is the means for gaining a little bit of insight into the lifestyle that the relatives led way back when and there is nothing like hearing grandma tell a story about the wild times she had while driving in a 1956 convertible down Route 66.  Oddly enough, the stories from the old days do have a way of making the young folks jaws drop in awe!  Carving your own notch of glory into the history of Route 66 is still part of the scene in modern times!


Author: wildwestdestinations

I worked as a chef in remote resorts and National Parks, which provided the time to explore western travel destinations. I have a BA Degree in Culinary Management with high honors and currently I am working on a Masters Degree in Adult Education. My food and travel blog writing began as a means to generate income during college and now photo journalism has become my lifestyle.

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