Joplin, our last stop in Missouri!

Michael Bushnell
Northeast News

From Meramec Caverns State Park, Route 66’s paved two-lane surface carries us westward, toward Rolla and Waynesville, Missouri. Here, in Pulaski County, the highway drops precipitously through Hooker Cut then narrows to two-lanes into the Devil’s Elbow gorge where the road crosses the Big Piney River. Devil’s Elbow got its name in 1870 for a “bad bend” in the Big Piney River.

Continuing westward toward Lebanon, be sure to stop in to see the Route 66 Museum inside the LaClede County Library where a vintage, Texaco gas station has been painstakingly restored. Cue the jingle, “You can trust your car to the man who wears the star.”

Our resting stop for the night is in Joplin, MO, last stop on Route 66 in the state of Missouri. We’ll dine in style too at Wilder’s, a longtime staple of the Joplin fine food landscape. The linen style postcard notes some of Wilder’s fare including “choice steaks and Southern Fried Chicken.”

Wilder’s was founded in 1929 and has been in the same location since. Once a favorite among sports betters, well, back in the day anyway, the back of the postcards notes that the restaurant features the latest sporting returns. Ahem. The restaurant even survived a 1959 explosion, when a Kansas City mob failed attempt to off owner Verne Wilder. Apparently the Joplin operation was siphoning money away from the Kansas City operation. Allegedly.

Next week we cross the state line into Oklahoma as we continue our summer road trip on America’s Main Street, Route 66.

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