Earlier on this blog, I wrote about motels on Route 66 and other highways (http://paulstroble.blogspot.com/2011/08/motels-on-route-66.html) and some earlier trips on the old road (http://paulstroble.blogspot.com/search/label/Route%2066) When we moved to St. Louis in 2009, I understood why travel guides indicated that anyone wanting to follow Route 66 through St. Louis should choose one of the routes rather than them all. There is the original route through the middle of the city, a large portion of which is Manchester Road (State Route 100).There is the route around the city, from the Chain of Rocks bridge west (now Interstate 270) to Lindbergh Blvd south. There is also the city route (probably the most famous version), from the MacArthur Bridge then south and southwest, on portions of Tucker, Gravois, Chippewa, and Watson Roads. Much of that route is now State Route 366. Another part of the city route diverts from the Chain of Rocks Bridge and runs toward the downtown along Riverside Drive and other streets.
I’ve driven nearly all these alignments, though piecemeal. Recently I visited the location at 7th Street and Chouteau where the now blocked and abandoned pavement crosses the MacArthur Bridge. With that, I visited all the city route other than the Riverside Drive stretch. A book called “Route 66 in St. Louis (Images of America)” by Joe Sonderman (Arcadia Publishing, 2008) gives the routes through the city, and some websites are also helpful: http://www.theroadwanderer.net/66Missouri/stlouis.htm
A book called “Route 66 in St. Louis (Images of America)” by Joe Sonderman (Arcadia Publishing, 2008) indicated how many motels and restaurants operated along Lindbergh Blvd. Today, the road has a much different landscape of retail and financial businesses and upscale neighborhoods. But in Route 66 days, travelers could find many different places to stay and eat. One of those old motels remain, the Ivy Motel.
There were many places along the city route, too. Sonderman’s book provides photos and postcards of many now-gone places. I wish I could’ve seen the famous Coral Court motel on Watson Road. It was torn down in the 90s and replaced with a subdivision. I pass the location on my way to the hair salon and later look at Quinta Scott’s photo to imagine the layout. http://www.coralcourt.com/main.html Other vintage motels are still nearby: the Chippewa Motel, the Wayside Motel, the Duplex Motel, and a little further west, a place that had been called the La Casa Grande Motel, interesting because of its Pueblo Revival style. Other notable 66 establishments, like the Donut Drive-in and Ted Drewes Frozen Custard, both on Chippewa, are worth visits.
Last summer, I decided to take the road out of town a bit. Watson Road merges onto I-44 in southwestern St. Louis County. I drove a while before I saw a sign for a place called the Route 66 State Park visitor’s center. Taking a lovely stretch of the old road I came upon the place and found wonderful displays inside, as well as a good book and gift shop. The center has portions of the Coral Court sign and other relics of the old highway. I picked up another book by Joe Sonderman, “Route 66 Missouri” (Schiffer Publishing, 2010).
Continuing through the Meramec Valley, I pulled off and drove the road through Pacific and its countryside. I discovered another vintage motel, the Gardenway. Beside the place is the Shaw Nature Preserve. Henry Shaw was the founder of Missouri Botanical Garden back in St. Louis.