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Rock Creek Bridge may reopen in next month June 8, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Bridges, Highways, History, Preservation.
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The historic Rock Creek Bridge, which has been closed to traffic since March 2013, may reopen to lighter vehicles sometime next month, according to a city official in nearby Sapulpa, Oklahoma.

Suzanne Shirey, president of the Sapulpa Area Chamber of Commerce, revealed the plans for the 1921 bridge during an email a few days ago:

We are looking to open the bridge in mid July.  We will have to build barriers to restrict vehicles over 3 ton from entering.  These barriers will be away from the bridge so they will not obstruct the view for photos.

It will be interesting to see the eventual layout of the new barriers. With a three-ton limit, that would allow all motorcycles, almost all cars and most pickup trucks.

A state inspection last spring deemed the bridge unsafe for all traffic, and local officials placed barriers and big chunks of concrete to keep people from driving on it. Pedestrians could walk around the barriers to the bridge, however.

Follow-up questions about the bridge weren’t answered. But Shirey made it clear the bridge will be at least partly reopened by mid-summer.

The Rock Creek Bridge served Route 66 from 1926 until 1952, when officials realigned the highway to the south. The Rock Creek Bridge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Currently, the only way to reach the 3.5-mile stretch of the original Ozark Trail alignment of Route 66 is several miles west, near a Shell gas station. Don’t count on driving through the parking lot of the VFW hall near the bridge; access to the Ozark Trail is often blocked by a gate.

Here’s a video we produced a couple of years ago, before the bridge was closed:

(Image of the Rock Creek Bridge by David Sugden via Flickr)

A chat with Rich Dinkela June 4, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Bridges, People, Road trips, Web sites.
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KC Keefer, the guy behind the ongoing Genuine Route 66 Life video series, produced a new clip about “Roamin’ Rich” Dinkela. The interview occurred at the closed MacArthur Bridge in St. Louis.

For a seven-minute clip, it nicely encompasses Dinkela’s approach and his many activities on the Mother Road.

You can follow Dinkela at his YouTube channel here, on Facebook here, on Twitter here, and on his Hooked on Route 66 website.

Devil’s Elbow Bridge reopens to traffic May 23, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Bridges, Preservation.
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The historic Devil’s Elbow Bridge along Route 66 in Devil’s Elbow, Missouri, reopened to traffic Thursday — three months early — after much-needed repairs were completed.

The blog of Pulaski County Tourism Bureau has the details of the unannounced reopening:

Pulaski County Commissioner Gene Newkirk noted that the first vehicles to cross the bridge were all from out of state, and that the second group, several motorcycles, were international Route 66 enthusiasts. [...]

One excited motorist even honked their horn in celebration as they crossed the bridge that had been closed to traffic for seven months.

Some of the signage that was removed during the bridge rehabilitation is now located at Pulaski County Visitors Center (137 St. Robert Boulevard, Suite A, Saint Robert) for Route 66 fans to see and photograph.

More photographs from Thursday:

For comparison, here’s what the bridge looked like before the repairs:

A ceremony marking the bridge’s reopening will be scheduled within the next week or so.

The early reopening is very good news for Devil’s Elbow residents, who see a lot of tourism traffic from Route 66ers and canoe users on the Big Piney River during the summer months.

A variety of funding was used for the $1.3 million bridge-rehabilitation project, including from the Missouri Department of Transportation, Missouri Department of Economic Development Community Development, Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program and Pulaski County.

The truss bridge, built in 1923, is nearly 600 feet long. It sits near the Elbow Inn restaurant and bar, a popular hangout for Route 66ers, bikers and Fort Leonard Wood soldiers.

(Image of the Devil’s Elbow Bridge in 2010 by the Missouri Department of Tourism; all other photos courtesy of Pulaski County Tourism Bureau)

Route 66 Bridge makes Missouri Preservation’s Most Endangered List May 21, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Bridges, Preservation, Restaurants.
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The Route 66 Bridge at Route 66 State Park near Eureka, Missouri, made Missouri Preservation‘s Most Endangered Historic Places list for 2014, according to a news release Tuesday.

The Diamonds Cafe, aka the Tri-County Truck Stop, also on Route 66 in Villa Ridge, also made the preservation group’s Watched list for 2014.

Here’s what the group said about the bridge:

The Route 66 Bridge over the Meramec River in Southwest St. Louis County was constructed in 1932 and is known as a Warren deck truss bridge, of which only three other examples remain in Missouri.  Route 66’s passage across the Meramec River was heavily promoted as a tourist attraction due to the river itself, as well as the adjacent working class resort community known as Times Beach.  Although major highway traffic is now carried over the Meramec by the Interstate 44 Bridge, the Route 66 Bridge was incorporated into the boundaries of Route 66 State Park, which opened in 1999.  A Route 66 Museum was opened in a former lodge and road house, which houses maps and memorabilia from “The Mother Road.” Most of the remaining acreage of the park, however, lies across the bridge in what was formerly Times Beach, leaving the interpretive center cut off from most of the remaining park space. Previously one of the most visited State Parks in Missouri at around 250,000 visitors per year, park attendance has dropped since the bridge’s closure in 2009. There is strong support from a number of local and statewide groups to preserve this bridge.  Since this is a deck truss bridge, the biggest detriment to its structural integrity is the heavy weight of the concrete surface above. The Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) has used some of the money in its demolition budget to remove the deck and give supporters of saving the bridge until 2015 to find a new owner to assume the cost of rehabilitation.

Being on the list may do some good. The resultant publicity usually spurs governments or individuals to do something about an endangered property. With the case of the Route 66 Bridge, putting it back into service also would greatly boost attendance at the state park, which has lagged since the bridge’s closing.

The Diamonds Cafe, aka the Tri-County Truck Stop, was built in 1950. It became the Tri-County in 1970 after the Diamonds moved closer to Interstate 44. The truck stop, famous for an alleged ghost on the premises, closed in 2006 and has languished since.

(Image of the Route 66 Bridge near Eureka, Missouri, via Missouri Preservation)

Wedding scheduled on Old Chain of Rocks Bridge May 12, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Bridges, Events, Movies.
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A couple from Slovakia will be married on the Missouri side of the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge in St. Louis at noon Saturday, May 31, as part of a tour and documentary film by the Czech Route 66 Association.

And there’s more, according to a news release about the event:

The public is invited and may be included in the movie.

A Czech chef is a part of the tour and will prepare an authentic Czech dinner at the historic Ariston Cafe in Litchfield, Illinois, at 5 p.m. Saturday. The Ariston Cafe is the oldest continuously operating restaurant on Route 66. It is also listed on the National Historic Register.

The dinner is $25 per person with limited seating. Reservations may be made at 217-324-2023. Proceeds of the dinner will be donated to the Litchfield Route 66 Museum.

The Old Chain of Rocks Bridge carried Route 66 from 1929 until it was closed to vehicular traffic in 1970. It was used in the climactic scene in the 1981 film “Escape from New York.” It was reopened by Trailnet as part of a pedestrian and cycling trail in 1998 and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2006.

(Image of the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge by Randy Watson via Flickr)

Rehab of Devil’s Elbow Bridge progresses April 10, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Bridges, Preservation.
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The rehabilitation of the historic Devil’s Elbow Bridge on old Route 66 in Devil’s Elbow is proceeding smoothly and will reopen to traffic by August at the latest, according to a report in the Rolla Daily News.

The newspaper included a photo of the work being done on the bridge. It added:

According to the HAER Bridge Inventory, a list of historic bridges in Missouri, the Devil’s Elbow Bridge may be eligible for a place on the National Register of Historic Places. It is believed to be one of the earliest examples of Missouri State Highway Department long-span truss design still in existence.

Additionally, Newkirk noted it is also one of only two remaining bridges in the state containing a curve. The second is the Chain of Rocks Bridge in St. Louis, which was recently converted to a pedestrian bridge. Wiles added that it is the only curved bridge on the original Route 66 still open to traffic. [...]

The framing of the new deck is in place and half of the decking concrete has been poured with the remaining half expected to be poured by mid to late April. Once the remaining portion of the deck has been poured, the bridge will be painted and additional structural work will be completed.

Local officials are using a variety of funding for the $1.3 million project, including from the Missouri Department of Transportation, Missouri Department of Economic Development Community Development, Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program and Pulaski County. And officials ensured the work would keep up the bridge’s historic look.

The truss bridge, built in 1923, is nearly 600 feet long. Local officials knew of the historical and tourism importance of the bridge, and spent years trying to secure funds to repair it. It sits near the popular Elbow Inn restaurant and bar on the Big Piney River.

(A 1931 image of the Devil’s Elbow Bridge by Chuck Coker via Flickr)

A great spot for a Route 66 selfie March 15, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Bridges, Photographs.
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Route 66 News reader Mark Nicklawske of Bangor, Maine, wanted to pass along a great spot to shoot a photo of a Route 66 landmark or a self-portrait, aka selfie, with your smartphone.

That landmark is the historic Colorado Street Bridge in Pasadena, Calif., which carries westbound Route 66 travelers to Los Angeles.

I’d always seen terrific photos of the Art Deco bridge taken from close to underneath the span, but never investigated how to get that angle. But Nicklawske, with the help of a friend, figured out how.

He wrote in an email, which I’ve edited slightly:

I’m attaching a picture taken by my cousin Chris Higgins, who lives in Pasadena. Chris took us underneath the 1913 Colorado  Blvd. bridge, one of the most beautiful bridges on the old Route 66. We discovered a fantastic place to photograph the bridge — an exposed sewer pipe and manhole. The spot is located just off North Arroyo Boulevard, which runs under the east end of the bridge. Adventurous photographers should park in a small lot north of the bridge, cross under the bridge and look for the exposed sewer pipe and manhole sticking out from the river bank. Your readers will find it a great perch for a “selfie.”

Here’s a map that will help you get close to that spot:


View Larger Map

I’m sure Scott Piotrowski, who’s an expert on all things about Route 66 in Los Angeles County, knows about the vantage point. But now that I have it, I’m passing it along.

(Image courtesy of Mark Nicklawske)

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