Route 66 Survival - The Totem Pole Trading Post In Rolla, MO

If you've ever driven down Missouri's highway system through the Ozarks in the last 50 years, chances are you either drove the interstate or you drove down Route 66.  You probably remember driving past a number of businesses regardless of when or which road you took.  The Mule Trading Post has been a long standing business over the decades.  Countless amounts of grape stands have been part of the roadside scenery.  You may even remember businesses peddling Ozark baskets or walnut bowls.  Business is what makes Route 66 so alluring. 

As a child, my family went on many road trips to the Branson area starting when I was just 4 years old, in the early 1980’s.  Looking through the window of our family car, I became fascinated with the creative establishments many of the roadside entrepreneurs fashioned.  To a child, these were inviting landmarks that indicated to me how far along we were on our typical road trip.  Seldom was I lucky enough to visit some of these places along the road when my Mother would ask to stop for some quick shopping or if Dad just needed a break from driving.  Most of the time I just had to rely on my imagination to wonder what kind of neat stuff was in all of those businesses.  Johns Modern Cabins always caught my attention and piqued my interest. 

My recent involvements in Route 66 have led me to ponder about the evolution of businesses on Route 66.  Why do some places thrive for decades while others struggle to make it for months???  In my opinion it all comes down to the people that are passionately committed to surviving as a Route 66 business.

There’s probably nobody else more qualified in Missouri to be experts on Route 66 Survival than Tim and Alice Jones.  Have you ever driven down I-44 or Route 66 headed west out of Rolla, MO?  Either way you couldn’t miss the Jones’ business.  Certainly the colossal advertising of Totem Pole Trading Post standing tall above everything else over the Ozark horizon would have beaconed for your attention.  You know the place and the Totem Pole Trading Post is where you can find Tim Jones on most any day. 

The Jones’ establishment is credited of being one of the oldest Route 66 businesses staying in operation on Missouri’s section of the Mother Road.  Starting in 1933 Harry Cochrane opened up the first Totem Pole Trading Post on Arlington Hill just 10 miles to the west of the existing location.  They erected a small building with a Totem pole on top and they sold souvenirs and gifts to Route 66 travelers.  In addition to the souvenir stand they also had a tourist camp.  Ralph Jones, Tim’s father purchased the trading post from Harry around 1950.

Keeping your business alive on Route 66 has always been about carving out a unique identity for your store, making sure you have quality goods at fair prices, making sure competition doesn’t beat you out… But many people didn’t expect to consider progress as a formidable hurdle on the road to economic success.  As our needs evolved so did our infrastructure.  After World War Two there was no denying that our highways needed be made larger and more efficient.  Expansion of the highway system managed to wipe out many businesses, especially in Missouri.  The Stoneydell Resort was one of those casualties that we all wish we could patronize today.

The Totem Pole wasn’t exempt from national progress.  Around 1954 the state bought some the property where the campground was located.  The cabins had to be moved to make way for an extra set of lanes to be brought through.  In 1967 the Highway Department came knocking again.  This time they were taking the property where the store was at in order to make service roads for the new interstate.  This shut Ralph and Tim down for the moment.   One of the original buildings still stands in the Arlington Hill area.  According to Tim Jones the Missouri Highway Department saved it and used it as a planning office while constructing a new highway through the area.  It’s a little red building resembling a small cabin.  It sets just west, across from Johns Modern Cabins off Arlington Outer Road.  The little building was part of the Totem Pole Tourist Court.  The original totem pole that stood atop of the souvenir shop is now located inside of today’s Totem Pole Trading Post. 

Ralph’s father more determined than ever moved the store to its second location.  They were now operating in a new building even closer to Rolla.  As luck would have it old Route 66 was located behind their building and the new Super 66, 4 lane highway was out in front complete with driveways connecting their business to a plethora of travelers driving between Chicago and Los Angeles.  The second location was at what is now 15990 County Road 8140 in Rolla MO.  The building still remains and is now used as an auction house.  Tim and his wife Alice took over complete ownership in 1974. Yet again, progress determined the fate of the Totem Pole.  In 1977 Tim was forced to close this second location as well because four lane 66 was being changed to an interstate which meant businesses could no longer be provided direct access from the highway.  The state removed their driveways and yet again disrupted their livelihood.    

With that same fighting spirit that Ralph instilled into Tim he closed up and moved to the final location just 3.5 miles east of the second location where he and Alice have been surviving since 1977.  They started over from scratch moving the Totem Pole Trading Post to an old two bay Shell Station right at the western edge of Rolla, MO.  Tim has fought to reinvent and to improve his trading post over the last 3 decades.  The 1970’s through the early 1980’s saw the elimination of Route 66 from our National Highway System.  The economy was stagnated during the oil crisis.  The way people travel would forever change.  The destination became increasingly more important that the trip.  Despite the hurdles thrown at the Jones family they have constantly been able to evolve; keeping their doors open and the travelers coming in.  In 1994 he performed an extensive renovation that involved installing a roof over the entire structure of the trading post and the gas station canopy.    Tim and Alice have been selling hand crafted goods from the Ozarks, antiques, oddities, fireworks, books and a large amount of Route 66 souvenirs.  They had to stop selling gasoline about 5 years ago because they were unable to make any money on it due to credit card fees.  They stopped selling gas, but set out to make a café to refuel travelers in a different way.  Aim for their bellies.  This year they are opening their newest creation, The Route 66 Lunchroom.     

With the help of James Crabtree, he and Tim created a great little lunch menu to help travelers get their fix on 66 without breaking the bank.  You’ll find homemade affordable lunch fare like sandwiches, salads, chili, and even a large range of desserts.  You can count on getting your favorite Route 66 soda as well.  This latest endeavor didn’t come easy.  Alice is still suffering from a severe car accident that happened about 5 years ago.  The city health department and community development department handed Tim an extensive list of hurdles to overcome in order to operate as a food service station.  Tim has also had break-ins where thieves made off with valuable merchandise.

Tim and Alice still have plenty of fight in their spirits.  With the help of James and a whole lot of creative resourcefulness, it looks like The Totem Pole Trading Post will be a landmark for years to come.

Be sure to stop in and visit the Trading Post on your next trip down Route 66.  There is something for everyone.  Tim is a wealth of knowledge on local history and has plenty of great memorabilia on display.

  June of 2015 will mark the grand opening of the Route 66 Lunchroom located inside of the trading post.  Try one of their signature Fried Bologna Sandwiches.  You’ll be glad you did and you’ll also be helping to preserve a Route 66 icon.






March 2, 2015


Rich Dinkela: 314.369.4366

Judy Wallmark:  417.588.6110

Hazelgreen, MO:  Route 66 enthusiasts from all over the world will gather at 3:00 p.m. at the west end of the Gasconade River Bridge near Hazelgreen, MO on Saturday, March 14 to voice their support for a Missouri Route 66 and Ozarks icon, that being the bridge across the Gasconade River in Laclede County, Missouri.  This ever-growing group of organizations and concerned individuals has worked tirelessly to save this bridge, including, at this point, seeking to have the bridge placed on the National Register of Historic Places.  Over 200 people are expected to attend the rally  Having recently received notification that the bridge is indeed eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places, the Lebanon-Laclede County Route 66 Society (LL66), a 501(c)3 nonprofit, has come forward as this group’s supporting organization moving forward.

Following the 3:00 p.m. rally, attendees will meet with other activists, historic preservationists, members of the Route 66 Association of Missouri, Laclede County Government Officials and officials from the state to discuss the Gasconade River Bridge and what can be done to save this historic structure.  This meeting will be held at 5:00 p.m. at the Lebanon-Laclede County Library, located at 915 S. Jefferson St.  Everyone with questions, specific interests, or desired involvement in the bridge is welcome to attend.  The intent of the meeting is to discuss plans of action, forming of a committee, and discussion of any developments or findings since the last rally in December 2014.

Despite the fact that it was relatively short-lived as a highway, US Highway 66 (Route 66) is, without a doubt, the most famous road in America.  It is important in the history of US transportation as the first national highway linking Chicago and Los Angeles, but its significance in American history is much more far-reaching.  Route 66 is symbolic of the major changes in American life during the first half of the 20th Century. These changes included the proliferation of automobiles, the development of roadside culture, and the westward migration of Americans during the depression and post-war years.  However, more than anything else, Route 66, the Main Street of America, the Mother Road, has become an icon of progress, hope, opportunity and adventure in America.
One of the reasons Route 66 is such a strong visual and physical experience is because of the way it was designed and engineered.  Unlike new interstate highways, which are more efficient and meant to handle thousands of cars at high speeds, Route 66 has a more human scale, and as a result, people feel more physically connected to it.  It is narrower, tends to have grassy shoulders (which means less pavement) and motorists can drive it more slowly without slowing the flow of traffic.  As a result, the landscape unfolds instead of whisks past.


Scenic Byway Routes like Missouri Route 66 have value not only for aesthetics and preservation, but also as a way to promote desirable forms of tourism and increase income in regions.  Foreign and domestic tourists alike are interested in visiting the various points of interest, and the natural wonders of the physical and cultural environment offered along the Missouri Route 66 Corridor.  Economic development opportunities in the Laclede County Route 66 Corridor are greatly based on corridor travel experience, as well as land uses and infill opportunities in the various communities.
Intact bridges may be contributing features of large historic landscapes, or may be considered as individual resources.  Intact bridges and individual sections of roadway may be representative of early engineering, workmanship and changes in road-building techniques during the period of significance, and of common patterns of use.  These resources are important as tangible links with specific events and emerging technologies, such as completion of the first stretch of 4-lane highway Route 66 in Missouri, as well as for their overall role in the development of the highway system.  The presence of intact historic roadways and bridges can also serve to strengthen connections between other types of resources, such as landscapes and groups of buildings.
The Gasconade River Bridge is significant because of its actual experience of the road, the kinesthetic experience that is dependent upon a sense of place created by intact landscapes as a contributing property along Route 66.
The Gasconade River Bridge has the ability to evoke a sense of place and experience.  This historic structure, dating to 1924, is fully intact and reflects its period of significance, making it a perfect candidate for the National Register of Historic Places.  The goal of this group of concerned citizens, passionate Route 66 enthusiasts/preservationists is to ensure the restoration and preservation of this historic Route 66 Bridge.

“This bridge personifies Route 66 through the Ozark region,” states Roamin’ Rich Dinkela.  “Even if you’ve never heard of Route 66 you know when you see this bridge that you’re seeing a living part of history.  Much like the Chain of Rocks Bridge in St. Louis, this structure reels in people from all over the world.  I know it sounds crazy, but people young and old have a hunger for history.  What will they learn about if this bridge and others like it are replaced with homogenized, sterilized, lifeless concrete structures?  Nothing!  They’ll see it in a book and wish they could have experienced it.  As they thirst for more knowledge about our historical byways, they will gravitate toward the regions that make preservation a priority.  We can do this; we can save this bridge.”

Tens of thousands of tourists, mostly traveling abroad from other continents, descend upon the Mother Road ANNUALLY to live and experience the past. To these tourists, it’s the dream of a lifetime. Replacing the bridge with a modern structure would alter the canvas of Route 66 through the Ozarks, consequently interrupting that dream. According to a Rutgers University study released in 2012, more than 5 million people live and work along Route 66, more than 85% of Route 66 tourists visit historic places and spend over $38 million a year in Route 66 communities! Route 66 tourism boasts annual gains of $262 million in overall output. Our historic landmarks and pieces of infrastructure such as the Gasconade River Bridge should be kept available for tourists to experience.

Samples of testimony from around the world:

Anja and Wolfgang Werz (Germany):  Several thousand tourists from Germany traveled each year the Route 66 from Chicago to Santa Monica.  An important reason for them is to ride on the trail of American history, including historic bridges such as the Gasconade River near Hazelgreen, MO.  If all the historic attractions of Route 66 are gradually removed, it is for the tourists no longer interesting to come to the U.S. and travel The Route 66.

Monique and Willem Bor (Netherlands):  Many tourists from the Netherlands like to drive the Route 66 and see all the old buildings, bridges and stretches off route 66.  Please be careful with the remaining attractions because else tourist will no longer be interested in Route 66.  Lately many old motels are disappearing, they were demolished or they burned down.  Preservation is very important so…preserve the historic Gasconade Bridge!!  Be proud of what’s still there!

Publicity is the most instrument force we can ask for.  We want to make sure our community is seen and heard.  Missouri’s historic infrastructure is important, and right now it’s in the most critical condition.  Our leaders need to recognize the need for maintenance and preservation of our aging highway system.  While we still have these historical structures around, it’s imperative we preserve them for the sake of our growing communities.  It’s not just a bridge, it’s not just a road, it’s a landmark.  People tell stories about it, pay thousands of dollars, fly thousands of miles to see it, and they marvel over it.  What will we leave behind for our children?  Help us fix our historic structures.  Helps us get the attention of Jefferson City and Washington DC.  We look forward to seeing you at the rally!

Concerned parties are also encouraged to sign a petition to save the bridge.


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Restore and SAVE the Route 66 Landmark - Gasconade Bridge in Hazelgreen Missouri

On Tuesday December 23rd, a successful rally was held at the Gasconade River Bridge in Hazelgreen, MO.  The focus of the rally was to gain attention from local, state, and federal officials that the people want the bridge restored.  This Route 66 bridge was closed December 19 by the Missouri Department of Transportation because of safety factors stemming from deterioration of the bridge structure. 

MoDOT had officials on site at the bridge during the rally, which chiefly included Bob Lynch, the area engineer for MoDOT. A large variety of media was also on hand at the event. Officials were met with concerns brought forth from the Route 66 community, local residents, farmers, and even some tourists from China. 

Route 66 roadies brought forth a barrage of testimony citing tourism as the number one chief concern for the area.  Tens of thousands of tourists, mostly traveling abroad from continents outside of North America, descend upon the Mother Road to live and experience the past.  To them, it’s the dream of a lifetime.  Replacing the bridge with a modern structure would alter the canvas of Route 66 through the Ozarks, consequently interrupting that dream.  According to a Rutgers University study released in 2012, more than 5 million people live and work along Route 66, more than 85% of Route 66 tourists visit historic places, and spend over $38 million dollars a year in Route 66 communities.  Route 66 tourism boasts annual gains of $262 million in overall output.  Our historic landmarks and pieces of infrastructure such as the Gasconade Bridge should be kept available for tourists to experience.  On hand at the rally was a local couple from China traveling Route 66 from California.  The young man proudly displayed a tattoo of a Route 66 shield on his leg.  He and his wife chose to travel Route 66 as their vacation over any other place in the world.  They were spending 2 weeks along the mother road, traveling east towards Chicago.  He went on to say that they were planning a return trip next year and would be making the opposite trip heading west to Santa Monica.  It’s a fact. – Tourists come from all over the world to experience Route 66 and they spend their money to do it.

Testimony from all over the world:

·       Pierre Marc (France):   Thousands of French people like us travel each year on Route 66. We have done it in 2010 and will probably do it again in the following years. Last time, we spend three weeks along this road leaving $ to the US treasure with pleasure and next time, it may be even longer and with more $ !!!

·       Anja and Wolfgang Werz (Germany):  Several thousand tourists from Germany traveled each year the Route 66 from Chicago to Santa Monica. An important reason for them is to ride on the trail of American history, including historic bridges such as the Gasconade Bridge near Hazelgreen, MO. If all the historic attractions of Route 66 are gradually removed, it is for the tourists no longer interesting to come to the U.S. and travel The Route 66.

·       Christian Bradtke (Germany):  I want to see, live and feel the American way...the American history. With every lost "original" the rt66 loses one more reason to be loved the way it is. I don't want to ride the best, shortest or most comfortable way. I want to ride the true road, with true attractions. It doesn't matter if you "loose" some time by traveling the old historic route66 with all their side trips.  Because you will win impressions you will never forget in your live. And the Gasconade Bridge is absolutely one of it.

·       Monique and Willem Bor (Netherlands):  Many tourists from the Netherlands like to drive the Route 66 and see all the old buildings, bridges and stretches off Route 66. Please be careful with the remaining attractions because else tourist will no longer be interested in Route 66. Lately many old motels are disappearing, they were demolished or they burned down. Preservation is very important so………preserve the historic Gasconade Bridge!! Be proud of what's still there!

·      Dale Butel (Australia) I fell in love with Historic Route 66 on my honeymoon, as travel agents, my wife and I thought others might like to travel this amazing bit of blacktop and concrete, with all its café’s, motels, bridges, all a glimpse into yesteryear. Well a decade later our business is focused on bringing Australians and New Zealanders to road trip the USA on Historic Route 66. The joy we get from seeing our clients re-live a piece of the past is worth more than any amount of income. It is truly a privilege to be able to introduce more and more people to this amazing time capsule. Every bit of it is important, every rotting motel, every rough bit of road and every classic old bridge or culvert. It all represents America from another time, and a piece of our collective childhood. If they are lost, then the experience will also be lost, and visitors from other countries will stop coming. They will stop, and the amazing amounts of money they bring with them will also stop. Let’s be very careful how we manage this amazing and somewhat confusing draw card to so many international visitors. Historic Route 66 has again become a “Avenue of Revenue”. 

Michael Garret, a neighbor to the bridge and volunteer fireman raised concerns that not having the bridge repaired quickly would leave many nearby homes vulnerable because the fire department would be forced to use a much longer detour to get to nearby residents. 

Local farmers also made their voices heard at the rally.  Without the bridge how would they get their farming implements back and forth across the river?  They were candid with Mr. Lynch, insisting on whether MoDOT was willing to allow passage via I-44 located a couple hundred feet away.  Lynch was unable to give an answer to their dilemma.

Citing another study performed by Great Rivers in conjunction with Missouri Route 66 Corridor they found that 96% of respondents interviewed in Laclede County felt it was important to preserve the Route 66 Corridor.  The Gasconade bridge is located in Laclede County.

MoDOT has not confirmed what the fate of the bridge will be at this moment, but they have listed three options they are faced with:  Permanent closure until funding is secured, replacement with an entirely new bridge, or repairs to the existing bridge. 

Bob Lynch said they should have some conclusion based on more inspections and studies within the next 2-6 weeks. For now, the structure will remain barricaded to prevent anyone from accessing the bridge. 

One factor influencing the decision is the location of the bridge.  The bridge is located on what was considered until last week an "Incident Bypass Route."  Meaning in case of a highway closure, traffic would be routed from the interstate onto this old section of Route 66 and through this bridge crossing the Gasconade River.  This factor will also play heavily into the decision whether or not the bridge should remain or be replaced.

Below is a video from a news report at the scene of the rally:

There was a common consensus among all attendees: Repair the historical bridge and add it to the National Register of Historic Places.  Preserve this landmark and preserve the community.  Restoring the bridge back to its original beauty should be made a high priority.  MoDOT has an opportunity to shine in the spotlight of the public if it decides to preserve this historical landmark.  It is in the best interest of everyone to encourage MoDOT and the scenic byways program to find funding to save the Gasconade Bridge.   

Several months ago, Pulaski County and MoDOT reopened a similar type bridge to the east after an intensive restoration project. It was a joint venture to repair and preserve the Devil's Elbow Bridge in Devil's Elbow, Missouri. The Devil's Elbow Bridge project was heavily funded by grant money.  There has been much fanfare surrounding the accomplishment of restoring the bridge at Devil’s Elbow.  It was a process worth repeating for the Gasconade Bridge.  We hope officials will investigate and implement the practices used at Devil’s Elbow. 

To ensure the restoration of the bridge it is the duty of all local residents and Route 66 roadies to make contact with the list of people below. We need to make it known how important the bridge is to the world.  Take the time to write emails, send letters, and make phone calls.  Share this article containing important info to all concerned citizens and people in the Route 66 community. 

Photos taken by Roamin' Rich at the bridge rally on Tuesday 12-23-14:

Important contacts   -Please let them know how you feel!-

  1. Katie Steele Danner with Missouri Tourism:         573-751-3051
  2. NATL Parks Route 66 Corridor Act:    505-988-6701 
  3. Federal Highways:  573-638-2620
  4. MO State Bridge Engineer: 573-751-4676
  5. MoDOT Comment Line:   573-751-3322 
  6. MO HWY Commission:   573-751-2824
  7. MO Senator Roy Blunt:     202-224-5721
  8. MO Historic Preservation office:                           573-751-7858
  9. MO REP Diane Franklin:     573-751-1119
  10. MO Rep Steve Lynch:      573-751-1446

Get involved quickly and easily!

  1. Sign the petition to save the bridge!
  2. Let MoDOT know your story about the bridge:
  3. Join discussion on Facebook! 

Articles related to the rally:

Route 66 bridges in Missouri


World Monuments Fund - Route 66


Smithsonian - Endangered Site: Historic Route 66


Pulaski County Devil’s Elbow Bridge over the Big Piney River


Laclede County Hazelgreen Bridge (Endangered) over the Gasconade River

 Important images and documents:

Recreating an old piece of the trail. National old trails and Route 66

I am in the process of recreating a little known piece of art that stood along a popular section of Route 66 and National Old Trails highway.  I can't give the complete details of what the piece is, but it will be on the road soon for everyone to see and share.  If you are planning to drive west out to the International Route 66 Festival in Kingman, Arizona, this beauty will be available for you to check out.

Follow the progress on my Facebook page!

Roamin' Rich Interprets his Perceptions of Route 66 During "Genuine Life" Interview.

During an interview with KC Keefer, Rich explains his motivation for becoming so involved with the modern revival of Route 66.  Roamin' Rich has his own ideology of how Route 66 is thriving today and what people can do to become apart of the Route 66 family.

To share the adventure with Roamin' Rich, follow him or Friend him on Facebook: 

Check out his very own video library on YouTube: 

You can also find him on Twitter: 

Or check him out at his own website: 

Have fun and always, "Go Your Own Way!"


Here's the damage sustained to the Blade 350qx we crashed behind the painted desert trading while filming the area. 40+ MPH winds made piloting the quad copters a stressful experience.

We lost sight of the aircraft when the wind took control of it and blew it northeast of our location. We spent about 2 hours searching the scrubby desert. We have lost one drone before which is somewhat costly, a more devastating toll is losing the footage on the GoPro camera. We faired pretty well. We only broke the landing gear, a prop, and cracked some of the body. All can be repaired inexpensively and easily.

We also flew our highly outfitted DJI PHANTOM modified by DSLRPROS. The phantom did fairly well under the conditions and was easier to control with the FPV Viewer, and remote telemetry. It did lumber against the winds to return home to its point of origin.

All in all it was a great adventure. It seems like nearly every time I visit the painted desert trading post near the painted desert national park I always encounter something new or memorable.Pictured is a Route 66 roadie favorite: The Painted Desert Trading Post. Located on Route 66 between Navajo and Holbrook In Arizona.

#drone #dji #phantom #blade350qx #route66 #quadcoptercrash #dslrpros