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Missouri Route 66

Fascinating Lebanon

Missouri Route 66

 

Bell Restaurant in Lebanon
The Bell Restaurant in Lebanon

Lebanon, Missouri is a great Route 66 town. It was founded in 1849 as the county seat of newly formed Leclede County and named for Lebanon, Tennessee by the settlers, many of who came from that Tennessee town. After the Civil War the coming of the railroad disrupted the town. The Railroad figured that the good citizens of Lebanon owed them some free land for their new train depot, the citizens figured otherwise however. Disgruntled because the town would not provide free land and a depot building the railroad moved the location of their depot a mile from the town. Well the town just packed up and moved to the new location. Unfortunately that location wasn’t quite as nice as the well-drained original location, but oh well the town got a free railroad depot out of it.
   
Lebanon today is the home of the famous Route 66 Motel, the Munger Moss and equally famous among those who travel the Mother Road, Wrink’s Food Market. The Bell Restaurant still serves up a mighty fine platter to hungry motorists too.
       

The Munger Moss Motel

It has been a long day of driving. You are tired and the family just wants to stop and rest. Now is the time that every traveler has to reckon with ~ where to stop for the night? Pulling off the highway into Lebanon, Missouri your choice is very simple. The warm glow of the Munger Moss neon beckons you on like an old friend with the promise of rest and comfort. And for over fifty years the Munger Moss Motel has delivered on that very promise. The Munger Moss Motel is a Vintage Auto Court that harks back to the hey-day of Route 66! It has been the "home away from home" for generations of travelers on old Route 66, and is still serving the modern highway traveler with all the amenities one would expect from a first class lodging establishment.

Munger Moss Neon

     

Bob and Ramona Lehman
Ramona and Bob Lehman of the Munger Moss
with some of their vintage toys.

Bob and Ramona Lehman have owned the Munger Moss Motel since 1971. Truer roadies you will not find along the celebrated highway. Their lives and their business are now part of the lore of Route 66. Whether you plan to spend the night or just drop by and say hi, you won’t be sorry you stopped here.
     

Munger Moss 1946
Munger Moss in 1946

The early history of the Munger Moss Motel is a great example of the individuals, trials and tribulations of the times. Ramona Lehman gives us a fascinating account of those early days; "In 1946 the motel was built and opened. There were 14 cabins with garages in between the rooms. Those were very busy days for the Hudsons. They worked day and night it seemed. Some of the tales are that the lumber was black market lumber. Remember rationing days were still in existence. Mr. Hudson would stay hid, for if the feds could not find the owner, they could not stop the construction. Jessie once stated that she went to St. Louis to one of the big department stores, and was escorted out because she had asked to purchase a case of toilet paper... Things like sugar were hard to come by. All meat was ordered through a salesman, and then brought in by the train. Depot would call.... come get your meat."
      
"Like I said the Hudson's worked hard... as business kept getting better, the motel was expanded... more units were built, and eventually the spaces between the cabins were filled in. Then comes more talk of 4 lane highways. It was in 1957 that the four-lane was opened that by passed the city. Again fears that business would die loomed in the background. But the day came that the highway was opened. The highway department had not connected the road by the motel to the business loop yet. Mr. Hudson went down to the corner with plank to put across the ditch.... painted a sign that said Munger Moss with an arrow pointing down toward the motel. It was on a Saturday night, and he said they came around just like clockwork.. Munger Moss was not going to be by passed.. it would survive."

Munger Moss Motel 1950s Post Card
1950s Post Card of the Munger Moss

   

Munger Moss Motel

"The next few years were spent making plans for the expansion of Munger Moss. The restaurant was sold to Jim Sponseller and his mother Iva. They became known for their heavy bread, the famous Thousand Island Dressing, Cherry Cream Pie and good old German Chocolate Cake. Mr. Hudson built the first pool in Lebanon. We still use it today. He told us he had to dynamite it out. Used old mattresses to cover the ground so that the explosions would not throw rocks and break windows."
      
So as you can see. If you are near Lebanon, Missouri and it’s time for a break from the road and a restful night’s sleep there is only one place to go – The Munger Moss Motel. Route 66 still lives at this old auto court. Clean, modern rooms await you at the Munger Moss Motel. Yet the Munger Moss has all the charm of yesteryear ~ those days before the Interstate cut off small town America and the unique "mom and pop" businesses that lined America's two-lane highways. Be sure to check out the special Route 66 room while you're there.

The Route 66 Room

 

Historic Wrinks Food Market

    
Wrinks Market in Lebanon Just down the street from the Munger Moss Motel is Wrink’s Food Market, it has been an institution along this stretch of Route 66 for over 50 years. Glen Wrinkle is the proprietor and he loves people to drop in and say hi and talk about Route 66. Back in June 2003 while I was a member of the historic Route 66 Caravan we pulled into Lebanon to see Bob and Ramona Lehman and of course Glen Wrinkle at Wrink’s Market. Imagine our surprise when we found out that Glen was celebrating his 54th anniversary of his store that day. On June 10th, 1949 Glen opened the store that would become a Route 66 institution. His whole life has been entwined with Route 66.
    
Ramona Lehman says this about her friend; "One of his (Glen) highlights was when Paul Harvey commented ‘at Wrink's you could still get a bologna sandwich for 99 cents.’ Of course today, the health department won't let him make and serve sandwiches anymore. Another highlight was when Clint Eastwood stopped in and bought some diapers - neat to have a celebrity stop in this little store. We compare notes on this road." Glen Wrinkle
    
A stop at Wrinks is a grand experience too. Glen may not sell sandwiches anymore but his collection of Route 66 memorabilia and interesting antiques and curios well makes up for that. Of course all mementos come complete with a story from Glen. I could have spent hours listening to Glen weave tales of the Mother Road, its people and the events that shaped its history. And yes, you can still buy snacks, sodas or anything else you might need for your road trip at Wrink's. After all, it wouldn't be much of a market if you couldn't.

Photographs taken September 2002, June and September 2003

Click on an area or city of Route 66 on the map below to take a cyber tour of that section of the  Mother Road

Travel Cyber Route 66 in Missouri

Go West on Route 66

NAVIGATION NOTE: Buckle up and hold on to your mouse! These pages are arranged like the map above, from the western state border to the eastern state border. I have set up this site as if you were traveling from EAST to WEST, much like the Joad family in The Grapes of Wrath. You can click on the Route 66 shields to "travel" the Mother Road in either direction though. Or you can select any shield below to take you to that specific state.

Go East on Route 66

To Springfield

To Devil's Elbow

 

Select the Route 66 State to Visit

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