Route 66 News

Hillbilly sign returns at Mule Trading Post

The Mule Trading Post near Rolla, Mo., blessed by energetic new owners, tracked down an old hillbilly sign that once graced the Hillbilly Store and brought it back from the dead, reports the Rolla Daily News.

The hillbilly sign now stands in front of a new tobacco barn they opened Memorial Day weekend, just next door to the Mule Trading Post. He stands close to two stories tall, and his arms rotate in a circular fashion.

I thought the Hillbilly Store sounded familiar. Sure enough, I leafed through Quinta Scott’s book “Along Route 66” and found an image of the original sign at the Hillbilly Store on old Route 66 near Devils Elbow, Mo. Here is an excerpt of an image of the original hillbilly sign:

The photo is not the sign that the Mule Trading Post has restored. The Mule fixed up a bigger sign that the Hillbilly Store commissioned after it moved closer to the interstate. The store eventually closed in 2000, and the sign lay in neglect until recently.

It sounds like Carl and Zelma Smith, owners of the Mule, aren’t done in rescuing old Route 66 signs.

“We’re members of the Route 66 Association,” said Zelma. “We’re all trying to buy the signs and keep them on Route 66. I try to collect everything I can find.”

Originally from Nebraska, Zelma didn’t fully realize the popularity of the historic highway until her and her husband became owners of the Mule Trading Post.

“During our first year, we had people from 39 different countries sign our guest book,” said Zelma. “They said they were following Route 66 from Chicago to California. A lot of people ship vintage cars and motorcycles over here to follow it — they’ve also been showing the Route 66 television program from the ’60s in foreign countries.”

The road is lucky to have business owners like the Smiths.


2 thoughts on “Hillbilly sign returns at Mule Trading Post

  1. Charlie and Debby (Fowler) Cox

    My wife and I just returned from a trip to St Robert this last week. I seen the new sign at the Mule trading post and commented to my wife “that looks like the sign outside the old hillbilly store.” My wife is from the area and I was stationed a FLW several times. Its great to see these old signs returning to the road front.

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