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Gasconade River Bridge makes Missouri’s Most Endangered list

Gasconade River Bridge, Hazelgreen, Missouri

Route 66’s closed Gasconade River Bridge near Hazelgreen, Missouri, made Missouri Preservation’s Most Endangered Historic Places list for 2015.

The Old Phillipsburg General Store in the Route 66 town of Phillipsburg, Missouri, also made the list.

Old Phillipsburg General Store, Phillipsburg, Missouri

The annual list, announced Friday, is designed to call attention to properties endangered because of deterioration, neglect, encroachment, potential demoltion or a combination of each.

Here’s what Missouri Preservation said about the bridge:

The Route 66 Bridge over the Gasconade River near Hazelgreen consists of a three-span through truss structure which was designed by the Missouri Highway Department and fabricated by the Illinois Steel Company of Chicago between 1922 and 1924. It represents one of the few bridges remaining from the 1920’s and constructed even before the Federal Aid Highway Act, which established a national highway system in 1925. Route 66 is without a doubt the most famous road in America. The bridges and roads that are part of the Route 66 corridor are important because they characterize Missouri and the changes that took place as a result of the automobile. Scenic byways such as Missouri’s Route 66 have value not only for aesthetics and preservation, but are also a way to promote heritage tourism and increase tourism income. Historical records show that there has long been an absence of repair and maintenance at this bridge. The Gasconade River Bridge near Hazelgreen was reported for several years to be deficient, but no remediation done to correct its problems. Then in 2014 the bridge was permanently closed to traffic. Recently Pulaski County and the Missouri Department of Transportation reopened a similar Route 66 bridge, the Devil’s Elbow Bridge. The effort was funded in large part with grant money. It is hoped that a new group, the Route 66 Gasconade River Guardians can work in similar fashion to help raise awareness and needed funds to reopen this iconic bridge on the “mother road.”

And here’s the entry about the Phillipsburg General Store:

Few small town buildings are as iconic as the old general store. The Phillipsburg General Store was constructed in the last years of the 1800s. It survived for many years as one of Phillipsburg’s largest buildings and now has the distinction of being the only historic building remaining in the village. The building sat next to the railroad tracks, and trains supplied the store with the many provisions needed for the villagers and local farmers. Sugar and flour, crackers and other needed items were bought in bulk and put in sacks to take come. Dolls and garden supplies, tools, as well as rabbits and chickens were purchased in the store and taken home in wagons pulled by horses. In later years Route 66 brought tourists to the tiny town. The upstairs served a variety of the community’s social needs, containing a small theater, an office where a lodge was located and where the Woodsmen of America met, as well as other groups like the American Legion. After the lodges were gone, ladies set up quilt blocks where they constructed quilts for many families in the community. During the 1990s some rehabilitation work was done on the old store and part of the building was used again for quilting and some antique sales. But in the meantime, a building that has been cut off from the railroad and its iconic roadway is in danger. A roof leak in the rear of the building has caused extensive damage to the rear masonry wall, which is in danger of collapsing. By listing here, the nominator hopes to rally local support for the old store building or to attract a buyer that is interested in renovation of this small town icon.

The Route 66 Bridge in Route 66 State Park over what used to be Times Beach, Missouri, also remains listed on the 2015 Watched Properties list.

(Images via Missouri Preservation)

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