Pulaski County Visitors Center: Tourists, Travelers, & Visitors Welcome!

Click image to learn more about Missouri’s “Show Me Strong Recovery Plan”

Missouri will reopen economic and social activity on May 4th under Governor Mike Parson’s “Show Me Strong Recovery” plan. Pulaski County Tourism Bureau’s Visitors Center will reopen, with limited services, May 4th as part of this plan. We will resume our normal hours of operation to serve travelers, tourists, and visitors Monday-Friday between the hours of 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.

Pulaski County has always been a “Welcome Place in America’s Heartland” and we continue this core philosophy.

We believe that a getaway to our charming, small communities in the Ozark Mountain region is a perfect way to reintroduce your family to travel and exploration. We invite you to stop by our Visitors Center (137 St. Robert Blvd., Saint Robert, Missouri) when you arrive in Pulaski County.

Visitors Center Procedures

For the safety of our tourists, travelers, visitors, and employees during the COVID-19 pandemic, Pulaski County Tourism Bureau & Visitors Center is instituting the following procedures until further notice:

  • Visitors may choose to use our curbside Tourist Information service.
  • One travel party at a time will be allowed to enter.
  • Visitors will be greeted just inside the door at the Welcome Table.
  • Visitors will be asked to voluntary provide information to assist in contact tracing IF THE NEED ARISES. (Information is collected only for notification of possible COVID-19 related concerns. Information will not be used for any other reason.)
  • A Visitors Center Representative will determine the travel information needed, gather the information, and present the bag of information for you to continue your visit to Pulaski County or travel throughout the state of Missouri.
  • Restroom facilities: One restroom has been designated as the Family Restroom. One adult and child may enter to use the restroom or two adults from the same travel party.
  • Retail Room: One visitor may enter the retail area.

Cleaning Procedures

  • Visitor Center Representatives will apply hand sanitizer prior to gathering travel literature.
  • Welcome Table and interior/exterior door handles will be disinfected upon travel party departure.
  • The Family Restroom will be disinfected upon travel party departure.
  • Point-of-Sale equipment is electronic. Signing instrument will be disinfected after every use.

Employee Guidelines for Visitor Safety

  • While interacting with visitors Pulaski County Tourism Bureau & Visitor Center staff will wear masks.
  • Staff are required to stay within a 60-mile radius of the Visitors Center. Travel outside the 60-mile radius will be reported to supervisor.
  • Staff will not come to work sick.

Visitor Recommendations

Pulaski County businesses are open. Remain cognizant of social distancing and cleanliness for yourself and others. Masks are encouraged.

Please be advised to call ahead to determine availability of businesses you plan to visit. Due to varying community requirements, or business owner ability, full services may not be available. Many of these services are changing daily.

Pulaski County Tourism Bureau & Visitors Center will continue to monitor the situation and will tighten or relax procedures as needed.

Historic Driving Tours

Where is Pulaski County’s ghost section of Route 66? Why is Hooker Cut an engineering marvel? What patriotic holiday is also the “birthday” of the iconic Devils Elbow Bridge? Who is George M. Reed? Why is a roadside park named after him? Pulaski County Tourism Bureau answers these questions in their free Historic Driving Tours brochure.

1926 Touring Model T crossing the Devils Elbow steel bridge on Route 66 in Pulaski County, Missouri.
The Fishback’s from Wisconsin crossing the Devils Elbow Route 66 steel bridge in their 1926 Touring Model T.

More Than A Map

The history of Route 66 comes to life as you explore Pulaski County’s 33 miles of historic highway with your brochure in hand. Taking inspiration from Jack D. Rittenhouse’s 1946 A Guide Book to Highway 66 and adapted from Terry Primas’ Route 66 in Pulaski County, Missouri (a local history) the brochure has become a keepsake for Route 66 adventurers.

For Adventurers

While exploring the Mother Road in Pulaski County you will be awestruck by the allure of the Ozarks. Stroll across the sturdy Devils Elbow bridge. Take in the timeless bluffs that tower above the Big Piney River. Visit the City of Saint Robert museum to gain an understanding of how Fort Leonard Wood affected the alignment of Route 66 in Pulaski County. Order take-out from a Mom & Pop joint and picnic at the roadside park. Scout Waynesville’s historic sites on foot. For an authentic Ozarks adventure, dive into Roubidoux Spring. The spring is one of the few Ozark Mountains natural springs that allows swimming.

More to Explore

The Historic Driving Tours brochure includes a Frisco Railroad itinerary. This self-guided tour will help you discover Pulaski County’s railroad boomtowns. Climb the notorious Dixon Hill. This ascent tortured railroad engineers for decades. Photograph the abandoned Fox Crossing schoolhouse. Scout the trackside community of Swedeborg. Dine and shop in Dixon, Crocker, and Richland.

The guide also includes a driving tour highlighting historic points of interest on Fort Leonard Wood. Access to the installation is not guaranteed to the general public. However, for visitors attending their soldier-in-training’s military graduation, this tour will deepen your understanding of the installation’s impact on the Pulaski County region.

Yours for the Asking

Ask for your Historic Driving Tours brochure when you order your official Pulaski County Visitors Guide . Many area hotels, shops, and restaurants have them on hand. The free guide is also stocked in the outdoor kiosk at the Pulaski County Visitors Center in Saint Robert, Missouri.

Historic Downtown Waynesville Walking Tour

Which building on Waynesville’s public square was owned by Royalty? Where was Waynesville’s Opera House? Why is Waynesville “The Birthplace of the Byway”? Pulaski County Tourism Bureau answers these questions in their free Historic Downtown Waynesville Walking Tour brochure.

World War II era soldiers on the Square in downtown Waynesville, Missouri.
Soldiers on the Square in Waynesville in 1941. Image courtesy of Jan and Terry Primas.

Waynesville’s history comes to life as you explore downtown with your brochure in hand. Based on the research of noted Pulaski County historians, this self-guided tour describes twenty-six points of interest in downtown Waynesville, Missouri. The brochure is your blueprint for an afternoon of investigating the charming community.

During your tour you will discover century-old buildings and remnants of village life before Route 66 came to town. Stand in the footsteps where pioneers and early settlers forded the Roubidoux River. You will gain an understanding of the tragedy of the Trail of Tears. You will also witness how the arrival of neighboring Fort Leonard Wood forever changed the look of Waynesville.

For Adventurers

Adventurers from all walks of life recommend the tour. Route 66 enthusiast explore the city to come to know it better- to make it more than just a name on a map.

The tour is a fun learning activity. Consequently, it can be used in homeschool lesson plans.

However, the tour is not just for visitors, travelers, and tourists. Locals enjoy learning the unique stories about the buildings and locations they see in their everyday travels.

More to Explore

Bring your camera along on your tour. Many of Waynesville’s historic buildings are photogenic and inspiring! As a result, Plein air painters and artists have captured Waynesville’s cityscape in their art.  

Bring your appetite! Downtown Waynesville is home to international flavors and pub grub that will make your taste buds sing! Indulge in Missouri wines, Ozarks craft beer, and gourmet coffee.

Ask for your Historic Downtown Waynesville Walking Tour when you order your official Pulaski County Visitors Guide . Many downtown merchants have them on hand. The free guide is also stocked in the outdoor kiosk at the Pulaski County Visitors Center in Saint Robert, Missouri.

Visit the Old Stagecoach Stop- Virtually!

The Old Stagecoach Stop on the Square in Waynesville, Missouri is closed due to coronavirus and stay-at-home orders. You can still visit this beloved Pulaski County landmark online though!

Pulaski County Tourism Bureau caught up with the Foundation’s president, Jeannie Porter, and past-President Jan Primas, on how the organization is still meeting their mission- and how you can teach your kids Pulaski County history during the pandemic.

Exterior of the Old Stagecoach Stop in Waynesville, Missouri.
Exterior of the Old Stagecoach Stop in Waynesville, Missouri.

Pulaski County Tourism Burau: It is easy to see that the coronavirus crisis has brought travel to a standstill. How has that affected your organization?

Old Stagecoach Stop Foundation: Sadly, we were not able to open the Museum on April 4th as scheduled. Nor were we able to complete our cleaning and preparations for opening. We always look forward to the many traveling visitors and military families who are looking for things to do while here for graduations. 

PCTB: The Old Stagecoach Stop Museum usually opens the first Saturday in April. What was it like for the docents when they learned they would not be able to throw open the doors and welcome visitors on schedule?

OSS: We were disappointed but knew that delaying our opening was the right thing to do. At least one county in Missouri had put a “Stay at home order” in place when we made our decision. Docents at the OSS are all volunteers, many are Seniors, we have no paid staff and our visitors come from all around the US and overseas. Considering all those factors, it seemed a sound decision. We all look forward to our tourist season which runs from April thru September. We were beginning to fill out our calendar for the 6-month period and dates were filling up. We will need to do some adjusting to the calendar when we are able to set our opening date, after allowing time to do our spring cleaning. 

PCTB: Your organization has transformed the Old Stagecoach Stop building from an unloved crumbling mess to a beloved Waynesville treasure. How is the building being cared for during Missouri’s Stay-At-Home order? What are some of the associated challenges?

The Old Stagecoach Stop as it appeared in 1977. Image by James Reist.
The Old Stagecoach Stop as it appeared in 1977. Image by James Reist.

OSS: Stay-at-Home order or not, our old building takes lots of loving care year-round. Luckily, we have talented board members that can help with the maintenance of the building. The Old Stagecoach Stop is 165 years old. It seems there is always something to be done. The front exterior of the building was painted this fall, and the chimneys had some sealant applied. This summer/fall we plan to have the rest of the building painted. A new water heater was also installed this spring. Building maintenance is a never-ending process.

PCTB: Does the OSS maintain any other buildings on the property? How do they fit into the Old Stagecoach Stop’s story?

Yes. In 2003 the Foundation purchased the lot behind the Old Stagecoach Stop. It had been a part of W. W. McDonald’s property in the 1850’s. The yard extends back to highway 17. A.S. and Lulu McNeese built the two-room brick building during WW II to provide rental rooms. When acquired, the McNeese Building, as it is now named, was used for storage. Plans were to eventually make it part of our tour after some restoration. We soon discovered that not to be feasible. In the past year we have been working to make it the monthly meeting place for our Board of Directors meetings. Some repairs and painting the interior and a new roof have made that possible.

The McNeese building on the Old Stagecoach Stop property in Waynesville, Missouri. Image by Laura Huffman, August 2019.
The McNeese building on the Old Stagecoach Stop property in Waynesville, Missouri.

PCTB: When the OSS can open again will you continue to offer free admission?

OSS: Absolutely. We have never charged our Saturday visitors an admission fee, though we do accept donations and we sell souvenirs. We do however charge for tours scheduled at times other than our scheduled hours. We try our best to accommodate tour requests from groups, bus tours, and families. We charge $2 per person for those tours.

PCTB: Do you have any projects that volunteers can help you with virtually right now? Historical research, grant opportunities, transcription work, brochure design, etc.? If so, what are your needs and how can someone sign up to pitch in?

OSS: Currently, due to COVID 19, there is nothing. Once we reopen, there will be opportunities. If interested you could stop by on a Saturday or contact our President, Jeanie Porter at (573) 336-3561.

PCTB:  For parents who wish to add more Pulaski County, Missouri history to homeschool lesson plans what parts of your website would you recommend they use? Any other sections of your website that would be especially interesting and helpful?

OSS: There are three sections of the website that could be used to develop lessons. They are: Route 66 Auto Tour, Old Settlers Gazette Archives, and the Podcasts. All lend themselves to the lessons of history and one could develop some interesting lessons around them. Even the Vintage Image Gallery could be used for some creative writing activities.

Historic marker outside the Old Stagecoach Stop in Waynesville, Missouri. Image by Laura Huffman.
Historic marker outside the Old Stagecoach Stop in Waynesville, Missouri.

PCTB: How happy would it make your heart to see pictures of the OSS from past visits prior to the COVID-19 crisis? How can they get them to you?

OSS: We would be delighted to accept photos visitors have taken during a visit. Contact our webmaster by email at tprimas@mac.com.  He can let you know the best way to send them.

PCTB: How can people stay in touch with the Old Stagecoach Stop during this time? How can we find out when you are ready for visitors again?

OSS: Visit our website (www.oldstagecoachstop.org)  or our Facebook https://www.facebook.com/oldstagecoachstop) page.

History & Heroes- Hector John Polla

Hector John Polla was born in Lexington, Missouri in 1916. He graduated from Higginsville High School and Wentworth Military Academy Junior College before heading to the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1937. Upon his graduation from West Point in 1941, Lt. Polla was deployed to the Philippines and stationed on the Bataan Peninsula.

He was there when the Japanese attacked on December 8, 1941. His courage and gallantry during the defense of the Bataan resulted in his being awarded the Silver Star Medal. He survived the Bataan Death March and spent nearly three years in Japanese prisoner of war camps. Survivors of the war camps praise him for the leadership, fortitude, and skill he demonstrated during the hard years of captivity. Lt. Polla died tragically in January 1945 after the Japanese ship on which he and other prisoners were being transported was bombed by American forces.

1LT Hector J. Polla (1916-1945)

In addition to the Silver Star Medal, Polla’s military medals and other citations include the Purple Heart Medal, two Bronze Star Medals, the Prisoner of War Medal, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with one bronze service star, the American Defense Service Medal, the Combat Infantryman Badge 1st Award, and the Philippines Defense Ribbon.

1LT Hector John Polla is the namesake of Polla Road. Polla Road connects Fort Leonard Wood’s west gate with the town of Waynesville.

History & Heroes is an occasional series of interesting facts regarding namesakes and historical figures in Pulaski County, Missouri.

Historical sketch of 1LT Hector John Polla provided by Fort Leonard Wood.