A Route 66 Community & Proud Fort Leonard Wood Neighbor
Waynesville, nestled in a picturesque Ozark Mountain valley, has a reputation for its Midwestern hospitality and charming small-town Americana. Route 66, the Main Street of America, doubles as Waynesville’s main street. The iconic highway leads travelers from around the world to Waynesville throughout the year.
Waynesville is also a proud neighbor of Fort Leonard Wood. The installation is one of the largest training bases for the United States military. Construction of the fort began in December, 1940 and has forever changed the face of the community. The town celebrates the diversity that Fort Leonard Wood has brought to the area.
The community was first settled in 1832 when G.W. Gibson made his home near the “Big Spring” on the Kickapoo Trace. That big spring, known as Roubidoux Spring, inspired the “Spring City” nickname. Roubidoux Spring is an Ozarks gem. The spring is a favorite swimming hole for locals and visitors.
The town has a vibrant, historic downtown that is infused with arts, entertainment, great food, culture, and tradition.
Birthplace of the Byway
Waynesville is proud of her significance to the Route 66 story. On July 10, 1990 Governor John Ashcroft designated Missouri’s Route 66 as a historic district- the first state to do so. The bill was signed during a ceremony on the Waynesville square. That historic legislation helped spur the revival of the Mother Road and cemented Waynesville’s legacy as the Birthplace of the Byway.”
Waynesville celebrates its Route 66 roots. Frog Rock has a world-wide fan base and is reminiscent of the highway’s famous roadside gimmicks.
Vintage buildings surround the Square. Pulaski County Museum is housed in the former 1903 Courthouse. It is one of only two remaining period courthouses on Route 66 in Missouri. This structure served residents of Pulaski County for well over 80 years. The building was designed by noted architect Henry H. Hohenschild. The upstairs courtroom is a pristine example of craftsmanship.
The Old Stagecoach Stop Museum, crowns the east side of the public square. Locals say that it is the oldest “stop” along Route 66 in Missouri. The antebellum structure began in the 1850s. During the Civil War the building was commandeered by the occupying Union force as a hospital.
Both museums are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Roubidoux Park lies along the banks of the Roubidoux River. This park is home to Little Heroes Playground- an all-accessible play feature. Take a stroll on the paved walking trail to Laughlin Park to fish, or splash in the Roubidoux Spring. Local legend states that if you dip your toes in the cool, clear spring water that you will return to Waynesville. The Mayor encourages you to test the legend!
As you ramble along the trail you will discover National Park Service interpretive signage depicting the tragic Trail of Tears. The 1923 five-span concrete arch bridge will have you reaching for your camera. It’s not the only spot in town for fantastic photo opportunities though!
On The Square
Explore downtown’s historic square and you will be rewarded with unique eats, drinks, and one-of-a-kind shops and stores.
Taste the Bavarian Alps at Ursula’s Schnitzelhaus. Hoppers Pub features 66 draft beers on tap and a Jam Burger that you will brag on. Piney River Taproom Brewery, the newest downtown addition, offers up fresh, hot slices of pizza and award-winning craft beer inspired by the Ozarks.
Shop your way around town! You will find antiques, boutiques, gift shops, and souvenirs. Browse a music store and the only scuba dive shop on Route 66! Many merchants will gladly arrange to ship your new-found treasures home for you.
Pulaski County Tourism Bureau offers a free Waynesville Walking Tour brochure. Ask for one when you order your official Pulaski County Travel Inspiration Guide! You can also pick one up at many downtown shops, museums, and restaurants.
The City of Waynesville is sure that our community will capture your heart just as the natural beauty of the area captured George W. Gibson, over 175 years ago.