STONY DELL -- ARLINGTON, MISSOURI
What could be more beautiful than to drive along the two lane Route 66 through the rolling Ozark Mountains at the foot of the Missouri Ozark chain of mountains!!! Driving west from St. Louis, Missouri, to Springfield, Missouri, along this route, seeing the rolling mountains, driving thru the huge cuts of limestone rock along this road is breath-taking for its beauty. Viewing all the prairie land with its diversity of flowers all at the same time, is still a sight to behold. Suddenly one is on top of one of the rolling mountains and as one descends one soon sees an old bridge in front of them. It is narrow, two lane bridge and it crosses the Little Piney Creek at Arlington, Missouri. One can look to the left and see where the Little Piney Creek gradually becomes smaller and smaller as it flows under the bridge. There are numerous Missouri Ozark -- sand dunes, drift wood, stoney pebble bars, shrubs, birds, snakes, insects and flowers as the water becomes more shallow. Just a small amount of water in normal times flows underneath this bridge. This Little Piney Creek passes under the bridge and now keeps flowing north and to the right hand side of the bridge enters the mighty Gasconade River at Jerome, Missouri, one mile to the north. On a bright and sunny day and with no leaves on the trees one can actually see the Little Piney Creek enter the Gasconade River and it is so pretty to see all at the same time. A once in a life time experience. It has to be the right type of day to witness all of this. Do not be deceived by what appears to be a benign stream of water. This area flooded completely frequently. The Route 66 bridge is still pretty high up from the Little Piney Creek and the flow of water as one continues their descent west, one then drives into almost a bottom land setting with it's sand, smaller streams, wet lands, wet land birds an so many flowers and shrubs. When the sun is shining brightly which it almost always does in this area of the State of Missouri, and one can see almost from horizon to horizon (East to West), this is a simply a gorgeous, stunning sight to see. Especially for the first time. Driving a short distance more and one comes upon Stony Dell. An Oasis in the middle of these mountains. A stop for the weary traveler. A place to eat and have fun. To swim and to socialize. Stony Dell, was an entertainment complex built right on the old Route 66. Even the movie star and entertainer, Mae West stopped here once. It was very famous in its time. I remember what a treat it was to go swimming at Stony Dell when I was a kid. If I remember right there were 3 diving boards at 3 different heights. What a thrill it was to dive off the high board. I grew up close to the Little Piney Creek, so I spent a lot of my time in the summer swimming in the old swimming hole, right below the bridge into Newburg, MO. I can't remember when I didn't know how to swim, but there were no diving boards in the Little Piney Creek. I remember a rope swing that we could swing out over the water and then let go. Sometimes our youth group from the Church of God church in Newburg, MO. would get to go to Stony Dell. It was always so much fun, There was a restaurant there and an area where people could dance if they wanted to. There were dressing rooms and an outdoor shower. You were supposed to put your trunks on, then get under the shower before you got into the pool. The area and wall around the pool was made out of native stone. Just gorgeous. Stony Dell's heyday was in the 1930's and 1940's. I can remember lots of soldiers from Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, being around the pool during the war. It closed sometime in the 1950s, by then it was getting pretty run down. It was right on the highway -- Route 66. They moved the highway (now I-44) just south of where the pool was located. Interstate 44 (I-44) bypassed so many of these famous places which were run by the local people that they had to close for the lack of business from the traveler. One reason for building the new road in this area was to make it a four lane road plus eliminate the entire flooding of this land by water from the overflow of flood waters from the Gasconade River and the Little Piney Creek as described above, plus the flooding of Stony Dell and other structures in this area. One of the worst floodings ever was in June 8, 1945, when the entire region was cut off by massive flooding and there was flood water everywhere by these waters. Traffic on Route 66 was completely halted as the water covered most of the lower highway section. The water level was within feet of coverning the Bridge floor itself. The Bridge was considered dangerous plus there was no place to go when one crossed it. There were many onlookers who drove to this area just to see the unbelievable massive flooding and the Bridge and others who just dared to cross the bridge, turn around and came back--just to say they did this. Some onlookers kept watching to see whether this huge bridge would be stable or would be swept away by the massive, flooding waters. The huge Gasconade River was overflowing its banks and backing up the Little Piney Creek. The Flood waters were almost covering the Bridge floor itself. The Little Piney Creek was flooded itself at its origin. The Little Piney Creek flowed thru the outskirts of town of Newburg, MO. which also had the worst flooding possible. One could not believe the height of this water at this time unless they witnessed this event themselves. Another reason for building this four lane road was to provide a faster access to Fort Leonard Wood. The two lane road was not sufficient for all the equipment needed to operate the Post. Especially dangerous was the very heavy equipment which was wider than normal needing more space to travel. Stony Dell -- the magificent rock - like pebble complex is no longer there. Not even a trace. Not even a trace of anything like the area was before due to the new four lane highway (I - 44) and the new bridge. I would like to see all again. It was so pretty and so unique. I am sorry that many people were not able to view this structure and take part in the activities like I was able to do. Written by Cordell Webb Son of Ferd Weldon and Reba Helen (Deskin) Webb Newburg, Missouri May 2006
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