While on our honeymoon (nearly two years ago now), Sweetums and I were fascinated by a place called Devil’s Elbow, Missouri. We were drawn to the odd name, of course, so we went a little off the beaten path to see what it was all about.
Devil’s Elbow is a community situated on the 1926 alignment of Route 66 in Pulaski County. It was settled in 1870 as a camp for lumberjacks who worked in the area. The logs they cut were sent down the Big Piney River that flows through the town.
According to theroute-66.com, “the sharp-shaped bend jammed the logs leading them to call that point ‘A devil of an elbow,’ the name became ‘Devil’s Elbow.’”
We drove along what is now called Teardrop Road to find the historic post office we’d read about. On the way, we passed the legendary Elbow Inn Bar & BBQ but didn’t have time to stop. It’s a dive bar built in 1926 that is popular with bikers and tourists alike. The Biergarten out back overlooks the Big Piney and we later saw photos of the interior with lots of bras hanging from the ceiling. Read more about it here.
We continued to the bridge that was built in 1923 and saw the post office. It had all the character we’d hoped for. It was actually just a corner in a store called Shelden’s Market, whose sign announced it sold “tobacco” and “souvenirs.” The interior was like any small rural market and we bought Devil’s Elbow T-shirts and a fridge magnet for our collection.
Next door was a large abandoned building. We had no idea its purpose at the time but when I looked it up, I learned it was once McCoy’s Store and Camp. It had a dance hall on the second floor.
According to the blog PulaskiCountyusa.com, it was built in 1941. Later, when the dance hall became “too rowdy,” the second floor was turned into apartments and the first floor became a store.
This week, while doing some research on the community, I discovered the quaint little spot-in-the-road had been flooded just seven months after we left. The Big Piney River rose 28 feet!
The store and post office were severely damaged and closed, at least temporarily. The post office had been open for 80 years until then. I also discovered the area had just been placed on the National Register of Historic Places before the flood. We were saddened by the news.
I read a story saying residents are determined to rebuild but found no updates after November 2017. I hope the little community can be restored. It really is a Route 66 landmark.
2 thoughts on “The fate of historic Devil’s Elbow on Route 66”
Hello Kelly, my name is Liz Dalgetty and I live in Devils Elbow. I was showing my co woker some of the history of my town, and i happened to come by your article. I live in the big tan house with the inscreen front porch on the corner of Teardrop and Timber road, right infront of the post office. My family has owned that home for over 30 years and I have lived in it my whole life. I just wanted to give you a small update, us Devils Elbow residents made it through the flood. We are all still getting things rebuilt, the old McCoy building did make it through the flood, but we ended up getting it town down as it was an extremely big hazard. We are a very tight knit community and we all stand for each other and for our lovely town and homes. The flood affected everyone in their own ways, but we are all getting back to normal, over two years later.
Thank you so much for writing. I was out of town when this came in. I really appreciate the update. My husband and I thought it was such a neat little place and when we saw the flood photos, we were really concerned about its residents. I really hate you had to tear down the building but at least everyone is OK and looking out for one another. What a wonderful community!