Friday, August 14, 2009

Vernelle's Motel, A Survivor's Story

Vernelle's Motel, a survivor of multiple road alignments, is still open for business. Photo by Snoop.

Terrie and I took a short trip exploring Sugar Tree Road on July 30th. Our first stop was to pop in and visit Ed Goodridge at Vernelle's Hotel. Ed waved us across and we visited with him and Foxy for a bit before we headed down the road to John's Modern Cabins.

Ed Goodridge, Proprietor of Vernelle's Motel, and his companion, Foxy. Photo by Snoop.

Vernelle's Motel opened in 1938 and has endured all the road alignments that have occurred in the past 7 decades. Ed was quick to remind us that he is still open for business. For those who love The Mother Road, an overnight at Vernelle's is a must. His business card advertises Clean Rooms and Reasonable Rates.

Vernelle's Motel, 8 Miles West of Rolla MO, on Historic Route 66

Vernelle's history can be traced back to the late 1930's when it first opened as Gasser Tourist Court. The name was changed to Vernelle's after Fred and his wife, Vernelle, bought the tourist court from Fred's uncle, E.P. Gasser. The couple expanded on the original tourist court, which consisted of six cabins, a novelty store, and a gas pump. In 1952 Fred and Vernelle Gasser built a hotel and a restaurant on the property. Travelers refueled at Cities Service Station. A petting zoo was used at one time to entice travelers to come off the road and part with some of their cash.

In the book The Route 66 Cookbook: Comfort Food From The Mother Road, written by Marian Clark, Vernelle states “We served a lot of barbecue and chicken. Soldiers from Fort Leonard Wood were some of our best customers.” Sadly, the restaurant closed in 1957, to make room for the new four lane alignment of Route 66. A part of Vernelle’s Café lives on in The Route 66 Cookbook. Marian Clark shares Vernelle’s recipe for Vernelle’s Café French Dressing.

Vernelle's Motel & Cafe before the
Vernelle's Motel & Cafe before the "new" 4 lane alignment of Route 66.

The hotel has changed hands in it’s 71 year history. Forest Riley purchased the place and then sold it to Nye Goodridge in 1960. The Route 66 icon has stayed in the Goodridge clan since then with Ed at the helm today.

The Vernelle’s Motel sign, a mainstay, on Route 66 is original, dating back to 1952. The Route 66 preservation group, Friends of The Mother Road, gave the sign a fresh coat of paint in the last few years.

Vernelle's Motel On Old Route 66. Photo by Snoop.

Vernelle’s Motel is off the beaten path, not even visible from the most recent round of road improvements of Interstate 44, and almost 60 years from today's interstate traffic. A visit with Ed and a stay at the motel is good for the soul.

Vernelle's Motel, Life in The Slow Lane, Photo By Snoop

For more information or to make reservations at Vernelle's Motel, contact Ed Goodridge at:

10891 Sugartree Outer Road
Newburg, MO 65550

Phone: (573) 762-2798

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