How many Cubas are there?

This is one of our featured blogs from the past…

Cuba Missouri banner and shield

Cuba, Missouri is on known as Route 66 Mural City.

Viva Cuba’s blog started in April 2009. With the idea that some of our newer readers may have missed a few noteworthy blogs, we occasionally feature a past blog. This one explores the idea of how many Cubas there are in the United States. Some googling and research showed that there are 9.  Of course, we like to think that none are as unique as our Cuba, but you will find that some of the “other” Cuba’s also have their claims to fame.

Check out “How many Cubas are there in the US?”

If travel opened up to the island of Cuba, would you go? Some of our local Cubans have already been there. Read  “Cuba, No Castro…Now and then…” to hear the story and other interesting anecdotes about our connection to the island of Cuba.

Personally, if travel opened up to the island of Cuba, I would like to be one of the first ones there. I would like to set foot on Cuba, hold up a sign that says “I’m from Cuba, Missouri,” and have Anderson Cooper of CNN interview me. I am sure he would get there first.

Fanning US 66 Outpost General Store

Even though the Fanning US 66 General Store is only 4 miles from Cuba, Missouri, the sign "90 Miles to Cuba" seems to be indicating a different Cuba.

Cuba, Missouri’s MO Hick BBQ on You Tube….

Artist David Judd, MO HIck BBQ

Artist David Judd enhanced this photo of Cuba’s MO HIck BBQ.

Cuba, Missouri is lucky to have a BBQ restaurant recognized as one of the best in Missouri. From their oversized Ory baked potato to the their smoked meats and own MO Hick BBQ sauce, Missouri Hick BBQ is a standout along Route 66. Travelers from around the world plan on a Cuba stop to enjoy some Ozark BBQ and service by the MO Hick Chicks.

The restaurant now has its own branded beers and signature BBQ sauces. Over the years MO Hick has built on to the original building, screened the upstairs deck and built an outdoor pavilion. The restaurant originally opened February 12, 2002. 

Rual Handmade Furniture at MO HIck in Cuba, Missouri

The restaurant’s handmade furniture and rustic decor present a warm atmosphere for diners.

Recently we ran across this short video of MO Hick and owner Dennis Meiser for a Cars for a Grand documentary. The crew traveled  Route 66 in a car that they purchased for under a grand and filmed their adventures along the way.

Cuba, Missouri Missouri Hick BBQ

The sign, the rustic exterior,  and the aroma of smoking meats draw  folks to Missouri Hick BBQ.

Cuba, Missouri Waterwheel MO Hick

Meiser’s Waterwheel is a much photographed feature at the restaurant

For more info and photos of  Missouri Hick, visit “Missouri Hick smokes the competiton-again.”

For more of artist David Judd‘s work, visit “David Judd takes a more colorful look at Cuba, Missouri.”

Does the number 1522 mean anything to you?

Cuba, Missouri Trains

Cuba's connection with trains could fill a scrapbook.

Train exhibit at the Crawford County Museum in Cuba, Missouri

The history museum in Cuba has an exhibit on the trains in Cuba, Missouri.

Trains have always  been important to Cuba, Missouri history as the old scrapbook pages above show. The town was founded and platted in 1857 in anticipation of the arrival of the Southern Branch of the Pacific Railroad in 1859-60.

During WW II the Blue Bonnet Train took soldiers to and from the war, a scene which is commemorated in the Gold Star Boys Mural.

Blue Bonnet Train Mural

The Blue Bonnet train is featured in the Gold Star Boys Mural.

The Salem Branch of the Railroad ran from Cuba to Viburnum and was called the Salem Dinky because of its small size. It has been commemorated in a 1873 Train Replica in the Viva Cuba Garden.

A train that locals called The Plug ran from Cuba to St. Louis and often took Cubans into the city for shopping or business.

1873 train replica Cuba, Missouri

The "Salem Dinky" is part of Viva Cuba Garden's public art.

The Frisco 1522 steam train was a popular model that transported passengers and frieght on the rails. Built in 1926, it  was retired then restored as an exhibition train until it was retired a final time in 2002.

Many grew up in Cuba within sight and sound of the trains. Some made their living on the rails. John Watson of Frisco’s Restaurant, and his father before him, worked for the railraod.  Because of the family’s love for the railroad, when John’s wife Virginia opened her restaurant  along the train tracks in Cuba, it was named Frisco’s and filled with train photos and memorabilia.

John’s wife Virginia had a particualr desire for the phone number 1522 after the famous Frisco train. There was just one problem. In the early days, the number was held by the Route 66 Cafe in Cuba. When the cafe closed its doors, Virginia wasted no time in contacting the phone company and expressing her desire for the 1522 phone number. She was told that it was policy to wait six months before the number could be used again. But Virginia was persistent and snagged the 1522 phone number. “I just kind of kept whining about it until they gave it up,” she laughs now.

Then when Frisco’s website was designed, she used the 1522 numbers again. You can get on board the website at And when she commissioned artist Shelly Smith Steiger to paint a mural-style sign for her business, she  used the steam train image on her sign.

Cuba, Missouri Frisco's sign

The old steam train is pictured on Frisco's sign.

The 1522 steam train is retired now, but it is not forgotten.  See of the video of the old train’s final run from St. Louis to Newburg, Missouri and listen to the sound of a famous train as it says goodby to the towns and people along its route.

Visit Frisco’s Grill & Pub to see the many photos and train artifacts of the nearby railroad. If you are lucky, John or his dad may be on hand to tell you some stories. And if you want to phone for a reservation, you know the number.

Cuba, Missouri Railroad schedule

This railroad schedule is just one artifact on display at Frisco's.

Cuba, Missouri Train Depot

This photo was taken during fair time when many came to Cuba by train to see the parade and other festivities. Mail, passengers, and other goods arrived by train.

Read “Recklein Commons creates an area of community spirit in Cuba, Missouri.”

Let’s look at those four videos again…

Bette Davis  PhotoCollage Cuba, MIssouri

The Bette Davis visit to Cuba, Missouri is a part of local history.

In July 2009, two convergence journalism students visited Cuba to film and interview subjects about the Viva Cuba Mural Project. The experience was chronicled in the blog “Public Radio visits Cuba, Missouri.” Hayes Shoe Store owner Jeff Bouse, Frisco’s restaurant owner Virginia Watson, and Viva Cuba members were among some that were interviewed. Two other local citizens Chip Lange and Wilbur Vaughn who are a part of Cuba’s mural history were also interviewed.

Recently, I ran across four short videos that the visiting students created as a result of their interviews. I did notice one error when the student said that Bette Davis visited the Cuba Hotel. It was actually the Southern Hotel. Local Wilbur Vaughn, who was the nineteen year-old photographer at the time, retells the story of what happened that night.

Another segment is about the Civil War Murals, and student Chip Lange spoke about his role in this Viva Cuba project.

Go here if you would like to see the four brief videos.

More Cuba, Missouri murals in the news…

Cuba Missouri Midwest Travel Plaza artist Ray Harvey

Ray Harvey paints the Route 66 shield on his "Classic Road Show" mural at the Midwest Travel Plaza.

Once again, murals in Cuba “Route 66 Mural City” are in the news.  A quartet of articles/blogs appeared this week concerning artist Ray Harvey and his murals in Cuba.

1. The latest Show Me Route 66 Magazine showcases the Cuba murals of artist Ray Harvey. The My Place Tire mural and a Diner mural at Victorian Manor Assisted Living facility are pictured in the article “Mural Artist Ray Harvey makes the walls along Route 66 talk.” The magazine is only available to Route 66 Association of Missouri members.

Route 66 Association of Missouri Magazine

Show Me Route 66 Magazine featured some of Cuba's murals by artist Ray Harvey.

2. This week the Cuba Free Press ran the feature “Truck stop gets a Mural City makeover” about the 150 feet of artist Ray Harvey’s murals that were completed this winter at the Midwest Petroleum’s Travel Plaza. The transportation murals are part of Midwest Petroleum’s improvement program since they purchased the truck stop. Harvey hopes to have a t-shirt picturing the “Classic Road Show” mural by spring.

Cuba Missouri Cuba Free Press

The Cuba Free Press has long been a supporter of the Viva Cuba Mural Project.

3. An additional mention of the murals is in a blog entry at Ron Warnick’s Route 66 News site. Ron keeps interested roadies from all  over the world informed about Route 66 activities.

4. Harvey also painted Viva Cuba’s murals that are painted on the Phillips 66 Station at the corner of Route 66 and Hwy. 19. One of these murals is now on Viva Cuba’s latest t-shirt, which went on sale this week at the Visitor Center at Cuba exit 208.

Cuba, Missouri Viva Cuba T-shirt artist Ray Harvey

Viva Cuba's new t-shirts feature the vintage Route 66 mural.

Although not all the murals featured in the articles are Viva Cuba Mural Project murals, they are all part of the Route 66 Mural City’s identity that brings many people to focus on our town.

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