Missouri Life Magazine tips its hat to Route 66 and Cuba attractions

Train mural and Rt. 66 sign cuba missouri

Route 66 has been bringing visitors to Cuba since the early 1930s. Today, the murals are an added attraction.

Since the early 1930s, Route 66 has brought travelers through Cuba. Businesses grew up along the highway that ran between Chicago and  Santa Monica, California. Many grew up on or near the road.

When Interstate 44 took over from the Route 66, it was decommissioned, but it remained an important part of America’s history and heart.  The Route 66 culture was perpetuated by John Steinbeck’s novel The Grapes of Wrath and the TV series about two young men traveling Route 66 in a corvette.

The culture of Route 66 draws travelers from all over the world to meet the characters of  the route, eat at the mom and pop restaurants, and look for the authenticity of some of the original lodgings. They look for the old but also appreciate new attractions that are in the spirit of the past.

Viva Cuba’s murals are a constant source of photography for Route 66 travelers in their custom cars and motorcycles. It is a common sight to spy mural gazing travelers walking the streets of Cuba or posing with their vehicles in front of the murals. Cuba lives up to its designation as the “Route 66 Mural City.”

Cuba is lucky to have the 1930s Historic Landmark Wagon Wheel Motel and its neon sign that still lights up the night. Under new ownership since 2009, all 20 rooms have been restored, decks built, and a covered bike shelter added. The oldest motel on Route 66 has a new lease on life and is ready to welcome a new generation of travelers.

Wagon Wheel Motel neon sign Cuba Missouri

The Wagon Wheel Motel sign is well known on Route 66. Requiring a special setting, this is a rare shot when all of the sign is lit at once.

And probably one of our most unique attractions is the Guinness World Record Largest Rocking Chair. At 42+ feet, it is another big draw on Route 66. Built to attract customers to the Outpost US66 General Store four miles west of Cuba, it has fulfilled its purpose and taken its place in the history of the Route 66.

John Bland painting of the rocker

This early picture of the Rocker was painted by John Bland who designed the chair.

Missouri LIfe Magazine has recognized the importance of Route 66 in Missouri in its June issue. An article by Joe McCune with photography by Notley Hawkins (pages 48-57) about “Getting Your Kicks on Route 66” surveys the places and people along the road in Missouri. The author mentions some of his positive experiences while in Cuba.

Another article “Relighting the Past” by Jim Thole and Sarah Alban (pages 58-61) discusses the neon signs of  Route 66, including the Wagon Wheel Motel. On page 66 you can find some ads for area attractions.

Read these articles in the June issue of Missouri Life Magazine by clicking on the name of the magazine.

Cuba, Missouri has always been a town that “gets” Route 66. It has numerous members in the  Route 66 Association of Missouri and welcomes the travelers that the road brings. With its restaurants, a History Museum with a Route 66 Room, and many more  shops and attractions, Cuba is a must see spot along the road.

Recently, a group of German motorcyclists stayed at the Wagon Wheel Motel. They purchased their Harleys in the U.S. so that they could “get their kicks on Route 66.” After the tour, they plan to ship their bikes home. One rider stated that he had saved 15 years for the trip.

Cuba thanks them for making our bit of Route 66 part of their dream. Safe cruising.

Route 66 sign Cuba, MO

Cuba is proud of being a Route 66 town.


If you like wine, you’ll love Belmont Vineyards

As people turn off Route 66 and drive up the lane to Belmont Winery on the top of the hill, they might notice the rolling farmland and the black cattle that watch their passing. As they sit on the covered patio  outside the winery, this same scene will soothe the senses and provide a great backdrop for a relaxing glass of wine, a little music, and conversation with friends. It is slow living at its best.

Located on Route 66 three miles east of Cuba, Belmont Vineyards is Crawford County’s newest winery. Wine maker Jeff Voss, originally from Bourbon, Missouri became interested in wine making during his career as an officer in the US Army. After his retirement, Jeff  and his wife Trish, along with members of his extended family, opened the winery last year.

Belmont Vineyards Tasting Room

Belmont Vineyards & Winery tasting room

All Belmont wines are deliciously drinkable. Their estate wines are dry, aromatic and balanced. Belmont’s semi-sweet and sweet wines are balanced, flavorful and fun.You can find a full list of their wines, including tasting notes, at  www.belmontvineyards.com.

The tasting room staff will be glad to provide free samples and explain the different wines that you might be interested in before you make a purchase.

Joshua Gibbs, Gary Goad and a beautiful view

The winery is open from noon to sunset on Fridays and Saturdays and noon until 5 on Sundays.

Belmont features live music on the patio every 2 weeks during the summer season. A new, 2500 square foot covered patio will be completed by Memorial day.  You can buy wine, beer, and soft drinks.  You can also buy bread, cheese and other light snacks or you can bring your own food. Belmont’s Facebook page provides updates on events.

Belmont Porch

Guests enjoying the wine and the view from Belmont's covered patio

If an afternoon with friends or family and some good wine and conversations sounds appealing, Belmont Winery is ready and waiting for your visit. The music is a bonus.

Belmont Vineyards is located on Route 66 between Leasburg and Cuba.

Kids lead the way…

Oak Hill 4-H Club Cuba Missouri

The Oak Hill 4-H Club lent a hand to JOG,inc. to clean up Route 66.

The 4-H youth organization stands for focusing on these four areas: head, heart, hands, and health. Back in March the Oakhill 4-H group lent a hand to JOG,inc., Cuba’s running organization, prior to the Route 66 Race to the Rocker.

The 4-Hers joined others to help clean up trash along the race route. As you can tell by their dress, it was a cool day when they performed this service project.

Viva Cuba salutes both organizations and especially the young people who were involved. At times it is the children who set the example for adults. Because of the location of the cleanup area, the trash was most likely thrown out of vehicles by adults. Thanks kids for cleaning up after them. Maybe they will do better in the future.

Thanks Genifer Campbell for sending along the photos.

Cuba, MO 4-H kids cleaning up Route 66

The kids took to the ditches to pick up trash and discarded items.

4-H Kids on a service project

4-H kids perform many service and education projects during the year.

Truman mural/4-H

When the Truman mural was painted, the 4-H organization was 100-years old, so the 4-H emblems were included in the fair scene.

Read “Harry Truman visited Cuba, why don’t you?”

The 2012 Route 66 Race to the Rocker will be March 31.

And the winner is?

Winning ticket Route 66 Mural City Party

And the winner is....

Balloons, over-sized mural posters, Route 66 Mural City shields, wine bottle table pieces displaying Cuba murals, all set the scene for the May 14 Mural City Party, a community event and fundraiser for the Viva Cuba Mural Project.

The event brought friends, family, and Viva Cuba supporters out to party for a cause and vie for the winning ticket for the $10,000 drawing. During the earlier part of the evening, there was a lot of socializing, some mural-related events, and then a tasty buffet dinner.

Periodically, Jason and Scott Holland, the evening’s MCs drew numbers for door prizes that Cuba businesses, individuals, and organizations generously provided. Huddle House also contributed although they were too late to get on the table display.


Mural City Party Door Prize contributors

Many stepped up to contribute some great door prizes.

X-Centrix Door Prize

Our wacky MCs, presented Missy Mullally with her spa package from X-Centrix.

Some of the door prizes involved games. Here’s one that had to do with balancing cookies on the forehead. Retired banker Ken Holland won this one. Who knew what talents lurked behind the exterior of the ex-banker?

The Chair-i-table Auction brought out the bidders and raised almost $2000 for the furniture that Missouri artists designed and painted. Four other silent auction items brought $955 more to add to the mural fund.

Chair-i-table auctions results

Viva Cuba members tallied the results of the Chair-i-table Auction.

Fifty-fifty sellers Jim Bronstad and Bruce and Jan Work sold 50-50 tickets at a furious pace, resulting in a $1200 profit.

Of course, the long-awaited part of the evening, was the drawing for the $10,000 dollars by Father James of the Catholic Church. Thomas and Geraldine Martin, with a home just outside Cuba, won the grand prize. However, they weren’t there. They were at the Fox Theatre in St. Louis watching the musical Jersey Boys, according to their representatives at the party.  MC Jason Holland lost no time calling the lucky winners at the Fox to tell them the good news. We hope the 3-alarm fire that struck the Fox later that night was not influenced by this hot news. Congratulations to the Martins and thanks for supporting our mural project.

See this video to hear at least one side of the conversation informing the Martins of their win.

After the drawing, Steve Black cranked up the tunes, and the dance party started.  Cuba’s popular Zumba fitness classes influenced some of the dances, but everything from disco, the twist, to the jitterbug made an appearances at one time or the other.  And what party is complete without a conga line?  Here’s a look at a little of the dance frenzy.

All in all, it was a fun evening. Thanks to all the supporters who came out to the Knights of Columbus Hall contribute to Viva Cuba’s Mural City Project. The mural phenomena could not happen without the support that Viva Cuba gets from the community and its friends.

Expenses for the evenings event are still being tallied, but approximately fourteen thousand dollars have been raised for the murals and other community betterment projects. With the other other amounts raised at the event, that brings the total to somewhere around $18,000.

That makes us all a winner.

Center pieces

The Route 66 Mural City centerpieces and the balloons decorated the KC Hall.

4 reasons why it’s hard to be smarter than Cuba’s fourth graders

Cuba, Missouri 4th grade mural tour

Each spring Viva Cuba members give the fourth graders a narrated tour of the murals.

Don’t bet against Cuba’s fourth graders when it comes to local history…

When it comes to local history, Cuba’s fourth graders are sharp about some of the events that influenced their town. The fourth graders gain this history through some hard work, fun projects, and outside-of-the-classroom events during their spring study of Missouri History.

1. The fourth graders study the curriculum of each of the murals with worksheets provided by the Viva Cuba organization. These involve Cuba events that coincided with events linked to national figures Amelia Earhart, Harry Truman, and Bette Davis. The Gold Star Boys Mural brings World War II home for these students as well. Route 66 and the railroad brought prosperity to Cuba.

2. Each year Chip Lange, who is a figure in the Cuba’s Civil War murals, visits fourth grade classes to discuss the Civil War during their study of Missouri History. To read more about Chip and his connection with the murals and the fourth graders, read here.

3. Viva Cuba members conduct a “school bus” tour that hits the highlights of the murals and their background. Some of the students had already taken one of the narrated tours of the murals on the trolleys during October’s annual Cuba Fest.

4. Students prepare dioramas to illustrate their knowledge of Missouri History. The displays in the hallways show a lot of hard work and imagination. We have featured just a few of the locally-connected displays below.

Now you know why we say “don’t bet against a fourth grader when it comes to local history.” Way to go Cuba fourth graders and their teachers!

Fanning, MO World's Largest Rocking Chair

The Guinness World's Largest Rocking Chair and its Route 66 connection is a popular choice for student displays.

Onondaga Cave

Onondaga Cave is a part of local geology.

The Battle of Pilot Knob

The Battle of Pilot Knob and the Civil War murals bring this period of history alive for the students.

Snelson Brinker Cabin

The Snelson-Brinker cabin holds its place in local history.

Route 66 outside of Cuba, Missouri

Route 66 brought prosperity to Cuba in the 1930s and still promotes tourism.

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