Not too long ago, I was making yet another run into Springfield, but had some time to kill on the trip back. I decided to veer off Highway 96 near Paris Springs Junction on N Highway, which is part of old Route 66. I have done this side trip just once before, and I had been meaning to swing by for a while. Just a mile or so from there, I turned right, crossed an old one-lane bridge, and found the old town of Spencer, Missouri.
Spencer, Missouri is one of thousands of ghost towns along Route 66, and among the hundreds of places in Missouri that sprang up overnight when the highway came through, and just as quickly faded into history.
Today, Spencer is just a wide spot in the road along Farm Road 2062 in Lawrence County. This abandoned little town has been sitting here for nearly 130 years, but many of the buildings were restored a few years ago.
I learned that this particular stretch of road is one of the few places left where the original highway still exists. It has never been paved over, widened, or changed. The concrete you see in these pictures is all original.
The one-lane steel truss bridge that takes you to Spencer is older than several states: it was built in 1926 over Johnson Creek, which is the same creek at the Paris Springs Junction water access. It’s strange to imagine driving on the same road that took people to California looking for work, or to places out west to build new towns.
Spencer today is just a quiet place on a road that very few people even know exists. In its heyday, the town had a service station, a church, a grocery store, and even a motor lodge, where people could rent little cabins for the night and rest. Our resident longrooffan could probably tell you a few stories about this place, too. It’s probably ironic that I was driving a throwback HHR, considering it’s just a Cobalt with a tall roof, but it drives like an old car, so I still got the experience.
[Photos Copyright 2015 Hooniverse/Marcal Eilenstein]