Vernelle's was built in the late 1930s by E.P. Gasser. Originally called Gasser Tourist Court, the business -- consisting of six cabins, a filling station and a novelty shop -- changed hands in the early 1950s, when E.P. Gasser's nephew, Fred, and his wife, Vernelle, bought the property and expanded it.
The new Vernelle's, named for its proprietress, was quite a complex. Besides the motel, the property -- pictured on the vintage postcard above -- included a restaurant serving steaks, fried chicken, shrimp and other delicacies to refresh hungry travelers. At one time, there was a petting zoo on the grounds as well.
In 1957, the restaurant was torn down and the motel moved a few feet north to accommodate the widening of Route 66 to four lanes. The motel remains today, along with its original sign, which got a fresh coat of paint last year thanks to the efforts of the Route 66 preservation group Friends of the Mother Road. Next time you're in the Rolla area, keep cruising a few miles west on Route 66 to see for yourself why travelers from around the world still come to Vernelle's Motel.