CELEBRATE THE OZARKS: Last Camp Joy cabin in Lebanon, Mo. restored

LEBANON, Mo. A very special part of Route 66 will be unveiled Saturday morning.

The last cabin left, of what used to be Camp Joy, has been restored, preserving a piece of Ozarks history.

Camp Joy was the first place in Lebanon that offered travelers somewhere to stay.

It wasn't a hotel but a seven acre property that started out with tents, then shacks and finally cabins.

Built in 1927 by Charles and Lida Spears, the camp existed because of Route 66.

"It's just a miracle," said Craig Fishel. He's the great-grandson of the Spears.

He's referring to a building that was constructed nearly a hundred years ago still in existence.

He said, "We're just so overwhelmed with..."

We asked, "Are you choked up?"

"Sorry," he said.

Fishel explained what he knew about his family's history.

"They went up there and sat along the highway and counted out of state cars going up a gravel Route 66," he said.

The former Springfield council member and current state rep spent his childhood at the camp.

"We'd get to chop ice from a block of ice, put it in a glass pitcher and take it to the cabin as a compliment, you know,
here's some ice because there's no air conditioning or anything. We'd usually get a tip, nickel, dime, quarter," he said.

Fishel said he really didn't think that part of his life would still exist.

"We were happy and moving on with life. We knew about Camp Joy but now it's preserved," he said.

John Shelton, Director of Lebanon Parks said, "A local business bought the property this was on and they were just going to tear it down."

Instead, a committee partnered with the city to move the very last cabin to Boswell Park.

"It's really neat. I remember seeing these when I was younger and seeing some of this stuff around town in the 60's. It's neat that we can save parts of old history," he said.

Shelton gave us a tour of the tiny room.

"Back in the day those would be weighted with a piece of steel or lead so that these old windows, see how hard they are to open?
That was an attempt to make them slide up and down a lot easier," he explained.

Legend has it Bonnie and Clyde once hid out at Camp Joy.

"If we can find more of these things that exist, especially in Laclede County, we'll be really interested in putting them here," said Shelton.

Fishel said his great grandparent, grand parents and parents would be proud to be a part of Ozarks history.

"It's incredible. We can't thank them enough," he said.