The Old Stagecoach Stop

The building ca. 1885 when it was known as the Waynesville House

The Old Stagecoach Stop, probably known as The Waynesville House, was built by William Walton McDonald on land he purchased in 1854. W. W., a veteran of the Mexican War, came to Pulaski County from St. Louis County around 1850 and became County Clerk, Circuit Clerk, and Postmaster. His hotel, originally a double pen log building, was a stop on the St. Louis to Springfield stage route.

When Civil War broke out, the stage road became important to the Union Army for moving men and supplies from the rail head at Rolla to southwestern Missouri and into Arkansas. A telegraph wire was strung for communication and the already venerable path became known as The Wire Road. The Union positioned a fort on the hill above the town square to guard the road, communications, and to "clear the surrounding country of guerrillas". Colonel Albert Sigel commanded the Waynesville Post and commandeered McDonald's building for a hospital.

After the war, the railroad came through Pulaski County and stagecoaches vanished as the rails appeared. The stagecoach stop endured as a hotel and boarding house through a long succession of owners (see Chain of Title). Colorful men, who fought for both the North and South, kept its doors open while the town itself languished from the competition of the new railroad towns of Dixon, Crocker, and Richland. Eliza Black, widowed and willful, took the business into a new century.

Waynesville's status as County Seat and the growing travel on the newly commissioned Route 66 kept the town alive through the decades of the Twenties and Thirties until 1941 and the building of Fort Leonard Wood. Thousands of construction workers and the Army, once again, invigorated the area.

Increased traffic on the "Mother Road" lessened the impact of a military lull after the Korean War. During the early 1960s, the Vietnam buildup sparked business at the "old hotel" in the short term but years of neglect led to its closing in the mid-60s. After setting empty on the town square for almost twenty years and a target for vandals, it was condemned by the City of Waynesville in 1982 and slated for demolition. But its story wasn't over, yet.

Now spanning three centuries, the Old Stagecoach Stop is restored and open again to share its history that also chronicles the development of Pulaski County. We invite you to enter these doorways to the past.