Get Some History with Your Gas and Lunch
Years ago when on the way to Columbia my son, Russ, said he needed to stop for gas. I expected him to take an off ramp, where he could fill the tank and get a quick burger. No, he said, he wanted to wait and buy at the general store in Williamsburg (pop. 1,500).
He explained that the big tourist attraction in town is Crane’s Country Store, an old landmark, that first opened its doors in 1889. Today Crane’s is in its “new” location, one that the family moved to in 1926.
See Exit 161? Take it!
To get there, we left Hwy. 70 at Exit 161 and drove north for about a half mile. Out front of the store, you immediately notice there’s only one gas pump and no way to pay with a credit card. After filling your tank you walk inside and tell the clerk the amount on the pump. They take you at your word and you pay up. Definitely a step back in time.
“Boots, Bullets, Britches and Bologna”
A hint of their varied merchandise is wrapped into the store’s slogan: “Boots, Bullets, Britches and Bologna.” They sell all that and more, including Carhartt jeans, Wolverine boots, cast iron skillets, red union suits, tote bags with the store’s slogan embossed, camp gear, gloves, knives, blankets, bridles, worms, Mizzou paraphernalia, even Pendleton jackets.
Don’t Ask for Pesto or Avocado on That Sandwich
Most intriguing is the store’s old-fashioned, sandwiches that comes only on Wonder bread. The item was once called the “1-Meat, 1-Cheese, $1-Sandwich.” Sadly, inflation has changed the clever slogan to “1-Meat, 1-Cheese, $2— though bologna or peanut butter can still be had for $1.
Their sandwiches remind me of those I enjoyed as a kid long before the advent of eggplant-avocado-portabella sandwiches smeared with pesto and served on 7-grain bread.
Time Out for the Crane Museum
Next door to the store is Crane’s Museum and Shoppes, that show off the family’s collection of odds and ends. The 5000-square-foot space houses an historic barber shop, gas station, school room, home and farm items, Native America artifacts, retail shops, as well as Marlene’s Restaurant of homestyle cooking.
This place is a great leg stretcher for travelers. If you’re wanting a step back in time and a $2 sandwich, you can’t beat Crane’s.
Crane’s Country Store, 10675 Old US Hwy. 40, Williamsburg, MO (Exit 161 off Hwy. 70). Open Mon-Sat 8a-6p. Closed Sunday.