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Go deep into Mitchell Caverns September 30, 2006

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Preservation.

One reason Route 66 is great is because you learn something new about it all the time.

This time, I’m talking about Mitchell Caverns, which is off Route 66 in the Providence Mountains of Southern California’s Mojave Desert. Inland Press-Enterprise columnist Mark Muckenfuss wrote about it today.

The reason not a lot of people know about it is because tours are conducted only on weekends during the summer. It’s also not an attraction in itself — it’s part of the Providence Mountains State Recreation Area. The Mitchell family ran the caverns from the 1930s until the 1950s, when the patriarch died.

DesertUSA.com has an excellent summary of Mitchell Caverns. The U.S. Geological Survey and National Park Service site has excellent photos of the caverns.

Two Route 66 segments in Oklahoma named to National Register September 30, 2006

Posted by Ron Warnick in Highways, History, Preservation.
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The Tank Farm Loop near Kellyville and a 1926 truss bridge near Chelsea, both on older alignments of Route 66 in Oklahoma, were added to the National Register of Historic Places, reports the Associated Press.

Here’s a picture of the Chelsea bridge, which goes over Pryor Creek, from the Oklahoma Highway Bridges site.

Here are the details of the Tank Farm Loop.

Roadbed section beginning approximately 0.6 mile west of the I-44 overpass west of Kellyville in Creek County. Total 1.6 mile section of 1926 PC paved alignment bypassed in 1938. An excellent example of first-generation paving which crosses several different terrain features. Known by many Route 66 hobbyists as the Tank Farm Loop because it passes through a former oil field.

A map of the Tank Farm Loop can be found here. So if you haven’t seen it, go check it out. It’s worth it.

Route 66 blog roundup 9/30 September 30, 2006

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Music, Road trips, Web sites.
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  • Santa Monica Close-up contains photos from the final day of the Mercedes-Benz Club of America’s Historic Route 66 Tour. About 100 participants started, and about 20 dropped out because of mechanical or medical reasons.
  • Maya Reynolds tells the story of how Jackson Browne’s “Take It Easy,” which immortalizes a certain corner in Winslow, Ariz., came to be. Hint: Glenn Frey ended up with a significant role.
  • Veronica explains why you shouldn’t drive over a dead skunk on Route 66 — or on any other road for that matter.
  • Joe’s Road Life posted a bunch of high-quality images of Meteor Crater in Arizona.

Don’t outlaw your neon signs, Albuquerque September 30, 2006

Posted by Ron Warnick in Preservation, Signs.

The City of Albuquerque, spurred by Mayor Marty Chavez, is considering a sign ordinance that’s so financially onerous and controversial that I’m surprised it was proposed at all.

In short, the ordinance would outlaw nearly all existing standalone signs and signs that are attached to buildings. This, of course, would include virtually all neon signs along Central Avenue, aka Route 66, including historic ones.

The Sign Defense Group, which opposes the ordinance, has pictures of current signs that would be outlawed. That includes the El Don Motel neon sign (above) and the historic Aztec Motel neon sign (below). Dozens of other neon signs along Central also would be affected.

Apparently Chavez became enamored of a similar ordinance used in Scottsdale, Ariz. However, the business community is against it, as shown in this Albuquerque Journal article. The Albuquerque Tribune is against it. And Route 66ers are definitely against it.

Here’s the proposed 80-page ordinance in an Acrobat file. Note that all the underlined sentences are the ones that are disputed or will change, and there are a lot of them.

I called Deborah Nason, public information officer for the city’s Environmental Planning Commission that has to approve the proposal before it advances to the City Council.

Nason recently told me that a Planning Commission decision on the ordinance has already been deferred from mid-September until Oct. 19, and she anticipates it could be deferred clear into January.

“It’s been very controversial,” she said.

I asked Nason whether the city is considering an exemption for Albuquerque’s famed Route 66 neon signs.

“I’m pretty sure (the signs) would be preserved,” she said.

Nason seemed uncertain whether the ordinance would advance at all because it’s so unpopular. “There’s still a long way to go until it passes,” she said.

Nason suggested that those who want Route 66 neon signs preserved to e-mail staff planner Russell Brito at [email protected] . He is the one who’s considering and adding amendments to the proposed ordinance.

So here’s what to do: E-mail Brito and politely ask that the city place an exemption for signs on the Route 66 corridor, including the pre-1937 alignments. Explain that neon signs on the Mother Road are a major attraction to tourists, and that the loss of such signs would provide less of an incentive to visit Albuquerque.

If enough roadies lobby for the preservation of Route 66 neon signs, the exemption probably will be included. That way, the signs on Central Avenue and other Route 66 alignments will be safeguarded.

And if the proposed sign ordinance fails simply because it’s too hot for the city to handle, that’ll be OK, too.

(Photos courtesy of Albuquerque neon gallery from Redforkhippiechick.)

Don’t try this at home, kids September 29, 2006

Posted by Ron Warnick in Businesses, Road trips, Vehicles.
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The fellows at Carpix.net tested a 2007 Ford Shelby Mustang by flooring it for a 9.5-mile stretch of Route 66 from the the ruins of the Roadrunner restaurant to Roy’s in Amboy, Calif.

Reported average speed was 141 mph. See for yourself:

I wouldn’t have tried it. The Mother Road out in the Mojave Desert is notoriously bumpy, especially since the rainy spring of 2005. One chuckhole could spell disaster at 140 mph.

And the girl in the video probably said at one point: “Can I take these damned heels off now?”

Not just standin’ around September 29, 2006

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Events, Music, Towns.
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Despite a fire nearly destroying the Standin’ on a Corner mural in Winslow, Ariz., the Route 66 town will continue to have its Standin’ on a Corner festival today and Saturday, reports the East Valley Tribune.

The gala and mural are inspired by the Eagles‘ hit song, “Take It Easy,” which contains these famed lyrics written by Jackson Browne: “Well, I’m a’standin’ on a corner in Winslow, Arizona, such a fine sight to see / It’s a girl, my Lord, in a flatbed Ford slowin’ down to take a look at me.”

The main draw is the Standin’ on the Corner Park, which is anchored by two pieces of art: A mural depicting the girl in the flatbed Ford by trompe l’oeil artist John Pugh and a bronze statue by sculptor Ron Adamson of a man in 1970s garb standing on the corner.

Pugh’s mural was nearly destroyed in an Oct. 18, 2004, fire, which gutted the interior of the building the mural is painted on. For safety reasons the park was kept cordoned off by a chain-link fence as the landlord and the city debated who was responsible for cleaning up the mess.

Hackler says the park will be open this weekend, and visitors will be able to pose with the bronze statue for photographs. Hotel California, an Eagles cover band, and Mogollon will perform. There will also be a kids zone featuring games.

A gaggle of ghost stories September 29, 2006

Posted by Ron Warnick in Ghosts and Mysteries, Web sites.
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Just in time for the Halloween season, Kathy Weiser’s massive Legends of America site is touting its large collection of ghost stories and other unexplained phenomena along Route 66, according to a recent press release.

The list includes the haunted Lemp Mansion in St. Louis, the haunted Oatman Hotel, and the notorious Spook Light. They’re all well-researched and worth a read.

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