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A place that hasn’t changed January 31, 2007

Posted by Ron Warnick in Restaurants.
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John Weeks of the San Bernardino County Sun takes a look at “Things that Haven’t Changed” in the Southern California Inland Empire.

One of them is on the Mother Road:

Want a good old-fashioned sandwich? Head to Peppi’s at 17670 Foothill Blvd. in Fontana. It’s a classic Route 66 eatery that has been serving up sandwiches and burgers since 1948.

Country Store may close January 31, 2007

Posted by redforkhippie in Businesses, People, Preservation.
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(Sign hanging above the cash register at the Country Store)

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When the Country Store opened on 11th Street in Tulsa nearly 40 years ago, it was, in fact, in the country.

Four decades of urban sprawl later, the Country Store’s location on historic Route 66 is considered part of midtown Tulsa. Farmers are an endangered species, and most of the city’s gardeners are out in the suburbs: Jenks, Bixby, Broken Arrow.

A perfect storm of big-box stores, urban sprawl, heavy debt, and crop-scorching drought is bearing down on the longtime Tulsa institution and its third-generation owner, Bill Sivadon, and barring any last-minute miracles, it looks as if the business may close for good.

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Sivadon and his wife, Kathey — pictured above — reported Tuesday that the store is set to close any day. If they can sell off their remaining stock at retail prices, they may be able to raise enough to pay off their debt and save the business — but time is of the essence. Their creditors have been poised to pull the plug for the past week or so. Wait a day — or even a few hours — and it may be too late to buy one last souvenir and make one last effort to help keep a Route 66 institution alive.

Bill said there is an off chance he may be able to reopen in 30 days, although the odds are slim.

Despite the impending closure of his family’s business — which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2005 — Bill is not bitter. He harbors no ill will toward his creditors, whom he calls “good people” who extended deadlines and helped him as far as they could, and if he’s worried about his future, he isn’t letting it show.

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(Sign taped to the glass in the front door of the Country Store)

“The Lord’s taken care of me for 57 years, and I don’t think he’s gonna stop now,” Bill says.

He will, however, miss his customers, many of whom have become friends.

We know the feeling.

Old Chain of Rocks Bridge closes parking lot January 30, 2007

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Bicycling, Highways.
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In a column by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Matthew Hathaway, we learn that Trailnet, which runs the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge that connects a pedestrian/biking trail from north St. Louis to Madison, Ill., is closing a parking lot on the Missouri side of the river indefinitely because of vandalism to vehicles there.

In an e-mail to the Post-Dispatch, Trailnet Executive Director Ann Rivers Mack announced Monday that the parking lot on the Missouri side would be closed indefinitely. She wrote that the group had tried to improve security at the lot, with little success. “Vandalism nonetheless continues, and we are working on a long-term plan,” Mack said.

Kathi Weilbacher, a spokeswoman for the group, said that the parking lot closure could be temporary and that the lot on the Illinois side of the bridge would remain open. Pedestrians and cyclists can still enter the 5,353-foot-long bridge from either side.

Hathaway isn’t thrilled with the closing, nor am I. He points out that with the closing of the lot, security on the Missouri side of the bridge probably will get worse because fewer people — and thus, fewer eyes — will be around to spot ne’er-do-wells there.

Trailnet presumably saw the folly in this move, and later told Hathaway that the Missouri parking lot could reopen soon if the group had “long-term partners” and more “regional stakeholder investment,” whatever that means.

Hathaway encourages fans of the bridge and readers to contact Mack at 314-416-9930 or annmack (at) trailnet.org if you think closing the lot is a poor solution.

In the meantime, if you want to visit the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge, park on the Illinois side.  If you’re driving west on Chain of Rocks Road, aka Route 66, in Granite City, you’ll come to the base of the bridge anyway.

If you’re not on Route 66, the easiest way to get to the Illinois side of the bridge is to exit at Illinois Highway 3 off Interstate 270, then turn south toward toward the Chain of Roads Road intersection (map is here). From there, you go west on Chain of Rocks Road, over a bridge that spans a canal, then west to the base of the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge (map is here). There is parking on the side of the road and it’s safer, mostly because it’s more sparsely populated.

Historic hotel won’t be taken over by city after all January 30, 2007

Posted by Ron Warnick in Businesses, Preservation.
2 comments

A few weeks ago, we passed along a report by the Kankakee (Ill.) Daily Journal that said the city of Wilmington was going to take over the historic Eagle Hotel on Route 66 on Jan. 15 because its owner, William Scales, didn’t have it operating as a business by a city-imposed five-year deadline.

On Monday, the Joliet Herald-News reported that may not be the case after all.

[Assistant Administrator Sheryl] Puracchio based her announcement on a contract signed by Scales and Tony McGann, the former mayor. The document was dated Jan. 15, 2001.

Attorneys reviewing the documents learned that for some reason the actual deal for the building did not officially close until April 2003. The closing documents were not included with the recorded contract.

“I contacted Mr. Scales immediately and apologized,” Puracchio said. “In addition, I stated that the city has the same goal in mind, to have the hotel restored and operational.”

This new finding gives Scales an April 2008 deadline.

“There is no way I am giving up on this project,” Scales said. “I am just as passionate for this project as I was when it started many years ago.”

The story makes it clear there was confusion between the city and Scales on the agreement, if there was one at all. Regardless, it seems apparent the city has backed off, and Scales will have about 14 months to open the Eagle Hotel, built in 1836, as a hotel/restaurant. This is certainly a better situation than having the hotel be in limbo all over again.
(Hat tip to Lynn “Lulu” Bagdon.) 

“Devil Girl” movie shot on Route 66 January 28, 2007

Posted by Ron Warnick in Movies, Music.
2 comments

Production recently wrapped on the thriller film “Devil Girl,” which was shot on Route 66 and uses the historic road as its setting.

Here’s synopsis of the film, according to its Web site:

Fay is a small town girl on a road trip to Hollywood to pursue her dream of becoming an actress. When her muscle car breaks down during a drag race, she finds herself stranded in a creepy desert town along Route 66. In order to make enough money to repair her car, she resorts to exotic dancing, and before she knows it her road trip has become a nightmare. Trapped and desperate, she discovers the locals: a neurotic drug-abusing clown, an overzealous preacher, and a sexy woman with horns and a tail.

“Devil Girl” producer and co-writer Tracy Wilcox confirms in an e-mail that much of the movie was shot in the Route 66 town of Amboy, Calif., with other Mother Road scenes in Groom, Texas, and St. Louis.

It is such an amazing stretch of road. There is so much history! The Devil Girl crew was full of car enthusiasts who loved driving the Route 66 stretches! […]

We don’t have a release date yet. We are finishing up in post(-production) and should be done by March 2007.

The film’s Web site contains a trailer, images from the production, and a list of the cast and crew. Although there are exotic dancers in the film, I found no nudity on the site, so it’s work-safe.

Also, Scum of the Earth is one of several hard-rock bands that contributed music to the film. Here’s a YouTube video containing footage from “Devil Girl” for the band’s song, “Beneath the Living”:

The case of the mysterious traffic surge January 27, 2007

Posted by Ron Warnick in Motels, Movies, Web sites.
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Traffic at Route 66 News jumped to record levels today, fueled mostly by a link from the Wigwam Motel in Rialto, Calif. The motel showed how its teepee design inspired the Cozy Cone Motel in the animated hit movie, “Cars.”

That link to here has existed for nearly 10 months, so I was flummoxed on why the traffic surge was suddenly occurring now.

We think we tracked down the reason. My in-laws report that MSN featured Top 10 Offbeat Hotels on its homepage today. A Wigwam Motel is on the list and is linked.

Note that I said a Wigwam Motel. The MSN article about the Wigwam Motel is about the one in Holbrook, Ariz. However, the link with the article goes to the Wigwam in Rialto.

Oops.

Make sure you check those links before sending stories online, kids.

Both motels, by the way, are recommended for stays during your Route 66 traveling.

In case anyone’s wondering, Route 66 News averages about 50,000 page views a month. In recent months, it’s ranged between 1,400 and 2,000 views per day. Today, it’s surpassed the 3,000 mark.

Another class ring found at Blue Whale is returned January 27, 2007

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions.
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For the second time in a month, a class ring that was found years ago at the Blue Whale of Catoosa, Okla., was returned to its rightful owner, according to the Tulsa World.

The ring was was stolen from the owner’s house in the burglary in the 1980s. It either was pawned to someone else who later lost it at the Blue Whale, or the burglar lost it at the Route 66 landmark.

The ring was returned to Randal Wise, who graduated from Warsaw High School in Indiana in 1975.

“It has a lot more value now because of what it represents,” Wise said. “It just floors me … somebody would go through all that effort to return it.” […]

“It reminds me of what might have happened in the small town I grew up in,” he said. “It’s not something you see much anymore.”

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