End of era at Totem Pole Trading Post (UPDATED) March 30, 2007Posted by Ron Warnick in Businesses, History.
The Totem Pole Trading Post on Route 66 just west of Rolla, Mo., isn’t going to close. But new ownership is taking over Friday afternoon, and the name — which has been there since 1933 — won’t stay, according to the Rolla Daily News.
According to this Rolla Chamber of Commerce release, Jones did not include the business’ name in the sale to the new owner.
Tom Ray, who also owns Memoryville USA car restoration shop, museum and antique store in Rolla, is set to take over the Totem Pole, at 1413 Martin Springs Drive, at 3:30 p.m. Friday from longtime owners Timothy and Alice Jones.
Jones has owned the Totem Pole for 32 years, and worked at the business with his father for 10 years before taking over. Over the years, he has seen a lot and met many interesting people.
“I have seen so many people from all over the world,” Jones said. “This is a stop-off point for so many people on Route 66. They will be disappointed, I know, when they come and we are no longer here. I will miss seeing those people.” […]
The Totem Pole has also been a stop for several celebrities, including country musician Buck Owens, former St. Louis Cardinal Ozzie Smith, singer and Broadway actress Pearl Bailey, country musician Janie Fricke and singer Tony Orlando.
“We should have had a camera over the years to take pictures of the different people who came in,” Jones said.
Jones also remembers when the Harlem Globetrotters basketball team stopped in at the Totem Pole when he was a child. He remembers the players had to duck to avoid hitting their heads on the low ceiling. […]
“We have been in business long enough to see all different types of businesses come and go on Route 66 and I-44,” he said. “Things have changed dramatically since the 60s and 70s, but we still have the same faithful customers who have been stopping by here year after year. We see people from coast to coast. We want to thank them for their patronage throughout the years.”
We learned about some of the Totem Pole’s history while researching the history of John’s Modern Cabins, near the Sugartree Road exit of Interstate 44 about seven miles west of Rolla. The Totem Pole was close to John’s, with a few tourist cabins, a restaurant and a Standard filling station.
The Totem Pole was forced to move twice because of realignments to Route 66 and, later, I-44. That stretch of road was always hazardous to incautious motorists, and highway engineers never quite figured out how to correct it.
We always appreciated Totem Pole Trading Post during our travels because for myriad reasons — clean bathrooms, sugar-cured bacon sold in burlap sacks, an excellent selection of snacks and soda (including Route 66 Root Beer), lots of Route 66 and Ozarks souvenirs, and plenty of antiques, too.
I never quite got brave enough to buy a bottle of genuine corn whiskey, however.
UPDATE 5/24/07: I talked to the owner over the weekend. Apparently the planned sale of the Totem Pole fell through because the buyer couldn’t come up with the cash. So the Totem Pole will remain in the family indefinitely. And it was still selling pop, snacks and cool souvenirs when I was there.