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Bel-Air sign sits waiting — for now April 29, 2007

Posted by Ron Warnick in Signs, Theaters.
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Wally Spiers of the Belleville News-Democrat talks to the owner of the Bel-Air Drive-In sign on old Route 66 near Mitchell, Ill.

The drive-in theater has been closed for 20 years, but the marquee still stands. Owner Larry Manns hasn’t done much to shore it up, but also he seems reluctant to part with it.

“The village of Pontoon Beach has talked about rehabilitating it,” he said. “A couple of people have called, wanting to buy it. I’m not real keen to sell it to anyone. I like it. I grew up with it.”

But if there is an opportunity to make a good profit, he might be tempted to part with the sign.

“I really don’t want to take it down, but if someone happens to want to develop that piece of property it is on, who’s to say what might happen?” he said. “I’m open to suggestions.”

A photo of the Bel-Air sign can be seen here.

Seat belts … yum April 29, 2007

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, People.
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This very strange story from the Associated Press tells how the Cadillac Ranch west of Amarillo, Texas, was supposed to be used for a photo shoot by the Texas Department of Transportation to promote the use of seat-belt use.

But a llama on the premises chewed up part of the Styrofoam seat belt that was supposed to be wrapped down the Cadillac Ranch monument. The photographer was able to finish the shoot, however.

The Amarillo Globe-News also has a story, and a photo from the shoot (free registration may be required).

The llama was owned by local helium magnate Stanley Marsh 3 (yes, the “3” is correct). To anyone who knows about the cheerfully eccentric Marsh, the fact he used a pet llama to disrupt a photo shoot comes as no surprise.

Bowling for peace April 29, 2007

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, People.
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Richard Branaman has a vision. He wants to build a 21-foot-tall pyramid made of 8,400 bowling balls, set atop a 77-foot-tall concrete quasi-tripod. It’s called the World Peace Monument, and he wants it in the middle of a traffic circle at Mingo Road and Admiral Place (aka Route 66) in Tulsa, reports the Tulsa World.

Right now, it’s just an idea, and he needs a lot of cash and another 7,500 bowling balls to pull it off (plus a lot of zoning meetings).

In the meantime, he’s raising money for the project at his World Peace Thrift Shop at the Great American Flea Market in Tulsa, which also is on the Admiral Place Route 66 alignment.

You can see Branaham’s flea-market booth of collected bowling balls here.

Canyon views and music April 28, 2007

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Music.
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The Route 66 Road Musical has posted yet another video, this time of the awesome views of the Grand Canyon. The footage of the eagle soaring over the chasm is excellent, too.

Natalie Merchant‘s “Motherland” is in the first half of the video. The second half is the atmospheric music of Arizona band Calexico.

Palms Grill sign relighted April 27, 2007

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Businesses, Preservation, Signs.
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The old neon sign of the Palms Grill in downtown Atlanta, Ill., was relighted in a ceremony this week, reports the Bloomington Pantagraph.

The sign was restored in part with a grant from the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program.

The newspaper didn’t have any photos of the new sign, but here’s an artist’s rendering.

The circa-1938 building on old Route 66 eventually will be reopened to house the town’s museum and a cafe.

UPDATE 4/30/07: Peter Stork at Digital Route 66 has this picture and others of the Palms Grill sign and building.

Mower Man makes it to Rolla April 27, 2007

Posted by Ron Warnick in Businesses, People, Road trips.
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Matt Land, sales manager for Dixie Choppers lawn mowers in Indiana, stopped for a bite to eat during his quest to drive a propane-powered lawn mower across the country. Money quote from the Rolla Daily News:

“I’ve been eating a lot of bugs and raindrops, and I know what it’s like to be a hood ornament,” Land joked. “It’s taken on its own personality. We go with the flow, that’s what we’re good at.”

Top speed on the mower is 30 mph.

You can follow Land during his Clean Cut Across America tour on his blog.

Town House in Albuquerque is closing April 26, 2007

Posted by Ron Warnick in Restaurants.
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The Town House Lounge and Restaurant at 3911 Central Ave. in Albuquerque is closing May 5 after 49 years on Route 66, reports the Albuquerque Tribune.

The Town House, which one of the city’s oldest steakhouses, also is known for its big steer on its roof. Here’s a photo.

It’s owned by George K. Argyles, who immigrated from Greece a half-century ago.

The restaurant’s time at the location is coming to an end, because Argyres said, he was unable to come to an agreement over his lease.

It will end Argyres’ nearly 50-year association with that patch of Central, tucked between Route 66 landmarks like the De Anza Motor Lodge and the Aztec Motel. […]

Argyres says there’s still a chance the restaurant – a family operation that includes his wife, Katherine – will be resurrected, along with the cow.

He knows the location, calling it only “somewhere between here and the mountains.” But he’s just not sure yet. He’s discouraged by modern-day regulations on people who sell alcohol.

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