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Spinning yarns about Oklahoma Joe’s October 28, 2007

Posted by Ron Warnick in Businesses, History.

Johnny Mango at Duke City Fix shows a postcard of one of Albuquerque’s first barbecue joints, Oklahoma Joe’s, on Central Avenue (aka Route 66) near the University of New Mexico campus.

Mango said Okie Joe’s, later known as Okie’s, was known for 10-cent beer nights, with the brew served in paper cups. It was a popular imbibing spot for many years.

Okie’s is not there anymore; a convenience store took its place. But Duke City Fix wants to hear stories about it.

You’re invited October 28, 2007

Posted by Ron Warnick in Events, Highways, Preservation.
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Today, I received a message in the mail from the Illinois Department of Transportation. Here’s what it said:

Governor Rod R. Blagojevich
and the Illinois Department of Transportation
in conjunction with the
Great Rivers Greenway District
Cordially invite you to the
Dedication Ceremony for the
McKinley Bridge

and the opening of
The Chamber of Commerce of
Southwestern Madison County
McKinley Bridge Roadside Park

Saturday, November 17, 2007
9:30 a.m.
Illinois Side of the Bridge
Intersection of Illinois Route 3 & Broadway
Venice, Illinois
[email protected] or 618-346-3420

Don’t worry if you didn’t get an invite. The public, one and all, can definitely come. And it’s been six years in coming since the nearly century-old McKinley Bridge, which carried an alignment of Route 66 over the Mississippi River to St. Louis, was closed for safety reasons. It’s cost $46 million to rehab the span.

According to the Belleville News-Democrat, IDOT is hinting the bridge might be ready for traffic by the Nov. 17 ceremony. Previously, the agency said it might reopen another week or so after that.

He said if the span is not yet open to traffic at that time, “it’s going to be close to the 17th. The ceremony will begin at 9:30 a.m.”

“We decided to pick a day,” he added. “If it’s open that day, it’s open. If not, it will be open in the near future.”

Gov. Rod Blagojevich is scheduled to attend the dedication, and about a thousand invitations have been sent to area businesses, civic organizations, municipalities and others. The public is welcome to attend.

If the bridge is opened to traffic before Nov. 17, it will be shut down during the dedication because the ceremony will be held on the bridge, Anderson said. People who attend will be able to walk across the bridge for an up-close view.

The News-Democrat also has a useful video that shows work that’s been done to the bridge, including new bicycle lanes.

It’s a significant and welcome development for Route 66ers. The westbound travelers who wish to avoid the interstates to drive into St. Louis soon will be able to do so again.

And St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Amanda St. Amand says it’s not just Mother Roaders looking forward to the bridge’s reopening:

About 10,000 cars and trucks a day were using the McKinley when it was shut down. Granite City officials have said they are expecting as many as 20,000 vehicles a day to use the new and now toll-free McKinley, but Brown said the transportation department had not given her any traffic estimates.

No one is a bigger booster of southwestern Madison County than Brown, and even she acknowledged that when the McKinley closed “it looked like the devil.” But with the entryway park in place, and the bridge set to reopen, she feels certain that her corner of the county is on the way to a comeback. She’s not alone. Business and political leaders in Granite City, Venice and Madison have said the reopening of the bridge should help cause a mini-boom in their local economies.

A ‘Hero’ in Amboy October 27, 2007

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Music, Towns.
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I heard a few days ago that the video for Enrique Iglesias‘ hit song “Hero” was shot in the Route 66 settlement of Amboy, Calif.

Sure enough, it is. Check it out:

Roy’s is featured prominently, as is a church in town.

And I was thinking the stone ruins were at Cadiz Summit, on Route 66 a few miles away, but it doesn’t look quite right. Any ideas?

Bringing back Broadway October 27, 2007

Posted by Ron Warnick in Businesses, Preservation, Towns.
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Los Angeles Downtown News Online has posted a long story about the city’s attempts to revitalize the historic Broadway district, part of which is old Route 66.

Many similar efforts have failed. But because the downtown area is gaining more residents, there’s some urgency and hope that a Broadway revival will be for real.

For the first time, many of the area’s key stakeholders are at the table, including theater owners, landlords, business leaders and community groups. The shared vision, initial plans for which could be completed by year’s end, would turn Broadway between Third Street and Olympic Boulevard into an entertainment destination. It would diversify the largely Latino shopping hub with new retail, nightclubs, creative offices and live shows in renovated theaters.

One of the big issues Broadway will have to tackle is a lack of parking. Officials are looking at using a nearby garage, encouraging pedestrian use and perhaps establishing a trolley line. And planners are agonizing on how to let the downtown district evolve naturally, yet still use zoning and ordinances keep it desirable.

There’s more in the article, including a lot of interesting ideas, for other urban planners to chew on.

Tout the route October 26, 2007

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Towns.
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We’ve noticed that more cities are taking advantage of the Internet and YouTube in particular in an effort to draw visitors and tourists.

Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., is one of them. It has posted a nicely produced three-minute video that briefly explains the history of Route 66 and Rancho Cucamonga’s current links to it.

The embedding for the video is turned off, but you can view it here.

More videos from Dwayne, Part 3 October 26, 2007

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Road trips, Weather.
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Here’s a few more videos from Dwayne of New Zealand.

Most of the footage here is in Oklahoma. It’s interesting to watch his companion get a bit freaked out by a severe thunderstorm in the western part of the state. It’s routine stuff for locals, but foreigners and non-natives tend to become frightened by them.

More Mother Roading in western Oklahoma:

Compact guide to 66 in western Arizona October 25, 2007

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Road trips.
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The Arizona Republic today published a compact guide to the portion of historic Route 66 that veers miles away from Interstate 40 from Seligman to Kingman.

There’s a lot more than that, but the article is good for starters.

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