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Lincoln Motel sign gets face-lift next weekend August 31, 2010

Posted by Ron Warnick in Motels, Preservation, Signs.
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Volunteers with the Oklahoma Route 66 Association will put a new coat of paint on the historic Lincoln Motel’s neon sign in Chandler, Okla., on Sept. 11-12, and you’re invited to join the effort.

Repainting will begin from about 8 a.m. and end at dark each day, weather permitting, at the motel at 740 E. First St. (aka Route 66). Map to the motel is here.

Materials will be provided. If you want to participate, all we recommend is a pair of work gloves and to wear work clothes. The idea is to erect scaffolding, scrape off any loose paint, then put a new coat of the same color.

The Lincoln Motel has been operating on the Mother Road since 1939. It recently gained new owners who are renovating the rooms but want to keep the motel’s stately old appearance.

For information, call the association at 405-258-0008.

A cell built for two August 30, 2010

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions.
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Mark and Sarah Owens of TravelShorts.com recently took a three-week trip on Route 66.

Here’s a clip of an odd but fascinating attraction that gets frequently overlooked — the two-cell jailhouse that was built more than a century ago in Gardner, Ill.

Bicycle trail hits a roadblock August 30, 2010

Posted by Ron Warnick in Bicycling.
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John Fritsche, a cycling enthusiast who’s been leading an effort to establish a 17-mile bicycle trail on an abandoned section of Route 66 between Staunton and Litchfield, Ill., said in a letter to the editor in The Journal-News in nearby Hillsboro that the project has run into a snag.

The roadway is under the jurisdiction of the Illinois Department of Transportation. Our proposal was simple, in that our request was for the department to remove selected sections of guardrail, level any bumps and potholes, and sign the trail for safety between Staunton and Litchfield.

It was clearly demonstrated by the department that our request was not possible because of liability and precedence issues. […]

It is now time to present our case in writing to our Governor and to our U.S. Senators and Representatives to request their assistance in making this recreational trail a reality for the people of South Central Illinois.

It seems clear that IDOT is reluctant to remove the earthen barriers because ne’er-do-wells in motorcycles and cars might drag-race on the old roadway. Post barriers spaced so no car can enter the road ordinarily would solve part of the problem. But just a grassy median separates the old road from the current Route 66 that’s still used by motorists.

IDOT basically has two options. One is installing cable barriers in the median, plus the previously mentioned post barriers, to prevent unauthorized access by cars.

Or the agency simply could turn over ownership of the old roadway to the appropriate township or county, where either can assume the liability or take steps to create a safe and enjoyable bicycle trail.

Either way, Fritsche seems adept at getting politicians on his side. I wouldn’t be surprised if a compromise is hammered out so the trail can proceed.

66 Bowl auction delayed August 30, 2010

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Sports.
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The auction of the contents for the 66 Bowl in Oklahoma City scheduled for Tuesday has been delayed to Oct. 1, reported the Daily Oklahoman.

Auctioneer Louis Dakil said people can go the bowling alley at 10 a.m. Tuesday as planned and register and place advance bids. But because the closing of the bowling alley sale has been delayed at the request of the buyer, the auction has been delayed.

The closing of the sale is set for Sept. 17, thus necessitating the auction’s postponement. The historic bowling alley along Route 66 has been sold to an India grocer.

UPDATE: According to another report, 66 Bowl’s last day will be Sept. 3.

And they call the thing rodeo August 29, 2010

Posted by Ron Warnick in Animals, Events, Sports.
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Though I’ve lived in Oklahoma more than six years, for the first time I attended the annual Will Rogers Memorial Rodeo in Vinita.

Will Rogers, who grew up near Vinita and attended college there, promised townsfolk in 1934 he would return to Vinita if they put together a rodeo. Just weeks before the rodeo would take place in 1935, Rogers and aviator Wiley Post died in plane crash in Alaska. Vinita residents decided to hold the rodeo as an annual memorial to Rogers, and have since.

The rodeo takes place just off Route 66, and the big arena wall that touts the annual event can be seen from the Mother Road. It has been held every year since 1935 but two times — once during World War II and, according to the rodeo announcer, during a local anthrax outbreak.

The local American Legion organizes the rodeo each year, and boasts a $55,000 purse to draw professional cowboys from all over (one who competed Saturday came from New Jersey). The event draws dozens of sponsors, and the town obviously is proud of it. And everything I saw at the rodeo — from the boss sound system to the high-tech scoreboard to well-organized program to the rapid-fire comedy by rodeo clown John Harrison — was first-rate. Here’s some video footage I shot at the event:

The rodeo also came with a sense of passage. Not only does it serve as a memorial to Rogers, but to deceased American Legion members. Played was a recording of a benediction by longtime rodeo legend and area native Clem McSpadden, who passed away two years ago. The multiple generations of people sitting in the old wooden bleachers probably recalled departed relatives who once sat there with them, too.

And a rodeo serves as as a nostalgic event itself. The Buffalo Bill Wild West shows, a precursor of modern rodeos more than a century ago, celebrated the fading cowboy culture of the Wild West. Although many of the skills shown at the rodeo still are used on ranches today, they’re withering amid encroachment of higher-tech, high-efficiency cattle-raising methods.

The Will Rogers Memorial Rodeo is set to mark its 75th anniversary next year. While watching, I wondered whether we would see a 100th edition. The rodeo industry has come under fire for its animal-treatment methods (and this former farm boy saw the steer-roping as a very rough and expendable event). The nation is becoming more vegetarian. And there are the aforementioned changes in the cattle industry itself that threaten to make rodeo skills obsolete.

I’m not necessarily lamenting these possible changes. A society that’s less cruel to its animals and more receptive to sustainable agriculture should be seen as a good thing.

But, as inexorable changes occur, one has to consider what might be lost. And after seeing what what was lost during the emergence of the interstate highways era, one could draw a lot of parallels to Route 66 and rodeos.

(If you’re wondering about the title of this post, it comes from this.)

San Bernardino soon will open a Route 66 museum August 29, 2010

Posted by Ron Warnick in Events, Museums, Restaurants.
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A Route 66 museum soon will open in San Bernardino, Calif., with a sneak preview during the Route 66 Rendezvous classic-car festival next month, according to the San Bernardino County Sun.

The museum, at Fifth Street near Mount Vernon Avenue (map here), will open at 10 a.m. Sept. 17 during the Rendezvous. The museum will hold its grand opening sometime in November.

The owners of the museum are Danny Castro, a San Bernardino native who’s been collecting literally tons of Route 66 memorabilia for 35 years, and Albert Okura, of the Juan Pollo restaurant chain and owner of the Route 66 hamlet of Amboy, Calif., including Roy’s.

According to museum board member, Steve Portias, while most of the museum focuses on San Bernardino, the collection also “keys in” on Barstow, Amboy, Needles and Kingman areas.

“They have done a lot of research on items that will bring so many memories to people,” said Portias, president of Inland Vans Berdoo, honored in the Route 66 Cruisin’ Hall of Fame.

The museum is sponsored by the California Historic Route 66 Museum Association. In California, there also are Route 66 in museums in Victorville and Barstow.

It’s tree-mendous August 28, 2010

Posted by Ron Warnick in Art, Attractions.
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Durelle Pritchard of Pontiac, Ill., owned a nuisance pine tree in his yard.

Instead of simply cutting it all down, he had part of it carved into what looks like a gas-station pump as a memorial to Route 66 in town. You can see it here at the Pontiac Daily Leader.

According to online directories, Pritchard’s residence is at 601 W. Reynolds in Pontiac (map here). However, I haven’t verified that this is where the memorial is; I called Pritchard’s residence and left a message.

If it is at his residence, it’s about three blocks east of the 1926-45 alignment of Route 66, which would be South Ladd Street.

UPDATE: Pritchard called me back on Sunday. He says the gas pump is at his residence at Court and Reynolds streets (map here), and that the carver should be done with it sometime today or Monday. The gas pump will include the Route 66 shield on the upper globe.

Pritchard said he’s only one block from Vermillion Street, which is an old alignment of Illinois Route 4, and thus an early routing of U.S. 66.

UPDATE2: Pontiac Community News has posted a more recent photo of the carving, along with some color that’s been added. Excellent craftsmanship.

UPDATE3: Pritchard e-mailed me photos of the completed carving, which was finished on Aug. 31:

(Photos courtesy of Durelle Pritchard)

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