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A virtual tour of the Mother Road October 27, 2010

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Computer games, Preservation.
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The World Monuments Fund in 2007 listed Route 66 as one of the most threatened historical sites in the world.

Now, the group has hired a company to to create a virtual tour of a small section of the Mother Road. It is hoped that these virtual programs can be expanded to include many other sections of Route 66 to assist city planners, tourists, and preservationists.

The WMF commissioned GeoSim Systems to create a virtual tour of a section of Route 66 in South Pasadena, Calif. In it, longtime California roadie Glenn Duncan leads the tour.

According to a WMF release:

This virtual reality system is geared directly toward the public experience and allows business owners, residents, municipal governments, and others to connect and add to the online resource, whether through posting community data, uploading daily menus of their restaurants, or traveling through Route 66 as an avatar. It therefore serves would-be travelers as well as local residents.

This pilot demonstration is envisioned as an opportunity to foster a more robust constituency along Route 66 and, hopefully, to encourage the expansion of the virtual reality documentation across the eight states that are connected by Route 66.

Here’s a video introduction:

And here’s the download for the virtual tour. (Note: The download is more than 130 MGs, so make sure your computer can handle it. Setup after the download takes less than 5 minutes.)

Below is a screen shot from the virtual tour. The foliage and buildings look mostly natural, and in the tour you’ll see traffic and pedestrians passing by.

The freakiest — but fun — part of the virtual tour is seeing Duncan flying like Superman from one Route 66 landmark to the next. I half-expected him to dash into a phone booth and emerge in a red and blue caped uniform.

I suspect a few other roadies will be lining up to have their own chance to zip along like their favorite superhero in their favorite Route 66 neighborhood.

My first impression is it’s an interesting tool, and probably one that will become more ubiquitous in the coming years. Welcome to the future, folks.

Hit-and-run crash damages Tulsa restaurant October 26, 2010

Posted by Ron Warnick in Restaurants.
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A hit-and-run motorist crashed into and damaged the Corner Cafe, 11th Street (aka Route 66) and Peoria Avenue in Tulsa, early Monday, reported the Tulsa World.

The vehicle struck the western corner of the restaurant at 2:11 a.m.

Even though it is a busy corner, restaurant owner Ali Khater said it was the first time such an accident occurred in the 16 years the Corner Cafe has been open.

Despite the damage, the restaurant operated as usual Tuesday morning, reported KOTV.

KOTV’s report also contained surveillance video footage from inside the restaurant of a car crashing into the building, backing out, and driving away.

A KJRH-TV video report says the car is believed to be a green Ford.

Top ghost sites on Route 66 October 26, 2010

Posted by Ron Warnick in Ghosts and Mysteries.

In the spirit of the Halloween holiday, I decided to list the most notorious spots on Route 66 where ghosts and other unexplained phenomena occur.

Literally dozens of locations along the Mother Road have seen such weirdness over the decades. I narrowed it down to the top five:

  1. Spook Light, near Quapaw, Okla.: Also known as the Hornet Spooklight in a rural area near the Missouri, Oklahoma and Kansas border, it appears as a distant ball of light at dusk or night. It pops up regularly enough that Waylan’s Ku-Ku restaurant in Miami, Okla., provides maps so you can check it out for yourself. Some think it’s the ghost of a miner and his lantern; others think it’s the ghost of an Indian. “Roads to Quoz” author William Least Heat-Moon and others say the light is caused by headlights from old Route 66 to the west. However, the light has been documented even before the invention of cars.
  2. The Oatman Hotel, Oatman, Ariz.: The ghost that reputedly haunts this 1902 hotel is of miner William Ray Flour, who drank himself to death behind the hotel in 1930. The spirit of Oatie reputedly opens windows, plays bagpipes, and yanks off bed covers.  The hotel also reportedly houses the ghost of a chambermaid in one of the rooms. And hotel staff have heard the long-dead Clark Gable and Carole Lombard whispering and laughing from their honeymoon suite.
  3. Hotel Monte Vista, Flagstaff, Ariz.: The hotel boasts so many ghost stories, it has devoted a section of its website to them. It includes apparitions of a bank robber, prostitutes, a bellboy, a baby, a dancing couple, and “The Meat Man.” The hotel says Room 305 is its “most active” in terms of paranormal activity, including a rocking chair that rocks by itself.
  4. Tri-County Truck Stop, Villa Ridge, Mo.: The now-closed restaurant has been investigated by Missouri Paranormal Research after reports of strange activity, and a story about that sparked more than 50 comments on Route 66 News — many with their own weird stories about the place. One of the ghosts is “George,” who reputedly has gotten fresh with the restaurant’s female help.
  5. KiMo Theatre, Albuquerque. The 1927 theater reportedly is haunted by a 6-year-old boy, Bobby, who was killed in a boiler explosion in 1951. Bobby supposedly behaves himself if treats are left on a water pipe for him in the back of the theater. But if the treats are removed, all sorts of technical problems occur during shows or movie screenings.

As I’ve said, this isn’t a comprehensive list of spooky places on Route 66 by a long shot. A few Route 66 travelers have reported spooky experiences of their own, as the comments in this post from 2005 show.

Route 66-themed bridge will be built in Rancho October 25, 2010

Posted by Ron Warnick in Bridges.

If you have to replace a historic railroad bridge, this is the way to do it.

Foothill Boulevard (aka Route 66) in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., will be widened to six lanes, which will necessitate the removal of the 81-year-old Pacific Electric Railway Bridge near Baker Avenue. But what will replace it seems to be a pretty good substitute, according to the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin:

The new bridge – which is part of the Pacific Electric Trail that crosses Foothill – will feature artwork depicting scenes of California and Illinois, the end points of Route 66. According to Associate Engineer Curt Billings, one end of the bridge will feature art of palm trees and the Pacific Ocean. On the other end, there will be windmills and white oaks, Illinois’ state tree.

Just east of the bridge will be a park featuring the same varieties of grapevines that were first brought to the area from the San Gabriel Mission. A portion of the old bridge, which was torn down in July, will be preserved as a monument at the park and a section of the original Route 66 will also be preserved.

City officials held a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday to mark the start of the entire project, which is scheduled to be finished by November 2011.

Here’s a Google Street View look of the original railroad bridge.

“The Route 66 of the West” October 24, 2010

Posted by Ron Warnick in Highways, History.

The Press-Enterprise posted a fascinating historical article about U.S. 395, which goes 1,400 miles from Canada to Mexico through Washington, Oregon and California.

Route 66 obviously stays true to U.S. 66, the Mother Road. But we’re happy to occasionally give some bandwidth to other notable historic highways. From the article:

U.S. Route 66 is a much-documented highway many Americans fondly remember as the “mother road,” crossing east-west from Chicago to Los Angeles. U.S. Highway 395 may be less widely known — yet “it was the Route 66 of the West but it was the north-south version,” said Dick Fox, a Temecula historian.

“At its peak (use), it was called the Three Flags Highway,” Fox said, because 395, completed in the 1930s, linked Mexico, the U.S. and Canada.

“It went through every little burg and city, all the way up” to the Canadian border near Spokane, Wash., he said.

Travelers in parts of southern California may be able to follow old 395 better because of new signs that were recently installed.

U.S. 395 was the primary north-south highway in the region before Interstate 15 was built. Also, bypasses were built for U.S. 395 after World War II convoys had trouble getting through some towns.

Here’s a Wikipedia entry on U.S. 395. Here’s Cameron Kaiser’s excellent site about 395. AARoads has a good site, with lots of photos, too.

Manic Mark October 24, 2010

Posted by Ron Warnick in Religion.
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Here’s the latest entry of “Route 66: A Road Trip through the Bible.” This one’s from the Book of Mark.

Mark could stand to drink decaf.

Jest in fun October 24, 2010

Posted by Ron Warnick in Music.
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Michael Garin and Mardie Millit, aka Michael and Madie, provide a more whimsical take on “Route 66.”

Not that I’m complaining.

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