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New Route 66 photos site launched October 31, 2011

Posted by Ron Warnick in Photographs, Web sites.
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Photographer Frank Gifford has launched a rt66pix.com site that not only is selling his images, but also merchandise that contains those images.

The site contains more than 500 images, “and more images are being added.” Gifford (who is no relation to the NFL Hall of Famer and broadcaster by the same name) said in a news release:

More than 250 (images)  have optional captioning for T-shirts, sweatshirts, mugs, mousepads, totebags and other merchandise.  […]

www.rt66pix.com can be surfed through more than 40 image galleries.  For example, the Cadillac Ranch has its own gallery with 22 exclusive images.  “Neon Lives!” has 115.  “Rusted & Busted” and “Gas-N-GONE” each have 180 photographs from Route 66 and beyond. […]

The site is free and surfing-friendly with full-screen images, optional slideshows, photo background and historical information — even a time-wasting section.

A listing of photo sites that deal with the Mother Road can be found in the Photographs section in the lower right portion of this site, including Jim Ross and Shellee Graham’s Route 66 Photographs.

Bridge soon will be replaced near Carthage October 31, 2011

Posted by Ron Warnick in Bridges.
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The bridge over the Spring River northeast of Carthage, Mo., will be torn down and replaced starting in late spring 2012, reported the Joplin Globe, impacting Route 66 travel in that area.

The bridge carries Missouri Highway 96 (aka Route 66) over the Spring River. The bridge’s deck rating by the Missouri Department of Transportation has fallen to a 3. A 2 rating would force the bridge to be closed to traffic.

Eden said MoDOT hopes the bridge will not be out of service too long. Plans are to have it open before school starts next fall. “We will do everything we can to make sure that happens,” she said.

The detour will leave Highway 96 at Highway 37 (Avilla), go south to Jasper County Route E, east to Missouri 571, and then into Carthage. Detours can be routed only along state roads, Eden said, but local residents can choose more convenient detours.

According to BridgeHunter.com, the Spring River Bridge was built in 1953. That bridge is not the same as the distinctive 1934 Missouri 96 railroad bridge northeast of town.

Keeping historic Route 66 and its city plan in mind, the City of Carthage is urging MoDOT to construct a distinctive-looking bridge, such as an arched span. MoDOT says it’s cash-strapped, but would consider such a proposal if the city or some other entity would provide the funding.

A new song about the Mother Road October 31, 2011

Posted by Ron Warnick in Motorcycles, Music, Road trips.
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A Czech blues-rock band, After 40, has recorded a song titled “Route 66.” And it’s not a cover of the famous Bobby Troup tune; it’s new song.

Here’s the video for it. Apparently someone sent a film crew to the Mother Road in Arizona and California:

After 40’s newest album also it titled “Route 66.”

Is Barney’s Beanery haunted? October 30, 2011

Posted by Ron Warnick in Ghosts and Mysteries, Restaurants.
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Barney’s Beanery, a fixture on Route 66  in West Hollywood, Calif., since 1927, is known for many things. Home to the Second-Best Chili in Los Angeles. Hangout to Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, and scads of other music and movie stars. A focal point in the fledgling gay-rights movement during the 1970s and ’80s.

But the old bar/restaurant may have some other notoriety as well. Several employees interviewed by the Los Angeles Times insist that Barney’s is haunted.

Restaurant manager Jonah Dumont says he’s often watched a strange figure walk past the rooftop office as he finishes the bookkeeping after Barney’s closes at 2 a.m. nightly.

“I’ve seen it 20-plus times. At first I assumed it was a busboy in a white shirt walking by,” said Dumont, who started working there a year ago.

Oddly, the figure walking past the office’s open doorway failed to trigger the rooftop’s motion sensor-controlled floodlights. […]

When Dumont mentioned his experience to others, he found out he was not the only one who had experienced strange things.

A bartender also saw the rooftop figure, and reported that the beer system mysteriously malfunctioned. Another bartender said that as she was checking beer kegs in a downstairs cooler, someone walked past, turned, and walked past again before vanishing. A waitress felt a presence behind her when fetching pickles from the cooler. A cook heard kegs being dragged across the floor.

Speculation abounds that it’s the wandering souls of Joplin and Morrison, who died during the early 1970s.

Or maybe someone was sampling too much of the product from the kegs. (Wink.)

(Hat tip to Kevin Hansel)

“An Idiot Abroad,” Route 66 style October 30, 2011

Posted by Ron Warnick in Road trips, Television.
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A few days ago, the British satirical comedy “An Idiot Abroad” took its main character, the dim-witted Karl Pilkington, down the Mother Road.

You’ll see the Blue Whale of Catoosa, Bottletree Ranch, and a few other Route 66 landmarks, along with bizarre side trips.

Note: This episode contains some profanity and an adult situation or two. It’s in four parts:

I’ll acknowledge that British satire often is an acquired taste. But this left me cold, and my Twitter feed indicated that even fans of the show considered this episode to be weak.

Producer Ricky Gervais has done better work, and undoubtedly will again.

Ford retro body may start a wave of the future October 29, 2011

Posted by Ron Warnick in Vehicles.

Ford Motor Co. and Dynacorn are partnering on making a new, first-generation Mustang shell for those who want to build their own classic Ford Mustangs, according to the New York Times and other media outlets.

For $15,000, a shell of a vintage Mustang can be delivered right to your garage:

The new body can be configured as a ’64.5, ’65 or ’66, depending on the trim with which it is finished. It is made of virgin metal and is assembled using modern welding techniques. According to Jim Christina, Dynacorn vice president, the steel is of a better grade than that used in the original Ford-manufactured body.

Dennis Mondrach, the licensing manager for Ford Restoration Parts, said that nearly all the parts needed to build a complete first-generation Mustang convertible, save for some minor body hardware, could be bought new from Ford-approved classic parts suppliers. (The front fenders and hood must be purchased separately.)

That would mean a tinkerer could rebuild the premier pony car of its era without laying a finger on the genuine item. Of course, such a car would have to be titled as a home-built vehicle, and state regulations would have to be met. In Texas, for example, securing title and registration would require a safety inspection, documentation of all purchases relevant to the car’s construction and the issuance of a vehicle identification number.

According to the report, Dynacorn already makes shells for Camaros, Firebirds, Chevelles, Challengers and Chevrolet trucks, as well as 1967-70 Mustangs. But Mustangs are America’s most-restored vehicles, so this new item opens a potentially lucrative market.

The Mustang shell will be displayed at the Specialty Equipment Marketing Association show in Las Vegas, starting Tuesday.

I think it’s only a matter of time before one of the major carmakers takes a plunge into making a vehicle with a vintage body, but with amenities that meet modern specs (including better fuel economy and less pollution).

Volkswagen, for instance, could make a big pile of money if it would make a new 1965 Beetle or minibus, but with better engines. And can you imagine how much excitement Chevrolet would generate if it made a “new” 1958 Corvette?

Two Route 66 projects will begin construction by 2013 October 28, 2011

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Museums.
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The Route 66 Experience museum near downtown Tulsa and a new Route 66 gateway in west Tulsa should begin construction by 2013, according to a report in the print edition of the Tulsa County News.

Quoting city planner Dennis Whitaker, the report says:

There are firm plans in place for the Route 66 Experience “and we are dealing right now with utility locations and will advertise for constructions probably in the first quarter of 2012,” said Whitaker. “Typically construction starts 90 days after that so we hope to break ground by the later half of 2012.” […]

Plans for the Route 66 Experience include a three-story building with exhibition space, a restaurant, gift shop, and administration offices. […] The year 2013 is the is the soonest time to expect to see shovels in the ground, he said.

The story also contains an artist’s rendering of the Route 66 gateway that will be built near the Crystal City Shopping Center in west Tulsa. The Route 66 logo will be about 21 feet above the road, with an overhead arch that’s 49 feet long.

The projects are funded primarily with a Vision 2025 sales tax. The city thought construction would begin by now, but tax receipts slowed during the recent recession.

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