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British celebrity couple is traveling Route 66 November 30, 2011

Posted by Ron Warnick in Music, People, Road trips, Television.

A celebrity couple from Great Britain is traveling on a portion of the Mother Road for three weeks, according to a story in The Daily Mirror of London.

Jason Orange, a member of the UK-based pop band Take That, and British comedian Catherine Tate reportedly are dating, and decided to take some time together on Route 66.

The newspaper said:

The shy couple, who are still trying not to parade their affection, are heading towards their first Christmas together in a ‘57 Chevy (probably) taking in Illinois, New Mexico, Texas and California.

A pal of the pair says: “Jason and Catherine wanted to get away from it all now their relationship is out in the open.

“They wanted somewhere off the beaten track where they can spend some quality time together, so decided to take a three-week vacation.

“They both loved the idea of a long break with just the two of them and the road.”

I confess to never hearing about either Orange or Tate before this report. So there’s a certain good sense for them to travel Route 66 — except for the British accents, they’re probably not going to attract any unusual attention here in the States.

At the least, they’re not going to find any paparazzi until perhaps Los Angeles. It’s safe to say a photographer won’t pop out of the bushes in, say, Glenrio.

Orange and Tate certainly will be more incognito than Paul McCartney, when he and his future wife Nancy Shevell traveled much of Route 66 in 2008. Even then, McCartney and Shevell managed to drive from Chicago to Oklahoma before attracting much media attention.

I wonder whether Orange and Tate got their idea of traveling Route 66 from “Billy Connolly’s Route 66″ on UK television a few weeks ago. The four-part series drew high ratings, and it’s likely it will spur a new wave of British travelers on the Mother Road in 2012, if not sooner.

Kansas Route 66 attains Historic Byway status November 29, 2011

Posted by Ron Warnick in Gas stations, Highways, Movies, Preservation.
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The Kansas portion of historic Route 66 has been designated as a Kansas Historic Byway, according to a news release today from the Kansas Department of Transportation.

The designation applies to all 13 miles of Route 66 in southeastern Kansas, including older alignments. As a result, the route will feature Kansas Scenic Byway signs (example here), be placed on the National Scenic Byways listing, and be included on the Kansas Scenic Byways website.

Also, the designation will enable the route to be eligible for federal grants to enhance and/or promote the byway.

The news release said:

“The designation of Kansas Historic Route 66 will emphasize the important significance of the route in this area for visitors and local residents, encouraging them to drive the route and explore the communities along it,” said Scott Shields, Kansas State Byways Coordinator.

An historic byway must have resources that are historically significant, be numerous, visible and have a setting or character that is complementary to the resources. “We are excited to add Historic Route 66 to the Kansas Byway collection. The route designation provides travelers a chance to view the relationship between the history of the original highway and the landscape and structures that define the area, in a combined effort to promote tourism and economic development, while exploring the natural and cultural importance of the byway communities,” Shields said.

Renee Charles of Galena and Marla Larison of Baxter Springs serve as co-chairs of the Kansas Historic Route 66 Byway Planning Committee.

Charles is one of the proprietors of 4 Women on the Route in Galena, which has become a significant Route 66 attraction. The business serves as a combination restaurant and tourism center in a refurbished Kan-O-Tex gas station. Also, a 1951 International boom truck that served as a major inspiration to Mater in the Disney-Pixar films “Cars” and “Cars 2″ is displayed at 4 Women on the Route.

Kansas joins Oklahoma, Missouri, Illinois, Arizona, and New Mexico as states which have earned National Scenic Byway or All-American Road designations along their stretches of Route 66.

The only holdouts left are Texas and California, and the Golden State probably will join the byways program soon upon the completion of a comprehensive study of Route 66 in California.

Roadie enters Phillips 66 Local Legends contest November 29, 2011

Posted by Ron Warnick in Businesses, Road trips, Vehicles.

Rich Dinkela, a Route 66 enthusiast based in St. Louis and proprietor of HookedOnRoute66.com, has entered a video in Phillips 66’s Local Legends contest.

Among the prizes is one year of free gasoline, which Dinkela says he’ll use for his customized and heavily autographed “Route 66 Adventure Truck” on future trips. On his blog, he said:

I have decided to enter a contest showing some of my efforts and talents to keep Route 66 alive. This video demonstrates to Phillips that I put a lot of energy and talent into marking roads, documenting old alignments, and commemorating iconic figures that are also directly involved with keeping Route 66 alive.

Interestingly, Phillips Petroleum Co. developed its gasoline in 1927 during testing on Route 66 in Oklahoma. Because the car was purring along at 66 mph on U.S. 66, it was decided to name the gasoline Phillips 66.

You can vote for Dinkela’s video here (registration is required). Voting will continue through Dec. 4.

UPDATE: I placed another version of the video in the post. The other clip had been moved into “Private” mode.

Lake Overholser Bridge November 28, 2011

Posted by Ron Warnick in Bridges, Music, Preservation.
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The historic Lake Overholser Bridge in western Oklahoma City was reopened to traffic a few weeks ago, as this new video clip shows:

Music is by The Road Crew.

UPDATE: Concidentally, here’s another angle from the bridge that was just posted from another YouTube account:

Latest Tucumcari gas-station makeover is complete November 28, 2011

Posted by Ron Warnick in Gas stations, Preservation.
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The latest old gas station in Tucumcari, N.M., to receive a makeover has been completed.

This building, which now houses Four Season Pest Control, has been repainted to resemble an old-time Magnolia station.

A group of volunteers has given nostalgic paint jobs to more than a half-dozen abandoned or repurposed gas stations along Route 66 in Tucumcari. It’s a cheap way to dress up eyesore properties along the Mother Road. Such an effort deserves to be copied.

Tucumcari also will host its annual Christmas Parade of Lights on Saturday night, Dec. 17.

(Photo courtesy of Richard Talley)

Santa Rosa newspaper makes a sequel November 27, 2011

Posted by Ron Warnick in Publications, Sports.
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Last year about this time, the Guadalupe County Communicator newspaper, based in Santa Rosa, N.M., printed a special edition in case its local high-school football won the state championship.

To top it off, the newspaper timed it so the congratulatory edition would actually be distributed at the game the minute the state title was won. The publisher took a gamble, risking $700 in printing expenses that Santa Rosa would win. If the team lost, the special edition would be quietly tossed into a Dumpster.

On Saturday, Santa Rosa — and the Communicator —  did it again. The Lions defeated previously unbeaten Eunice 21-14, with the winning touchdown scored with less than a minute remaining. And a congratulatory edition was distributed immediately after the game.

You can see the front page of the special edition in this Facebook post.

And, at 3:35 in this video recap of the game, you can see a Santa Rosa player showing off that special edition:


The Communicator, as you may recall, is owned by M.E. Sprengelmeyer, who lost his job as a reporter for the Rocky Mountain News when the newspaper went belly-up in early 2009. He argued that newspapers could still be financially viable and took a gamble on a struggling weekly newspaper in Santa Rosa.

More than two years later, it appears he’s succeeding. The Communicator recently took home about two dozen awards at the state’s newspaper-excellence contest. His advertising percentages in the newspaper continue to hover at a healthy 50 percent level. And, with such stunts as Saturday’s, he’s adding excitement to the community.

A tourism director worth watching November 26, 2011

Posted by Ron Warnick in People, Towns.
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Those who are in charge of chambers of commerce on Route 66 probably should observe closely the guy who’s just been hired for the same sort of job in Springfield, Ill. — Fred Puglia.

Puglia still needs City Council approval to be named chief of the Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau. But, rest assured, the Council will sail it through if it knows anything about his background, especially in the region. One of the events he’s promoted was the International Route 66 Mother Road Festival in Springfield, a one-time event that became so popular, it’s now annual.

The State Journal-Register reports:

Puglia said Friday his goal is to take city tourism to a new level, but he intends to start cautiously. […]

He knows the job won’t be easy, because Springfield competes against other popular nearby convention destinations — Peoria, Chicago and St. Louis — for tourism dollars.

“My experience tells me that I have to be careful,” Puglia said. “Everything that I’ve done is based on tourism, how many people you can draw into your event or into your community, so I’m just thinking that if I do it by the book it all will work out.”

Honestly, I don’t expect Puglia to be cautious. His crowning achievement, the Decatur Celebration in Decatur, Ill., worked because he was bold. I lived in the region at the time the festival began, and this description of its history rings true:

In 1986 ….

Fred Puglia brought a “crazy” idea to City of Decatur Mayor Gary Anderson. His idea was to produce a festival in the city streets of downtown that would be absolutely free to everyone who attended.

At the time the City of Decatur was experiencing a recession, labor disputes, and several other issues that resulted in a less-than-attractive image. With the concern of the community’s image and morale on his mind, Mayor Anderson loved the idea believing an event like this was just what the city needed to boot community pride and quality of life. […]

The first year was major success with an estimated 125,000 people packed in to the downtown streets of Decatur on August 1, 2, and 3, 1986. The weather was perfect. The timing was perfect. And the enthusiasm from the public was overwhelming. […]

Revenues from the three-day event were more than enough to cover the expenses the first year, leaving some cash to start planning for Celebration #2. And according to the public’s response, a second Decatur Celebration was inevitable. The rest is history!

It’ll be interesting to see whether Puglia takes a more pro-active approach to Route 66 landmarks, like Geoff Ladd has in Lincoln, Ill., or whether Springfield will try to hype its museums to tour groups like Ellie Alexander and Pontiac, Ill., do. Maybe Puglia will steer to an unexpected or unexploited course. Regardless, it’ll be intriguing to see how he tinkers with Springfield’s tourism strategy.

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