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Severe storms rake Lebanon, Rolla in Missouri February 29, 2012

Posted by Ron Warnick in Motels, Towns, Weather.
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The storm systems that roared across the Midwest late Tuesday and early Wednesday — including one that caused fatalities in Harrisburg, Ill. — affected the Route 66 towns of Lebanon and Rolla in mid-Missouri.

Ramona Lehman, longtime co-owner of the Munger Moss Motel in Lebanon, said in a phone interview that no damage occurred at the Route 66 landmark.

However, she said nearly 30 businesses in Lebanon suffered damage, including the Tracker boat factory. The storm tossed around so much debris, she said, it forced the closure of one lane on Interstate 44.

The Lebanon Daily Record reported that five people suffered minor injuries.

The Rolla Daily News reported scattered damage in Rolla from the storm’s straight-line winds. A Conoco station on U.S. 63 on the town’s north side saw its main building heavily damaged. No injuries were reported in Rolla.

The Springfield News-Leader reported that the nearby music mecca of Branson — a side-trip destination for some Route 66 travelers — also saw widespread damage from a tornado.

Back in Lebanon, Lehman said she was unaware of any damage to other Route 66 landmarks in the city.

“The storm woke us up about a quarter to twelve. I was more concerned about hail,” she said. The motel in late 2010 restored its distinctive sign, and its neon tubing is vulnerable to hailstones.

“But we’re all fine,” Lehman said. “We got several emails from all over the country, wondering if their favorite motel was all right. When you hear that people are that concerned, it makes you feel good. You have to love the Route 66 community.”

UPDATE: Waynesville and the surrounding area also reported some damage along the Route corridor.

Albuquerque restaurant bottling the world’s hottest salsa February 28, 2012

Posted by Ron Warnick in Events, Food, Restaurants.

El Pinto Restaurant in Albuquerque now is making the hottest salsa in the world, reported the Albuquerque Journal.

The salsa is called Scorpion Salsa.

The newspaper reported:

The Trinidad Scorpion pepper was certified by the Chile Pepper Institute at New Mexico State University as one of the top three hottest peppers in the world. El Pinto Restaurant in Albuquerque will use great caution in producing this product and the limited edition Scorpion Salsa will be available for serious “chileheads’ at next week’s Fiery Food Show in Albuquerque, New Mexico. […]

El Pinto will use less than one pound of these precious peppers and dilute the recipe to make 100 gallons of salsa. El Pinto food engineers and chile experts from Las Cruces, New Mexico have formulated a recipe that will come in at 12,000 Scoville units. That will make the El Pinto Scorpion Salsa the hottest salsa in the world.

To give you perspective, Tabasco sauce tops out at 8,000 Scoville units, maximum.

Don’t look for it at your local store. Only a very small batch of Scorpion Salsa was made, and it’ll be available only at the Fiery Foods Show.

El Pinto is located on the old Fourth Street alignment of Route 66.

$800,000 grant sought for Route 66 visitors center in Albuquerque February 27, 2012

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions.
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A pack of lawmakers is seeking an $800,000 grant from the state of New Mexico for a Route 66 visitors center on the east end of Albuquerque.

A couple of sharp-eyed readers saw the line item in the long list of capital-outlays requests by the New Mexico Legislature. You can see the listing on the first page here.

Rhonda Methvin, special projects manager for the City of Albuquerque, said sponsors of the line item were state Reps. Tom Anderson, Eleanor Chavez, Miguel P. Garcia, and Antonio Maestas, and state Sens. Eric G. Griego, Timothy M. Keller, Linda M. Lopez, Gerald Oritz y Pino, Bernadette M. Sanchez, and Sander Rue.

Contacted by email, Maestas said he surmised the Route 66 visitors center would be on the east edge of town, near where Central Avenue rejoins Interstate 40. He was the structure would “probably” be a new building.

Deborah Nason, public information officer for the city, said she had no solid knowledge about the visitors center, but heard the South West Alliance of Neighbors, a coalition of neighborhood associations in Albuquerque, may have requested the funds for that purpose. Emails to the group had not be returned as of Monday night.

Heidi Warren, an manager’s assistant for Bernalillo County, which includes Albuquerque, said she had no knowledge of the project.

Upon initially hearing about this proposal, I had hoped the proposal would be used to re-purpose the historic but nonoperating El Vado Motel. However, that Route 66 landmark is located in the center of town. It doe s mark more sense to place a Route 66 visitors center on the east end. More than 60 percent of Route 66 travelers are coming from the east.

The New Mexico Legislature passed the capital-outlays bill, but Gov. Susana Martinez has vowed to veto any line item she deemed as pork. The current print edition of the Guadalupe County Communicator, based in Santa Rosa, listed a number of Albuquerque projects that Martinez said she’d veto, but the visitors center was not one of them.

The City of Santa Rosa also has requested $325,000 to renovate and reuse the historic Ilfeld Warehouse. City officials want to use the warehouse for a Route 66 museum.

Illinois Tourism creates new Route 66 videos February 27, 2012

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Road trips.
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DiscoverIllinois.org (aka the Illinois Office of Tourism) recently uploaded well-produced videos about Route 66 in the Land of Lincoln.

Here’s the introduction:

And here’s a five-minute tour of the Mother Road in Illinois, courtesy of expert John Weiss:

And several tourists are asked about Route 66’s appeal:

Albuquerque mayor wants input on revitalizing Route 66 February 27, 2012

Posted by Ron Warnick in Businesses, Preservation, Towns.

It’s going to be interesting to see how this shakes out later today:

The most interesting part of KOB-TV’s report on the mayor wanting to revitalize Central Avenue (aka Route 66) in Albuquerque is this:

Whatever the perfect formula is, Mayor Berry says he wants to find it and make Albuquerque’s star along Route 66 shine a little brighter.

“Really make it a place where if you came through the city of Albuquerque you would never think of going on the interstate, you would always want to get off and take Central Avenue and spend some time here,” said Berry.

Whether the mayor has historic preservation as part of his Route 66 revitalization idea is another matter.

The meeting is at 3:30 p.m. Albuquerque time today.

UPDATE: Another story was posted by KASA-TV a few hours after KOB’s. While the devil remains in the details, it seems the mayor is supportive of historic structures:

“This is one of the longest stretches of Route 66 in an urban area in America,” explained Mayor Berry. “We’ve got a lot of great neon, a lot of great history, a lot of great excitement.”

It’s excitement that the Mayor hopes will turn into expanded growth, tourism and more jobs in the near future.

He said one day he would like visitors to bypass the city’s freeway altogether and take Route 66 through town instead.

To make that happen the Mayor wants the city council to devise a plan that would offer tax incentives and enticements for growth for developers and businesses. He also wants to lift certain restrictions like sign ordinances and building codes, giving private developers more freedom.

“We’re just trying to cut the private sector loose to have a good time and be innovative on Central Ave.,” Berry said.

Ostrich farm led to a stretch of Route 66 February 27, 2012

Posted by Ron Warnick in Highways, History, Railroad.
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A small section of Sunset Boulevard (aka Route 66) in the Echo Park neighborhood in Los Angeles is lined with sandstone bluffs.

That “cut” dates to an 1887 railroad line to an ostrich farm.

No kidding. This video explains:

If you’d like to explore it yourself, here’s a Google Map of the location.

The video was produced by Valley Spring Lane Historical Consulting and Echo Park Historical Society. Apparently other historical videos about Sunset Boulevard are in the works.

(Hat tip: Scott Piotrowski)

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