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Straight from the garage March 31, 2012

Posted by Ron Warnick in Music.
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Here’s a version of Bobby Troup’s “Route 66″ that I’ve never heard, by Los Jockers in 1967.

Evidence indicates that Los Jockers were based in Chile. I found another band from Mexico by the same name, but it broke up in 1962.

Ground broken on Luna Lodge project March 30, 2012

Posted by Ron Warnick in Motels, Preservation.
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A groundbreaking ceremony was held last week for a project that will convert the historic Luna Lodge motel in Albuquerque into a 30-unit affordable housing development, according to a news release from Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas, one of the lenders on the project.

More from the release:

The developer of the project, NewLife Homes in Albuquerque, is converting Luna Lodge, a former motel on Route 66 that is listed on the National Historic Registry, into new housing. The project involves rehabbing 14 existing units and constructing 16 new units. Demolition of certain interior portions of the hotel is already underway, and construction has begun on the new portion of the structure. […]

Many of the businesses along historic Route 66 attended the groundbreaking ceremony and provided lunch items from their restaurants.

John Bloomfield, executive director of NewLife Homes, was pleased the project was underway.

“The city has had a policy for many years to rehab these dying motels that have closed down, but to my knowledge no one has done it yet,” Mr. Bloomfield said. “We’re hoping to be a catalyst for redevelopment along Central Avenue. The area where Luna Lodge is located is kind of a blighted area that has been neglected and we believe that because we do very high quality developments, this project will encourage other parties to get involved in the east central section of Albuquerque.”

According to a previous report, the redevelopment will preserve the Luna Lodge’s Pueblo-style architecture. The Luna, at 9119 Central Ave. (aka Route 66) was built in 1950 and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1998. It’s been vacant for several years.

Here is an artist’s rendering of the redeveloped Luna Lodge:

(Images courtesy of NewLife Homes and Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas)

Fundraising campaign launched for 66 Motel sign March 30, 2012

Posted by Ron Warnick in Motels, Preservation, Signs.

Ed Klein of Route 66 World wants to restore the historic neon sign at the 66 Motel in Needles, Calif., to its former glory. So he’s launched a Indiegogo fundraising drive at the Indiegogo site.

Klein explained:

The 66 Motel sign in Needles CA is one of THE most iconic signs along the famed highway. And after doing several other restoration projects, this one was long overdue. The restoration itself will be a simple process – paint, light bulbs, neon, transformers and electrical work to get it lit up again.

The paint and materials will be covered by me. I have already started work on the sign by scraping, cleaning, painting, removing all the broken neon and light bulbs, and pulled transformers and all the old ‘bad’ wiring.

The fundraiser is mostly for the replacement of the neon lights / glass, the transformers, and the electrical work to get it to ‘light up the night sky’ like it did over 15 years ago!

It’s hoped that the restoration of the sign will persuade the owners of the property to reopen it to overnight travelers. For now, the seven-unit 66 Motel is being used as apartments.

Klein wants to raise $3,600 by April 18. And a number of Route 66-related businesses have donated goods to Klein so he can use them as gifts for those who donate above a certain threshold.

(Photo of the 66 Motel sign courtesy of Ed Klein)

Pontiac tourism number continue to surge March 29, 2012

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Towns.
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The Route 66 town of Pontiac, Ill., saw record numbers of tourists during 2011. Those numbers in 2012 so far are continuing that strong trend, to eye-popping levels.

According to the Pontiac Daily Leader:

According to a person at the Pontiac Tourism office, numbers of tourists for January and February increased by 400 percent as compared to 2011. March totals have not come in, but those numbers appear larger than average already.

Pontiac received a lot of exposure during two separate car shows in Chicago earlier in the year, including the Chicago Auto Show and the World of Wheels Auto Show. Robert Roarty of Pontiac Tourism said that the Pontiac-Oakland Automobile Museum and Resource Center and the Route 66 Hall of Fame and Museum have been getting many visitors on day trips. Those museums were represented at the shows.

The strong showing also is attributed to unseasonably warm weather.

News release comes out on Route 66 Economic Impact report March 29, 2012

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions.
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On Wednesday, a news release about the Route 66 Economic Impact Report was distributed by partners American Express Foundation, the World Monuments Fund, Rutgers University, and the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program.

Forbes, the Los Angeles Times, and Business Insider are among the news outlets that have picked up the release and published stories. A 59-page summary of the Route 66 Economic Impact Report can be read here.

More stories about this undoubtedly will be published in the coming days. Route 66 will get a nice jolt of publicity, and that’s a good thing.

The news release does a good job summarizing the high points of the 400-page document:

  • More than 85% of Route 66 travelers visit historic places and museums, and these tourists spend $38 million dollars a year in these communities.
  • Heritage preservation, through Main Street revitalization programs and museums, add another $94 million in annual investments.
  • The national impact is an annual gain of 2,400 jobs, $90 million in income, $262 million in overall output, $127 million in gross domestic product and $37 million in tax revenues.
  • At the local level, the restored Route 66-themed motel, restaurant, and gift shop anchor the downtown in many small communities and bring new life and revenue to towns once bypassed by the Interstate Highway System.

In other words, preserving Route 66 is a good investment with significant community and economic benefits.

And down in the press release is this important nugget:

The organizations behind the study are currently working to raise awareness of the significant findings among both the private and public sectors. A follow-up event, including industry, government, and others, is being planned for 2012, with a goal of leveraging the new knowledge provided by the Economic Impact Study toward improved investment and innovative partnerships in heritage tourism and historic preservation.

If this follow-up event comes together as anticipated, it sounds like more good news for Route 66. And maybe this will add some juice to the proposed Route 66 National Historic Trail, an idea whose time has come.

The Route 66 Economic Impact Report had been available on the Internet since late December, and Route 66 News posted its own story about it on Jan. 11.

Ben Haley, communications manager at the World Monuments Fund, explained in an email about the delay over getting the news release out about the economic impact report:

The release had to go through several levels of approval, so was only finalized recently, hence the delay between when the study was posted and when it was announced.

A classic Route 66 trip March 28, 2012

Posted by Ron Warnick in People, Road trips, Vehicles.
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Ken Ehresman of Pontiac, Ill., and 14 members of his family are planning a Route 66 journey from Los Angeles to Pontiac.

But according to the Pontiac Daily Leader, they won’t be piled into a couple of minivans. Instead, they’ll be driving down the Mother Road in three classic cars — a 1976 El Camino, a ’57 Buick and a ’76 Pontiac Trans-Am.

The newspaper explained:

The cars are going to be driven down to L.A. on a trailer while the family travels by airplane.

Once they get to Los Angeles, the Ehresman Clan will be traveling roughly 250 to 300 miles per-day on Route 66 and hitting classic diners, hotels and site-seeing destinations along the way, including the Grand Canyon and the Petrified Forest National Park.

“This will be somewhat of a memorial trip back on Old Route 66,” said Barb Ehresman. “The whole thing will be great for the family. Probably everybody is going to have an experience that is specific to them.”

Ken Ehresman traveled Route 66 in 1956 when he was in the Army, and his wife’s family also journeyed down the Mother Road when she was 18.

Ehresman has been in contact with the Route 66 Hall of Fame & Museum in Pontiac to get some tips for the journey ahead. He said this was instrumental in not only giving good ideas for tourist destinations, but also for providing contacts and people who could help along the way.

Driving those old beasts, the Ehresmans had been make sure they have a AAA membership, too, just in case.

UPDATE 4/7/2012: The Daily Leader posted this update after the family completed the trip. The Ehresmans encountered mechanical issues with all three of the vehicles, but the matriarch of the family wishes the journey had been longer.

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