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Tucumcari group commits to building Route 66 museum April 30, 2012

Posted by Ron Warnick in Museums, Towns.

A group in Tucumcari, N.M., announced today it is committed to establishing a Route 66 museum in town, according to a news release emailed by Richard Talley, owner of Motel Safari in Tucumcari.

According to the release:

The group is already in the process of forming its foundation, has a new website www.nmrt66museum.org, is currently finalizing site selection, has started a preliminary process for a curator and gathering the museum’s first collections for exhibit. […]

[W]e felt it only made sense to finally get New Mexico’s first Route 66 Museum up and running as well. It will not only benefit Tucumcari, but all of New Mexico and Route 66, as we will strive to display offerings and tell the story from all across our great state “The Land of Enchantment.” From Glenrio to Gallup, and everywhere on Route 66 in between, the goal will be to share our state’s vast Route 66 heritage from every possible angle, beginning with its start from the Ozark Trails system to the modern Historic Route 66 of today.

The group has narrowed the site selection down to 3 properties, from multiple buildings and sites all around town. All 3 of these locations are readily available to begin the project, each represents a unique opportunity from a move-in-ready facility to re-use of a historical site and even new build construction, and all 3 are directly on Historic Route 66. Once site selection is complete, the group is ready to move forward towards opening as quickly as possible.

Talley wouldn’t elaborate about the group’s makeup, proposed sites, or a time frame for establishing the museum, other than saying that more information will be shared “soon.”

The announcement will undoubtedly heat up the rivalry between Tucumcari and nearby Santa Rosa to land a Route 66 museum. Just a few weeks ago, Santa Rosa landed a $325,000 state grant to plan and rehabilitate the historic Ilfeld Warehouse near downtown. One of the expressed purposes for the warehouse is a Route 66 museum. The city also applied for a Scenic Byways grant to also rehab the warehouse.

Tucumcari and Santa Rosa also are lobbying Route 66 enthusiast Johnnie Meier and his Classical Gas Museum gas-station memorabilia to be a part of the museum. Meier’s museum is now based in Embudo, N.M.

Miami seeing big boost in tourism-related revenue April 30, 2012

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Businesses, Motels, Towns.
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The Joplin (Mo.) Globe today published a story about how towns in the region are preparing for Route 66 tourism season.

One of the most striking parts of the story came out of Miami, Okla.:

“We’re anticipating this to be a record travel season,” said Amanda Davis, director of the Miami (Okla.) Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We’re very hopeful.”

Davis said Route 66 is a big draw and a big emphasis for the community.

“It’s a huge part of our market,” she said. “It’s where we target our advertising and marketing. We’re already seeing several Route 66 tour groups come through. It’s a good indicator.” […]

“Our hotel tax is up 30 percent year-to-date,” Davis said. “Route 66 makes a huge impact on those numbers.”

In an email, Davis said the increase in motel tax revenues is due to several factors:

Our sports market has increased.  We have multiple motorcycle groups (Route 66) that we are staying overnight.  3 years ago, the CVB started working the ABA & NTA motor coach markets.  Those numbers are growing.  Another jump is our corporate market.

Davis said the motel tax numbers she provided the newspaper do not include the increase that occurred from deadly and damaging tornado that struck Joplin on May 22.

Miami’s efforts to woo motor-coach tour groups seems especially notable. The tourism bureau of Pontiac, Ill., started doing that several years ago, and has reaped record tourism numbers as well.

According to the Globe, the historic Boots Motel in Carthage, Mo., is reopening to overnight travelers on May 8 for the first time in nearly a decade. The Carthage Convention and Visitors Bureau plans a Travel Rally on that date, with the Boots as one of the focal points.

And 4 Women on the Route  in Galena, Kan. — home of the original inspiration to Mater from the 2006 Disney-Pixar film “Cars” — will officially open for the season tomorrow. Even so, the Route 66 diner and souvenir shop was welcoming international travelers last week.

UPDATE 5/1/2012: Today, the State Journal-Register in Springfield, Ill., sees another reason Route 66 tourism probably will rise this year: Billy Connolly.

Scottish comedian Billy Connolly followed Route 66 from Chicago to California last April for a TV documentary series, which turned a few months later into a book. […]

[H]e’s huuuuge in Britain — in January, he was named the most influential British comedian of all time. His Route 66 TV series, only the latest of several road-trip shows Connolly has done, apparently was a big hit last fall on Brit television.

As a result, communities all along Route 66 are getting ready for an influx of British tourists following in Connolly’s footsteps … er, motorcycle tire marks.

UPDATE2: Ellie Alexander at Pontiac Tourism provided an update of her town’s numbers:

So far this year our group travel is up over 50%, international visitors up 74%. I’m speculating, but with the State of Illinois actively markets Route 66  internationally, I think it is working! Also, the dollar being weaker, more people are able to travel to our great country. I am so excited on days when I spend time in the Route 66 museum. People from all over the world walk through the doors and are literally ecstatic to be here. When there is so much negative talk in our country and all politics going on, it’s so refreshing to meet people who are so fond of America. Perhaps they could teach us all something!

Shooting day at the Rock Cafe April 29, 2012

Posted by Ron Warnick in Restaurants, Television.
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Sunday afternoon mostly looked like a typical day at the Rock Cafe in Stroud, Okla., with its typical clientele of motorcyclists, locals, and Mother Road travelers stopping to grab a bite to eat.

Inside, however, was a little different story:

A film crew from England was preparing to shoot footage for a reality-television series that will air in the United Kingdom later this summer. It’s also hoped this program will be broadcast in the United States as well.

Without revealing too much, a British family will be in Stroud for a week as the camera crew follows them around. And the Rock Cafe will be the epicenter of much of the action.

Here’s where the director essentially shouts “Action!” and the family takes its places for its first meal at the Rock Cafe:

The Rock Cafe’s longtime kitchen manager, Beverly, chats with the family as the cameras roll:

I hung around the set for a couple of hours. It was a lot of “hurry up and wait” — apparently common with television and movie shoots. But I got the sense the crew enjoyed talking with the locals, especially a burly biker from the Oklahoma City area who knew a lot about the state’s and region’s history. The crew asked him to hang around — presumably he’s going to become at least a brief part of the show.

Meanwhile, as recent Facebook posts indicated, Rock Cafe owner Dawn Welch was in England as part of her “assignment” with the reality series. More details about the show will be revealed in the coming weeks.

Details on the Oklahoma Route 66 Museum’s renovation April 29, 2012

Posted by Ron Warnick in Events, Museums.
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The Oklahoma Route 66 Museum in Clinton won’t officially reopen until May 26, but The Oklahoman newspaper has some details on the renovations that are going on there:

Not wanting to change the thematic approach, the museum will continue to tell the story of Route 66 by decade, said Smith, but patrons will have the opportunity through modern technology to interact with the exhibits.

“For example, prerecorded conversations and the more common sounds of a diner will be overheard as patrons sit in booths located in the museum’s Diner exhibit,” said Smith said. “Kiosks will be strategically placed and loaded with games, video excerpts and other interactive activities for patrons of all ages.

“An embedded children’s tour will be a welcome attraction, as caricatures of popular models of classic cars guide them through the exhibits. The changes will create a more personal, hands-on Route 66 experience.”

The museum first opened in 1995. The museum saw increasing number of visitors, especially after the release of the 2006 Disney-Pixar movie “Cars.” In 2009, it reached a record 33,000 visitors.

The Oklahoma Route 66 Museum closed in late December for the $500,000 renovation.

The reopening day on May 26 will including a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 2 p.m., free admission, live music, and a book-signing by Jim Ross, Jerry McClanahan, and Shellee Graham for their recently published “Route 66 Sightings.” The two latest members of the Oklahoma Route 66 Hall of Fame also will be inducted.

From the precipice to revitalization April 29, 2012

Posted by Ron Warnick in Motels, Preservation, Signs.

This new Cronkite News Service video explains how El Trovatore Motel in Kingman, Ariz., went from the brink of foreclosure to rapid revitalization:


For more about the motel’s sign restorations, go here and here.

Prowling on Route 66 April 28, 2012

Posted by Ron Warnick in Music, Road trips, Television, Vehicles.
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Here’s a video from a few years ago about Plymouth Prowler fans driving the Mother Road:


WJRT-TV, which produced the video, is based in Flint, Mich. I’m not sure when this aired; the station has nothing about it in its website archives.

According to Wikipedia, production stopped on the Prowler after the 2002 model. And John Mayer’s version of “Route 66″ was released with the “Cars” movie soundtrack in 2006.

CBS News revisits Cadillac Ranch April 27, 2012

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, History, Television.
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Three weeks ago, I revisited a video in 1975 where CBS News correspondent Charles Kuralt investigated the Cadillac Ranch art installation, just off Route 66 near Amarillo, Texas.

Here’s that original Kuralt story. Cadillac Ranch was just a year old:

Kuralt’s story vaulted Cadillac Ranch into national prominence, and it’s remained there since.

Thirty-seven years later, CBS News correspondent Steve Hartman revisited the scene of Stanley Marsh 3’s most famous creation:

The report cites Carhenge in Alliance, Neb., as one of the artistic spawns of Cadillac Ranch.

I encountered Carhenge purely by chance nearly 20 years ago when I was heading home from a vacation in the Black Hills of South Dakota. I saw a billboard for it on the highway I was traveling, and there it was — a bunch of cars stacked up and painted gray to resemble the original Stonehenge. It’s still one of the most stupefying things I’ve seen.

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