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A Route 66 engagement April 27, 2012

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Photographs.

You have to like a couple that uses three Route 66 landmarks in Arcadia, Okla., as the backdrop of their engagement photos — the Round Barn, Pops, and the closed Hillbillee’s complex.


The video and photos are by Blue Elephant Photography. More about the photo shoot is here.

And I know for a fact an honest-to-goodness wedding is in a few weeks at the Blue Whale of Catoosa, Okla.

Red Cedar Inn up for sale again April 26, 2012

Posted by Ron Warnick in Preservation, Restaurants.
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The Red Cedar Inn, a famous Route 66 restaurant in Pacific, Mo., that closed in 2005, apparently is on the sale block again.

The Smith family, owners of the property, announced an open house from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday, according to the Washington Missourian.

The newspaper reported:

“Since it has been remodeled it’s a completely different building inside,” Jim Smith said. “And Ginger and I have been in there scrubbing so it’s clean as a pin.”

The iconic building was constructed with logs cut on the Smith family farm. It has been featured on “Good Morning America” and was a favorite eatery of several athletes and public figures over the years.

Recently it was temporarily a used car lot. Jeff Schneider, who operated the used car lot, removed the restaurant kitchen and created a series of offices and meeting rooms. He also replaced the roof and resealed the parking lot.

The restaurant opened in 1934 at 1047 East Osage (aka Route 66), and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It closed 70 years later, with the owners citing rising insurance costs.

The City of Pacific in 2007 tried to buy the building with plans to convert it into a Route 66 museum. But negotiations fell through.

(Vintage postcard courtesy of 66Postcards.com)

Plan for closed Joliet church includes a Route 66 visitors center April 26, 2012

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Preservation.
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The plan for a long-closed church in downtown Joliet, Ill., includes converting it into senior-citizen housing and creating a visitors center for Route 66 travelers, according to the Chicago Tribune and the Joliet Herald-News.

Developer Scott Henry on Wednesday laid out a $20 million plan for the St. Mary Carmelite Church. It will be renamed The Limestone Residences on the Mother Road, reported the Herald-News.

“Limestone” refers to the building materials in the church, and “Mother Road” refers to its location along the old Route 66, Henry told the Joliet City Council Land Use Committee.

“I have a personal love of Route 66,” Henry said. “I’m thrilled to be involved with this.”

His development team includes a historical researcher who’s tracking down information on churches along Route 66. Henry plans a visitors center, where Route 66 tourists might stop to learn about the church and surrounding area.

Henry said the church and its redevelopment will be featured in a book about churches on Route 66, reported the Tribune.

The Tribune reported:

Northbrook-based developer Scott Henry plans to turn the church, which was donated for the project, into 40 apartments for residents age 55 and older. Henry noted the project involves various partners, including social service providers, a property management firm and architects.

The apartments would flank either side of the church, allowing for the center area and domed ceilings to be preserved. Henry added the church’s limestone exterior – all made from Joliet limestone – would be refurbished to its original state. Henry even plans using a helicopter to lift the steeple off the tower so it can be repaired and then use a helicopter to replace it back on the tower. The only thing missing from the exterior will be the stained-glass windows, which were pulled from the building when the church closed.

Henry initially announced the senior-housing plan for the church in September 2011. The church has been closed for about 20 years.

Construction isn’t expected until sometime next year. Completion is projected for early 2014.

UPDATE 5/7/2012: The developer is asking that this petition be signed to support the project.

Take a ride April 26, 2012

Posted by Ron Warnick in Highways, Motorcycles, Road trips.

Here’s a brief motorcycle cruise on the old Ozark Trail alignment of Route 66 west of Sapulpa, Okla. It dates to 1926.

Using this map, you can explore it yourself.

Pacific Electric overpass approaches the finish line April 26, 2012

Posted by Ron Warnick in Bicycling, Bridges.
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Longtime roadie Delvin Harbour sent these photos of the Pacific Electric Trail overpass that goes over Foothill Boulevard (aka Route 66) in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.

As you might expect, the new overpass has a Route 66 theme, and puts all eight of the Mother Road’s states on display:

Harbour says the overpass isn’t done yet. A few more features will be installed, including lighting. The Pacific Electric Trail serves cyclists and pedestrians.

The nearby Route 66 Trailhead Park  features a historical timeline, a remnant of the old overpass, and a piece of the original Route 66 pavement.

Here’s a video that show’s a computerized rendering of what the overpass will look like when it’s done:


Microbrewery coming to Staunton April 25, 2012

Posted by Ron Warnick in Businesses, Food.
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The East Wind Brewing Co. is establishing a microbrewery on Route 66 in Staunton, Ill., reported the Riverfront Times in St. Louis.

The newspaper talked to owners Eric and Keva Lee. A few excerpts from the article:

We will be producing roughly 100 gallons per batch. This allows us to get creative with our beers. We also really like the philosophy of “produce local – drink local.” […]

We plan to start brewing, straight out of the gate, our 3 year-round beers: an IPA brewed with local wild honey, an american amber, and a smoked porter. We also plan to have several seasonal beers such as a summer Kolsch, and some bigger winter beers. […]

We plan on starting with draught accounts in the Edwardsville area and expanding from there. We would like to bottle our seasonal beers and have those available at local stores. We hope in the next year to open a beer garden that would be ideal for picnics. We feel our location is a perfect spot for people cruising Route 66 to stop, have East Wind Beer and enjoy the quaint town of Staunton and all it has to offer.

So not only will the brewery serve its suds on tap, but it’s going to distribute the beer at bars in the Illinois side.

According to the brewery’s Facebook page, East Wind became an official LLC on April 12. A recent tweet by Eric Lee said he was hoping for “the end of the year” to launch the company’s beers.

And, yes, this will be the first brewery in Staunton.

St. Louis is well-known as the home of beer behemoth Anheuser-Busch. At least six microbreweries, including the acclaimed Schlafly, also run in the Gateway City. However, despite the region’s long and rich beermaking history, this appears to be the first microbrewery in on the Illinois side of the region.

Boot Hill owner will be on “Today” show tomorrow April 25, 2012

Posted by Ron Warnick in People, Restaurants, Television.
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Rory Schepisi, owner of the Boot Hill Saloon & Grill along Route 66 in Vega, Texas, will appear on NBC’s “Today” show on Thursday, reported Go Rare, a blog by the Certified Angus Beef brand.

Schepisi is no stranger to television, as she regularly appears on Amarillo stations in cooking segments. However, this appearance before the cameras will be in front of millions — not thousands — of viewers.

Go Rare posted this video today about Schepisi, who talks about her current background in the livestock industry as well as restaurateur:

It’s been apparent from her Facebook posts that Schepisi is taken with the western life. A good percentage of her posts deal with cutting horses, selling hay, and other tidbits of life on the ranch where she lives outside of Vega.

Schepisi, a New Jersey native, moved to Vega shortly after finishing runner-up in CMT’s “Popularity Contest” reality program in 2006 and built Boot Hill. She also finished runner-up in  “The Next Food Network Star” in 2007.

She announced in January she was putting Boot Hill up for sale, but would continue to run the restaurant until it sells.

UPDATE 4/26/2012: Here’s the “Today” show segment:

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