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A virtual tour of old Cajon Pass July 31, 2012

Posted by Ron Warnick in Highways, History.

Backroads West, which recently posted excellent videos about Route 66 from Victorville to Barstow in California, has just posted a new clip about the pre-Route 66 alignment of the Cajon Pass.

Much of the road shown in the video dates to 1914 — more than a decade before U.S. Highway 66 was commissioned.

The Boots Motel now July 30, 2012

Posted by Ron Warnick in Motels, Preservation.

Here’s a recent video about the Boots Motel in Carthage, Mo., after it reopened to overnight travelers following a decade-long hiatus:

Stevo Svoboda has a bunch of other Route 66-related videos at his YouTube channel.

On a related note, the Boots Motel has started a fundraising drive to remove its gabled roof and restore it to the original flat roof, as seen from a vintage postcard:

The Boots received a cost-share grant from the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program for the project, and needs to come up with the other half of the cash. If you’ve got a few bucks to spare to help in this effort, you can contribute here, as I’ve done.

An interesting new stop on Route 66 July 29, 2012

Posted by Ron Warnick in Bicycling, Bridges, Restaurants.

We’d heard about Main St. Grub & Stuff, a new restaurant and bicycle rental place in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., a few weeks ago.

Today, the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin published an in-depth story about the establishment nestled near the Pacific Electric Trail.

“There is so much history connected to Route 66 and we’d like to share it,” said Kathy (Uribe), a former district manager for Avon. […]

“We started thinking about what there is to do on the weekend that’s fun, family oriented and affordable and bike riding came to mind,” Kathy said. “You know many people like to ride bikes, but don’t own one for many reasons. These days lots of people have limited space with no place to store one.”

After renting, renovating and redecorating, the Uribes filled the space with a variety of snack foods, invested in 12 beach cruisers: eight adult size and four for children and in April opened their doors.

Bike rentals have become so popular for Main St. that the Uribes are looking to add to their inventory – including tandem bikes.

According to the restaurant’s website, it soon will offer beer, wine, and live music on Saturdays.

The big hook for Main St. Grub & Stuff is it offers direct access to the Pacific Electric Trail, a popular bicycle and pedestrian trail that runs from Claremont to Fontana. The restaurant sits near a new bridge over Foothill Boulevard (aka Route 66) that’s decorated in Mother Road theme.

Main St. Grub & Stuff offers bicycles for $10 an hour, although it gives a discount for the first hour if you “like” its Facebook page.

UPDATE: I put in the wrong link for the Daily Bulletin story. The link has been fixed.

Joliet restaurant takes on Route 66 name July 29, 2012

Posted by Ron Warnick in Restaurants, Signs.
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The Joliet Restaurant in downtown Joliet, Ill., has renamed itself to the Joliet Route 66 Diner to take advantage of the town’s Mother Road heritage, according to The Herald-News in Joliet.

The newspaper reported:

A few months ago, Tom Mahalik, marketing vice president for the City Center Partnership, came up with an idea to rebrand the restaurant at 22 W. Clinton St. to tie in with the city’s Route 66 heritage.

Restaurant co-owners John and Valentina Georgouses happily went along for the ride.

“It was a great idea,” John Georgouses said. “It’s not only good for the restaurant, it’s good for downtown, too.”

I’m sure that the Joliet Area Historical Museum, which also touts the town’s Route 66 heritage, sits just 1 1/2 blocks away didn’t hurt.

The restaurant has a Facebook page here. You can see the restaurant’s new signs there.

Pontiac’s museums July 28, 2012

Posted by Ron Warnick in Museums, Towns.

This video by WMBD-TV in Peoria, Ill., does a good job packing information about the four museums in Pontiac, Ill., into about 90 seconds.

The museums are:

And the Museum of the Gilding Arts will open later this year or in early 2013.

Will Route 66 Rendezvous leave or stay in downtown San Berdoo? July 27, 2012

Posted by Ron Warnick in Events, Towns, Vehicles.

The annual Route 66 Rendezvous may depart or remain in downtown San Bernardino, Calif., according to somewhat contradictory reports Friday afternoon from two area newspapers.

The Press-Enterprise said the classic-car extravaganza may leave downtown because the city, which recently declared bankruptcy, may not have the money to pay for the event’s police patrols. A few hours later, a report in the San Bernardino County Sun quoted several officials saying the Rendezvous will stay in downtown as usual, contrary to rumors.

The Route 66 Rendezvous annually attracts 500,000 visitors to see hundreds of classic cars over a 35-block area. The 23rd edition of the event this year is scheduled for Sept. 13-16.

However, the City of San Bernardino declared bankruptcy earlier this month after being roiled by the bursting of the housing bubble, the recession, and alleged financial mismanagement. A report this week in the Los Angeles Times said San Berdoo will likely have to chop spending by a whopping 30 percent.

According to the P-E, San Bernardino Police Chief Robert Handy said Friday he couldn’t see how the cash-strapped city would be able to pay for police overtime required during the Rendezvous:

Handy said the department last year was reimbursed $65,000 to $70,000 for overtime to police the event.

But with the bankruptcy, unless money can be found elsewhere, the Police Department doesn’t have the resources to provide enough officers required for a safe event.

“I can’t put just 10 officers down there it during the day on weekends and evenings, with all the cuts. I can’t just carve it out of our normal staffing,” Handy said.

A county spokesman also confirmed to the P-E that the San Bernardino County regional parks department has been approached by organizers to possibly move the Route 66 Rendezvous to Glen Helen Regional Park in nearby Devore. The county board of supervisors would have to approve the park’s use for such an event. The park is 12 miles northwest of downtown.

Rendezvous organizers have publicly committed to keeping the event going. A message Thursday on the event’s Facebook page, responding to a question about whether the Rendezvous would be canceled, said: “We are moving forward! We will have some exciting news coming soon.”

In the Sun’s report, Handy was more conciliatory. And the San Bernardino Convention and Visitors Bureau also announced it was committed to the event in downtown:

“We’re working through that now,” Handy said. “We’re trying to get a handle on that now, for what we can pay. There’s discussions about whether it’s going to move. … We’ll find a way. It’s a signature event for the city.”

There were talks about moving, said SBCVB President Wayne Austin, but he’s confident the event is proceeding as usual.

“As far as I’m concerned, we’re still moving forward with the city, trying to figure out how to move forward,” he said. “We’re still focused on downtown, still focused on the same week in September. … Barring me being fired, it’s happening here.”

Mayor Pat Morris was more adamant to the Sun:

“It’s happening, and it’s happening downtown,” he said. “I don’t think (city support) is critical to it happening.”

Morris said the event was particularly important this year.

“Route 66 is our iconic celebration of our city and its history, with the Mother Road,” he said, “and in a time of depression, in a time of economic upheaval, continuing in some way to celebrate the dignity and the history of this great city is important for our constituents and those half million people who come celebrate with us.”

Rumors about the Rendezvous’ cancelation were fueled this week by emails purportedly from Shelly McNaul, events coordinator with the Convention and Visitors Bureau. One of the emails read, in part:

Downtown is canceled! With no support from the City we can’t fund the PD and City bills. […]

As you know from our meeting, if we don’t move the event, we will have to close our doors and we (the CVB, Route 66 Staff, and the Welcome Center) will have to close and we are in the unemployment line.  This is our last ditch effort to save the event and move it to Glen Helen.  We are trying to keep everything that we had in town intact with the cruise and the contests. […]

I suggest that you move your reservation, or you can keep it, it isn’t not that far to Glen Helen.  They also have a huge grass area for RV’s/Trailers.

Emails, phone calls, and direct messages from Route 66 News to the CVB and the Rendezvous were not returned.

Even with the Sun’s more-optimistic tone, it’s apparent the situation with the Rendezvous remains fluid. It may be prudent to move the Rendezvous so the event can be preserved. But such a move would prove economically damaging to nearby hotels and businesses that benefit from the downtown event.

San Bernardino has endured a lot of bad news in recent weeks. It doesn’t need more.

UPDATE 7/28/2012: An updated story by The Press-Enterprise contains some interesting quotes from Jack Brown, CEO of Stater Bros. Markets, the Rendezvous’ primary sponsor:

Brown does not support moving the Rendezvous to Glen Helen, a rural park north of the city, where the event was held in 1990, its first year.

“We are all aware of the bankruptcy of the city of San Bernardino, Brown said. “And should that bankruptcy entail reducing the quality and participation of the Stater Bros. Route 66 Rendezvous, then I believe it should be canceled for 2012, with the promise that we will all work hard to make the 2013 (event) the best ever.”

He was particularly disturbed to hear rumors that fees would be charged for admission and parking if the event moves to Glen Helen. “A major part of our sponsorship has been to ensure it was free,” he said.

Brown also said 60 of the supermarket chain’s suppliers participate in the Rendezvous downtown, and he couldn’t guarantee they would follow it to the park.

The suppliers pay for the fun zone with games and prizes, and also distribute samples of their products, food and drink. They also help pay for the entertainment, Brown said.

“If we can’t do it right, we should just cancel it for this year and I think everyone would understand,” Brown said.

MORE: An updated story by the Sun provides an inkling on why the city’s poor finances are endangering the event:

The city has historically supported the Rendezvous, which is celebrating its 23rd year, with money from its Economic Development Agency, said Mayor Pat Morris.

But the EDA was dissolved earlier this year, along with all redevelopment agencies in the state.

The council will have to decide whether it can make up that support with other money as it struggles through a bankruptcy filing, but the event should go on regardless, Morris said.

MORE: Cassie MacDuff, in a column for The Press-Enterprise, wrote Saturday:

I have it on good authority that a letter will land on the mayor’s desk Monday morning demanding that the city provide the same service to the popular classic car show/street fair as in past years.

That means extra policing for crowds of more than 500,000 and clean-up after the four-day event, which includes a cruise, burn-out, live entertainment and food booths.

(Image courtesy of the Route 66 Rendezvous)

New cap on Route 66 sodas features Route 66 itself July 26, 2012

Posted by Ron Warnick in Businesses, Food.

Route 66 Sodas LLC today announced a new design on the bottle caps of its Route 66 Root Beer and other 12-ounce sodas that are sold in glass bottles.

The company, based in the Route 66 town of Lebanon, Mo., decided to actually feature an image of the Mother Road on the cap.

A photo of the new bottle cap image is at the left.

From the news release:

Featuring a photo scene from Route 66 taken by Matthew S. Cameron, the crown concept was created by Scott, Elizabeth and Matthew Cameron and designed by Simone Ginsburg of Real Soda In Real Bottles in Gardena, Calif., the California and West Coast distributors of Route 66 Sodas.

“This is the first time the art on our bottle cap has been changed since we acquired the company back in 2007, and we believe the first time since the original formation of the company dating back into the mid 1990s,” said Scott A. Cameron. “We’ve had such a positive response to our new bottle designs, introduced in 2010, we decided we should complement them with a new crown.”

“We know our bottle caps are collected around the World. Many travelers from other countries take our bottle and/or crown home as a souvenir of their visit to Route 66,” Cameron said.

In addition to root beer, Route 66 Sodas also offers cream soda, black cherry, orange, and lime-flavored sodas. The company’s website has a handy map page where you can buy their sodas.

The sodas can also be purchased online by the case (alas, it ships within the U.S. only).

UPDATE 7/28/2012: Joe Loesch of The Road Crew sent along this photo of the pickup microphone he uses with his mandolin at music gigs, using a Route 66 Root Beer bottle cap as the pickup’s housing.

Loesch says he plans to swap out the bottle cap with the new one during the road trip for the band’s show at The Birthplace of Route 66 Festival in Springfield, Mo.

He says he’ll also stock up on the Route 66 Root Beer; he says it “really is the best I’ve ever tasted.”

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