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Wilmington will buy buffalo sculpture for Route 66 August 30, 2012

Posted by Ron Warnick in Art, Attractions, Towns.
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The Chamber of Commerce in Wilmington, Ill., is buying a buffalo sculpture from a local folk artist’s estate and may eventually install it on Route 66, reported the The Free Press of Wilmington.

Noted folk artist Jack Barker of Essex, Ill., died on May 16. His family is planning to sell his unique artwork at auction later next month, and the Wilmington Chamber made an offer to buy Barker’s buffalo sculpture, which stood near the road at his former body shop.

Why would Wilmington want the bison? While there is a long approval process ahead, planning is underway to someday raise bison at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie. Midewin bison will become a big draw for the community as tourists by the busload will travel here to experience this new addition to the prairie. They will seek out nearby restaurants, shopping and photo opportunities during their visit.

“Jack Barker’s metal art could be that draw,” commented Chamber president Eric Fisher. “It’s a one-of-a-kind piece made by a local artist. It is the perfect anchor for a Wilmington landmark and someday it will be just like the Gemini Giant in helping to put Wilmington on the map.”

The sculpture was appraised at $8,000. Eleanor Barker, Jack’s widow, and son Jack Jr. have agreed to sell it to the City of Wilmington for $4,950. Several people have made donations to help with the purchase.

The city may place the sculpture near the downtown walkbridge or at the entrance to the South Island Park.

(Photo courtesy of The Free Press)

A government program worth praising August 29, 2012

Posted by Ron Warnick in Businesses, Gas stations.

Quite a few folks out there loathe to give praise to a government program, and often for good reason.

But this joint effort with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency targets abandoned gas stations along Route 66 for cleanup so they can be reused.

The Missouri DNR produced this video explaining the program. It uses the Route 66 Welcome Center in Webb City, Mo., as a success story:

The description with the video says:

Many services, such as gas stations, restaurants, motels and drive-in theaters, were constructed along Route 66. As the interstate took the place of the original highway, many of these businesses closed and became abandoned. Several of the abandoned underground storage tanks at the gas stations were never properly addressed and may have leaked gasoline into the soil and groundwater. These issues could pose a current or future risk to human health or the environment.

To help fix this potential issue the department will use money available through the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Underground Storage Tanks. It is hoped these assessments will lead to the clean-up and the eventual safe reuse of these abandoned station properties. See how this program helped create the Webb City Route 66 Information Center at dnr.mo.gov/env/hwp/rte66infocenter.htm

The department is looking for potential sites and is asking for suggestions from residents in communities along the historic roadway. To inform the department about any projects your community may have, contact the department at 573-751-6822 or send e-mail to [email protected] before Sept. 15.

Arizona has had a similar program for in place for years, and it’s received a lot of praise — not just for ridding a potentially dangerous contamination site, but spurring new development along the Route 66 corridor.

If you or someone you know in Missouri owns one of these abandoned properties along the Mother Road, I really encourage you to contact the state’s DNR.

El Trovatore Motel’s owner offering Route 66 tours August 29, 2012

Posted by Ron Warnick in Motels, Restaurants, Road trips.
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Sam Frisher, owner of the recently refurbished El Trovatore Motel in Kingman, Ariz., soon will offer day trips on Route 66 on a bus he purchased, according to Kingman-based writer and roadie Jim Hinckley.

Hinckley wrote in an email:

The centerpiece is twofold, as it will be a full Route 66 immersion that includes a night at the El Trovatore, breakfast at the Hot Rod Cafe, several museum tours, and (drum roll please) yours truly as an occasional tour guide with signed copies of my book as a souvenir.

The primary tour will be to Seligman, with a stop at Grand Canyon Caverns.

Other proposed tours will include Oatman with exploration of the Havasu National Wildlife Refuge near Topock, and a photo tour of the Kingman area that includes the site of Fort Beale, the historic wagon road at White Cliffs, numerous Route 66 locations, and lunch, as well as exploration in the old mining town of Chloride.

Hinckley said Frisher will offer two- and three-day trips on Route 66 as well.

After using it as apartments for years, Frisher reopened the historic motel to overnight travelers in December and embarked on renovating the rooms, sprucing up the neon sign next to Route 66, and relighting the huge neon sign tower that overlooks the complex from an adjacent hill.

“Route 66″ meets The Simpsons August 29, 2012

Posted by Ron Warnick in Music, Television.
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Russ Johnson of Canon City, Colo., noticed something familiar between Nelson Riddle’s  “Route 66″ theme for the original 1960s television show and Danny Elfman’s main theme for “The Simpsons.”

So he created a mashup of the two. It’s a bit disorienting at times, but it does contain a few striking similarities in its melody and arrangement:

To compare the two, I’m posting both musical themes separately. First, “Route 66.”

Then, “The Simpsons.”

Marathon’s medals get their own video August 28, 2012

Posted by Ron Warnick in Events, Sports.
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The medals handed out to participants in the upcoming Route 66 Marathon in Tulsa are so nice, they get their own clip:

According to the event:

“When designing our finisher’s medals, we always have our participants in mind. Whether they run or walk their perseverance and dedication to training are the same. We wanted to design a medal that is worthy of their efforts, while honoring the history of Route 66 embodying the art deco style of Tulsa,” said Kim Hann, Assistant Executive Director of the Williams Route 66 Marathon.

The 2011 medals, patterned after Cadillac hood ornaments from the 1940s, were honored as the best marathon medals in the country.

The Route 66 Marathon is set for Nov. 17-18.

Illinois town adds quick-charging station for electric cars August 27, 2012

Posted by Ron Warnick in Road trips, Vehicles.

A quick-charging station has been installed at the Uptown Station Parking Deck in downtown Normal, Ill., for the benefit of electric-vehicle drivers, including Route 66 tourists, reported the Bloomington Pantagraph.

The Level 3 DC Quick Charge station enables drivers to charge their EV batteries to 80 percent in a mere 30 minutes.

“Being able to charge mid-day in 20 to 30 minutes really opens up the potential range of an electric vehicle in a day,” EVTown Task Force chairman Joe Mikulecky said in a press release issued Monday. “Travelers along Old Route 66 will find it particularly appealing as they plan their trip along the interstate corridor.”

Of the electric vehicles currently on the street, the Mitsubishi “i” and the Nissan Leaf are compatible with the Level 3 charging station that is free to use; however, there is a charge to park in the deck after the first hour and there is a 2-hour time limit on the Level 3 charging station parking space.

The Uptown Station Parking Deck is located at West Beaufort Street next to City Hall (map here). It’s less than a mile east of Route 66 through town.

The Bloomington-Normal area has about three dozen Level 2 charging stations for EVs, but they require several hours for charging.

Less than three weeks ago, the small Route 66 town of Atlanta, Ill., announced the installation of a free-of-charge EV charging station in its downtown. City officials figured that EV-driving tourists, including those traveling Route 66, could shop in Atlanta’s shops and eat in its restaurants while their cars were recharging.

UPDATE 8/31/2012: I found out today the the Berwyn Route 66 Museum in Berwyn, Ill., sports two charging stations right on Route 66. Here’s a photo of the ribbon-cutting for the stations in October 2011:

They’re believed to be the only EV charging stations right on the Mother Road — at least for now.

Resident wants big Route 66 design on Joplin intersection August 27, 2012

Posted by Ron Warnick in Highways, Signs.
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A Joplin, Mo., resident wants to embed a large Route 66 design onto the roadway of the intersection of St. Louis Avenue and Broadway in Joplin, according to the Joplin Globe.

Retired firefighter Steve Lea is leading the effort, and says residents have offered to contribute money for it. An assistant Public Works director and Joplin Convention and Visitors Bureau Director Patrick Tuttle were directed to explore Lea’s proposal.

Lea said that with all the visitors who travel the famous route, he thinks a medallion made of embossing brick pavers with the Route 66 logo inside a compass would be eye-catching. […]

“We have two things in the works, and we could add it to the mix,” Tuttle said. “For 2014, we’re upgrading and improving the city’s way-finding program that’s in place, as well as looking at both tourism and economic development opportunities along the traditional Route 66 route. We’re really in the beginning stages of discussing it.”

The Broadway-St. Louis intersection is part of the original alignment of Route 66 in Joplin, before it links up with Main Street, then heads west towards Kansas on Seventh Street.

Lea’s idea is reminiscent of the big Route 66 shield near Standin’ on a Corner Park in Winslow, Ariz.

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