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Sun is setting on Irv’s Burgers October 31, 2013

Posted by Ron Warnick in Restaurants.

Irv’s Burgers,  a Route 66 landmark since the early 1950s in West Hollywood, Calif., will open for the last time today, reported the Los Angeles Times.

The burger stand, once a haunt for musicians such as Jim Morrison and Janice Joplin and featured as album artwork for a Linda Ronstadt recording, is being squeezed out by rising rents and the property owner’s demand that the owners replace its leaky corrugated tin roof — something Hong says she cannot afford. […]

The Hongs, who live in Northridge, purchased the business in 2000 from Irv Gendis, who renamed it after himself when he acquired it in 1970. Before that, the stand had been known as Queenies’ Burgers and Joe’s Burgers.

These days, the site at 8289 Santa Monica Blvd. is owned by Standard Oil Investment Group. Company representatives declined to comment, although they have started construction of a business to be called Beach Nation next door to the stand.

Sonia Hong told customers she hoped to reopen in another West Hollywood place. An Indiegogo.com fundraiser was launched several weeks ago to help the family with its moving costs. As of early Thursday, about $6,500 was raised, with four days left on its $50,000 goal.

Although the Hongs will leave, it will be difficult to demolish the hamburger stand because the city declared it a city landmark. But what plans Standard Oil has for it remain unknown.

(Image of Irv’s Burgers by jojomelons via Flickr)

Work day set for Saturday at Sprague service station October 30, 2013

Posted by Ron Warnick in Gas stations, Preservation.
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John Weiss, a longtime preservationist with the Illinois Route 66 Association, has scheduled a work day at the historic Sprague Super Service station in Normal, Ill., starting at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 2.

The Sprague station was built in 1931 on Route 66 by William Sprague. It was a unique in that it appears to be designed as a gas station and residence. It sold City Service gas. It morphed into other businesses by the 1940s, and the pumps were removed by 1979. It’s on the National Register of Historic Places.

Terri Ryburn purchased the station in 2006 with the goal of turning it into a visitors center, restaurant, tea room, and meeting and performance space.

According to a news release at the association’s website:

Last April we had a work day and accomplished a lot, but we were not able to complete the project. I am determined this time to finish the needed work in the downstairs visitor area that we started. I need your help! Having this wonderful site sitting there half finished is just not acceptable. We need to band together and help Terri get this project completed.

In an email that Terri Ryburn sent to those who worked last time she stated, “I sometimes get discouraged at the enormity of what I’ve taken on but I really get a boost when other people see the value in restoring the building. Thanks for the “boost” that I really needed”.

I could really use carpenters, but there are also many other necessary jobs inside and out that need to be accomplished. Tourists from around the world stop here all the time to take pictures and peek inside. We need to continue to show pride in all of our Illinois Roadside Attractions and help when and where it is needed. Let’s give Terri and this site an additional well deserved boost!

Those who wish to help are asked to call 815-458-6616. The station is at 305 E. Pine St. (map here) in Normal.

(Image of Sprague Super Service station by Larry Myhre via Flickr)

Look out for those baby rattlers! October 30, 2013

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Businesses, Road trips.
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This video was shot at the Jackrabbit Trading Post in Jackrabbit, Ariz. — probably best known for its “Here It Is!” billboard. View it if you dare:

The video’s creator, Ace Jackalope, has a very good photo-heavy blog here, with lots of road-trip stuff. His YouTube channel also contains a lot of neon signs and other landmarks of Route 66.

Time-lapse of the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta October 29, 2013

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Events.
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The 41st annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta wrapped a few days ago. Joel Schat of Roadtrippers.com filmed this wonderful time-lapse video from the event.

I recommend you view it in full screen in high-definition.

Next year’s Balloon Fiesta is set for Oct. 4-12.


Blue Whale supporters want to light up giant mushrooms October 28, 2013

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Events.
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Supporters of the Blue Whale of Catoosa, Okla., announced on the landmark’s Facebook page they want to decorate the grounds’ giant mushrooms with Christmas lights in a few weeks. And you can help.

The supporters, also called Fins of the Blue Whale, already decorate the whale and the nearby Ark each year for the holidays. But the mushrooms area, which was cleared of brush two years ago, may be added to the annual festivities if enough volunteers or donations come through.

Here’s what the whale and Ark look like when decorated for Christmas:

If you want to give to the cause, go here. Or, if you live in northeastern Oklahoma, you can contact the group and say you’ll volunteer your time to string the lights when the work day is scheduled.

Behind the Ark are 16 mushrooms in a circle, ranging from 3 to 5  feet tall, that Blue Whale creator Hugh Davis built during the 1970s. It is hoped that the Ark, which also was cleaned up, will eventually be converted into a small museum commemorating Davis.

Vic Suhling / Gas For Less sign glows again after 40-plus years October 27, 2013

Posted by Ron Warnick in Events, Gas stations, Museums, Preservation, Signs.
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The restoration of the historic Vic Suhling / Gas For Less neon sign was unveiled Saturday evening next to the Litchfield Museum and Route 66 Welcome Center in Litchfield, Ill.

According to a news release, up to 200 people attended the event, including two of Suhling’s daughters Bonnie and Bernice, one who traveled from Portland, Ore. All five children of Harry Wagner — who was operator and manager of Suhling’s gas station from 1957 to 1968 — attended as well.

Gene Wagner, plus Bonnie and Bernice, were given the honor to flip the switch on the neon sign at 6:18 p.m.

The Wagner family: Gene, Judy, Della, Mary, and Pat (& Pat’s husband) Larry Shaw, all wearing commemorative shirts from the occasion.

The sign provides an eye-catching beacon for the museum, which was built last year on land near the gas station. The museum and sign also are across the road from the historic Ariston Cafe.

The sign’s neon had been dark for more than 40 years, until an $11,725 cost-share grant from the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program provided aid for its restoration.

The sign was erected in 1957, when the gas station operated 24 hours a day. Suhling’s station has been gone for more than two decades, although the sign remained. The station closed in 1973, shortly after Interstate 55 opened. The sign was taken down last month by a St. Louis sign company for its restoration.

The event included music, refreshments, a commemorative T-shirt, and classic cars. Speakers included the presidents of both the Illinois and Missouri Route 66 associations, Litchfield Mayor Steve Dougherty, and Martha Jackson, president of the Litchfield Museum & Route 66 Welcome Center Association.

Here are a couple of images of the sign earlier that day:

The Neon Heritage Preservation Committee of the Route 66 Association of Missouri led the restoration project, again collaborating with the Illinois Route 66 Association. The associations also worked on restoring the Luna Cafe neon sign in Mitchell, Ill.

UPDATE: The Journal-News posted a story about the event.

(Photos courtesy of Jim Thole)

Repairs being made on historic Route 66 near Springfield October 25, 2013

Posted by Ron Warnick in Highways, Preservation.
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A 1.3-mile stretch of old Route 66 near Springfield, Ill., that is on the National Register of Historic Places is being carefully repaired this week by county road crews, according to the Springfield State Journal-Register.

The 1920s section, called Olde Carriage Way, is south of East Lake Shore Drive south of Lake Springfield. Much of its original Portland cement structure is still there.

You can see the road on Google Maps Street View:

View Larger Map

According to the newspaper:

The section of Old Route 66 has its share of cracks and potholes, but “all in all, the road is in pretty decent shape for the age that it is,” Sangamon County Engineer Tim Zahrn said.

Because of the road’s historical significance, the county highway department tries to maintain its structural integrity while preserving as much of the original surface as possible, Zahrn said.

“It’s a balancing act,” he said.

Instead of resurfacing the road or patching holes and cracks with asphalt, the county uses concrete.

The crew also improved drainage, which will keep water off the road and lengthen its life span. Next year, the county will widen the shoulder, but nothing that will affect the integrity of the road surface.

Illinois Route 66 preservationist John Weiss helped get the road section on the National Register in 2009.

According to the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, the stretch of road is one of five sections of Route 66 in the state on the National Register.

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