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Route 66 News

Large sign stolen from Fabulous 40 Motel in Adrian

A large “Motel” sign that graced the Fabulous 40 Motel in Adrian, Texas, apparently was stolen after a windstorm blew down its support structure weeks ago.

The owners of the Route 66 motel, which is next to the landmark Midpoint Cafe in Adrian, had let the sign lie on the ground behind the motel until they could repair the platform that supported it. When they began the process to fix it last week, they discovered the sign was gone, according to a post on the motel’s Facebook page.

Ramona Kiewert, who owns the motel along with her husband Roy, said the sign dated to the approximate time the motel opened in 1967 and was worth $45,000 to $50,000. They filed a theft report with the Oldham County Sheriff’s Office.

She said in a text:

The weeds had grown up and how they found it and stole it without us seeing it is unbelievable. We needed that sign. We are on the east bound side and im thinking they took it west. I called Txdot and ive been calling salvage yards.

The sign was about eight feet tall by 23 feet wide. Spiriting it away wouldn’t have been easy, given its size.

Elizabeth Kiewert Griffith, Ramona’s daughter and an employee of the motel, launched a GoFundMe page to raise money for a new sign because the old one “probably is gone forever.” They estimated it would cost $36,000 for a company in Amarillo to build a new sign.

The Fabulous 40 Motel reopened in October after being shuttered for more than a decade. Kenny and Marjorie Callstrom built and opened the motel in 1967; it was named after the then-new Interstate 40. The motel closed in 2004 after the couple died, although relatives kept the property nominally maintained in the interim.

The Kiewerts also have owned The Bent Door restaurant in Adrian since 2006. It still has not reopened, citing “complicated” restoration issues, although Kiewert said they’re “still working on it.”

UPDATE 8/15/2017: The sign has been recovered, but it’s in pretty rough shape:

(Image of the Fabulous 40 Motel’s sign before its platform collapsed)

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6 thoughts on “Large sign stolen from Fabulous 40 Motel in Adrian

  1. Allan Hunter

    It is too bad the sign has been stolen, yes it probably won’t be found. Two of the most
    things that I hate in this world is thieves and liars.

    1. Eric Hayman

      There is a certain type of human mind that will gain pleasure in stealing, damaging and destroying things of value to other people but not to themselves. A lot of it comes from pure jealousy: I can’t afford it, why should you have? Last night eight historic railway coaches on a preserved heritage line in the UK were damaged by so-called “vandals – just at the start of the UK summer school holidays, when the railway would expect to be at its busiest. As Allan Hunter says, the sign will most likely not be found – having no resale value. The thieves will probably take great perverted delight in smashing it up – just as empty properties get their windows stoned. If the railway vandals are caught – again highly unlikely – they will no doubt get what are called “community service” orders – say 60 hours of sweeping up leaves, or similar. If under 18 then they may well not be allowed to be publicly named. With no chance of compensation orders being made against any of them. When public naming and birching might instil some sense of realisation of the pure wickedness of their acts. But not in 2017. So they go on to worse damage and other crimes. And thus career criminals are made.

      1. Ron Warnick Post author

        I personally think it’s also possible — though not likely — the thief mistakenly thought it was abandoned and therefore snagged it before it deteriorated further. There’s not shortage of orphaned signs along Route 66, and the Fabulous 40 was closed for nearly 15 years before it reopened.

  2. Eric Hayman

    A thief is a thief is a thief. Why did he not make enquiries with locals? Just how big a vehicle was needed to take it away? And what tools to remove it from the frame?

    1. Allan hunter

      Eric, the answer is simple. My guess would be they used a roll back truck put a strap around
      the sign winch it on and go. It takes only about 10 minutes to load something. I have used a
      roll back many times both cars and tractors, trucks also.

  3. Eric Hayman

    Thanks Allan. “Going prepared” is what the police in the UK say when someone caught with a jemmy (a small crowbar) is found about to burgle a house. But caught driving an empty roll back truck? Any excuse could be made up.

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