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Skylark Motel tower glows again November 23, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Events, Motels, Preservation, Signs.
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The former Skylark Motel tower on old Route 66 in St. Clair, Missouri, shined with the glow of neon again after a ceremony Saturday night at the building, which now serves as the VFW Post 2482.

According to a news release about the event, about 150 people attending cheered when the light switch was thrown about 5:20 p.m.

The most unique feature, not found anywhere else on Route 66, is the glass block tower illuminated by red, gold, blue and green neon tubing behind it. It is a gleaming, sparkling sight at night, visible from a long way off, that no Route 66 roadie should miss on their tour of the Mother Road.

In addition to the tower, there is red striping around the eaves of the building, the word “Skylark” on the west side in blue neon, and “VFW” in green on the east side of the building.

The VFW membership celebrated the event in grand style with a BBQ dinner after the ceremony, which featured a tribute to all the veterans that were present, and speakers from the VFW State Commander’s office, the local community and the Route 66 Association of Missouri. The celebration also included music, vintage cars on site, and a special t-shirt to commemorate the event.

The VFW Post received  a $22,000 cost-share grant from the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program for the restoration of its neon. The VFW also received help from the Neon Heritage Preservation Committee of the Route 66 Association of Missouri.

The Skylark opened in 1952 and operated as a motel for about 25 years. It eventually was purchased by the St. Clair VFW in 1993.

(Image of the Skylark Motel tower courtesy of Jim Thole)

Silica plant in Pacific plans major expansion November 20, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Businesses.
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LSE59 13

The U.S. Silica plant along old Route 66 near Pacific, Missouri, is planning an expansion that would double production there and add 117-foot-tall building, reported the Washington Missourian .

The newspaper reported:

U.S. Silica’s Pacific plant is a prime supplier of sand for the oil fracking industry due to availability of Union Pacific (UP) and Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) rail lines adjacent to the plant.

Waivers to Pacific building codes are needed for the new construction, largely because of the tight complex of loading facilities of the 90-year-old firm that are adjacent to the East Osage (Historic Route 66) pavement.

The firm wants to add two new buildings, an addition to an existing building, three new silos and two sets of railroad tracks into the back of the property for storage of railcars.

Loading railcars and trucks, which is done at the front of the property adjacent to the roadway, would be moved to the back of the property, according to Bill Davis, city building inspector.

A zoning officer for the city said the expansion wouldn’t create a problem for adjoining landowners. The planting of trees also is required along the expanded area.

The U.S. Silica plant in Pacific predates the Mother Road by a few years, and mining at the site goes back further. In fact, according to its website, U.S. Silica provided materials to help build U.S. 66 itself.

The U.S. Silica plant — with its tall towers and busy railroad entrance — is one of the first things westbound travelers encounter on old Route 66 after leaving the urban congestion of St. Louis.

(Image of U.S. Silica in Pacific, Missouri, by PVS444 via Flickr)

Sam Payne gets his kicks November 20, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Music.
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Based on this performance with guitarist Brady Bills, you’d think Sam Payne is some sort of jazz artist.

But you go to his website, and you hear country-folk music — which indicates a musician with considerable chops. You may find yourself listening to the tunes the Utah native streams through there, as I did.

Rancho Cucamonga station may reopen by July November 19, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Gas stations, Museums, Preservation.
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The historic Cucamonga Service Station along Route 66 in Rancho Cucamonga, California, may reopen next year as a museum — perhaps by July, in time for its centennial, according to the Los Angeles Daily News.

The article details the work the nonprofit Route 66 IECA group has done since taking over the property in January:

When the group moved in January, the gas station was in disrepair. The windows that surround the building were broken; there was a large hole in the roof and the walls, and the electrical wiring needed to be replaced. […]

More than 50 volunteers are helping to bring it back to its glory days.

New custom-made windows have been installed; the wiring and the walls have been replaced and primed. The exterior is entering the final stages and is ready for a three-color paint scheme. The lower half of the building will be blue, with a red stripe in the middle, and topped with yellow, akin to the past. […]

In September, Gonzalez was able to acquire key historical items. Two gas pumps from that era — one from 1914 and another from the 1920s — and a Richfield sign will eventually be placed on the station’s roof.

Inside, the service station display cases will line the walls and be filled with historic artifacts and car memorabilia.

To raise money, the group hosts a monthly breakfast buffet at Sweeten Hall the first Saturday of each month. The next one is Dec. 6.

Many photos of the gas station restoration work may be seen here.

The gas station opened about 1915 and closed during the 1970s. A billboard company used the property for storage until Route 66 IECA came with its offer in 2013 to buy the property. The Rancho Cucamonga City Council gave historic landmark status to Cucamonga Service Station in 2009.

A chat with Jerry McClanahan November 19, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Art, Books, History, People.
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Route 66 Author & Artist Jerry McClanahan

KC Keefer adds to his “Genuine Route 66 Life” video series with a talk with Route 66 artist, author and researcher Jerry McClanahan at his studio in Chandler, Oklahoma.

McClanahan has been traveling regularly on Route 66 for more than 30 years, and his memories of the Mother Road date back even further.

Novice motorists — and even experienced ones — are urged to buy his guidebook, “Route 66: EZ Guide for Travelers.” And he keeps up with changes on the road through his website as well.

(Image of Jerry McClanahan by RoadTripMemories via Flickr)

“The Tattoo Man of Route 66″ November 18, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Music, People.
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We meant to post this on Veterans Day, the same day The Road Crew debuted a music video about Route 66 enthusiast and Vietnam combat veteran Ron “Tattoo Man” Jones of Bartlesville, Oklahoma. But that was when Route 66 News’ old hosting service quit working.

We have a new hosting service, but this is a few days late. That doesn’t prevent this video from being any less entertaining.

The number of Route 66 tattoos Jones sports is well past the century mark. And every few weeks, he gets a new one.

(Image of Ron Jones by Miss Anthropology via Flickr)

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