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Silica plant in Pacific plans major expansion November 20, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Businesses.
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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)

Route 66 — a jobs creator November 9, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Businesses, Museums, Towns.
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During a formal introduction Wednesday of the logo for the new Route 66 Visitors Center in Bloomington, Illinois — which we already reported months ago — local officials revealed some eyebrow-raising statistics about the economic value of the Mother Road.

Bloomington, which long seemed indifferent to Route 66 for years, suddenly has embraced it. And this excerpt in the Bloomington Pantagraph’s report partly explains why (boldface is my emphasis):

By the third year of operation, Koos said the tourism center is expected to bring $6 million in new revenue to the county and could create an estimated 100 jobs by bringing 20,000 people into the center of the city.

“I think this center is a huge catalyst for economic development,” said Bloomington Alderman Karen Schmidt, who was acting as mayor pro tem in Bloomington Mayor Tari Renner’s absence.

Jen Hoselze, director of the Illinois Office of Tourism, said travelers spent $352.8 million in McLean County last year.

As I predicted, the Route 66 Economic Impact Study from 2012 — including the revelation the road generated $127 million in tourism spending annually — was going to change the way many cities viewed the route. Money talks — in a big way.

As for the seemingly incongruous logo of Abraham Lincoln cruising 66 in a car, you had this take from a local official:

“He loved humor, enjoyment and a good time,” Koos said. “He’d be happy to be remembered in such ways.”

The state Office of Tourism already created a “mini Abe” for commercials promoting Illinois and recently started working on “big Abe” commercials with hopes of capturing attention in Asian countries where such characters are often idolized.

The Illinois Office of Tourism awarded a $249,000 grant for the project. Bloomington hopes to have the visitors center open by spring.

A shave from Angel Delgadillo November 7, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Businesses, People.
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HairCut Harry is on a mission to have a hair-cutting experience in every country in the world.

Recemtly, he stopped by Angel Delgadillo’s shop on Route 66 in Seligman, Arizona, to get a wet shave with a straight razor. This is probably the only video on the Internet that really shows Delgadillo’s old-school style.

Delgadillo doesn’t do a lot of haircuts or shaves anymore; he’s too busy greeting tourists on Route 66. He’s not nicknamed the “Guardian Angel of Route 66″ for nothing. But he’ll occasionally practice his old profession.

On Harry’s website, you’ll see photos from other barber shops during a recent Route 66 trip, including Miami, Oklahoma; Amarillo, Texas; St. Louis and Chicago.

(Image of Angel Delgadillo in his barber shop by Leo Marshall via Flickr)

Albuquerque adopts Route 66 Action Plan November 6, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Art, Attractions, Businesses, Preservation, Signs, Towns.
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The Albuquerque City Council unanimously ratified Mayor Richard Berry’s Route 66 Action Plan for a 15-mile stretch of Central Avenue in the city, reported the Associated Press and other media outlets.

The plan comes with infrastructure improvements, tourism additions and historical preservation, among other things.

You can read a summary of the plan here, but here are the highlights:

  • A so-called “digital backbone” that better attracts high-tech businesses.
  • Transportation improvements that are safer and better for bicycles, cars, buses and pedestrians.
  • Improvements of the city’s bus system.
  • More signs from Interstate 40 to guide travelers to Route 66 and its historic sites and attractions.
  • Streetscape improvements.
  • More opportunities for public art.
  • New neon signs and preservation of the existing ones.
  • Preservation and redevelopment of historic Route 66 buildings.
  • Facade improvements to existing buildings.
  • Filling in gaps on Central Avenue with new development.
  • Encourage business development.
  • Increase residential development.
  • Better branding of Route 66.
  • A new website touting Route 66 in Albuquerque.
  • Building visitors centers and interpretive sites.
  • Special events and festivals.

Keep in mind this is a “long-range” plan — it will take years to have all these things come together. And with an initial budget outlay of $150,000, it will take years to come to fruition.

The complete plan is here. However, be warned — it’s 122 pages of an Acrobat document.

(Image of Route 66 in Albuquerque by OpenThreads via Flickr)

Fire destroys old A&W building in Carthage October 22, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Businesses, Restaurants.
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A former A&W Restaurant near Route 66 in Carthage, Missouri, was destroyed by fire late Friday during the city’s annual Maple Leaf Festival.

After the A&W closed at that location, it became Hartman’s Mercantile, a secondhand store.

KODE-TV has a report about the fire:

The building was at 502 S. Garrison Ave., which is about a block south of where Route 66 turns from Garrison onto Oak Street.

According to A&W’s website, the restaurant’s signature root beer was created in 1919, and the first restaurant went up in 1924.

(Hat tip to Ron Hart)

Roof of Richardson Store building collapses October 20, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Businesses, History.
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The roof and awning for the long-closed Richardson Store on Route 66 in Montoya, New Mexico, collapsed in recent weeks, reported an officer with the New Mexico Route 66 Association.

Andy House, president of the association, reports that the collapses probably occurred in August or September, after heavy rains in the region.

Here is an image of the store in June, before the collapse:

And here is what it looks like now:

House wrote in an email:

Unknown also is what disposition will be for it, but most likely it isn’t fit for a restoration, as it has sat closed and deteriorating for several decades now.

It’s also unknown if the owner as yet even knows about the collapse, but I do know a great many Route 66 cruisers stopped there for a photo op, and it’s not too cool a stop now.

The red sandstone store was built in the mid- to late 1920s by G.W. Richardson, an experienced storekeeper from Missouri, although he had a wooden-built store there as early as 1908. The store was set up to supply materials to ranchers, railroad workers and, later, highway construction laborers.

During the 1930s and 1940s, travelers found a cool oasis and something to drink under the tall elms that shaded Richardson Store. Designed to be as cool as possible, with a big portico out front shading the windows and the gas pumps, the store has a recessed front door and high windows designed to let in light and a breeze but not sunlight. The store adjoined a picnic grove and carried groceries and auto supplies for tourists and residents and also stocked saddle blankets, work gloves, feed buckets, and windmill parts for local ranchers. Like other local stores of the period, Richardson’s place was also a community meeting spot, complete with post office boxes and a postal service window. The portico is painted white to reflect the sunlight, as is the west side of the building, where bold, if faded stenciled letters read “Richardson Store.”

The store eventually was abandoned — according to one source, the mid-1970s — after the construction of Interstate 40 during the late 1950s. Richardson Store was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.

It’s been a rough summer for parts of Route 66 in the Southwest. First, flooding tore up roadway and bridges in the Mojave Desert. And now this.

(Images courtesy of Andy House)

Santo Domingo Trading Post wins a large grant October 14, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Businesses, Preservation.
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The historic Santo Domingo Trading Post along old Route 66 in Santo Domingo Pueblo, New Mexico, earned a half-million-dollar federal grant for its renovations, according to a news release from U.S. Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich of New Mexico.

The $511,118 comes from the U.S. Economic Development Administration.

The project revives an historic Native American tourist attraction and increases retail opportunities for native artists who produce world-renown jewelry, pottery and other artisan goods, which will stimulate the regional economy.

“Small business is the backbone of New Mexico’s economy, and the EDA’s partnership with ACCION will provide much-needed support to budding entrepreneurs across the state,” Udall said. “Similarly, the continued restoration of Santo Domingo Trading Post, which was all but lost in a 2001 fire, will help preserve this cultural landmark and provide economic opportunities to the Pueblo’s artisans.”

“This grant will help bring the Santo Domingo Trading Post a step closer toward full restoration,” Heinrich said. “The Trading Post plays an important role as a marketplace that helps grow the local economy. I’m also pleased the EDA has made investments in promoting entrepreneurship by funding New Mexico’s ACCION Presto Loan pilot program. When women, veterans, and other aspiring entrepreneurs have the opportunity to gain access to capital to start their businesses, it helps create jobs and spurs the economy.”

The Seligman family, which were traders in the Southwest, built the two-story trading post in 1922 that incorporated a one-story 1880 building to the structure. The village became part of Route 66 from 1926 to 1937. President John F. Kennedy reportedly visited it in 1962. The Pueblo of Santo Domingo now owns the property, and it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1998.

Except for the outer walls, the trading post was destroyed by fire in 2001. Since then, the front half of two-story building was restored. However, the 1880 part of the complex was lost in the fire.

(Old postcard image of Santo Domingo Trading Post courtesy of 66Postcards.com; restored image of trading post via Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program)

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