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Railroad confirms it’s removing deck from MacArthur Bridge October 23, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Bridges, Railroad.
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This was reported 10 months ago, but the Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis confirmed through a KPLR-TV report this week it is removing the automobile deck from the historic MacArthur Bridge in St. Louis.

The railroad told the TV station the deck was a risk to rail traffic.

“Trespassers, ya know, you don’t want them having access to the truss,” Eric Fields of the Terminal Railroad Association said. “And if you could do some damage to the truss, you interrupt navigation. You interrupt rail traffic. It was a concern on a national scale.”

Readers here already know this is happening, because Rich Dinkela reported it in December. Here’s a video he produced that explains the history of the bridge:

And this part of the station’s story is interesting in the disconnect:

Patti Saunders was among a number of Route 66 fans from across the country who contacted Fox 2 about the demolition of the deck.

“With all the efforts to bring Route 66 back to life, I would have thought more consideration would have been given to the historical value of this bridge,” she said.

But with security concerns, combined with bad location, the owners say it’s future as an automotive crossing has long since passed.

“The interstate connections just aren’t there,” Fields said. “The Poplar Street bridge has better connections. The” Stan the Man” span has better connections. Ead’s Bridge was restored. This was never going to be a vital road use again.”

Fields clearly is thinking of the bridge as a modern-day commuter link between the metro-east and St. Louis, while Route 66 tourists are thinking it can be used for tourism reasons, either as a sparsely used automobile path or a bicycle/pedestrian trail, such as the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge.

It should be noted that for decades, the bridge has been fenced off in East St. Louis and small part of the roadway deck removed in the middle.

At least nothing will happen to the bridge itself in the foreseeable future. It reportedly carries 30 to 40 trains daily and more than 100 million tons of cargo annually.

The MacArthur Bridge opened to traffic in 1917, back when it was called the St. Louis Municipal Bridge or Free Bridge. It was renamed for Gen. Douglas MacArthur in 1942. It was one of several bridges that carried Route 66 over the Mississippi River.

(Image of the MacArthur Bridge in 2011 by cmh2315fl via Flickr)

A visit to Ollie’s Station October 16, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Railroad, Restaurants.
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DiscoverOklahoma, which is part of the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department, recently uploaded this video about Ollie’s Station restaurant on the southwest side of Tulsa.

As you might guess, the restaurant and its toy trains are a big hit with children. If you go there, don’t miss the big train set in the back of the restaurant. And the real thing runs on several sets of tracks just spitting distance away.

(Image of Ollie’s Station by dogsbylori via Flickr)

Interactive map sorts 1935-1945 photos September 9, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in History, Photographs, Railroad.
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Starting in 1935, photographers with the New Deal’s Farm Security Administration began documenting life in the United States during the Great Depression and, later, World War II.

More than 170,000 photos were taken, and a few of them became famous, including Dorothea Lange’s now-iconic image of a migrant mother. Although the vast majority of images were digitized and put online by the Library of Congress, it wasn’t always easy to search for them.

But a team from Yale University created Photogrammar, an interactive map using a 1937 atlas where you can see the photos sorted by county or by photographer. Don’t be surprised if you spend a few hours surfing the images, as I did.

Naturally, I followed Route 66’s path and posted some of the most striking photos here. One could spend days on the Chicago collection, which contains hundreds of images from the city’s black South Side neighborhoods and the railroad yards. Dozens of photos document a black farming family’s life in Creek County, Oklahoma. Another large batch of images show squatters’ camps in Oklahoma City during the Depression. And in Los Angeles, you see Japanese-Americans rounded up (“evacuated” is what they called it then) to be transported to internment camps and workers toiling in warplane factories.

The photographers didn’t get everywhere, and the map contains a flaw for St. Louis County in St. Louis. But odds are you’ll find some fascinating images from the past from your home region.

Seating now in all parts of the house at the Chicago Theatre. Chicago, Illinois. Photo by John Vachon. July 1941.

Sign at Union Station, Chicago. Photo by Jack Delano. January 1943.

Santa Fe R.R. freight train about to leave for the West Coast from Corwith yard, Chicago. Photo by Jack Delano. March 1943.

General view of part of the South Water Street freight depot of the Illinois Central Railroad, Chicago. Photo by Jack Delano. May 1943.

“For the union makes us strong.” UCAPAWA (United Cannery, Agricultural, Packing, and Allied Workers of America) meeting. Photo by Russell Lee. Bristow, Oklahoma. February 1940.

Downtown Tulsa filling station. Photo by John Vachon. October 1942.

Armed guard at the railroad bridge in Tulsa, Oklahoma. That’s the 11th Street Bridge in the background. Photo by John Vachon. October 1942.

Cleaning an engine at the roundhouse at the Frisco railroad in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Photo by John Vachon. October 1942.

Gas station converted into a bar in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Photo by John Vachon. October 1942.

Part of Mays Avenue camp under the bridge. Oklahoma City, Photos by Russell Lee. July 1939. The bridge’s structure is a dead ringer for the Lake Overholser Bridge that carried Route 66.

Roadside stand “The Derrick.” Oklahoma City oil field. Photo by Russell Lee. August 1939.

Negroes waiting for streetcar at terminal in Oklahoma City. Photo by Russell Lee. July 1939.

Negro drinking at “Colored” water cooler in streetcar terminal, Oklahoma City. Photo by Russell Lee. July 1939.

Dust storm in Amarillo, Texas. Note heavy metal signs blown out by wind. Amarillo, Texas. Photo by Arthur Rothstein, April 1936.

Deaf Smith County, Texas. “It is reliably estimated that not less than 40,000 families have moved away from the Great Plains drought area since 1930.” From the report of the Great Plains Committee, 1936. Photo by Dorothea Lange. June 1938.

Downtown Santa Fe, New Mexico. Photo by John Collier. February 1943.

Marker of accident on highway in Bernalillo County, New Mexico. Photo by Russell Lee. July 1940.

Hanging up chili peppers for drying, Isletta (sic), New Mexico. Photo by Russell Lee. September 1940.

The Hotel Franciscan, Albuquerque, New Mexico. Photo by John Collier. February 1943.

Kimo Theatre, Albuquerque, New Mexico. Photo by John Collier. February 1943.

Santa Fe R.R. streamliner, the “Super Chief,” being serviced at the depot in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Servicing these diesel streamliners takes five minutes. Photo by Jack Delano. March 1943.

A street scene in Flagstaff, Arizona, on the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad line. Photo by Jack Delano. March 1943.

Railroad men lounging in the lobby of the Harvey House in Seligman, Arizona, near the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad yard. Photo by Jack Delano. March 1943.

A street scene in Kingman, Arizona, along the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad. Photo by Jack Delano. March 1943.

A general view showing the Harvey House and depot in the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad yards in Needles, California. Photo by Jack Delano. March 1943.

The evacuation of Japanese-Americans from West Coast areas under U.S. Army war emergency order. Waiting for train in Los Angeles to take them to Owens Valley. Photo by Russell Lee. April 1942.

A neon sign. Hollywood, California. Photo by Russell Lee. April 1942.

(Hat tip to Andrew Sullivan and Gizmodo)

Railroad depot in Springfield named to National Register September 7, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Preservation, Railroad.
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The Great Western Railroad depot in Springfield, Illinois, was named to the National Register of Historic Places effective Aug. 25, according to an email a few days ago from the National Park Service.

The depot at 930 E. Monroe St. (map here) sits barely a block east of the classic Ninth Street alignment of Route 66. The brick depot was built in 1852, which makes it more than historic enough for inclusion to the National Register.

But the Great Western depot has this additional cachet:

Three months after his election in November 1860, Abraham Lincoln left Springfield for Washington, D.C. to become the 16th President of the United States. The special train that would take him there left the Great Western Depot on the rainy morning of Monday, February 11, 1861, the last day Lincoln spent in Springfield. […]

Lincoln gave a short speech to the group of friends and family who came to see him off. His words, brief yet powerful, moved his audience and foretold of the great challenge he faced.

“My friends, No one, not in my situation, can appreciate my feeling of sadness at this parting. To this place, and the kindness of these people, I owe everything. Here I have lived a quarter of a century, and have passed from a young to an old man. Here my children have been born, and one is buried. I now leave, not knowing when, or whether ever, I may return, with a task before me greater than that which rested upon Washington. Without the assistance of that Divine Being, who ever attended him, I cannot succeed. With that assistance I cannot fail. Trusting in Him, who can go with me, and remain with you and be everywhere for good, let us confidently hope that all will yet be well. To His care commending you, as I hope in your prayers you will commend me, I bid you an affectionate farewell.”

It also was from this depot where Lincoln gazed at his beloved Springfield for the last time before his assassination in 1865.

For the last 50 years or so, the depot has operated as a museum. It was purchased two years ago by the Noll Law Office, extensively renovated , and reopened on the first floor as a self-guided museum (more about its hours are here). The second floor holds the law office.

The depot is another reminder you could spend all day visiting the historic Lincoln sites around Springfield.

(Image of the Great Western Railroad Depot by Larry Myhre via Flickr)

Red Oak II now offering overnight stays July 31, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Art, Attractions, Motels, People, Railroad.
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Red Oak II, a vivid re-creation of a now-vanished town by folk artist Lowell Davis, recently started offering overnight stays in cabins reclaimed from a former Route 66 motel in Duquesne, Missouri, reported the Joplin Globe in a feature story about Davis and his complex near Carthage, Missouri.

Also, a former mayor who resides at Red Oak II plans to install a small railroad depot at the complex.

And Jim Woestman, the former mayor of Carthage who built a home at what Davis calls “the back” of Red Oak II in which to retire. Davis has a “small project” in progress with Woestman: A train station.

“We have everything else but a train station,” Davis said. “We figured we needed one.”

Woestman also moved in the duplex cabins that once formed the Star Motel and Trailer Court at Newman and Duquesne roads in Duquesne, which he opened to vacationers for the first time earlier this month.

Neither the article nor the Red Oak II website contained more details about the cabins. However, a post July 23 on the Facebook page of Red Fork II said overnight stays were available and to call 417-237-0808 for more information.

We reported in March 2013 about Red Oak II moving the Star Motel cabins, including this photo. The cabins are 1920s-style duplexes that actually were built in the 1970s.

On a side note, the Globe article mentions Red Oak II was inspired by the small town of Red Oak on Route 66 northeast of Carthage. However, I’ve found no records of a town by that name in any reference materials about Route 66.

However, the small settlement of Red Oak may be found on State Highway YY and County Road 2032 in rural La Russell, Missouri. It is essentially a ghost town, but it does have a few remaining houses and a church, which you can see in this Google Street View image:

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The old Red Oak sits about 2.8 miles north of Highway 96, which is old Route 66 in that part of Missouri.

(Hat tip: Ron Hart)


Albuquerque’s most popular filming locations July 12, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Movies, Railroad, Restaurants, Television, Towns.
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KRQE-TV in Albuquerque produced this fascinating story about the city’s most popular filming locations for movies, television series and commercials.

Not surprisingly, several exist on Central Avenue, aka Route 66 — Lindy’s Coffee Shop and Loyola’s Family Restaurant.

The station reported:

So why are Lindy’s and Loyola’s attractive for filmmakers?

“They’re still period, they still look like they did maybe in the 50′s or 60′s,” said Ann Lerner, the city’s film liaison. “So they don’t have to build a set… they can go to a practical location.”

Score another one for historic preservation.

(Image of Lindy’s by Glen’s Pics via Flickr)

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