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Cafe on the Route reopening soon November 3, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Restaurants.
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Cafe on the Route of Baxter Springs, Kansas, which abruptly closed nearly two years ago, apparently is reopening by mid-November after extensive renovations.

Rich Dinkela got the scoop a couple of days ago with this video. The new owner’s remodeling includes showing off the original tin ceiling and brick walls.

The new owner also put up a new website for the restaurant, which includes a countdown for its opening. According to records, Tim Potter of nearby Miami, Oklahoma, owns the domain. Records indicate he also owns the CMC Angus Cattle Co. in Miami.

The previous owners, Richard and Amy Sanell, in January 2013 unexpectedly closed the Route 66 restaurant, which nationwide fame for its creative menu and an appearance on “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.” It was discovered later that two other restaurants the Sanells operated closed down shortly before that, leading one to believe their financial problems pulled down Cafe on the Route as well.

The second floor of the 1870 building at 1101 Military Ave. (Route 66) served as a bed-and breakfast. There was no mention whether that would be revived.

(Hat tip: Mike Ward; image of Cafe on the Route by Aaron Sumner via Flickr)

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)

Replica of La Bajada Hill sign erected August 15, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in History, Signs.
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In recent days, “Roamin’ Rich” Dinkela commissioned a replica of a warning sign that long ago graced the top of La Bajada Hill between Santa Fe and Albuquerque in New Mexico.

La Bajada Hill served as Route 66 during the 1920s and the early ’30s, although the path itself dates to the 1500s as part of the Camino Real. The steep and narrow roadway featured 23 switchback curves. So the locals felt obligated to warn motorists what they were getting into.

Incidentally, the road is little-changed in the 90 or so years since Route 66 was realigned. It’s eroded in spots, and only four-wheel vehicles should attempt to drive it. So the re-created sign’s warnings are still relevant. If you’re wanting to explore La Bajada Hill, it’s best done while hiking.

Brian Shawn McClenahan of The Sign Guy in O’Fallon, Missouri, was commissioned to paint the sign. He created a time-lapse video of how he made it which, helpfully, includes a rare image of the bullet-ridden original sign:

(Image of La Bajada Hill by Jon Lewis via Flickr)

A chat with Rich Dinkela June 4, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Bridges, People, Road trips, Web sites.
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KC Keefer, the guy behind the ongoing Genuine Route 66 Life video series, produced a new clip about “Roamin’ Rich” Dinkela. The interview occurred at the closed MacArthur Bridge in St. Louis.

For a seven-minute clip, it nicely encompasses Dinkela’s approach and his many activities on the Mother Road.

You can follow Dinkela at his YouTube channel here, on Facebook here, on Twitter here, and on his Hooked on Route 66 website.

A closer look at the MacArthur Bridge December 21, 2013

Posted by Ron Warnick in Bridges, History.
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Rich Dinkela produced this video that takes an in-depth look at the long-closed MacArthur Bridge that connects East St. Louis, Ill., to St. Louis and served as an early alignment of Route 66. The bridge also has been called the St. Louis Municipal Bridge or Free Bridge.

The bridge has been fenced off and part of the roadway deck removed right in the middle for decades. However, Dinkela learned the railroad that owns the bridge is slowly removing all of the road deck. So Dinkela felt urgency to document what was left.

Dinkela interperses the clip with old images and even used a drone for aerial footage. (I predict drones will be used much more in the future to document hard-to-access areas on Route 66.) This footage is unprecedented because the bridge is so difficult to access.

Dinkela has produced a bunch of videos (his channel is here), but this is the best thing he’s done.

(Old postcard image of the MacArthur Bridge by katherine of chicago via Flickr)

Old road west of Glenrio November 13, 2013

Posted by Ron Warnick in Highways, History.
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Rich Dinkela posted this video of an old and hard-to-access piece of Route 66 west of the ghost town of Glenrio in New Mexico. This old road carried Route 66 from the 1950s to the early 1970s and runs up to the current Russell’s Travel Center.

You can see the old road on satellite imagry here:

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I’ve walked that portion just west of Glenrio, but not the one that stretches north of the interstate. Fascinating.

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