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Dawn Welch starts a new blog October 31, 2009

Posted by Ron Warnick in Books, People, Restaurants, Web sites.
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A screen shot of Dawn Welch's new blog.

Dawn Welch, owner of the Rock Cafe in Stroud, Okla., has launched a new blog — mostly to publicize her upcoming cookbook, “Dollars to Donuts.”

But the site also contains recipes, cooking tips and a video that I commend to your attention.

“Dollars to Donuts” will be in stores on Nov. 10.

Jeanne Tripplehorn’s guide to Route 66 October 31, 2009

Posted by Ron Warnick in Magazines, People, Road trips, Television.
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Travel + Leisure magazine recently published a one-page story about Tulsa native Jeanne Tripplehorn and her trip a few months ago on Route 66 with her son.

Tripplehorn, who currently stars in the HBO series “Big Love,” recently became a spokeswoman for the World Monuments Fund, and wanted to see the Mother Road for herself.

The article is here.

Pontiac motel torn down October 30, 2009

Posted by Ron Warnick in Motels.

The Downtowner Motel, along a more-obscure alignment of Route 66 in downtown Pontiac, Ill., was torn down Wednesday to make way for new Law and Justice Center, reported the Pontiac Daily Leader.

More pictures of the demolition can be seen here, at The Community Times.

The Downtowner had been for sale for several years, including a listing on Route 66 News. But apparently there were no takers.

A photo of the Downtowner in better days can be seen here.


Haunted prison October 30, 2009

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Ghosts and Mysteries.
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Dave Hoekstra, a columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times and a longtime roadie, paid a visit to the Stateville Haunted Prison, which is across Route 66 from the real Stateville Correctional Center in Crest Hill, Ill.

Stateville Haunted Prison, which is located on Siegel’s Cottonwood Farms across from the real Stateville, has been operating each Halloween season since 1996 and draws in 75,000 visitors each year. It’s ranked by hauntedhousechicago.com as one of the top haunted-house attractions in the Midwest.

Here’s a promotional video. Warning: I’d definitely rate it PG-13:

Hoekstra dressed up as a zombified version of recently ousted Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich. He called him Rod Zombie. It never can be said that Illinoisans don’t have a sense of humor about its disgraced politicians.

Art display along Route 66 scrapped October 29, 2009

Posted by Ron Warnick in Art.

Several illuminated pillars along Route 66 in Flagstaff, Ariz., will be kept in storage indefinitely after a car accident and other problems with the art display cropped up in recent weeks, reported the Arizona Republic.

Titled “Solar Calendar” and designed by artist Mary Boone Wellington, the display at Route 66 and Postal Boulevard has reportedly been called “alien outhouses” by locals. The display had problems staying lit, and would have cost thousands of dollars to repair.

Worse yet, a car hit the display several weeks ago, exposing an electrical terminal. According to the Arizona Daily Sun, that was the second time a vehicle had struck it.

A Google Street View photo of the installation can be seen here.

Here’s more about Wellington, and this quote about “Solar Calendar”:

The site there (in Flagstaff) is very mystical. The mountain across from the site is called Mount Eldon. It’s a sacred mountain. I created the shape of the piece to reflect the view of the mountain as seen from the sculpture site. The different columns are made in different heights to reflect the profile of the mountain. And I wanted to create a piece that talked about that timeless power – that connection to patterns beyond our scope, while positioning the viewer in a place of power and knowledge in relationship to the natural world.

The public art had initially cost the city $50,000 when it was first erected. In retrospect, some city officials now agree the location of the art project was poor. Also, Wellington reportedly did not respond when the city tried to consult with her on problems with the art piece (and she’s on Facebook, so it wasn’t as if she was inaccessible).

So between bad drivers, a bad location, possibly a bad design and a refusal by Wellington to help, it seems there’s plenty of blame to go around for this failure.

The Sun reports that the city will try to auction the remaining pieces of the artwork.

Times Beach Bridge to be closed permanently October 28, 2009

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Bridges.

The Missouri Department of Transportation will permanently close the Old Route 66 Bridge in Route 66 State Park on Thursday, according to a news release.

An annual inspection showed the bridge can no longer support traffic. The bridge links the east side of Route 66 State Park with the west over the Meramec River. The state park is on the site of the former town of Times Beach, which was evacuated in the 1980s because of dioxin contamination.

More from the news release …

All other facilities at the park remain open. The roadhouse along Route 66, built in 1935, now serves as the park’s visitor center. Day-use facilities at the park include walking, bicycling and equestrian trails, picnic areas, a playground and a boat ramp for access to the Meramec River.

Visitors wanting to use the day-use facilities will now access the west end of the park by using Williams Road at Exit 265 from eastbound Interstate 44. People wanting to access the visitor center can continue to do so from Lewis Road Exit 266. Signs will be posted on Interstate 44 to inform visitors about the new access.

The announcement came days after the bridge was named to the National Register of Historic Places.

“Permanently” is a long time; maybe someday funds will be found to shore up the bridge enough for pedestrian traffic, at least.

(Hat tip: Peter Stork)

Site touts historical spots in New Mexico October 28, 2009

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, History, Maps, Web sites.
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StoppingPoints.com, an online guide to historical places in the United States, recently added New Mexico to its database, according to a news release.

The New Mexico StoppingPoints guide displays and pinpoints nearly 1,200 markers within the state, including properties in the National Register of Historic Places. Most markers are grouped and mapped by city, county, and also individually, allowing history researchers and hobbyists to easily locate them when visiting “The Land of Enchantment”. [...]

Bill Lawson, Editor-in-Chief for StoppingPoints.com, stated “We believe the New Mexico historical site guide is one of the most comprehensive guides of the state anywhere, and easily superior to the state’s own Tourism Department site which suffers from numerous spelling mistakes, grammar errors and poor usability.”

“New Mexico’s historical markers highlight some of the most interesting sites from the early history of America. The mixture of Spanish history, Native American Indian history, frontier justice, sagas of outlaws and gunslingers, along with beautiful southwestern vistas all combine to make New Mexico an important place that is highly evocative of the venerable Old West.”

Lawson shouldn’t be too hard on the state with its efforts. Although StoppingPoints.com’s list for Route 66 sites is a fairly thorough, it contains little information about these sites. Simply marking a historical spot without providing any context isn’t all that useful to the novice tourist.

Here’s hoping that updates of the site will provide actual historical information about these heritage-tourism attractions.

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