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Memorial Day tribute May 31, 2010

Posted by Ron Warnick in Events, People.

Here is a list of military personnel from Route 66 towns who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan. I’ve also added informative links to each of the fallen, wherever possible.













Granite City


St. Louis

















Oklahoma City


Las Vegas

Santa Fe


Los Lunas








San Bernardino







Rancho Cucamonga




Los Angeles

(Sources: CNN.com, icasualties.org, WashingonPost.com)

“Honkytonk Stomp” May 30, 2010

Posted by Ron Warnick in Music.
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You might see a familiar Route 66 landmark in the Texas Panhandle featured prominently in this Brooks & Dunn video.

And, yes, that’s Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top in the pool hall, and on guitar and guest vocals.

“Riding with Private Malone” May 29, 2010

Posted by Ron Warnick in Music.
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This song by David Ball is about a cool car and a departed soldier. It seems appropriate for Route 66 and the Memorial Day weekend.

Rugby player rolls down 66 May 28, 2010

Posted by Ron Warnick in People, Road trips, Sports.
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If you see a big, scruffy-looking guy with a Triumph motorcycle and an English accent on the Mother Road, it just might be rugby star and World Cup winner Steve Thompson, according to the Daily Mail in London.

The 31-year-old is tackling the fabled Route 66 on a Triumph motorbike which has been parked outside England’s Surrey HQ in recent days.

Not content to just put in the miles, he has chosen to adopt a striking Wild West look, hence the deliberate lack of grooming.

‘I’m doing Route 66 – riding from Chicago to Los Angeles with a couple of mates,’ he said. ‘I’ve been growing the beard for a while and I’m one of these people who can’t just grow it in a week. It has taken my three months to get this far!

Nearer the time I will shave it down so when I am on the England tour all I will have left is a handlebar moustache. I am going to have these nice motorbike goggles, a short hairstyle and my handlebar moustache – the complete look.’ [...]

‘It’s one of those things a lot of us have talked about for ages,’ he said. ‘We’ll be having a few beers and saying, “Come on, let’s go and do Route 66 on the motorbike”. I got my licence last year and thought, “Why not?”. If it’s ever going to happen, now is the time to do it.

The story includes an information box titled “Why Route 66 is So Significant.”

Good ol’ boys in America shouldn’t start anything with Thompson about his funny-sounding accent. Those rugby guys are tough; the sport is like playing football, but without the pads.

Rail Haven Motel listed to National Register May 27, 2010

Posted by Ron Warnick in Motels, Preservation.
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The Route 66 Rail Haven Motel of Springfield, Mo., now an independently owned part of the Best Western chain, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places effective May 10, according to an e-mail today from the National Park Service.

The motel, at 210 S. Glenstone Ave., contains 93 rooms and has served travelers for more than 70 years, according to its website:

Experience a classic piece of Americana. Eight sandstone cottages built in 1938, known as the Rail Haven Motor Court, started what is known today as the Best Western Route 66 Rail Haven.

This hotel is so full of history, you’ll want to purchase your own copy of the book “Route 66 Rail Haven: An Offspring of the Mother Road”, available in the lobby. Be our guest at this refurbished and historically charming inn nestled on acres of beautifully landscaped grounds on Old Route 66. Take your picture with the retired 1965 Best Western lighted road sign including the old five point crowned logo. And in keeping with the yesteryear atmosphere, try our Monroe or Elvis suites, each complete with a jetted tub.

In the late Skip Curtis’ book, “The Missouri U.S. 66 Tour Book,” he gleaned this information for an old postcard:

This was the Rail Haven’s first postcard, “Look for the rail fence.” A motor court “for motorists who demand the best. Popular haven for women and children.” At one time “16 stone cottages with showers, automatic safety controlled gas heat, laundry facilities, children’s playground” and “very good beds.” By 1946, it has grown to 28 rooms, and was considered “excellent” by AAA.

An image of an old postcard can be seen here. You can take a virtual tour of the current Rail Haven here.

Drive-in theaters stage a small comeback May 27, 2010

Posted by Ron Warnick in Movies, Preservation, Theaters.
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Julianne Glatz, writing for the Illinois Times and using the Route 66 Drive-In in Springfield as a focus, notes that drive-in theaters seems to have halted a long decline in popularity.

But in the last decade, drive-ins have been making a comeback. Some old drive-ins have reopened, others have expanded and new ones are popping up. While no one – either enthusiasts or those operating drive-ins – expects they’ll ever be as popular as they were in their heyday, drive-ins seem to have found a niche market and are holding their own.

One reason for drive-ins’ resurgence is how patrons see and hear the movie. These days a low-frequency radio signal does the job. Few people now stay inside their cars. Instead they open windows and turn up the sound system or use portable radios. Lawn chairs and coolers appear; it’s a cinematic tailgate experience.

The Route 66 Drive In of my childhood had been closed for almost 20 years when it was revived by the Knight family as part of their Knight’s Action Park complex. These days the Route 66 Drive In is open on weekends only from April 1 to Memorial Day weekend, when movies begin showing nightly. After Labor Day, they go back to weekends-only through the end of October. The movies are “second run,” meaning they’re shown a couple weeks after their initial opening. Attendance varies depending on what’s being shown and the weather, according to George Knight. But business is good enough that he sees the Route 66 Drive In continuing into the foreseeable future.

“We’ve got something for everybody,” Knight says. “There’s even a good-sized group that regularly comes in two big trucks. They unload a sofa, tables and lamps. It’s quite a deal.”

Other drive-ins on Route 66 include the Sky View Drive-In in Litchfield, Ill.; 66 Drive-In in Carthage, Mo.; and the Admiral Twin Drive-In in Tulsa.

What’s next for closed Route 66 in McCook? May 26, 2010

Posted by Ron Warnick in Highways, Towns.
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Berkeley (Ill.) Suburban Life published a follow-up story about the $40 million settlement between the Illinois Department of Transportation and Vulcan Materials over the closing of a one-mile stretch of Joliet Road (aka Route 66) in McCook.

The state alleged that Vulcan, which operated two nearby quarry pits, dangerously destabilized the road by undermining it. They settled last week, without Vulcan admitting wrongdoing, on the eve of a long-awaited civil trial.

What will happen to the $40 million remains uncertain. IDOT said the money would be used for area road improvements, but the agency didn’t offer specifics. McCook and the nearby communities of Countryside and Hodgkins, which were also impacted by the road’s closure in 1998, are the most likely to receive portions of the settlement money.

The road remains closed to this day, and its prospects of reopening are slim.

Countryside Mayor Robert Conrad chimed in with this idea:

“I would hate to see a one-mile stretch of Historic Route 66 disappear,” Conrad said. “Make it an observation area, a walking or bike path.  I think we deserve that if nothing else. There’s not much of the old road left.”

That’s an intriguing idea. Other proposals are to rebuild the road or build a bridge to replace it, but both ideas likely would cost well in excess of that $40 million. It seems much more possible to shore up the road as a pedestrian path with a few million dollars, like Trailnet did with the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge in St. Louis.

I’m not sure that’s possible, either. But it’s worth considering.

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