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Mitchell Caverns vandalized after state closes it February 26, 2012

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, History.

Mitchell Caverns, part of the Providence Mountains State Recreation Area in Southern California’s Mojave Desert, was extensively vandalized after it was closed last spring due to state budget cuts, reported the Los Angeles Times.

The Times reported:

Intruders cut fences, kicked doors off of hinges and shattered windows and display cases. They stole metal signs and survival gear, including hand-held radios, flashlights and binoculars. They also stole diesel-powered generators and ripped out thousands of feet of electrical wire used to illuminate the only natural limestone caverns in the state park system, San Bernardino County sheriff’s investigators said.

“What happened at the visitors center is devastating and heartbreaking,” said Kathy Weatherman, superintendent of the California Parks and Recreation Department’s Tehachapi District. She said the caverns themselves were not damaged. The state is taking steps to try to prevent more destruction, including searching for a full-time caretaker, Weatherman said. [...]

State Parks and Recreation Department officials decided to mothball the area last May because of two unrelated events. The park’s two rangers retired and the state found serious problems with the water system, said Linda Slater, resource interpreter at the nearby Mojave National Preserve. The state couldn’t afford the repairs needed to keep the park open. [...]

Park officials estimate the damage at $100,000.

State park advocates fear that more vandalism will occur at facilities that are closed. It’s hoped those parks will reopen when the state’s budget situation improves. But that’s no guarantee — only about a dozen of the state parks are financially self-sustaining.

The caverns were named after Jack Mitchell, who owned the caves from 1934 to 1954 as an attraction and rest stop for travelers on Route 66. Jack’s granddaughter, Sue Ellen Patrick, told the Times:

“My family feels betrayed because the state didn’t do what it promised us, which is protect the caves and the heritage.”

Maybe it’s time to deed over the caverns to a private trust that will renovate the complex or conserve it. That would certainly be a better situation than what’s happening now.

(Hat tip: Kevin Hansel)

“Yamashita Tomohisa Route 66,” Episode 7 February 26, 2012

Posted by Ron Warnick in Road trips, Television.
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Here’s the seventh episode of Japanese television’s “Yamashita Tomohisa Route 66,” which chronicles the singer and actor’s trip down the Mother Road last fall.

This installment takes him from Amarillo to Gallup, N.M. It looks like a side trip to Monument Valley is coming up on the next episode.


Route 66 photo exhibit soon will open in Pasadena February 26, 2012

Posted by Ron Warnick in Art, Events, Photographs.
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Photographer Rick Yenofsky of Arcadia, Calif., will display images of the Mother Road in Southern California with “Getting There – Old Places on Route 66, Planes, Trains, Ships & Automobiles: Modern and Historic” at Colonnade Art Gallery and Studio in Pasadena.

The exhibit starts March 3. The Pasadena Star-News reports:

Yenofsky traveled from downtown Los Angeles through Glendora looking for subjects on and near Route 66 to shoot for the show. He discovered a lot of what was originally along the Mother Road is merely a memory now, but he was still able to find a nice series of intriguing scenes.

“Route 66 is part of a dream, a part of getting out there and traveling and exploring,” Yenofsky said.

He uses digital cameras and hones his images with Photoshop. He likes working in black and white, although he admits it is not his strong suit. For subject matter, Yenofsky typically leans towards landscapes, horticulture and structures and, in all instances, it’s the lighting that draws him.

“I like structure and shadow, so my favorite times to shoot would be early morning or late afternoon,” Yenofsky said. “If the lines look right to me, I’ll shoot something.”

Much of Yenofsky’s photography work can be seen here.

Round Barn marks 20th year of restoration in April February 26, 2012

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Events, Preservation.
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The historic Round Barn in Arcadia, Okla., will mark the 20th anniversary of its restoration on April 14 with a celebration, reported The Oklahoman newspaper.

Apparently details is still being worked out. But live music is certain, as the second floor of the barn has hosted dances  for decades. The barn’s first owner, William Odor, was reputedly persuaded by field hands to use the barn for dances instead of hay storage.

According to The Oklahoman:

The restoration of the Round Barn, on the National Register of Historic Places since 1977, has helped keep Arcadia on the Route 66 map, said Linda Simonton, an Arcadia Historical and Preservation Society trustee.

Its popularity as a tourist stop is a testament to “the importance of the historic structure and the historic nature of this town, and the importance of preserving it,” she said. “We had 31,000 to 32,000 tourists that signed in through here last year. … We get tourists from all over the world, and they’re looking at history, following the westward expansion on Route 66.”

The report also says the Round Barn has benefited from the close proximity to the Pops restaurant and convenience store, and vice versa.

The Round Barn probably wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for the efforts of Luke Robinson. The barn’s ceiling had collapsed in 1988, and he and his group of volunteers, Over-the-Hill Gang, restored the structure by 1992 for less than one-half for what the cost was initially estimated.

A rare treat February 25, 2012

Posted by Ron Warnick in Businesses, History, Road trips.

Rich Dinkela, fresh off his prize money of free gasoline for a year from Phillips 66, found a way to get to the long-abandoned Painted Desert Trading Post, on an old and forlorn stretch of Route 66 in eastern Arizona.

This old section of the Mother Road has been rendered inaccessible by a gate for several years now. Dinkela said he found another way there. He wouldn’t reveal the pathway, but said it required 10 miles of driving on terrain that required a four-wheel drive vehicle.

A good history of the Painted Desert Trading Post can be found here. It was built in the early 1940s, and has probably sat abandoned for at least 40 years.

Old Tulsa service station may become a coffee shop February 25, 2012

Posted by Ron Warnick in Gas stations, Preservation, Restaurants.
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The George Tune auto shop complex at 2446 E. 11th St. (aka Route 66) in Tulsa, which includes a 1928 cottage-style service station building, was recently purchased by a Tulsa physician who plans to convert it into a coffee shop.

The new owner is Dr. Morad El-Raheb, a general-practice physician who was born in Egypt but has lived in Tulsa for about 25 years.

He said in a telephone interview Saturday that he was planning on converting the property into a coffee shop, but didn’t have a time frame on when it would open.

El-Raheb said he purchased the property about a month ago. He also owns a building next door.

The George Tune property had been listed for sale for months by Kevin W. Anderson & Associates, a Realtor. Tulsa County property records indicate the station was built in 1928. I’m not sure what brand of gasoline the cottage station served, although Phillips 66 built many stations in that style during that era.

I noticed concrete workers laboring around the cottage-style station Saturday morning. They said they were renovating the main concrete apron around the tiny building, and later would rebuild the parking lot.

Scottish musicians will tour Route 66 in April February 25, 2012

Posted by Ron Warnick in Movies, Music, Road trips.
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An all-star group of Scottish-style muscians will embark on a Route 66 tour in early April, including several performances. The tour is called Pipes & Sticks on Route 66.

According to the news release:

Dubbed “Pipes & Sticks on Route 66,” bass-drummer Mike Cole, snare-drummer Jim Kilpatrick, and pipers Stuart Liddell, Angus MacColl and Willie McCallum will start in Chicago on April 2nd, with the first scheduled concert on April 7th at the Irish American Heritage Center Auditorium in Chicago.

“The idea hatched last May with a conversation Stuart [Liddell] and I had on a flight to the U.S.,” McCallum said. “We thought the trip sounded fantastic and we had both always wanted to do it. Doing it combined with the pipes sounded very logical. It then grew a bit when we considered how we could do some concerts, workshops with pipes and drums combined. We sat on it for a few weeks whilst we thought of the best way ahead.

“It was then a case of who we thought would be interested in coming along as a team of five. Those we approached first agreed with no hesitation and we think it’s an amazingly talented line-up.”

Among the group is just about every important solo piping and drumming award, many of which have been won several times over. McCallum said that additional events will be announced as they are determined.

“We will stick as far as possible to the original Route 66, but there will be a few diversions along the way,” McCallum added, and said that the group will travel in a small bus, and will stay in motels en route.

The Pipes & Sticks on Route 66 schedule has the group performing in Chicago, Tulsa, Albuquerque, Flagstaff, Ariz., and Pasadena, Calif. It also scheduled one show in Lubbock, Texas — about 120 miles south of the Mother Road.

The group also will host a few teaching workshops along the way.

Pipes & Sticks on Route 66 also has a Facebook page.

John McDonald of Pasadena is planning a film documentary about the group’s tour. He’s launched a Kickstarter campaign to help fund the project. Here’s a video of him explaining it:

McDonald wrote:

The guys approached me and asked if I’d like to make a documentary about the adventure.  I didn’t have to think too hard about it as it seemed like the trip of a lifetime with all the potential of being a really entertaining film.  My previous feature documentary, ON THE DAY:  The Story of the Spirit of Scotland Pipe Band, was totally funded by contributions from the piping and Scottish community from around the world – and that was before I knew about Kickstarter.  Last summer, I launched a successful Kickstarter campaign to fund the On The Day 3-Disc Collector’s Box Set, so now I’m reaching out to you again to make this project a reality.

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