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The Mill Car Cruise-In set for Oct. 12 September 30, 2013

Posted by Ron Warnick in Events, Preservation, Restaurants, Vehicles.
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The Mill Car Cruise-In is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 12, as part of Illinois’ National Scenic Byway Week activities at the historic Route 66 restaurant at 738 S. Washington in Lincoln, Ill.

The annual meeting of the Route 66 Heritage Foundation of Logan County, the group that owns the site, also is the last event of the season for, and co-sponsored by, The Railsplitter Antique Auto Club.

Admission is free, but donations are welcome. Vehicle registration for the Cruise-In is $5, with all proceeds going to preserve The Mill. There will also be a 50/50 drawing, live music, and a special lunch from Hallie’s Restaurant, which is owned by Brian Huffman, a descendant of the Huffman family who owned The Mill during its heyday. Tours of The Mill also will be available.

More from the news release:

“Thanks to a very special anonymous donation, we will also have on sale Made in the USA T-shirts with our new Mill on 66 logo on them,” said Geoff Ladd.

Other collectible items will be on sale to raise funds for the eventual Route 66 museum. “We need to raise about $30,000 more to finish the project – we have had great donations and grants from several organizations and individuals – thanks to all of them,” said Ladd.

The group has also set up online donations and memberships, and will have the new t-shirts on sale on the web soon. More information can be found at SaveTheMillOnRoute66.com.

The Mill in Lincoln opened in 1929 under the name of the Blue Mill, on Stringer Avenue. Its proprietor was Paul Coddington, who would serve patrons grilled sandwiches at any hour of the day or night. A Dutch-themed building with blue trim, it featured at revolving windmill and waitresses dressed in blue with white aprons. In 1945, Albert and Blossom Huffman purchased the building, added a barroom and dance hall, then painted the building barn red. Over the years, the restaurant became famous for its fried schnitzel, originally made of veal, and later of pork. By the mid-1980s the Mill had lost most of the Dutch-themed interior and was becoming a museum of rather strange objects, including a mechanical leg protruding from a hole in the ceiling. The Mill closed in 1996; however, the building is still standing in its original location.

(New The Mill logo via SavetheMillonRoute66.com)

A Fiesta on the Mother Road September 29, 2013

Posted by Ron Warnick in Road trips, Vehicles.
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I stumbled onto this a few days ago on Twitter. Sara Parker took a new Ford Fiesta down Route 66 in Southern California to check out the sights. The enjoyable result is here:

Parker said it’s part of a Ford campaign:

Ford invited me to be an Agent for the Fiesta Movement. They’ve provided me with a 2014 Ford Fiesta, and they’re covering gas, insurance and administrative costs for the duration of the Movement.

For good measure, here’s Bri Heart’s Roadside America video that includes Meteor Crater in Arizona and Loretto Chapel in Santa Fe, N.M.:

Springfield, Mo., will launch fundraiser Wednesday for Route 66 park September 28, 2013

Posted by Ron Warnick in Events, Towns.
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The city of Springfield, Mo., will launch a fundraising campaign Wednesday night to build a roadside park that would celebrate that town’s heritage as the birthplace of Route 66, according to a news release.

The kickoff from 5 to 7 p.m. will be at Mother’s Brewing Co. at 215 S. Grant in Springfield, where several donations will be announced.

More from the release:

The City Council recently unanimously approved the use of $100,000 in fund balance reserves from the quarter-cent Capital Improvement Sales Tax Fund to jump-start development. These funds will cover preparation of construction contract documents by a consultant for a Route 66 Roadside Park and schematic planning services for the western extent of the Jordan Valley West Meadows Site in Springfield.

The city is partnering with Springfield-based CrowdIt to crowd-fund the major elements of the roadside park, which will be a key new landmark of historic Route 66 through the city. The crowd-funding project (found here) will go live during the party, which will feature period music, a few classic cars and food and drink. The roadside park will celebrate the area’s Route 66 past by incorporating memories of local Route 66. [...]

The first fundraiser (which CrowdIt calls “dreams”) will be to cover construction costs on a re-creation of the iconic Red’s Giant Hamburg sign. Red’s, owned and operated by Sheldon “Red” Chaney and his wife Julia, was a roadside cafe located on West Chestnut Expressway known for opening the world’s first drive-through window. The name was supposed to be Red’s Giant Hamburger, but Chaney measured the sign incorrectly and dropped the “er.” Red’s opened in 1947 and closed in 1984. The building was torn down in 1997.

The new Red’s sign will eventually be located in the new roadside park as part of improvements to the College Street corridor between Grant and Kansas Expressway within town.

Other projects will include a filling station replica, vending machines and visitor information; a relocated motor court cottage, with restrooms, and sign replica; a Birthplace of Route 66 sculpture; and, a Lily-Tulip/Solo Cup sculpture.

Prizes will be given to those who give money to the cause. The sweetest gift package is for the $15,000 donation (including a sneak preview of the Red’s sign at the sign company, a ride in a vintage car the day of the dedication ceremony, and a night’s stay at the Rail Haven motel), but even donations as small as $1 will earn a gift.

(Image from CrowdIt’s Route 66 campaign)

Blue Dome building in Tulsa has new owners September 28, 2013

Posted by Ron Warnick in Businesses, Gas stations, Preservation.
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The historic Blue Dome building near downtown Tulsa has been sold for $1.52 million to the owners of the adjacent Arnie’s Bar, reported the Tulsa World on Friday.

Longtime owner Michael Sager sold the building and the nearby Woody’s Corner Bar to Chris and JoAnn Armstrong, owners of Arnie’s. Sager says the new owners have no plans to tear it down.

The Armstrongs had leased a portion of the Blue Dome building from Sager for years. Here’s a bit of history of the Blue Dome from the Arnie’s website:

Originally a 1912 Gulf station, this amusement-type novelty attraction was built to encourage drivers to bring their vehicles in for gas. Open 24 hours with an on-duty attendant who lived in the apartment upstairs in the dome itself, the station boasted at being one of only a few buildings in the area with hot and cold running water and an air compression mechanism for pumping gas. With hundreds of lights under the lip of the dome, this Moorish-styled, ornate gem of architecture glowed like an amusement park ride.

As the building went though several transformations, it ended up as a bar for most of its subsequent history. If the Blue Dome could speak, it would tell of the day it became Veteran’s Bar in the 1930’s, and later, a place where down-and-outs could find a warm place, a strong drink and get their face washed as well.

Now the Blue Dome is the iconic landmark for Tulsa’s burgeoning and hip Blue Dome District, located east of downtown.

Arnie’s Bar is no slouch in the history department, either. Although it’s been at its current location only since 2000, Arnie’s roots date to 1956 on 15th Street in Tulsa.

(Image of the Blue Dome building by nwlynch via Flickr)

Future of Route 66 will be discussed at two-day event September 28, 2013

Posted by Ron Warnick in Businesses, Events, Preservation.
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A invitation-only gathering called “Route 66: The Road Ahead” is scheduled for Nov. 20-21 near Cars Land in Anaheim, Calif., will serve as a discussion of future opportunities for Mother Road preservationists and businesses in the wake of the 2012 Route 66 Economic Impact Study.

Route 66 The Road Ahead coverThe meeting is being organized by the World Monuments Fund with help from American Express. It’s invitation-only, but you can register your interest in attending by emailing [email protected] as soon as possible.

A pamphlet of “Route 66: The Road Ahead” may be downloaded as a two-page PDF here. More about the meeting:

Much is being done already to enhance investment in Route 66 and to further the economic contribution and place-remaking afforded by the Mother Road. But more is needed to protect this unique resource and the communities that comprise it. Opportunities for preservation and sustainable development are on the horizon. This strategic roundtable will bring together representatives from industry, government, community groups, and not-for-profits, with the aim of leveraging the new knowledge provided by the Economic Impact Study toward new opportunities for investment and innovative partnerships. [...]

This strategic roundtable seeks to bring together representatives from both the public and private sector, including those long-dedicated to the preservation of Route 66 as well as new voices, who can bring fresh perspective to the economic and community development opportunities the Mother Road presents.

The gathering will include a number of presentations, including these intriguing ones:

  • “Making the Case: Economic Impacts of Preservation & Heritage Tourism along Route 66″
  • “Community Investment: Success Stories from the Road”
  • “Incentivizing Preservation: Resources & Leveraging Tools”
  • “The Road More Traveled: Enhancing the Tourism Potential of Route 66″
  • “New Avenues: Emerging Opportunities for Partnership”
  • “Expanded Horizons: The Industry and Private Sector Perspective”

The meeting will be at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim. That is close to Cars Land, where attendees of the meeting will get a complementary tour.

Kaisa Barthuli, program director for the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program, said in an email that the meeting won’t be broadcast on the Internet, but that a report about the gathering will be disseminated later.

Jackson Browne finally plays Winslow September 27, 2013

Posted by Ron Warnick in Events, Music.
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Jackson Browne, who helped put the Route 66 town of Winslow, Ariz., on the musical map by co-writing the Eagles’ big hit “Take It Easy,” finally got a chance last weekend to perform in that town nearly 40 years after writing that tune.

Browne was on the Station to Station tour, a rolling music-and-arts revue. The train made a stop in Winslow on Saturday night. Station to Station also had shows in the Route 66 towns of Chicago, Santa Fe, Los Angeles, and Barstow, Calif.

The Arizona Journal reported about Jackson talking about Winslow and the song during his Winslow show:

Browne stood before an audience of approximately 200 performing his latest songs, as well as classics such as Running On Empty and Take It Easy. In between songs he spoke about being in Winslow many times before, but always in the middle of the night. “I would be sleeping on my tour bus and be woken up by my band members so that they could get a picture of me by the statue, but I’ve never been here during the day,” he said. “It’s a real pleasure to be in Winslow, it’s a dream come true, really.”

He also laid to rest any debate over who penned the hit song Take It Easy, now such an integral part of the identity of Winslow. He explained that he wrote the song after his car broke down in Flagstaff, and several more times after that before he was offered a ride by some travelers in a panel van. He began writing the song and wrote it over an extended period of time.

“It was about the whole Southwest experience,” he explained. He was making an album that didn’t have room for the song, so Glenn Frey of the Eagles persuaded him to give the song to them. “I just want you know I wrote standin’ on the corner, and I want to thank Glenn Frey for his contribution of Ford, Lord … girl, Ford, Lord,” he said jokingly.

There is video of this moment of the show, but the audio quality is bad:

Photos and other media from the Winslow stop can be found on the Station to Station website here. More from the website’s Winslow report:

“I’ve always had a feeling for Arizona because of this trip I took when I was 8 or 9 and visited the Hopi reservation,” Jackson Browne said in the lobby of the historic La Posada hotel a few hours before taking the stage to perform as part of the Winslow, Arizona Station to Station Happening. [...]

“First time I came to Winslow was during a car trip I took while making my first album,” Browne said. “My car broke down in Flagstaff and I spent a lot of time learning to rebuild a generator.”

That breakdown turned out to be a stroke of good fortune: Arizona has been inspiring the singer-songwriter ever since.

Alas the only video of Browne performing “Take It Easy” in Winslow is this brief Vine clip. So here’s an acoustic performance from a television program in Spain:

(Hat tip: La Posada Hotel)

Vic Suhling sign will be relighted Oct. 26 September 27, 2013

Posted by Ron Warnick in Events, Museums, Preservation, Signs.
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The relighting of the soon-to-be-restored Vic Suhling / Gas for Less neon sign in Litchfield, Ill., will occur at dusk Saturday, Oct. 26, at the Litchfield Museum and Route 66 Welcome Center, according to a release this week from the Neon Heritage Preservation Committee of the Route 66 Association of Missouri.

The new museum, at 334 N. Old Route 66, sits across the street from the historic Ariston Cafe, near Illinois 16. The expected throwing of the sign’s light switch will be about 6:15 p.m., although attendees are advised to show up before then in case overcast skies would make darkness come earlier.

Members of the Litchfield museum association plan to serve refreshments after the ceremony, which will include speakers from the community and Route 66 associations.

The 1957 sign was taken down in September for restoration by a St. Louis firm. Vic Suhling’s former 24-hour gas station in Litchfield has been gone for more than two decades, although the sign had stood for the entire time until recently. The station closed in 1973, shortly after Interstate 55 opened.

The Litchfield association received an $11,275 cost-share grant from the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program to restore the sign.

Since 2008, the Neon Heritage Preservation Committee has overseen the restoration and ceremonial relighting of signs at Donut Drive-In in St. Louis; Sunset Motel in Villa Ridge, Mo.; Munger Moss Motel in Lebanon, Mo.; Luna Cafe in Mitchell, Ill.; and Crestwood Bowl in Crestwood, Mo.

(Image of the Vic Suhling Gas for Less sign in Litchfield, Ill., by Dennis Dixson, via Flickr)

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