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Brand USA now focusing on Route 66 tourism in Missouri April 30, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions.
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A recent article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch confirms what we’d suspected — that Brand USA next would be concentrating on promoting Route 66 in Missouri.

We’d noted a few weeks ago that Brand USA, aka DiscoverAmerica.com, had posted high-quality YouTube videos promoting parts of Route 66 in Illinois for potential British, Japanese and German tourists.

Now the Post-Dispatch says camera crews are shooting Route 66 sites in St. Louis, along with the Missouri Route 66 towns of Carthage and Springfield, in an effort to lure foreign travelers.

That effort focuses on the Big Three — Canada, Mexico and the United Kingdom — that produce the most foreign tourism in St. Louis. About 87,000 travelers from those countries visited the area in 2013, according to the St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission, which helped pay for the two-minute videos that make up the new promotion.

Part of the effort is to get more foreign tourists to linger in St. Louis while following old Route 66 from Chicago to Los Angeles. Such trips already are popular with German and British visitors, said Brian Hall, the CVC’s chief marketing director.

Though the number of foreign tourists is a speck within the area’s visitor business (21.6 million annual visitors who spent $4.2 billion last year), tourists from outside the United States are cash-heavy, dropping about $4,000 per trip, Hall said. [...]

A woman from Toronto, who lives now in Los Angeles, is the host of the St. Louis video meant for Canadians. A woman from East Sussex, England, who lives in Richmond, Va., hosts the video for the United Kingdom, while a Mexico City native hosts the Spanish-language video for the Mexican audience even though she, too, lives in LA. [...]

Foreign viewers will see the speakers highlight St. Louis’ blues heritage while at the Broadway Oyster Bar downtown; show off the scene on Cherokee Street; point out places linked to Route 66; visit St. Charles and; of course, gaze at the Arch.

KTVI-TV in St. Louis also was on the scene during the production. You’ll have to go to the link to see it, because the station’s videos don’t embed well.

Discover America is public-private corporation that encourages travel in the United States. Its efforts to market Route 66 have become noticeably more aggressive in recent months.

(Image of Ted Drewes Frozen Custard on Route 66 in St. Louis by Philip Leara via Flickr)

Artist will hold public unveiling of Gay Parita painting April 29, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Art, Books, Events, Gas stations.
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Route 66 artist Jerry McClanahan will have a public unveiling of his newest painting of Gary Turner’s Gay Parita gas station at the station near Halltown, Mo., on Saturday, May 17.

According to a news release from the Oklahoma Route 66 Association, a meet-and-greet with hot dogs and soda will be at noon, with the official unveiling at 1 p.m.

The news release explains how the painting came about:

On June 6 of 2013, Curtis Gobeli, celebrating having turned 66 years of age with a dream trip down Route 66, stopped at Gary Turner’s world-famous replica Sinclair Station while driving his immaculate 1966 Pontiac GTO. Meeting Jerry later at the Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, the two, inspired by the many examples of 66 embodied in Curtis’ visit to Gay Parita, conspired to create a highly detailed watercolor commemorating that visit, with the GTO posed in front of Gary’s eye-catching homage to the roadside past. In the sky above the scene float depictions of other Route 66 icons that Curtis and his wife Kath encountered on their cruise, as well as a map of 66 and a short prose history of the Route.

Organizers are asking attendees to RSVP (if possible) by emailing McClanahan at mcjerry(at)att(dot)net.

McClanahan, who resides in the Route 66 town of Chandler, Okla., also is the author of the “EZ 66 Guide” that provides turn-by-turn directions for following Route 66.

(Image of Gay Parita station by Mario Sainz Martinez via Flickr)

New office building goes up next to Lucille’s gas station April 29, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Gas stations, Motels, Restaurants.
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Ken Turmel of PostmarkArt fame recently was traveling old Route 66 in western Oklahoma and noted a new building had been constructed in place of the long-closed Hamons Court motel next to the historic Lucille’s gas station near Hydro.

He posted these photos of the new building on his Facebook page:

From this photo by Carleta Latham in 2006, you can see the motel to the right of the gas station:

An email to Rick Koch, owner of the property, went unanswered. However, an office worker at one of the businesses he owns told me the new building is being used for company offices, plus a few spaces are being rented out to other businesses.

Koch, president of Rick Koch Oil in nearby Weatherford, Okla., bought the Lucille’s property after longtime owner and operator Lucille Hamons died in 2000. He restored the gas station but never reopened it, leaving it as a photo op for Route 66 travelers. Koch also built the Lucille’s Roadhouse restaurant in Weatherford, inspired in its design by Lucille’s.

The motel was added shortly after the gas station was bought by W.O. and Ida Waldroup in 1934. Lucille and Carl Hamons acquired the property in 1941 and ran the motel until Interstate 40 opened during the early 1970s.

The motel had been closed and long-neglected for 40 years, and it was apparent long before that the building wasn’t salvageable. Its Hamons Court neon sign was donated by Lucille’s heirs 10 years ago to the Smithsonian Museum for its ongoing “America on the Move” exhibit.

Route 66 Arcade Museum opens Thursday April 28, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Museums, Preservation, Video games.
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If you’re old enough to remember pinball machines, coin-operated video games and brightly colored and noisy arcades, downtown Atlanta, Ill., has just the place for you.

The Route 66 Arcade Museum in Atlanta, Ill., is slated to open Thursday, according to a news release from Bill Thomas, the chief mover-and-shaker of the revitalization of Atlanta’s Route 66 corridor.

It’s at 114 SW Arch St. (map here), with its entrance around the corner on Race Street. Hours are from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday. It’s free and open to the public, but donations to keep it running are appreciated.

The Route 66 Arcade Museum houses over 40 vintage pinball and video games, including a rare, circa 1936, flipperless, wooden-cased, pinball game, an original PacMan video game and many others. Nearly all the machines are operable and can be played for only a quarter. The Museum is decorated with several dozen framed, vintage pinball “back-glasses” that are colorful representations of this graphic art form.

The Route 66 Arcade Museum is available by reservation for birthday parties, family reunions, and other gatherings at no cost. Arrangements can also be made for dinner at the Palms Grill Café combined with a visit to the museum. Please call 217-648-5077 to make arrangements.

More photos from the museum, including that rare pinball machine:

The arcade machines are part of a collection by John Yates, who owns another museum of pre-1983 arcade machines in the Route 66 town of McLean, Ill.

(Photos courtesy of Bill Thomas)

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