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A closer look at Tulsa’s Route 66 Village August 27, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in History, Preservation, Railroad.
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Explore Tulsa recently uploaded this informative clip about the Route 66 Village in southwest Tulsa.

Mike Massey, train project manager, explains the vintage Frisco Meteor 4500 locomotive, rail cars and the Red Fork commemorative oil derrick on the site.

I do hope the volunteers can renovate the inside of that circa-1929 passenger car so visitors can tour it. The locomotive already is a popular photo op; having the car open again would make it a bigger destination.

While you’re at it, take a look at the future plans for the Route 66 Village.

(Image of the Frisco Meteor 4500 by Doug Wertman via Flickr)

California Route 66′s declining condition will be discussed Thursday August 26, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Highways.
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The poor or deteriorating condition of roads or bridges along the Route 66 corridor in California will be part of an online discussion Thursday regarding the California Route 66 Management Plan from Barstow to Needles.

Lardner/Klein Landscape Architects, the contractor preparing the management plan, will host the webcast from 10:30 a.m. to noon Pacific time Thursday. It’s the third of four webcasts about the plan. The next webcast will be in October.

According to a news release:

The webcast agenda will include an update on the progress of the CMP, ideas for maintaining a safe and historic travel experience, and recommendations regarding how to preserve or maintain the roadway’s character-defining features. [...]

Anyone interested in participating in the web based meeting is requested to send an email to cart66cmp(at)lardnerklein(dot)com with the words “CART 66 WEB MEETING” in the subject line.
Participants are requested to RSVP prior to the webcast to ensure Lardner/Klein can plan for maximum effective public participation during the call.

Members of the public also may contact Lardner/Klein at 1-800-337-1370 to discuss transportation-related issues prior to or after the webcast.

Written comments may be submitted by mail to Lardner/Klein Landscape Architects, 815 North Royal Street, Suite 200, Attn: Route 66 CMP, Alexandria, VA, 22314. The public also may submit written comments by using the CHR66A website at http://www.route66ca.org.

In particular, it seems addressing Route 66′s road surface through the Mojave Desert is overdue. During a road trip earlier this month, I found the stretch west of Amboy to Ludlow as rough. And the stretch Newberry Springs to Ludlow was deemed all but undrivable in Jerry McClanahan’s “Route 66: EZ Guide for Travelers” book.

The problem is a borderline safety issue for motorists, especially on motorcycles. And it will have to be addressed before the route will be used with any regularity by cyclists — a growing segment in Route 66 tourism.

(Image of Route 66 in San Bernardino County, California, via Lynne Miller)

Kiosk, rest area built near Riverton roundabout August 26, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Highways.
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A rest area and informational kiosk recently were built at the roundabout near Riverton, Kansas, that intersects Route 66 and U.S. 400, reported KOAM-TV.

The Kansas Department of Transportation built them after receiving a $20,000 grant from the Federal Highway Administration. They were designed by nearby Pittsburg State University students.

KDOT officials say the informational displays highlight some historic attractions for travelers along Route 66.

“It shows some of the things that they may want to spend a little more time exploring, which is good for Kansas because if they stay a little bit longer, they’ll spend a little more money,” said George Dockery, area engineer, KDOT.

Those who are unfamiliar with roundabouts on Route 66 had better get used to them. There now are at least two in Tulsa on the Mother Road and another in Carthage, Missouri. And because of their demostrated ability to keep vehicles moving more efficiently, you’ll see more in the coming years in high-traffic areas.

Longtime Route 66 museum curator Wanda Queenan dies August 25, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Art, Businesses, Museums, People.
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Wanda Queenan, 91, longtime currator of the National Route 66 Museum in Elk City, Oklahoma, and co-owner of the now-closed Queenan’s Indian Trading Post on Route 66 on the edge of town, has died, according to her daughter.

Kiesau-Lee Funeral Home in Clinton, Oklahoma, is in charge of arrangements. I’ll post more information about the funeral as soon as I get it.

Wanda and her husband, Reese, built Queenan’s Indian Trading Post on Route 66 on Elk City’s west side in 1948. According to Michael Wallis’ book about Oklahoma, “Way Down Yonder in the Indian Nation”:

For many years the Queenans offered tourists a selection of Indian pottery, beadwork, jewelry, and rugs, and also sold supplies to Indians who lived in the region. Although her husband died in 1962, Wanda stayed on and kept the trading post open. But when the interstate came and the oil patch went sour, business at the trading post suffered. Wanda stopped buying and sold out her remaining stock.

“We didn’t get rich, but this trading post was something we really loved,” says Wanda. “It was great fun out her on Route 66.”

One of the survivors of the trading post — a 14-foot-tall kachina doll made of oil drums and scrap metal from a local Indian named Johnny Grayfish in 1962 and nicknamed Myrtle — was renovated and donated to the National Route 66 Museum in 1990, where it stands sentinel today.

 

Queenan became the museum’s curator about that time and was often seen greeting customers in the gift shop.

UPDATE: Funeral information. Worth reading, but here are some excerpts:

Funeral Services for Wanda Queenan, 91, Clinton resident will be held 10:00 Tuesday, August 26,2014 in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latte-Day-Saints, officiated by Bishop Dan Turner. Burial will follow in the Elk City Cemetery under the direction of the Kiesau-Lee funeral Home. [...]

Wanda never seemed to think she accomplished that much. She is only an icon of the Mother Road, friend of historian Michael Wallis who has written many books and filmed documentaries of Rt. 66 which have included Wanda, She is the character of Lizzie in Cars. John Lasseter Pixar Director has consulted Wanda for her views and life story on the Mother Road; look at the end of the credits, you’ll see her name there! If you Google her, there’s her picture. Look at the museum grounds you will see the two giant totem poles Myrtle and Yatahey (aka Don’t Shoot Me, I’ll Marry your daughter) that once stood proudly on the grounds of the trading post. They were purchased by the city of Elk City when the Route 66 museum was coming to fruition. Myrtle is an international celebrity along with Wanda who has been interviewed by International and National organizations extensively. [...]

Quote from JACK starring Robin Williams-
I don’t have very much time these days so I’ll make it quick. Like my life. You know, as we come to the end of this phase of our life, we find ourselves trying to remember the good times and trying to forget the bad times, and we find ourselves thinking about the future. Please, don’t worry so much. Because in the end, none of us have very long on this Earth. Life is fleeting. And if you’re ever distressed, cast your eyes to the summer sky when the stars are strung across the velvety night. And when a shooting star streaks through the blackness, turning night into day… make a wish and think of me. Make your life spectacular. I know I did.

(Hat tip to Michael Wallis; photos courtesy of Guy Randall, K. Latham and 66Postcards.com)

Long-delayed overpass project in Missouri may restart August 25, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Bridges.
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A long-dormant project to beautify a Route 66 overpass in Sunset Hills, Missouri, may be active again after a local group meets with the Missouri Department of Transportation, reported the South County Times.

The Sunset Hills Special Projects Committee, which met for the first time since 2008, met last week to talk about proposed improvements in the St. Louis suburb. Alderman Donna Ernst is leading the group.

Topics discussed ranged from the practical, like a simple concrete pad to support a trash barrel near a Lindbergh Boulevard bus stop, to the conspicuously ornate — a face-lift for the Route 66/Watson Road Overpass at Lindbergh Boulevard.

“It could become the jewel of the city, if it’s done right,” Ernst said of the overpass idea, which emerged as the committee’s early priority. “We have a huge shopping district. If we could make (the overpass) pedestrian-friendly with more sidewalks and a walk-over bridge, it would only enhance that.”

Ernst’s vision, based on a 50th anniversary calendar concept rendering, would expand sidewalks and add ornate light standards and granite accents to the bridge plus landscaping around its base.

A vintage image of the Watson Road and Lindbergh Boulevard overpass in that part of the St. Louis region is posted above, via 66Postcards.com. Whether that’s 100 percent what Ernst has in mind remains unknown. But even a close approximation of that appearance would be a very good thing indeed.

The interchange was part of the first cloverleaf west of the Mississippi River when it opened in 1931. It was replaced in the 1980s by a diamond interchange.

MoDOT would have to approve any changes for the bridge.

St. Louis cemetery named to National Historic Register August 24, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in History, People.
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Bellefontaine Cemetery in St. Louis, which dates to 1849, was listed to the National Register of Historic Places effective July 3, according to an email a few days ago from the National Park Service.

Ironically, the cemetery contains several gravesites or mausoleums — including the Louis Sullivan-designed Wainwright Tomb — that already were listed on the National Register. But the cemetery itself wasn’t placed on the Register until now.

Bellefontaine, at 4947 W. Florissant Ave., is on the “City 66″ alignment that carried Route 66 from 1939 to 1974.

The 314-acre cemetery contains more than 87,000 graves, including Louisiana Purchase explorer William Clark, Anheuser-Busch brewery founder Adolphus Busch, Eads Bridge architect James Eads, U.S. senator Thomas Hart Benton, and Beat writer William S. Burroughs.

It remains an active, nonprofit and nondenominational cemetery, with about 100 burials a year, and still has about 100 acres of land available.

To tell you how historically significant Bellfontaine is, Findagrave.com lists almost 400 famous burials on its database.

Bellefontaine Cemetery often holds tours, hosts weddings at its chapel, and has a website that’s useful and contains a lot of information.

(Image of Bellefontaine Cemetery by Christina Rutz via Flickr)

National Trust wants Painted Desert facility restored August 24, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Art, Attractions, Preservation.
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The National Trust for Historic Preservation is lobbying to preserve and restore the nearly 50-year-old Painted Desert Community Complex inside the Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona.

The complex is the only building designed by acclaimed architect Richard Neutra in the National Park Service system. The building was brought a then-unusual Mid-Century Modern style to the park.

According to the Trust:

Sitting just steps from historic Route 66 and located inside one of Northern Arizona’s  most spectacular and scientifically significant natural landscapes, the Painted Desert Community Complex is an often overlooked Modern treasure. Noted Modern architects Richard Neutra and Robert Alexander carefully designed the collection of 36 steel, glass, and masonry buildings with flat roofs, low silhouettes, primary colors, and native plantings to harmonize with the stunning vistas that surround it. Neutra and Alexander’s bold design set a precedent for a new style of park architecture, which became known as “Park Service Modern.”

Today the Complex is one of the earliest and best examples of Modern architecture within the entire National Park system, and the only remaining example of a Neutra-designed building within the Park Service. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2005 and is on its way to becoming a National Historic Landmark. [...]

Virtually all of the original buildings remain, and they continue to serve many of the same functions today. But a perennial lack of funding for repairs and maintenance, combined with the harsh desert climate and earlier inappropriate alterations, have taken a serious toll on these dramatic Modern buildings and landscapes.

In a blog post, the Trust explained why it’s championing the Painted Desert Community Complex:

In April 2014 the National Trust designated Painted Desert as one of its National Treasures to recognize its unique role in the history of our National Parks and to draw attention to the need for funding and technical assistance to restore it as a beautiful and practical Modern icon that complements the stunning natural landscape around it. National Trust staff, including members of the Preservation Green Lab, are working closely with the Park Service and Superintendent Brad Traver, and Arizona partners Modern Phoenix and the Arizona Preservation Foundation, to raise awareness of and support for this little-known Modern landmark. Drawing on the expertise of well-known restoration and sustainability consultants, the National Trust hopes to provide critical guidance for a model restoration that will return the Complex to its original appearance, integrate sustainable materials and systems (and hopefully achieve net zero energy consumption), and serve as an example for the treatment of Mission 66 resources throughout the Park Service. With this kind of strong, cooperative effort focused on preservation, the public can look forward to another 50 years of service from these irreplaceable assets, each a part of the century-long story of our national parks.

The Trust has listed ways to help the complex, including donating to its campaign, signing a petition to encourage its restoration, and following it on social media. More photos of the complex may be seen here.

(Image of the Painted Desert Community Complex by Petrified Forest via Flickr)

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