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A visit to Cars Land April 22, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Movies.
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Here’s one of the best videos I’ve seen about Cars Land in Disney California Adventure Park. It’s another example of high-quality equipment and editing software being available to regular folks.

Scott & Jimmy Visit Cars Land from Rick Stewart on Vimeo.

Naturally, Cars Land’s fictional Route 66 town of Radiator Springs is based on the real landmarks and people of Route 66. It continues to be the most popular post on Route 66 News, with more than 300,000 page views since 2006.

World’s Largest Covered Wagon repaired April 17, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Preservation, Weather.
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The World’s Largest Covered Wagon, aka the Railsplitter Covered Wagon, in Lincoln, Ill., has been repaired in time for tourism season after a severe windstorm damaged it in January.

The Bloomington Pantagraph reported:

“It was a challenge, and because it is in the Guinness Book of World Records, we had to make sure that we rebuilt it exactly as it was,” said Matthews Construction owner Brad Matthews, whose company completed the repair work.

“We called them a few times just to ensure we didn’t do anything differently that might jeopardize that, but we have it back exactly the way it needs to be.”

The Pantagraph also posted several photos of the wagon being fixed.

The job, which was completed Friday, also was helped by good weather in recent weeks. David Bentley, who built the structure in 2001, was a consultant on the rebuild.

Gusts of 50 mph collapsed the wheels on one side of the wagon and ripped off the canvas the night of Jan. 26. (Strangely enough, the Abraham Lincoln statue remained seated on the wagon the entire time.)

Insurance covered most of the repair cost, with a $500 grant from the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway Association covering the deductible.

The wagon once was along Route 66 in Divernon, Ill. Geoff Ladd, former executive director of the Abraham Lincoln Tourism Bureau in Logan County, Ill., led the way in having the wagon purchased and moved to Lincoln in 2007. It sits in front of Route 66 at 1750 Fifth St. at the Best Western Lincoln Inn.

The wagon weighs 10,000 pounds and measures 40 feet long and 24 feet tall. The fiberglass statue of Abraham Lincoln, seated in the front, weighs 350 pounds and is 12 feet tall.

(Image of the World’s Largest Covered Wagon by yooperann via Flickr)

Holbrook marketing Route 66 more aggressively April 9, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Events, Towns.
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The Route 66 town of Holbrook, Ariz., is going to tout its Mother Road ties even more in the coming months, including a new festival, according to an article in the Arizona Journal.

The article contained a lot of interesting tidbits about Holbrook and nearby Winslow, Ariz., including these:

  • A number of new businesses have popped up along the Route 66 corridor in Winslow in the past year, including Dar’s Route 66 Diner, Route 66 Fizz’ n Cream, Los Maria’s restaurant, Arizona 66 Trading Co., Akoshilláa Sheila! gallery and Arizona Indian Art. 
  • Hopi Travel Plaza east of Holbrook is transforming its plaza to a Route 66 theme.
  • Along the route, Winslow added new sidewalks, new lighting and a Route 66 shield on the roadway at Second Street and Kinsley Avenue.
  • A new Route 66 festival, with the theme It Ain’t Your Mother’s Road Anymore, will be in Holbrook in August, right before the International Route 66 Festival in Kingman, Ariz.

And the story implies that movers-and-shakers in Holbrook will encourage businesses to open on Sundays. Numbers at the local visitors center show that is a busy day for tourists, but many places in town are closed. Pontiac, Ill., noting a similar problem, started encouraging its downtown businesses to open on Sundays for the same reason.

The impetus apparently came from the November roundtable for Route 66 stakeholders in Anaheim, Calif., in November and especially the Route 66 Economic Impact Report that documented travelers’ spending. Money talks.

I predicted the report would have a wide-ranging impact on many communities in terms of Route 66 promotions, infrastructure and perception. And it seems that is happening in Holbrook. Due to Holbrook’s proximity to the Petrified Forest National Park, it treated Route 66 respectfully but decidedly a second banana. Now it seems the townsfolk are giving the Mother Road considerably more attention.

(Image of the Wigwam Motel in Holbrook, Ariz., by Brett Kiger via Flickr)

A hike to Amboy Crater March 27, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Web sites.
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This new video shows as well as anything what it’s like to hike to Amboy Crater, an extinct volcano near the Route 66 hamlet of Amboy, Calif.

The clip comes from the California Through My Lens channel, which is an offshoot of the California Through My Lens blog.

The guy also uploaded this video about Elmer Long’s Bottletree Ranch near Oro Grande:

(Image of Amboy Crater by Mitch Barrie via Flickr)

Suburban Chicago county approves Route 66 marketing plan March 26, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Bicycling, Motels, Signs.
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The board of Will County, Ill., recently approved a new marketing plan for a long-overlooked section of Route 66 from Joliet to Braidwood, reported the Southtown Star.

The newspaper said:

There is an “untapped tourism potential” here, and tying all these natural, recreational and historical amenities together is historic Route 66, said project consultant Ferhat Zerin, of Gingko Planning and Design.

“Thousands of people drive here, but do not stop,” she said, as she presented the completed plan to the County Board. Many other towns along historic Route 66 which stretches all the way to California — have capitalized on this theme.

The goal is to encourage tourists to spend a day or two here, visiting the Joliet Splash Park, the Jackhammers, Route 66 Raceway, the historic sites, trails, parks, farms and restaurants.

The plan includes forming a tourism advisory council of city officials, business owners and venue operators, with funding the plan through grants, donations, transportation taxes and fees.

Among the plans to market Route 66 in the region:

  • Adding signs along Interstate 80, Interstate 57 and Route 66 to direct drivers to destinations, plus murals on railroad overpasses.
  • A specific identity and brand name tying Route 66 and Will County.
  • Connecting existing bicycle trails, plus new trails along Route 53, aka Route 66.
  • Adding features at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie such as an observation tower and a 1,200-acre bison grazing area.
  • Implementing Wilmington’s vision for Island City, which includes a kayak course.
  • Creating more iconic Route 66-themed photo ops.
  • More events, such as classic car nights, a Route 66 bicycle race, fishing tournament, and festivals.
  • Developing more hotels and bed-and-breakfasts to encourage overnight stays.

This story is yet another sign that Route 66 tourism has met a sea change in recent years that I wrote about a few weeks ago. The Chicago area, which long has treated Route 66 tourism with mild interest or indifference, seems to be coming around. The 2006 release of the Disney-Pixar film “Cars” seems to have lit the fuse, and the Route 66 Economic Impact Report in late 2011 has led many officials to take a much harder and longer look at Route 66 tourism.

(Image of the Joliet Area Historical Museum sign by ElectraSteph via Flickr)

Joplin dedicates Route 66 Mural Park March 21, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Art, Attractions, Vehicles.
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Most of it has been up for months, but Joplin, Mo., dedicated its Route 66 Mural Park on Thursday night with a ribbon-cutting and other downtown events.

The park near at Seventh and Main — where two alignments of Route 66 intersect — features one-half of a 1964 Corvette embedded in a wall as a photo op and two tile murals as photo ops. The two Route 66-themed murals – “Cruisin’ into Joplin” and “The American Ribbon” — were created by Joplin-based Images in Tile.

Interesting excerpt from the Joplin Globe‘s report:

Josh Schmutz, 34, of Joplin, took the chance to get a picture of a replica 1964 Corvette anchored to the wall by the lower mural. He said the display helped his kids understand the road more — he noted that his daughter’s mother lives in Tulsa, Okla., which is named on the mural as one of the key stops along Route 66.

“She didn’t realize that Tulsa was on 66,” Schmutz said. “A lot of the younger generation don’t really know what an important asset the road was. It’s nice to see Joplin continue to associate itself with 66, because it’s helped make Joplin what it is today.”

Ron Hart of the Route 66 Chamber of Commerce also supplied these photos from the event. Images include a Route 66 shield on a wall that’s backlit with blue neon; and a big 45 rpm record of “Route 66″ embedded in the concrete near the display:

KSN-TV reported from the event:

Joplin will dedicate Route 66 Mural Park on Thursday March 15, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Art, Attractions, Vehicles.
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The Joplin, Mo., Chamber of Commerce will hold a ribbon-cutting to dedicate the Route 66 Mural Park at 6:05 p.m. Thursday, according to a news release from the chamber.

The park near at Seventh and Main — where two alignments of Route 66 intersect — features one-half of a 1964 Corvette embedded in a wall as a photo op.

The mural includes two Route 66-themed murals – “Cruisin’ into Joplin” and “The American Ribbon” — created by Joplin-based Images in Tile that were dedicated in August as part of the opening of the Route 66 International Festival.

(Image of Route 66 Mural Park courtesy of the Route 66 Chamber of Commerce)

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