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Fire destroys old A&W building in Carthage October 22, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Businesses, Restaurants.
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A former A&W Restaurant near Route 66 in Carthage, Missouri, was destroyed by fire late Friday during the city’s annual Maple Leaf Festival.

After the A&W closed at that location, it became Hartman’s Mercantile, a secondhand store.

KODE-TV has a report about the fire:

The building was at 502 S. Garrison Ave., which is about a block south of where Route 66 turns from Garrison onto Oak Street.

According to A&W’s website, the restaurant’s signature root beer was created in 1919, and the first restaurant went up in 1924.

(Hat tip to Ron Hart)

Roof of Richardson Store building collapses October 20, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Businesses, History.
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The roof and awning for the long-closed Richardson Store on Route 66 in Montoya, New Mexico, collapsed in recent weeks, reported an officer with the New Mexico Route 66 Association.

Andy House, president of the association, reports that the collapses probably occurred in August or September, after heavy rains in the region.

Here is an image of the store in June, before the collapse:

And here is what it looks like now:

House wrote in an email:

Unknown also is what disposition will be for it, but most likely it isn’t fit for a restoration, as it has sat closed and deteriorating for several decades now.

It’s also unknown if the owner as yet even knows about the collapse, but I do know a great many Route 66 cruisers stopped there for a photo op, and it’s not too cool a stop now.

The red sandstone store was built in the mid- to late 1920s by G.W. Richardson, an experienced storekeeper from Missouri, although he had a wooden-built store there as early as 1908. The store was set up to supply materials to ranchers, railroad workers and, later, highway construction laborers.

During the 1930s and 1940s, travelers found a cool oasis and something to drink under the tall elms that shaded Richardson Store. Designed to be as cool as possible, with a big portico out front shading the windows and the gas pumps, the store has a recessed front door and high windows designed to let in light and a breeze but not sunlight. The store adjoined a picnic grove and carried groceries and auto supplies for tourists and residents and also stocked saddle blankets, work gloves, feed buckets, and windmill parts for local ranchers. Like other local stores of the period, Richardson’s place was also a community meeting spot, complete with post office boxes and a postal service window. The portico is painted white to reflect the sunlight, as is the west side of the building, where bold, if faded stenciled letters read “Richardson Store.”

The store eventually was abandoned — according to one source, the mid-1970s — after the construction of Interstate 40 during the late 1950s. Richardson Store was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.

It’s been a rough summer for parts of Route 66 in the Southwest. First, flooding tore up roadway and bridges in the Mojave Desert. And now this.

(Images courtesy of Andy House)

Santo Domingo Trading Post wins a large grant October 14, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Businesses, Preservation.
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The historic Santo Domingo Trading Post along old Route 66 in Santo Domingo Pueblo, New Mexico, earned a half-million-dollar federal grant for its renovations, according to a news release from U.S. Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich of New Mexico.

The $511,118 comes from the U.S. Economic Development Administration.

The project revives an historic Native American tourist attraction and increases retail opportunities for native artists who produce world-renown jewelry, pottery and other artisan goods, which will stimulate the regional economy.

“Small business is the backbone of New Mexico’s economy, and the EDA’s partnership with ACCION will provide much-needed support to budding entrepreneurs across the state,” Udall said. “Similarly, the continued restoration of Santo Domingo Trading Post, which was all but lost in a 2001 fire, will help preserve this cultural landmark and provide economic opportunities to the Pueblo’s artisans.”

“This grant will help bring the Santo Domingo Trading Post a step closer toward full restoration,” Heinrich said. “The Trading Post plays an important role as a marketplace that helps grow the local economy. I’m also pleased the EDA has made investments in promoting entrepreneurship by funding New Mexico’s ACCION Presto Loan pilot program. When women, veterans, and other aspiring entrepreneurs have the opportunity to gain access to capital to start their businesses, it helps create jobs and spurs the economy.”

The Seligman family, which were traders in the Southwest, built the two-story trading post in 1922 that incorporated a one-story 1880 building to the structure. The village became part of Route 66 from 1926 to 1937. President John F. Kennedy reportedly visited it in 1962. The Pueblo of Santo Domingo now owns the property, and it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1998.

Except for the outer walls, the trading post was destroyed by fire in 2001. Since then, the front half of two-story building was restored. However, the 1880 part of the complex was lost in the fire.

(Old postcard image of Santo Domingo Trading Post courtesy of 66Postcards.com; restored image of trading post via Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program)

A tour of the Tower Theatre October 12, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Businesses, Preservation, Theaters.
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A few days ago, The Oklahoman newspaper provided a tour for 30 subscribers to the historic but long-closed Tower Theatre along Route 66’s Northwest 23rd Street alignment in Oklahoma City.

As you will see, the tour contained a few former employees or patrons of the Tower.

The tour also included a Q&A with the developers David Wanzer, Ben Sellers and Jonathan Dodson, who plan on preserving the theater space in the building. The rest of the complex will be opened for business space.

“We want the theater to be something the community can enjoy,” Wanzer said.

It will take time, however, to renovate the space. For that reason, the developers didn’t mention a reopening date.

According to the Cinema Treasures website, the Tower Theatre opened in 1937, with a seating capacity of about 1,500. It closed in 1989.

(Image of the Tower Theatre in 2006 by Jason B. via Flickr)

Route 66 in Mojave may be closed for months October 8, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Businesses, Highways, Towns, Weather.
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can't get there from here. 2014.

Severe seasonal flooding closed a section of old Route 66 between Essex and Ludlow in Southern California’s Mojave Desert, and it may be weeks or even months before it reopens, according to one news source in the area.

Zachnews, based in Needles, California, reports more than 40 bridges and some of the Route 66 roadbed between Goffs and Ludlow were damaged by raging floodwaters after monsoon rains about Sept. 7.

Most of the time, these desert roads are closed a few days until bulldozers move debris out of the way, which is why I didn’t think much about it when the closure occurred. But Tuesday, Zachnews made it clear the situation is much more than temporary:

Several residents of Needles, California who recently traveled from Twentynine Palms, California and Goffs, California tell ZachNews that portions of Route 66 still remain closed and had to use other roads to get around the closures.

The storm damage includes damage of the highway’s asphalt and some bridges have had their flow abutments washed out and are in need of new timber for support and flow alignment.

The hardest hit by the road closures because of storm damage to the Route 66 was reportedly is to Amboy, California which has been working hard to build up and bring in tourists over drive along the historic and world famous highway.

When repaired and reopened, portions of Route 66 from Ludlow, California to Amboy, California will have signs posted with a maximum vehicle weight of only 3-tons.

Personal vehicles will be allow to travel on Route 66, but will restricts Class C and larger Class A recreational vehicles and buses from driving on those marked portions of Route 66.

Zachnews also reported that according to the California Department of Transportation, Route 66 from Cadiz to Mountain Springs Road near Goffs is expected to stay closed for at least 2 months. Indeed, a bulletin from San Bernardino County says there is “no anticipated time for reopening,” which is unusual.

About the only good thing from this is the flooding occurred after the peak of tourism season. The Route 66 hamlet of Amboy, California, which is home to the much-photographed and visited Roy’s gas station and convenience store, remains accessible through Kelbaker Road from Interstate 40. Except for that one route, Amboy is essentially cut off.

(Image of a closed Route 66 east of Barstow, California, in Sept. 9 by eyetwist via Flickr)

Get your caffeine kicks with Route 66 October 8, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Businesses, Food.
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Dozens of products of there exist with the name “Route 66″ on them. Now we can add coffee to the list.

This news release came over Tuesday at VendingMarketwatch.com:

The USConnect family of vending, micro market, office coffee service and food service operators is announcing the roll-out of a new brand, Route 66 Coffees. The Route 66 collection of coffees draws on the rich heritage of the United States trans versed (sic) by this legendary highway. The brand features unique blends and traditional varietal coffees, expertly roasted by a coffee roaster who has been producing premium coffees for over 100 years.

The Route 66 Coffees are available in fraction packs designed to brew 12 cups, in urn packs, vending packs of both whole bean and ground, and in retail packs designed for micro markets. A single cup product is in development.

“The USConnect organization needs products that set us apart from the ordinary,” says Jeff Whitacre, CEO of USConnect, “to augment the employee oriented service that our group provides, we needed a great cup of coffee and a brand rooted in America, to anchor our product offering.”

USConnect is building out an entire suite of coffee and hot beverage related products around the Route 66 theme and will be serving these products throughout their network of national, regional and local clients.

Hope springs eternal the company uses Route 66 Coffee Roasters for the beans.

Historic landmark for sale in Missouri September 29, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Businesses, Preservation.
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The turn-of-the-century Weeks Hardware Co. building on Route 66 in Carterville, Missouri, is listed for sale.

Ordinarily, I don’t publish stories about properties for sale on the Mother Road. But this one is an exception because of its historic nature and prominence in Carterville’s downtown.

According to Kathy Sidenstricker at Smith Midwest Real Estate, the Weeks building at 326 W. Main St. was built about 1900 to supply hardware for the region’s mines. During the 1920s, it became a “drive-in” hotel in which overnight guests could use a freight elevator to take their cars to the second floor.

A little research reveals that mining magnate Amos A. Cass was a partner and director of Weeks Hardware Co. He died in 1915.

Weeks Hardware later became the Morton Booth Co., a cabinet maker that’s now based in nearby Webb City.

The three-story structure lists for $159,900, with more than 19,000 square feet of space.

One side of the building’s ground floor is covered with unfortunate green siding and its interior is nothing to write home about. But the photos provided by Sidenstricker show amazing-looking wood floors and architectural details on the upper floors, as you’ll see below.

This, in short, is a real gem that awaits rediscovery and renewal. The contact information is here.

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