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Future of Shea’s Route 66 Museum likely won’t be known until next year October 21, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Gas stations, Museums, Preservation.
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What’s in store for the closed Shea’s Route 66 Museum in Springfield, Illinois, likely won’t be known until sometime early next year, reported the State Journal-Register newspaper.

The museum, long operated by former gas-station operator and gas memorabilia collector Bill Shea, closed except for appointments in late 2012 after Shea became too frail and was moved into a nursing home. Shea died at age 91 about a year later.

Bill Shea Jr. told the newspaper he now has station in his name after five months in probate court. Now that’s settled, the younger Shea said he’ll discuss the future of the property.

Nearing age 66, O’Shea Jr. said he plans to discuss the future of his father’s museum with his three adult children before making a decision. He added that there have been off-and-on discussions with city and local tourism officials about the future of one of Springfield’s biggest Route 66 tourism draws.

He said he would like to see Shea’s Route 66 Museum preserved but that he would not be part of day-to-day operations.

“I worked heavy equipment for 40 years and would go there after work,” Shea said. “It’s time to let them (his children) have it, or if they don’t want it, maybe sell it.”

Springfield had long discussed having a Route 66 visitors center at the Bel-Aire Motel, but backed away from the potential deal because of lack of money. Perhaps there’s another opportunity at Shea’s.

Bill Shea Sr. started his career in the filling-station business shortly after leaving the military in 1946 — which included being part of a harrowing D-Day invasion at Omaha Beach. He owned Marathon and Texaco stations in Springfield. Shea was old enough to remember when Route 66 in Springfield was paved with bricks.

Later, Shea converted a Marathon station on Route 66 into a museum of gas-station memorabilia. It included a 1920s gas station he moved from Middletown, Illinois. Shea greeted thousands of Route 66 travelers from dozens of countries at his museum.

Shea was inducted into the Illinois Route 66 Hall of Fame in 1993. Dec. 30, 2011, was declared Bill Shea Day in Springfield in honor of his 90th birthday.

(Image of Shea’s by Sandor Weisz via Flickr)

Mobil pegasus sign taken out of mothballs in Carthage October 2, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Gas stations, Preservation, Signs.
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A Mobil pegasus neon sign that had been in storage for more than 30 years has been removed from the mothballs, donated and reinstalled at a renovated Skelly Filling Station in Carthage, Missouri, reported the Carthage Press.

Jerry Perry, president and CEO of Grace Energy Corporation, gave a Mobil pegasus sign to Mark Jenny and local artist Larry Glaze to display at the renovated station. This same sign, which is four foot tall, six feet wide, weighing 6,000 pounds, marked the original Grace Mobil Station on Central Avenue in 1953. [...]

The sign hung at the station on Central (across from today’s Hometown Bank) until about 1965. Perry bought the gas company in 1980, and had kept the sign in storage many years. [...]

Glaze, who once worked at the Skelly station with Luther Gowin when gas was 23 cents a gallon, said the sign was cleaned easily. The neon tubes and motor for the once-rotating sign have been removed, but there are plans to install lights at the base of the pole to illuminate the historic icon.

The renovated station is at 1101 S. Grand Ave. (map here). The former Mobil station was in the 300 block of West Central Avenue, which is Route 66 in Carthage. An image of the original Mobil station is here.

According to the newspaper, the Skelly Filling Station now is a hot rod shop and meeting place owned by Mark Jenny. It was a cleaning business.

(Image of a Mobil pegasus at the Hackberry General Store in Arizona by mlhradio via Flickr)

Webb City wants to restore historic gas station September 24, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Gas stations, Preservation.
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29c Webb City MO - Daugherty Street Gas Station

The city of Webb City, Missouri, is seeking to land a grant to restore a historic gas station in its downtown, reported the Joplin Globe.

The station, which once sold Sinclair and Tydol gas, was built in the 1920s and designed to look like a replica of a nearby post office and serve those vehicles.

The U.S. Filling Station, located at 223 W. Daugherty St. across from the post office, was deeded to the city about a year ago without restrictions by the Patten family trust, said Mayor John Biggs. It was the family’s hope that the city could have it restored. [...]

Erin Turner, economic and community development coordinator for the city, said the initial estimate to restore the station is about $62,000. But since downtown Webb City was recently placed on the National Register of Historic Places, the contractor has to be certified for historic preservation, which could push the cost higher.

The grant would pay for 60 percent of the project and the city would be responsible for the remaining 40 percent.

Turner said some longtime Webb City residents and business owners have already offered to help cover the city’s share if it receives the grant. A Patten family heir has pledged $5,000, Biggs said, and David Perry, president of Cardinal Scale Manufacturing, has pledged $25,000.

Two of the council members wanted the property sold instead, but the five other councilors voted down the motion. The property had been used rented for 10 months by a man who was restoring cars.

This Google Street View image from May 2013 shows the station looking considerably nicer:


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The station sits about a block north of a 1930s Broadway alignment of Route 66.

It would be the second historic gas station Webb City will have restored. The Webb City Route 66 Information Center is housed in a vintage gas station that was renovated and reopened in 2010.

(Hat tip to Ron Hart; 2009 image of the Daugherty Street gas station by John Hagstrom via Flickr)

Old gas station will be converted into a barbershop September 12, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Businesses, Gas stations, Preservation.
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A reputed former Sinclair gas station in Springfield, Missouri, soon will reopen as a barbershop and waxing studio later this fall, reported the News-Leader newspaper.

The station is just a few hundred feet south of the College Street alignment of Route 66.

Dacy and Ryan Mulcahy agreed to buy the station at 640 W. Walnut St. from Jeff Schrag, founder and owner of the nearby Mother’s Brewing Co., which took its name from one of Route 66’s nickname, the Mother Road. Here’s a Google Street View image of the station:


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More details from the newspaper:

Rogue Barber Co. will feature classic barber techniques like straight razor shaving by Ryan, a licensed barber who studied at Academy of Hair Design. The business will also include a waxing salon run by Dacy, a photographer and licensed aesthetician and massage therapist. They may later add a cosmetologist, she said, for women’s cuts. [...]

The Mulcahys initially looked for space in the heart of downtown. A friend suggested they check out the old filling station, Dacy said. With renewed interest in Route 66, one block over, and location, “we got a feel for the direction my husband wanted to go with the decor and the vibe of the building. We are super happy it all worked out,” Dacy said.

Plans include selling Route 66 items and a line of personal products, perhaps a soap made with Mother’s beer.

The Mulcahys plan to keep the building’s vintage look, as shown by an artist’s rendering of the renovated station.

Marty Stuart song inspired by Route 66 stop September 10, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Animals, Gas stations, Music.
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I’ve known about this song for 15 years, but country-music artist Marty Stuart revealed in a recent story in American Songwriter magazine that his 1999 song “The Observations of a Crow” drew its inspiration during a stop on Route 66.

Stuart explained how the song happened:

It was when I was writing “The Pilgrim.” My antenna was up really high if you know what I mean. And I was riding through the West. I think we were pulling off of the interstate and we pulled off on Route 66 somewhere just to get fuel in the bus. It was like one of the places, it looked like a ghost town. There was just a few locals around.

But I happened to look up. And there was a crow sitting on the electrical line. And I couldn’t take my eyes off him. I’ve always been fascinated by crows, I’ve always loved crows. But as people would come and go, the few people that there were, that crow never left. He kept hanging out. And I thought, “The Observations Of A Crow.” And it was that simple but it was an occurrence that came to me on Route 66 somewhere.

Alas, Stuart didn’t elaborate where on Route 66 this occurred. And the range of the typical American crow is very wide.

Here’s a performance of the song on Stuart’s terrific RFD-TV television show, with an arrangement very close to the original:

Incidentally, a few Bob Dylan fans thought Stuart ripped off part of Dylan’s “Things Have Changed.” I’m highly skeptical, because Stuart’s song was out a year before Dylan’s. Anyway, it turns out Dylan was a big fan of Stuart’s song. Stuart told American Songwriter:

Well, actually, one night, this is probably close to ten years ago now, Bob and I hung out. I took him to my warehouse to see all the country music treasures I have. Bob said, “Hey, I like that ‘Crow’ song. I might borrow something out of that someday. I said, “Well, I probably borrowed it from you in the first place. Go ahead.”

Stuart didn’t exactly deny the resemblance between the songs. And Dylan has his own alleged history of lifting melodies from other artists.

(Image of Marty Stuart at the Grand Ole Opry in March 2008 by Karen Miller via Flickr)

Pops opens a stand at the Tulsa airport September 6, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Food, Gas stations, Restaurants.
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In addition to its flagship location on Route 66 in Arcadia, Oklahoma, and a satellite location at Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City, Pops in recent days opened a new location inside Tulsa International Airport.

The report from KOTV in Tulsa:

News9.com – Oklahoma City, OK – News, Weather, Video and Sports |

Unless you’re a passenger on a flight there, don’t go looking to go there, however.

It’s past the security checkpoint, near Concourse A. [...]

Even though this Pops is smaller, it still features the best flavors you’ll find at the original store in Arcadia.

The original Pops in Arcadia features a restaurant, gas station, convenience store, and more than 500 types of soda. In less than a decade, it’s become a major Route 66 landmark.

(Image of the soda display at Pops in Arcadia, Oklahoma, by Matt Grimm via Flickr)

Miniature created of 4 Women on the Route station August 28, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Art, Attractions, Gas stations.
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Willem Bor strikes again. The craftsman from the Netherlands, who has made miniature models of numerous Route 66 landmarks, created a new one of 4 Women on the Route 66 in Galena, Kansas, which now is known as Cars on the Route.

According to the Joplin Globe, the miniature was hand-delivered by fellow countryman and Route 66 aficionado Dries Bessels.

The model shows exactly how the attraction looked about two years ago, when the business was called 4 Women on the Route.

Located on the corner of Old Route 66 and Main Street, the former service station was transformed into a roadside diner and souvenir shop in 2007.

A yellow chair and a flower planter were placed in front of the red and white model building, and signs that were in the window also were added.

Melba Rigg, who manages the business, said she cried when she saw the model for the first time earlier this month in Kingman, Arizona, during the Route 66 International Festival.

KODE-TV also filed this report:

Bor’s blog also has a post and a photo from the International Route 66 Festival in Kingman, Arizona, when the miniature was presented to Rigg.

More of Bor’s creations can be seen here.

Cars on the Route was a former Kan-0-Tex gas station that was converted into a small cafe and souvenir shop. But it’s biggest claim to fame is it has a 1951 International boom truck that served as the inspiration to the Tow Mater character in the 2006 Disney-Pixar movie “Cars.”

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