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A promotional video for Kansas Route 66 August 3, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Businesses, Gas stations, Museums, Restaurants, Towns.
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Check out this well-made, three-minute video for Kansas Route 66, made for Kansas Byways.

Route 66 MASTER from Gizmo Pictures on Vimeo.

The segment was produced by Gizmo Pictures, a film and video production company in Topeka, Kansas.

(A scene from downtown Baxter Springs, Kansas, by Aaron Sumner via Flickr)

Fran Houser puts her Sunflower Station up for sale July 30, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Businesses, Gas stations, People, Restaurants.
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Fran Houser, former owner of the Route 66 landmark Midpoint Cafe and Gift Shop in Adrian, Texas, has put her western-themed antiques and crafts store, Sunflower Station, up for sale so she can spend more time with family members out west.

Houser started Sunflower Station two years ago after she sold the Midpoint to Dennis Purschwitz, who continues to run the restaurant and shop today. Because the store was next door in a long-closed 1930s gas station, it enabled her to visit with longtime customers of the restaurant.

She initially planned to run the store just two to three days a week. But it proved more popular than anticipated, and she was forced to extend her hours.

“Had I known it would have done that well, I would have started it years ago and hired someone else to be behind the grill of the Midpoint,” she laughed.

“I’ve had a wonderful two years there,” she said. “But my family wants me to be available when they do things. I want someone there who appreciates travelers on Route 66. It’s been a work of love.”

When she ran the Midpoint, Houser attracted worldwide notice for the the restaurant’s hospitality and its delicious “ugly crust pies.” Houser gained more fame when she became as an inspiration to the Flo character in the original Disney-Pixar “Cars” movie in 2006.

The building contains three rooms, and with a negotiable asking price of $195,000. Those interested in the property should call Houser at 806-538-6380.

(Images courtesy of Fran Houser)

Outdoor concert will benefit Sprague’s station July 26, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Gas stations, Preservation.
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An outdoor benefit concert by a local country-music band for the Sprague’s Super Service station in Normal, Illinois, will be coupled with free tours of the historic facility Sunday by owner Terri Ryburn, reported WJBC radio.

Sprague’s Super Service 305 E. Pine St. in Normal is hosting an outdoor concert from 3 to 6 p.m. Sunday. The local classic country group Wagon Load A Trouble will perform and an authentic Route 66 road marker will be raffled. [...]

The event is free but donations are encouraged to help with restoration. Ryburn said the goal is to restore the building to its original 1930s form while adding a visitors center, coffee shop, entertainment space and a bed and breakfast.

“The short term goal now is to finish the downstairs and rent that out as event space, so I can get some income to finish my plans,” Ryburn said. “I can’t afford the equipment for a restaurant now.”

Ryburn told the radio station that renovations on the station are about halfway done, and several thousands of dollars are needed to finish it.

You can hear Ryburn’s 13-minute interview on the station below.

The Sprague station was built in 1931 on Route 66 by William Sprague. It was a unique in it was designed as a gas station and residence. It sold City Service gas, but morphed into other businesses by the 1940s, and the pumps were removed by 1979. It’s on the National Register of Historic Places.

Terri Ryburn purchased the station in 2006.

(Image of Sprague Super Service station by Larry Myhre via Flickr)

Front Street Garage in Galena will be renovated July 24, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Gas stations, Museums, Preservation.
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The long-closed Front Street Garage in Galena, Kansas, has a new roadie owner, and his long-term plans are renovating it into a Ford Model A museum, according to KODE-TV.

The garage, also known as the Bradshaw Garage, is directly across the street, aka Route 66, from Cars on the Route — known as the home of the original inspiration to Mater in the Disney-Pixar “Cars” movie — and Galena’s Haunted Bordello. Here’s what the garage looks like today.

The new owner is Ed Klein, best-known as proprietor of the Route 66 World website. He said the building was constructed in 1896. He said a roadtrip stop at Cars on the Route with friend Bill Conron ultimately led to his purchase of the building:

“Bill and I sat at Cars on the Route, eating a hamburger and having a beer outside on the patio and noticed something strange happening. Tourist would pull up and literally jump out of their cars, take a picture of the (Tow Tater) tow truck at Cars on the Route, turn around 180 degrees and snap a few pictures of the old Front Street Garage building, jump back into their cars and drive off. Bill turned to me and said ‘if they were taking these many photos of an old boarded up building, how do you think they would react to it all restored?’”

After seeing all this activity with the tourist, Klein contacted Mike Hughes, the owner of the building and set up a meeting. After almost a year later of the initial contact, Klein had to wait for a few code compliance issues to be resolved and after negotiations were settled, a deal was finally drawn up. [...]

Plans are to restore the building to the way it looked back in 1941 using a photo from the Galena Mining and Historical Museum for reference. The front façade will be closely reproduced to exactly the way the photograph shows of the building and he has other plans for the north and south facing walls.

Klein said the restoration would be a “10 to 15 year project.”

He also has helped with several Route 66 preservation projects over the years, including restoration of the 66 Motel sign in Needles, California.

(Vintage image of the Front Street Garage courtesy of 66Postcards.com)

A chat with Melba Rigg July 14, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Businesses, Gas stations, Movies, People.
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Melba Rigg, one of the original proprietors of 4 Women on the Route, now Cars on the Route, in Galena, Kansas, explains the region’s Route 66 tie-ins to the Disney-Pixar “Cars” movie and makes some other observations.

This video is part of KC Keefer’s Genuine Route 66 Life video series.

Rigg didn’t always talk that fast. But her delivery sped up as she polished her spiel, and it sorta became its own thing — and why she calls herself “Melba the Mouth.”

But, in all honesty, Rigg is one of the nicest and most interesting characters you’ll meet on Route 66. If run into her, she’s one of the many reasons Route 66 travelers go back home with great memories.

(Image of Melba Rigg in 2011 being interviewed by a Disney film crew for a documentary)

Promotion offers free gas tomorrow at Essex station July 2, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Gas stations.
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Snickers candy bar is offering free gasoline on Thursday, July 3, at a station in the middle of the Mojave Desert on Route 66.

According to the news release:

SNICKERS® Brand is about to see how far people will go for the chance to get free fuel. Literally. [...]

To help fuel Independence Day road trips and raise attention for the ongoing SNICKERS® Brand FUEL Game taking place at retailers nationwide throughout the driving season, today Mars Chocolate North America announced it will offer a special one-day-only giveaway of $20,000 in free cash-for-gas to road-trippers on Thursday, July 3. But there’s one condition – this unique promotion is available only at two of the most remote, hardest-to-reach gas stations in the entire country. One lies deep in the Mojave Desert and the other outside the South Dakota Badlands. If you can get there, SNICKERS® Brand believes that you truly deserve a chance to fill the tank.

Najah’s Desert Oasis (Essex, California) – A true oasis for travelers navigating the Southwest. Located along a desolate stretch of desert on historic Route 66, Najah’s Desert Oasis is the only gas station on a 40-mile stretch of road in one of the most unforgiving landscapes in the U.S.

The one-day-only giveaway will start at 9 AM local time on Thursday, July 3 and continue until 5 PM local time that evening – or while supplies last. At each station, SNICKERS® Brand will distribute to the first 200 vehicles a $50 prepaid debit card ($10,000 worth at each station) which can be instantly redeemed for free gas on-site or elsewhere, with a limit of one prepaid debit card per eligible individual with a vehicle on-site. This special offer is good for legal residents of the United States, age 18 or older, with valid driver’s license.

The other gas station is in Interior, South Dakota, near the Badlands.

I can think of a gas station in the Mojave — Roy’s — that’s more isolated than Najah’s. Regardless, this is a cool promotion, and I suspect a few Route 66 travelers tomorrow will get a pleasant surprise there.

(Image of Najah’s Desert Oasis via its Facebook page)

Family of owls holds up relighting of Whiting Bros. sign June 13, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Animals, Gas stations, Preservation, Signs.
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The last Whiting Brothers gas station still in operation on Route 66 had hoped to relight the neon for its refurbished signs during a ceremony last weekend.

However, a family of owls recently took up residence in one of the signs, delaying the neon installation at the station in Moriarty, New Mexico. Roger Holden at RETRO Relive the Route said in an email:

The owls are not protected to my knowledge, yet we wanted them to have a peaceful home life. Hawks Aloft said they would move them for a fee but we are getting a lot of publicity with their being where they are.

We will have a celebration when the lights are turned on. We will be planning the event at our next RETRO 66 meeting next Wednesday at the Moriarty Civic Center at 202 S. Broadway.

After the last owl leaves it will only take a couple days for the sign crew to install the neon and remainder of the signs.

As Holden intimated, the Route 66 folks decided to make lemonade out of lemons. In addition to leaving the owls alone, a live streaming camera has been installed in the sign so people online can see the birds’ activities through the website owlson66.com.

And the ceremony went on anyway, with “HOOT 66″ and a photo of the owls (seen above) as part of the promotional flyer.

A photo of the mostly restored signs:

RETRO Relive the Route received a $3,700 cost-share grant from the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program to restore the signs. The group raised $1,500 through the sales of 150 specially made T-shirts.

The Whiting station in Moriarty has been operated by Sal Lucero since 1985, though the station itself dates to 1964.

Whiting Brothers started in 1926 and boasted more than 100 gas stations and several motels in the Southwest. The chain declined rapidly during the 1970s, mostly from stations being bypassed by the interstates. Ruins of several long-closed Whiting stations still stand, but the one in Moriarty remains the lone one still operating on the Mother Road.

UPDATE: The Mountain View Telegraph filed a story about the dedication.

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