ROUTE THE MAGAZINE THAT CELEBRATES ROAD TRAVEL, VINTAGE AMERICANA AND ROUTE 66
Our Picks for Best Dining on 66 A SELDOM SEEN SIDE OF THE MOTHER ROAD, IN PICTURES $5.99
NEW LEASE ON LIFE FOR RAILCARS IN THE SOUTHWEST THE STORIED TALE OF DODGE CITYâ€™S EL VAQUERO
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ii ROUTE Magazine
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ROUTE Magazine 1
The Butcher BBQ The Stand Butcher BBQ Stand
Weatherford Roadhouse,– At Lucille’sTulsa – Sip a strawberryTulsa shake–atSip a strawberry shake Clinton – Pack a hearty appetite when Weatherford Roadhouse, Clinton – Pack a hearty appetite when – At Lucille’s the–1950’s But not asdecor is sweet.Tally’s Cafe, you visit Jigg’s Smokehouse where the 1950’s But not as where the Famous Tally’s Chicken Cafe, where the Famous you–visit Jigg’s Smokehouse where decor is sweet. sweet fried cheesecake – after Steak the Wooly Burger is stacked two sweet as your fried cheesecakeFried – after yourSandwich ranked Fried#1 Steak Sandwich ranked # the with Wooly Burger is stacked withas two in USA Today’s Reader’s Choice. pounds of smoked ham! pounds of smoked ham! chicken fried steak! chicken fried steak! in USA Today’s Reader’s Choice. 2 ROUTE Magazine
e at s Chicken #1 .
Whet your appetite for adventure. Plan a culinary road trip at Travel
Tulsa – Try El Rancho Grande’s famous Night Hawk combo, one of America’s Five Greatest Mexican Meals in the book Taco USA.
Oklahoma City – Why is Cattlemen’s famous T-bone called “The Presidential?” Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush loved their steaks! ROUTE Magazine 3
4 ROUTE Magazine
ROUTE 66 WAS COM MISSIONED IN 1926, A ND W HEN THE SIGNS W ENT UP ON JACKSON BOULEVA R D, TR AV ELER S FOU ND LOU MITCHELL’S WA ITING FOR THEM. We’ve been feeding hungr y travelers with comfort food since 1923. Drop in and enjoy our famous breakfast and/ or lunch. Lou Mitchell ’s is steeped in tradition and is the oldest continually-running restaurant in Chicago.
Lou Mitchell’s 565 W. Jackson Blvd • Chicago, IL 60661-5701 Tel: (312) 939-3111 • www.loumitchells.com
R OU T E 6 6 ’ S F I R S T S T OP S I N C E 19 2 6 ROUTE Magazine 5
BNSF Railway fits in perfectly in the Arizona landscape. Photograph courtesy of David J. Schwartz – Pics On Route 66.
22 Railway Dreamin’
A group of passionate individuals have made it possible to travel back in time to discover the beauty of what once was during the heyday of southwest railway travel by refurbishing old railcars; the modern-day traveler has a new nostalgic pit stop to make.
28 Main Street: The Lost Dream
of Route 66
Follow along with Edward Keating, author of ‘Main Street: The Lost Dream of Route 66’, as he shares with us his eleven-year journey down Route 66 documenting the raw truths of the road through his black and white photo diary.
34 Miracle on 11th Street
As Tulsa begins its renaissance of Route 66, a once barren hotel has been given new life thanks to local developer Aaron Meek. Take a peek inside the iconic Campbell Hotel and explore its rich history with the passionate staff keeping it alive.
40 Brosnan, Pierce Brosnan
ROUTE Magazine chats with superstar actor Pierce Brosnan and discusses his love of family and travel, his most treasured moments and his new role as a Texas oil baron in AMC’s The Son.
46 El Vaquero Hotel: Another Harvey House Gem
Having housed famous travelers like President Theodore Roosevelt and son of automobile titan, Edsel Ford, this hotel 6 ROUTE Magazine
has a rich history from its successful start, slow demise and recent restoration. This story is an authentic look at an old gem from a golden era.
52 Route 66 Odyssey
Road trips wouldn’t be the same without the food we find along the way. Join us as we take you through our top picks for where to dine when on your Odyssey down Route 66. Whether you’re in search of something iconic or upscale or maybe a comfortable hometown favorite, we’ve got you covered along the Mother Road.
68 Mariko Kusakabe
Get to know Route 66 aficionado and Japanese native, Mariko Kusakabe - writer, photographer and world traveler as we bring you along for this quick-fire interview where we get her take on a host of great topics.
ON THE COVER Paul Bunyan Muffler Man, Atlanta, Illinois. Photograph courtesy of David J. Schwartz – Pics On Route 66.
Experience the good life in the slow lane along
Illinois Route 66
Get youINr Kicks
Dwight & Pontiac Museums, Murals and More in Dwight and Pontiac Illinois.
of Fame te 66 Hall Illinois Rou - Pontiac, Illinois m & Museu
Oughton Estate Windmill Dwight, Illinois
side mural Route 66 road ois Pontiac, Illin Amblerâ€™s Texaco Gas StationDwight, Illinois
visitpontiac.org #playinpontiacil 815.844.5847
dwightillinois.org #dwightillinois 815.584.3077 ROUTE Magazine 7
EDITORIAL I am over-the-moon happy. Winter is finally behind us and Spring is being ushered in. The birds are back and there is music in the trees. I know that some of you love the colder months and embrace the opportunity to get outdoors into the snow, but I am a warm climate type of guy. Sunny blue skies, t-shirts and sandals are my thing! But April also begins the ���� travel season down Route 66, and we are expecting a huge number of visitors this year. It has been interesting to see so much local interest beginning to burst forth as Americans start to earnestly hit the highway. And not only Route 66 but other fabled off the beaten path roads. There is simply too much to see and experience on America’s two-lane highways for only a single trip. As such, we are seeing travelers setting out regularly now to take in some fading Americana while they can. It is beautiful to witness. Over the course of ���8, and with the start of ����, we have received hundreds of emails and letters from you, our readers, with questions and comments, requests and ideas. We are listening. Many of you have expressed your love for our uniquely focused celebrity features and have made some fun suggestions for potential future articles. We are working on it. Stand by! Others have asked for more stories off of the old road, which we are working on bringing you. To give you, our readers, a general idea of our focus, we will be keeping most editorial on (and off) of the road in the key eight Route 66 states of Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California. There are so many tremendous stories to be told within their borders. But we will include other neighboring states that have a unique history and culture as well. Ultimately, our goal is to continue to bring you human-driven features that allow you to get behind the scenes of great history, emotional culture, scenic wonders and fascinating human drama. If you have a terrific suggestion for a feature or for a pictorial, please do not hesitate to let us know! We care about your ideas and feedback. Over the past three years, I have been down pretty much every single inch of the Mother Road six times now. I feel like I know the road quite well but am actually just getting to understand her. In this issue, we bring you a different perspective of Route 66 in Edward Keatings’ pictorial – based on his new book – Main Street: The Lost Dream of Route 66. Keating offers a darker, less romantic view of the historic highway that may not sit well with some of you but is accurate and fair nonetheless. Keating’s images were shot several decades ago but still represent an all too honest picture of Route 66 that makes for great conversation. So, feel free to send us your response to what he is presenting to you and we will make sure to share your reactions with him. We are also excited to bring you the second part of our annual Odyssey story and showcase some of our favorite places to grab a meal or invest in a culinary experience while motoring down America’s Main Street. This feature has become a very popular one with local and international readers alike and represents a snapshot of some of the best available. If we missed one of your favorites, make sure to share it with us. Maybe we will be able to get them inside for next year’s article. These stories and so much more brings Route 66 and further afield to you in a way not seen elsewhere. We hope you enjoy the journey this issue. Please remember to LIKE and FOLLOW us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and make sure to subscribe to ROUTE or grab a copy at your nearest B&N store while quantities last. If you do not see it on shelves, please speak directly with the individual responsible for magazines. Have a wonderful Spring and get out and adventure down the Mother Road. Every season offers its own memorable experience. Blessings, Brennen Matthews Editor 8 ROUTE Magazine
ROUTE PUBLISHER Thin Tread Media EDITOR Brennen Matthews DEPUTY EDITOR Kate Wambui EDITOR-AT-LARGE Nick Gerlich LEAD EDITORIAL PHOTOGRAPHER David J. Schwartz LAYOUT AND DESIGN Tom Heffron EDITORIAL ASSISTANTS Amanda Schroeder Cody Powell Frank Jastrzembski DIGITAL Matthew Alves CONTRIBUTORS AND PHOTOGRAPHERS Amy Inouye Boothill Museum, Inc. Christian Anwandar Daniel Lutzick Edward Keating Efren Lopez/Route66Images Gil Lebois Jenny Mallon Kyle Fischer The National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum Olivia McClure TulsaPeople Magazine Zianna Weston
Editorial submissions should be sent to email@example.com To subscribe visit www.routemagazine.us. Advertising inquiries should be sent to advertising@routemagazine. us or call ��� ��� ����. ROUTE is published six times per year by Thin Tread Media. No part of this publication may be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher. The views expressed by the contributors are not necessarily those of the publisher, editor or staff. ROUTE does not take any responsibility for unsolicited manuscripts or photography.
ROUTE Magazine 9
ROUTE REPORT While the route is steeped in history, it is also constantly changing, and we’re here to bring you all the latest news: what’s happening, who’s driving the future of The Mother Road, and why it all matters. Buck Atom’s Cosmic Curios on Route 66 to Celebrate Muffler Man Addition on May 11th Buck Atom’s Cosmic Curios on Route 66 in Tulsa will hold a celebration for the addition of its new Muffler Man fiberglass statue starting at �� a.m. May ��th. The event will include music, food and local celebrities. Joel Baker, known for the American Giants documentary series on YouTube, and his team will install the ��-foot-tall Muffler Man, Buck Atom Space Cowboy, at the Route 66-themed souvenir store at �3�� E. ��th St. (aka Route 66) on May ��th. The speakers on the May ��th celebration will be: • Michael Wallis, author of “Route 66: The Mother Road” • G.T. Bynum, Tulsa Mayor • Matt Pinnell, Oklahoma Lieutenant Governor • Abby Kurin, director of Tulsa Film, Music, Arts and Culture • Joel Baker, American Giants Muffler Men were all the rage during the ��6�s, but many have disappeared over the years. It’s rare to hear of anyone making a new one, which is why this event is a big deal. Tulsa’s Neon-Sign Grant Program begins April 1st The Tulsa Route 66 Commission soon will soon begin its fledgling neon-sign program with $��,��� in the bank for starters. According to Public Radio Tulsa, the city recently gave approval for the grant program to begin along Route 66: “It’ll be up to a dollar-for-dollar match. Whoever is creating this sign, the applicant is going to have to have it professionally done, and they’ll be able to get reimbursed after the sign is completed and installed,” said commission member Amanda DeCort. Another $40,000 should kick in with the new fiscal year on July 1st. So, the commission is looking at doling out at least $8�,��� in neon-sign grants in less than six months. The cost-share grants can be used to make new neon signs or rehabilitate old ones. Businesses on or near the ��th Street and Admiral Place alignments of Route 66 can apply, along with the Southwest Boulevard alignment in the southwest part of the city. The city will soon launch a website providing more information on the grant program. Businesses that have kept up their neon signs — El Rancho Grande, Desert Hills Motel and Tally’s Good Food Cafe — will likely avail themselves of the program for repairs. But other signs along Route 66 in Tulsa need more extensive work. La Castañeda Hotel Plans to Fully Reopen by June 21st Workers plan to finish a multi-year restoration of the historic Castañeda Hotel in Las Vegas, New Mexico, by spring and fully reopen by June ��st, according to the venue’s owners. Obviously, with the complexity inherent in historic renovation, the dates shouldn’t be set in stone, but it’s clear that the rebirth of La Castañeda is not far away. If you’re itching to keep abreast of the work in progress, the hotel’s blog, updated with new posts frequently, is your best bet. Allan Affeldt, savior of La Posada in Winslow, Arizona, purchased La Castañeda in ����. The Castañeda Hotel was built in �8�8 as a Harvey House, and it closed in ���8, although parts of it were converted for other purposes, including a bar. Affeldt also purchased the Plaza Hotel, built in �88� in downtown Las Vegas, New Mexico, about a mile west of La Castañeda. La Posada now connects with La Castañeda by train for as little as $68 one-way. Las Vegas sits a few miles off Old Route 66 but has become a common side trip for travelers exploring the ���6–��3� alignment of the road that looped to Santa Fe. All news and copy for this page has been sourced, created and written by www.route66news.com. Revisions to text have been made in some instances by ROUTE Magazine. 10 ROUTE Magazine
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ROUTE 12 ROUTE Magazine
Visit Decatur, Illinois
Closer than You Think
Only forty miles west of Springfield, Illinois, Decatur is rich in attractions. Shortly after our friendly city was established in 1829, a lanky, 21-year-old gent named Abraham Lincoln arrived, thus establishing his first residence in “The Prairie State.” Monuments or markers commemorating important events in Lincoln’s life are scattered throughout the city, including a bronze plaque where his father’s cabin originally stood. A chair from Lincoln’s law office is on display at the Macon County History Museum and other priceless Lincoln artifacts stand proudly on exhibition. Downtown Decatur’s scenic shopping district, including Historic Merchant Street, has dozens of cool, locally-owned shops and restaurants that are guaranteed to harken you back to yesteryear, while creating some new memories too. The Children’s Museum is ranked as one of the country’s premier children’s museums and the Scovill Zoo exhibits 400 animals from six continents. Decatur has an abundance of wooded hiking and horseback trails and Lake Decatur’s 2,800-acres is excellent for catching catfish, walleye, and white bass and for its wonderful views. There is something for everyone in Decatur. Whether you are planning a solo trip, a weekend getaway with your family or are making a memorable trip down iconic Route 66, our quaint picturesque town has something for everyone. We want to share it with you.
THE YEAR OF 1985
THE INTRODUCTION OF NEW COKE
hen President Dwight D. Eisenhower instituted the construction of the Interstate Highway System in ��56, it spelled the beginning of the end for fabled U.S. Route 66. After fifty-nine years of service, the iconic highway was finally decommissioned in June ��85. In the same year, another American emblem also struggled to maintain its footing. In �886, Coca-Cola was first introduced in the United States by an ex-Confederate colonel named John Stith Pemberton seeking to break his morphine addiction. Since then, Coca-Cola has dominated the soft drink industry for over ��� years. It trumped all its competitors, most notably its main rival, Pepsi-Cola. This reign nearly ended during the ����s when CocaCola and Pepsi engaged in a fierce cola war. Pepsi began to gain an edge in sales through a brilliant marketing campaign dubbed the “Pepsi Generation” by targeting a young and active audience. Coca-Cola faced the greatest threat to their dominance in the market that they had ever experienced. Its executives knew that they had to do something to shift the momentum in their favor. What they conceived of to meet this menace nearly ended their legacy as America’s premier soft drink. In April ��85, Coca-Cola launched a new formula called New Coke, mimicking Pepsi’s sweeter taste. The company spent millions of dollars on marketing the new product and expected to see immediate success; instead, it was possibly the greatest blunder in the company’s history. 14 ROUTE Magazine
The switch put the nation in a state of shock and mourning. Forty-thousand Americans expressed their outrage in letters mailed to Coca-Cola’s headquarters. One disgruntled customer even claimed, “Changing Coke is like God making the grass purple or putting toes on our ears or teeth on our knees.” At least �,5�� customers per day called �-8��-GET-COKE to voice their disapproval. One psychiatrist listening in on these angry calls admitted they sounded like people had experienced the loss of a loved one. People around the nation even booed New Coke ads at sporting events and McDonald’s and Hardee’s stores refused to sell the new recipe. Pepsi utilized this negative sentiment to their advantage, criticizing Coca-Cola for turning its back on its heritage and loyal customers. After only three months, Coca-Cola abandoned their new formula and reintroduced the original one. When the original drink was reintroduced, it was televised across the nation and thousands of Americans rushed to stores and vending machines to purchase cases and cans of it. Coke’s revival led to record profits and allowed Coca-Cola to regain its dominance over Pepsi. Some experts speculated that the whole debacle had been orchestrated. Regardless if it was by mistake or a brilliant marketing strategy, the iconic company managed to overcome this misfortune and regain its place as America’s favorite soft drink.
Photograph courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Mother Road enthusiasts often think of ��85 as the tragic year that marked the final decommission of legendary Route 66. But what else was happening that year? This series takes a look at the cultural and social milieu from which Route 66 drove its last mile — the famous, the infamous, the inventions, and the scandals that marked ��85 as a pivotal year. In this issue, we bring you the story of the almost disastrous introduction of New Coke, a variety of the popular drink that literally drove some consumers to revolt.
ROUTE Magazine 15
The LA Chicken Boy
uffler Men, larger-than-life iconic statues, were once commonly used – quite successfully we must add – as advertising ploys along Route 66. Muffler Men was the popularized name for one of these giant characters clutching a car muffler. These statues — which also included cowboys, Indians, lumberjacks, spacemen, women, happy halfwits, and even pirates — were commissioned by retailers to attract the attention of motorists and patrons. In highly trafficked parts of Route 66, motels and businesses were in fierce competition to attract road-tripping families into their venues rather than their competitors, and as The Mother Road grew, so too did its marketing methods. The first statue, created by the International Fiberglass, was of Paul Bunyan and erected at a café in Flagstaff, Arizona, around ��6�. In the pre-selfie days, Muffler Men created the perfect backdrop for a family photo. Perhaps the most peculiar of the Muffler Men to make a transformation from Paul Bunyan into something more unique was the LA Chicken Boy. Created in the late ��6�s, the LA Chicken Boy was commissioned to sit atop a fried chicken restaurant of the same name, located atop a three-story building between Fourth and Fifth Streets. While the LA Chicken Boy’s body is unmistakably Paul Bunyan, his head is unmistakably poultry. That’s right, the body of a man, and the head of a chicken, this kooky statue has been a Los Angeles icon for decades. The ��-foot-tall fiberglass effigy has since then been dubbed “The Statue of Liberty of Los Angeles.”
16 ROUTE Magazine
The Chicken Boy took a �3-year break from his advertising duties when the fried chicken stand for which he was commissioned went out of business in ��8�. A local artist, Amy Inouye, began calling local real estate agents to find out what the planned fate was for the LA Chicken Boy. Eventually, one called her back and told her to take the statue. Unsure of what to do with the giant, he was placed in storage. The LA Chicken Boy was not seen from ��8� to ����. After a long bureaucratic battle with permitting, the gentle giant was finally put out again in October ����. Inouye and Stewart Rappaport, another local artist, placed the LA Chicken Boy atop their art gallery. Future Studio Gallery is located on Figueroa Avenue, part of the historic Route 66, and not far from the LA Chicken Boy’s original home on Broadway. “I gained a certain kind of fame, and a particular kind of non-fortune,” Inouye notes. “And I am resigned to the fact that my obituary will read ‘Chicken Boy’s mom’ no matter what else I may manage to accomplish. Not that I’m complaining.” The statue has amassed awards, including the ���� Governor’s Historic Preservation Award from California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger — who ironically devoured a whole chicken after each of his workouts during his early bodybuilding days. September �st has even been christened National Chicken Boy Day. The LA Chicken Boy lives on and now future generations can also enjoy this wacky Los Angeles landmark.
Photograph courtesy of Amy Inouye.
By Zianna Weston
ROUTE Magazine 17
Innumerable and then Gone THE GREAT AMERICAN BISON
round the time that Christopher Columbus made his famous arrival in the West Indies, an estimated 3� to 6� million bison roamed the vast plains of North America. During this time, Plains Indians, including the Blackfoot, Cheyenne, and Sioux tribes, made use of temporary teepees as they followed bison herds during their seasonal migrations. For these Native Americans, bison were an important resource. While bison meat was used for food, bison skins were used for clothing and teepees, while their sinew or muscle was used to make bowstrings and moccasins. For several centuries after Europeans arrived in North America, bison continued to thrive in large numbers in wilderness stretching from northern Canada to northern Mexico and from western New York to eastern Washington. But by the nineteenth century, life drastically changed for North America’s largest land mammal. As European settlers came into contact with native populations, trading partnerships emerged. In exchange for military assistance and animal pelts, Native Americans acquired ammunition, which gave them the newfound ability to kill bison in larger numbers. When the Spanish introduced horses to North America during the �5��s, Native Americans were granted a way to hunt more efficiently. Previously, natives were forced to rely on bows and arrows and uncanny precision in order to hunt bison. Wielding guns on horseback, Native Americans were able to kill bison easily and quickly, and the mammals’ population began to dwindle as a result. During the ��th Century, settlers killed an estimated 5� million bison for food and recreation. That number is simply staggering. By �88�, unregulated shooting and widespread habitat loss shockingly decreased the bison 18 ROUTE Magazine
population to a little over �,���. The once great herds were decimated and their dominance on the Great Plains relegated to history. In ���6, the bison was declared the national mammal of the U.S. But despite this proud title, these shaggy, odd looking beasts are currently classified as “near threatened” by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). In order to prevent bison from reaching total extinction, the WWF is working with various Native American tribes to strategically manage bison numbers. For those who have the chance to travel the western highways of America, including Route 66, a glance out the window could result in a rare glimpse of this American icon. In truth, bison embody the strength and resilience that defines the American spirit. These roaming giants survived the Ice Age, moving piles of snow and earth with their massive heads while keeping themselves warm under their dense coats. They’ve been saved from extinction once before during the ��th Century. With the help of preservation organizations and government intervention, bison can be saved from their demise again. During their early seasonal migrations, herds of bison carved out trails through the untamed wilderness. Native Americans, early explorers and pioneers followed in their wake, using these trails for guidance. Without assistance from their animal neighbors, these people would have been lost in a maze of endless frontier land. Bison undoubtedly played a pivotal role in American westward expansion. In failing to protect and save this incredible species, America will be neglecting an important aspect of its identity. Like the winds that whistle through the Great Plains, the demand for bison preservation comes across as a soft whisper. It’s up to Americans to make the decision to listen to nature’s pleas before it’s too late.
Photo courtesy of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum.
By Olivia McClure
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ESSENTIAL Route 66 Museums Known for its many roadside attractions, America’s Main Street also boasts a huge number of notable museums. There is the Route 66 Association Hall of Fame & Museum in Pontiac, Illinois, the Oklahoma Route 66 Museum in Clinton, Oklahoma, and the National Route 66 Museum in Elk City, Oklahoma, to name but a few, but have you ever wondered what else is available for your historical pilgrimage? ROUTE has done the homework for you and has some unique suggestions that are sure to inform and entertain you as you make your way down Route 66. NATIONAL COWBOY & WESTER N H ER ITAGE MUSEUM , OKC, OK L AHOMA
SUPERTAM ON 66, CARTERVI LLE, M I SSOUR I
With figures like Bill Cody, Annie Oakley, Sitting Bull and Billy the Kid, only the Old West can conjure images as strong as those stirred by Route 66, and in Oklahoma City, both meet at a museum dedicated to the Wild West. The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, opened in ��55, is your Old West destination on the road, and has a little something for everyone. From Western art old and new, to everything John Wayne, the museum has a lot to offer, including exhibits on the guns that won the West and Native American artifacts. For those who call Mother Road home, the museum is always rotating exhibits to keep you hitting the trail for another visit.
Route 66 and Superman are both American icons and in this small Missouri town, both come together, along with some ice cream, in a museum that has that classic Americana vibe you can only find on America’s Main Street. Serving ice cream since ���6, especially Superman ice cream, the museum/parlor has thousands of pieces of Superman and even some Route 66 memorabilia, including action figures, posters, comic books, cardboard cutouts, and lunch boxes.
TH E NATIONAL MUSEUM OF TR A NSPORTATION, K I R KWOOD, M I SSOUR I Before Route 66 connected America, the railroad linked the continent from coast to coast, and just outside St. Louis, you can find a museum that details not just the railroad, but all American transportation history. The National Museum of Transportation first laid its tracks in ����, offering generations of Americans the chance to see the evolution of travel from steam engines to the classic muscle cars so often associated with 66. They even have a replica of a now infamous Route 66 motel.
ATL A NTA ROUTE 66 ARCADE MUSEUM , ATL A NTA , I LLI NOI S If you are a pinball wizard or alien-blaster taking a trip down America’s favorite road and have an itch to get some game time or want to relive some old memories, the Atlanta Route 66 Arcade Museum in Atlanta, Illinois, has you covered. Opened earlier this decade, the museum’s focus is on the older days of the arcade, with pinball machines, electro-mechanical games, and early arcade video games. There is fascination and fun for the whole family. 20 ROUTE Magazine
DEVI L’S ROPE A ND ROUTE 66 MUSEUM , M c LEA N, TE XAS Cattle drives are a staple of the Old West’s image, but eventually the barbed-wired fence came along and put them out to pasture. At the Devil’s Rope and Route 66 Museum in McLean, Texas, the fencing that changed the American landscape and ended the days of the free-roaming Old West has its story told. Starting out in ���� in a former brassiere factory, the museum has many, many displays of the different types of “Devil’s Rope” used for ranching and human warfare. You can even find sculptures made out of barbed wire, like a coyote and scorpion, along with some ranching history displays and a section devoted to Route 66.
VACUUM CLEANER MUSEUM AND FACTORY OUTLET, ST. JAMES, MISSOURI An appreciation for the little things in life, like a vacuum cleaner, is the focus of this museum. The Vacuum Cleaner Museum and Factory Outlet traces the development of the vacuum from the early ����s to the modern era with over 6�� models on display. Opened in ���� in the same building as a vacuum cleaner manufacturer, the artifacts featured range from models that have a Victorian Era look to vacuums with an Art Deco image, and even those made during the era of early space exploration.
ROUTE Magazine 21
RAILWAY 22 ROUTE Magazine
DREAMINâ€™ By Olivia McClure
Images Courtesy of Daniel Lutzick ROUTE Magazine 23
efore railroads began to sprout across the country, the American southwest was truly wild and mostly uninhabited. Ranchers, miners and Native Americans made up the majority of the West’s sparse population in the first half of the �� th Century. Toiling on the region’s arid, endless land, these early Western settlers forged a strong connection to the environment within which they lived. With its sweeping copper deserts and striking mountain ranges, the southwest has long been a muse for painters, like Georgia O’Keefe, who effortlessly illustrated the scorched deserts and beautiful flowers that define the New Mexican and Arizona landscapes. But it’s not just artists who have recognized the southwest as a place for creative potential. With the rise of railroads, the idea of Western tourism soon became a flourishing reality. With the formation of the Santa Fe Railway in �8�5, the piercing cry of eagles overhead was replaced by the scream of hissing steam and roar of rolling wheels. Initially chartered in Kansas as the Atchison and Topeka Railroad Company in �85�, its founder, lawyer Cyrus K. Holliday, had the idea to build a railroad along the Santa Fe Trail, a �� th Century wagon trail that ran from Independence, Missouri, to Santa Fe, New Mexico. In the �88�s and �8��s, the Santa Fe Railway was expanded to cover around �,��� miles of land. By ����, the railroad covered more than ��,��� miles. In total, the Santa Fe traveled through �� states, most of which
were in the Midwest and southwest. Sweeping across the nation, the Santa Fe didn’t only bring tourists to the far reaches of the southwest, some of those traveling by rail would settle in established mining towns, bringing their ideas, dreams and cultures with them. The Santa Fe Railway ran through vibrant, quintessentially Western towns, with romantic names like Barstow, California, Kiowa, Kansas, Pueblo, New Mexico, and Holbrook, Arizona. During the beginning of the Santa Fe Railway’s reign, stations throughout the West looked almost like saloons, with men leaning against depot walls in stiff, starched shirts and neckties, as cigar and cigarette smoke rose up into the air and mingled with steam from the engines of passing trains. In short, �� th Century railroad travel looked like the physical manifestation of a classic Western film. With the arrival of the Santa Fe Railway, the southwest was transformed into a thriving epicenter of travel and trade. Rail travelers could purchase Native American and Mexican handicrafts to commemorate their Western travels. When the railroad brought galvanized tin and bricks to the southwest, the region saw the addition of metal roofs and Victorian brick buildings within its assortment of pueblo-style architecture. Needless to say, the Santa Fe Railway transformed the face of the southwest, opening up the way for profitable business prospects, thriving tourism and a desire to settle in the sunburnt landscape that defines the region. On December 3�, ���6, the Santa Fe Railway merged with the Burlington Northern Railroad, and the railroad’s operations officially ended. The train cars that once plowed through the southwest’s arid, undulating landscape now sit empty — but not neglected.
The Santa Fe Railway Gets a Second Chance
A Santa Fe Railroad advertisement for their Pleasure Dome railcar. Previous spread: Glenn Blake working on restoration of the Santa Fe Pleasure Dome #502. 24 ROUTE Magazine
While Americans today think of Amtrak when considering an option for railroad travel, their predecessors once thought of the refinement and excitement that was the Santa Fe Railway. Rail travel was a stylish, efficient way to move across the country, and for many travelers, it was an exciting, romantic adventure. Allan Affeldt, Tina Mion and Daniel Lutzick are more commonly known for restoring Harvey hotels, including La Posada and La Castaneda, but their non-profit organization, the Winslow Arts Trust (WAT), also tackles the task of refurbishing Santa Fe Railway cars, which were just as popular among socialites as Harvey hotels at the time. Indeed, the history of Fred Harvey’s hotel empire could not have existed without the transport of people to the southwest that the Santa Fe provided. “We have on our property at Winslow four private train cars, one of which was the original ��5� dome car — the first dome car built by the Santa Fe Railway,” Affeldt said. “It was called the Pleasure Dome, and it was a very iconic train … It was basically a party car. It would be attached to the Super Chief, which was the fancy train that went between LA and Chicago. So, if you were a high roller in those days, you could essentially pay an extra fare and charter the Pleasure Dome, and it was your rolling party car across the country. So, that’s what the high rollers did in those days, and Mary Colter, our architect, designed the interiors. The private dining
room on that car was called the Turquoise Room, and that’s why we named our restaurant [at La Posada] the Turquoise Room. That was the fanciest dining room on rails. If you see a picture of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton sitting in a rail car having dinner, it’s in the Turquoise Room. So, we’re restoring that train car as part of a museum. You know, a lot of people before our time had no idea what it was like in the great days of the railroad. Now, all they know is Amtrak. But it used to be just like flying in airplanes — it used to be an occasion. You’d get dressed up real fancy. It was that way for trains, too, and the trains were just The historic Acoma railcar on a La Posada Hotel siding. beautiful. And, of course, now it’s not that way. We want to restore these train cars so that people can see Rhoads, his desire to keep the nation’s history intact and what it was like in the heyday of the railroads.” share it with younger generations is one that he has in common with the rest of Americans. “For some reason, Americans — we love to preserve A Labor of Love our history,” Rhoads said. “I don’t know how to explain At the Arizona Railway Museum in Chandler, Arizona, it so much. It’s just a desire to maintain where we came Kenny Rhoads and others are doing their own part from and what it was like. A lot of young people don’t to refurbish Santa Fe Railway cars. Founded in ��83, understand what it was like before what they have now the museum is committed to preserving the history of and how things worked back then. The steam engine, railroads in Arizona and the southwest. for example — Now, we just board a light rail, and it just The collection of cars being restored at the museum whisks us to the next station. They really have no idea includes Santa Fe Business Car #��5, which features a what it was like to be on a passenger train from, you know, kitchen, dining room and two bedrooms, the AmtrakLA to Chicago, or taking the train every weekend back certified Santa Fe “Diablo Canyon” Passenger Car and the and forth to school.” 66� Santa Fe Sleeper Verde Valley. Nestled in the breathtaking Magdalena Mountains in For Rhoads and his co-workers, restoring rail cars is a New Mexico, the small town of Magdalena is doing its own true labor of love — one that involves countless months part to restore Santa Fe rail cars. Between the �8��s and of manual work, extreme patience and a true passion for ����s, the town, known as “Trail’s End,” was the end of preservation. But first and foremost, those who take on the the trail for cattle drives heading as far as Springerville, tedious task of restoration must pay attention to the smallest Arizona. Miners and ranchers populated Magdalena in details in order to keep the history of each car alive. the �8��s, while the Santa Fe Railway roared through the Each rail car has a unique story, which reveals the love Western landscape. and care people put into preserving these cars. Rhoads Acknowledging the railroad’s impact on Magdalena, said maintaining the authenticity of the rail cars they work the town has taken great pains to preserve this aspect on is tantamount to their work. of its history. In fact, the town’s public library is housed “The Verde Valley came from a man in Houston, Texas, inside an old Santa Fe Railway depot. And just north and they had lost some of their property, so they had to get of that establishment sits the Boxcar Museum, which rid of some [rail cars],” Rhoads said. “All the details were is exactly what its name suggests. In ����, a group of there, meaning all the lights, beds … everything was there. dedicated volunteers began extensive interior work on an But the car suffered from climate, so we got it. I raised old Santa Fe rail car. With renovations completed in ���8, about $5,��� last year at the convention we had in Chicago the museum opened to the public, displaying the town’s … The whole mission at the Railway Museum in Chandler mining and railroad history. is to restore rail cars that have an air of significance … It’s In order to fund the restoration of the depot and rail part of the history we’re trying to maintain.” car, the Friends of the Magdalena Public Library (FOL) While the days spent working on restoration may feel held various fundraisers. Judyth Shamosh, curator of the long, the passion that fuels it lasts longer. According to Boxcar Museum, was one of the volunteers who took part ROUTE Magazine 25
For Affeldt and Mion, life in the southwest is starkly different from their hometowns. But according to Affeldt, life in a small town like Winslow has its perks. For him, culture and history permeate every aspect of life there. “When we go back to one of those places — when Tina goes back to New England and I go back to LA, it’s so physically dense and acoustically dense,” Affeldt said. “There’s so much going on. It’s almost difficult to concentrate. But in the West, the horizon is so vast, and the space is so much wider in really interesting and kind of philosophical and spiritual ways. You’re certainly influenced by the place you choose to live, right? And so, we’re very strongly influenced by the southwest because we live in these spaces, but when you spend time, you get a sense of the character of the place. You know, we’re surrounded by Native American tribes — we have Hopi and Navajo here. And in New Allan Affeldt with videographer Dave Herzberg exiting the Santa Fe Mexico, it’s a real Spanish culture Pleasure Dome #502. that predates Mexican independence. So, there’s something that’s not in the restorations. According to Shamosh, the hard work transient here. You know, the average American moves that went into both projects has certainly paid off. something like every 5 years, right? Nobody’s connected to “The museum does bring a lot of emotional response to [a] place anymore … buildings, community, relationships the people who live here and were born here,” Shamosh — everything is transitory. But, in a little town like this, said. “And that makes it worth all my hard work of getting all of your horizons change, and I think there’s something [it] together. The restoration — it represents a collection of very profound about that.” our history. It’s a very diverse and interesting history that Indeed, the Santa Fe Railway’s impact on the culture Magdalena has, and it’s a real addition [to] our community and history of America is nothing short of profound. and a testament to our history.” Just like the southwestern landscape itself, the history Undoubtedly, railroads have been integral to southof the railroads cannot merely be captured in a painting western history and culture. In Daniel Lutzick’s opinion, or photograph. Restoring rail cars ensures that the railroads truly define the southwest. authenticity and nostalgia will remain intact for those who “When you grow up with something, you don’t realize wish to immerse themselves in the southwestern railroad that it’s there,” Lutzick said. “So, I think rail travel in the experience. As Rhoads said, Americans’ desire to preserve southwest is particularly important because it’s visible their nation’s history is one that cannot quite be explained. as this iconic image of what the southwest is, because we Nevertheless, it’s a noble one, and with the help of those have these open vistas and see these trains coming over at the Winslow Arts Trust and other places around the huge distances, and we have about 5�� miles of Route 66 southwest, the legacy of the railroads will not fade away. that follows the train line right next to it. When you go While our country’s national parks face threats from back East where I grew up, there are piles of train activity, climate change and government intervention, it’s essential but you never see it. It’s always buried in the trees and for the American people to commit themselves to industrial area. You just don’t notice it in other places the preserving emblems of our rich, colorful history. way you do in the southwest.” In his novel, All Quiet on the Western Front, Erich Maria Remarque wrote: “The names of the stations begin to take on meaning and my heart trembles. The train stamps The Legacy of the Santa Fe Railway and stamps onward. I stand at the window and hold on and the West Itself to the frame. These names mark the boundaries of my In terms of the southwest today, the markings of history youth.” Although Remarque was speaking from a German can still be seen by those willing to open their eyes wide perspective, his reaction to taking a train ride resonates enough. For the men and women behind restoring Santa with anyone whose life was influenced by the railroad. In Fe Railway cars, these footprints in the sand are as visible truth, the language of railroads is universal. Just as the as the mountains and deserts that define the southwestern Santa Fe Railway transcended state lines, its impression landscape. upon the nation’s history surpasses time itself. 26 ROUTE Magazine
Let’s go to The Plaza! and Range Café! The finest historic hotel in Northern New Mexico The P laza hoTel has Presided in VicTorian sPlendor oVer beauTiful P laza Park since 1882, when l as Vegas was The richesT and biggesT ciTy in new M exico. JusT one hour norTh of sanTa fe , l as Vegas is one of The PreTTiesT and MosT inTeresTing Tow ns in The s ouThwesT, wiTh 1000 hisToric buildings , h ighlands uniVersiTy, aMazing hoT sPrings , and eVen a casTle! The P laza & casTaneda are now being renoVaTed by The TeaM which resTored The legendary l a Posada hoTel in winslow a rizona (www. laPosada . org). 230 Plaza Park, Las Vegas, New Mexico 87701 505-425-3591 ~ firstname.lastname@example.org www.plazahotellvnm.com The newly opened Range Café at the Plaza serves ordinary food, made extraordinarily well, featuring breakfast, lunch and dinner in the dining room as well as craft cocktails, local beers and full menu in Byron T’s Saloon. Fresh baked pastries and desserts from the in-house bakery compliment the coffee bar in the lobby. ~ 505.434.0022 ~ www.rangecafe.com ROUTE Magazine 27
The Lost Dream of Route 66 Photographs and Words by Edward Keating 28 ROUTE Magazine
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ssigned by The New York Times Magazine to photograph Route 66 in May ����, I continued on the project after the piece was published for another eleven years, documenting the road’s demise and the social conditions of those who were living out their lives on the lost highway. Contrary to the myth of Route 66 being a place of postcard fun and adventure, what I found on my trips across the ‘Mother Road’ was a road and a culture in distress. Besides a smattering of well-preserved motels, roadside amusements and a handful of nostalgic gift
ABOVE: Shamrock, Texas: Nearly extinct in most parts of the country, old-style garages still serve owners of older model cars in parts of Texas and the southwest. ���3.
RIGHT: Tucumcari, NM: A woman with not much to do, waits for the local pawn shop to open. There is little pedestrain traffic along most of Route 66. ���5.
PREVIOUS SPREAD: The Munger Moss Motel is a great motel in Lebanon, Missouri, that was built in ���6 as an addition to a roadside restaurant and filling station. Both of which are now gone. This image was taken when their swimming pool was still functioning. ����. 30 ROUTE Magazine
shops, the highway had devolved into little more than an access road to the larger and heavier interstates that often ran parallel. What was left in its wake, was decay and sadness, traces of another time, people just holding on, the end of an era. With a personal and family history with the road, I hoped to get an accurate snapshot of the remnants of America’s “Mother Road,” to preserve what I could for history before the wrecking ball of time completed its work. —Edward Keating
ABOVE: A woman waits alone for a bus on the western approach to St. Louis. ���5.
RIGHT: Amish girls buying supplies at KOA campground on the outskirts of St. Louis, Missouri. ����.
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LEFT: A slow day on a slow road in rural Missouri. Two friends try to rent from selling junk. Asked how often they hold their sale, the fellow on the right replied, “Every day.” ����.
ABOVE: Winslow, Arizona: A nonagenarian, African American man leaning against side of his house posing for a photo. On my next trip through Winslow I stopped by to say hello and learned he had passed away six months earlier. ���3. 32 ROUTE Magazine
Historic Wagon Wheel Motel
Osage Trails M onument
Bob’s Gasoline Alley
Cruise in to Cuba this Spring 14 Murals • Four Motels • Museum • Winery • Restaurants • Antique Mall • Largest Rocking Chair
WWW.CUBAMOMURALS.COM • VISITORS CENTER 573-885-2531 • WWW.VISITCUBAMO.COM ROUTE Magazine 33
34 ROUTE Magazine
MIRACLE ON ��th STREET By Nick Gerlich Images courtesy of Efren Lopez/Route66Images
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ulsa is a Route 66 town with a storied past and a vibrant future. From oil boom to music mecca, the town has ridden multiple crests of popularity, and remained rock solid through it all. Never mind that the Father of Route 66, Cyrus Avery, was from Tulsa, which he insisted wind right through the friendly city. Today, Tulsa is enjoying a renaissance of Route 66 fervor, from gateways to statues, shields painted on the road to dedicated plazas, quirky Mother Road shops and more. For �6 miles, Tulsa has one of the longest stretches of urban Route 66 between Chicago and Los Angeles, but the crown jewel of it all is the renovated Campbell Hotel on East ��th, and it would never have happened were it not for local developer Aaron Meek.
End of the Line The Campbell Building was erected at what was then the end of a trolley car line running east and west along ��th Street from downtown to Delaware Street. Upstairs was the Casa Loma Hotel, while on the street level were various retail tenants, including a barber shop, beauty shop, the Campbell Drug Store, and a Safeway grocery. The trolley car shuttled business people and well-heeled tourists from what was once the edge of town, to the Central Business District.
Lobby and front desk at the Campbell. 36 ROUTE Magazine
“The Campbell Hotel was built in ����,” Meek said. “It was built by a fellow named Max Campbell, who was a banker and a developer. He modeled it after a hotel he had seen in Kansas City. Tulsa was the oil capital of the world for many years, and the heyday of the hotel was in the ��5�s and ��6�s.” Originally, Route 66 didn’t follow ��th Street directly to downtown. Instead, it jogged north at Mingo, and then west on Admiral. In ��3�, the route was straightened, and suddenly the Casa Loma found itself curbside to the Mother Road. “There used to be a rail trolley that ran along ��th,” Meek recalled. “This hotel basically served the businessmen, so you could come to the Casa Loma and stay there for four bits a night. The hotel was basically a businessman’s hotel.” Designed with extended stay visitors in mind, the Casa Loma had 3� rooms when built, and as was common in hotels of that era, offered shared bathroom facilities. Architecturally, it reflects the Mission Spanish Colonial Revival period style popular at the time, even if it wasn’t an exact fit for the rather Midwest Tulsa landscape. However, progress was not kind to Route 66 and East ��th. I-�� was built as a bypass loop around the south and east sides of town in the ��5�s, while I-���, which closely approximated Route 66, was built in two stages in ��6� and ���5. Route 66 through town was demoted to
Kimberly Norman, Aaron Meek and Leanne Benton inside the Campbell Hotel.
“There are so many people here in Tulsa who still say they had no idea that we are a hotel. That has been the hardest part of my job.” “When I walked in here for the interview, I thought this hotel is going to be a breeze because I am used to a lot larger properties,” Morrison added. “I had come up here from Texas, and was in real estate. There’s something about this building. It just sucks you in! And being on Route 66, we have so many international tourists. Those people are so excited. This is such a fun environment,” she said, adding that “There are people who swear there are ghosts here!” Appealing to Route 66 tourists is a primary occupation for hotel staff. “They’re looking for something quaint.” Morrison said of her guests. “Every review is about our friendly staff. We make people feel welcome,” To that end, the hotel grants a generous ��% discount to Route 66 travelers who ask for it.
Tulsa Time Much of Tulsa’s resurgence along Route 66 can be credited to Meek, whose family was once in the furniture business on ��th Street. Meek is both developer and renaissance man in the truest sense, buying otherwise under-utilized properties and then seeing them relaunched. He began buying up properties along ��th early in the ��st Century, seeing both potential and bargain prices. In the process, he has almost singlehandedly turned around an area that was written off until recently. Morrison attested to Meek’s commitment to the Mother Road, “He’s real big into making sure that Route 66 continues. He buys a lot of the abandoned buildings along ��th Street, and fixes them up. He’ll keep that vintage, ROUTE Magazine 37
Photograph courtesy of TulsaPeople Magazine.
Business 66 status in ��5�, signaling to motorists that it was no longer the main thoroughfare through Tulsa. The oil bust of ��8�-��8� further added to Tulsa’s woes, with countless jobs lost and companies going belly-up. The combination of traffic being diverted along freeways and a tanking economy left East ��th to fend for itself, which it did not do well. The entirety of the strip fell into disrepair. By the late-����s, the Campbell stood vacant and in decay, like much of East ��th. It was deemed beyond repair by developers, and some whispered of demolition. The freeway had long supplanted ��th Street as a major cross-country thoroughfare for travelers, and what progress hadn’t taken away, an economically-challenged neighborhood helped along. Even first-generation Route 66 nostalgics plying the Mother Road were reluctant to stop for long. That all began to change in ���8, when Aaron Meek and Barbara Casey purchased the building and began renovations. Meek is now sole owner, and saw a future in the Campbell Building as well as East ��th Street. Naysayers said it couldn’t, even shouldn’t, be done given the blight of the streetscape. Route 66 was where Meek was raised, so he had a special affinity for the neighborhood. “I was pretty much raised a few doors off ��th Street at Peoria. Those were my old stomping grounds. I grew up in the era of Route 66. It’s just what you feel comfortable with,” he said, explaining his motivations. Meek soldiered on, undaunted by local skepticism, and the hotel was reopened in ���� as the Campbell, honoring its building namesake developer. The second floor was gutted, plumbing was retrofitted, and rooms reconfigured. There are now �6 rooms, each with private baths. Down below at street side, a restaurant and bicycle shop are now in operation. The building is also on the National Registry of Historic Places, recognized for its significance on the Tulsa scene. “Because it is a historic hotel, the flooring is original, and we have a lot of the older tubs still here,” said Diane Morrison, General Manager of the hotel. “Visitors like the quaintness of it. Each one of the rooms is individually designed so there are no two rooms alike; every room has a lot of personality,” Theme rooms run the gamut, from the Leon Russell Room to the Route 66 Suite, the Oil Baron’s Suite, and the Tulsa Art Deco Room. “I like old buildings,” Meek explained. “They present a great challenge, and there’s a lot of satisfaction when you get them done. The hotel was originally going to be retail on the first floor, and the second floor was going to be loft apartments. And then I thought, ‘Oh, I can fix that. I can turn that back into a hotel.’ But a hotel is a whole lot different from a loft apartment.” Meek ventured into new professional territory with the venue, and in the process has had to overcome challenges and deal with steep learning curves. “For a boutique hotel, you have to get known, and that doesn’t happen in the first five years.” And as for tourists, “It takes a long time to figure out where they want to stop, what they want to see, what they want to do.” Meek has deftly overcome those challenges though, in the eight years since the Campbell reopened. Morrison echoed a similar challenge in that the Campbell is still relatively unknown on the local level.
One of the Campbell’s numerous unique rooms.
rustic type look to them. He’s been very involved. He does care about it.” Rhys Martin, recently elected President of the Oklahoma Route 66 Association, speaks of the rapid change happening on Route 66. “For a long time ��th Street had a reputation of not being the place to go unless you wanted to buy a used car or stay at a motel without anyone seeing you. It’s totally different now. All kinds of young businesses and old businesses alike have moved to ��th Street. There’s so much life, whereas it was once so run down.” The energy within these changes is as dramatic as experienced in other parts of town, such as in the Arts District. “I couldn’t be happier,” Martin said. “When I look at what is going on along Route 66 as a whole, you’ve got little bits of energy here and there. But Tulsa feels like a nexus for that energy. I feel like the more we do, the more people want to do... When the Campbell was renovated in ����, Tulsa was still just [hopeful] when it came to Route 66 revitalization. When [the Campbell] was restored, it gave a lot of people hope, and sparked the idea that ��th Street was the right place to do it. It gave a voice to the people who had been shouting for a long time.” Outgoing President Brad Nickson likewise waxed poetic about the Campbell: “It is just fantastic what they have done. I was thrilled that they were doing it, because it sparked a lot of renewed interest in that part of town. It was one of the catalysts for that part of 66.” “Once people could walk into the Campbell and see what they had done there, it gave them something 38 ROUTE Magazine
tangible. I don’t think we’d be where we are now without that,” Martin added. “The Campbell is huge. Tulsa has a lack of authentic vintage hotels. The Campbell is a place that is often mentioned as where to go to get that Route 66 feel. Back in ����, the Campbell was on the east end of the redevelopment, but now it’s kind of in the middle.” Nickson added, “I think it’s really important to the Route 66 experience. It gives a Mother Road traveler another place to stay on the road. The Campbell is not your typical motel where you drive right up to your room. It is certainly much more upscale.” And so it stands, a leader along a section of old Route 66 that was once written off as derelict and downtrodden, its neon signing proclaiming to all who pass by this ���� beauty, that it is still very much alive and well. The trolley car is long gone, but Route 66 is the rhythm of Tulsa and the Campbell is its back beat. Meek makes his mission abundantly clear: “We’re trying to do more than just a hotel. We’re trying to build up Route 66 to where it is presentable again and entertaining.” Morrison chimed in, “We’re trying to draw the community and get them more active in this realm.” Without missing a beat, Meek added, “We’re making a difference. We’re doing our part with all the properties that we have. We’re trying to promote it (Route 66). It’s coming back around.” That it has, thanks to Aaron Meek. Mr. Campbell would certainly be proud.
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BROSNAN, PIERCE BROSNAN Interview by Brennen Matthews Photographs by Christian Anwander
ierce Brosnan is probably most recognized as the handsome, charming secret agent, ��� from the James Bond franchise, but now at almost 66 years of age, he has more than 65 noteworthy credits to his name and a wealth of personal and professional experience that has often been hard earned. Besides his dashing smile and impressive film resume, many people may not know that the iconic actor is an avid painter, a respected writer, and is an advocate for a number of causes to better humanity. Brosnan is an advocate for the prevention of AIDs, animal welfare, and cancer awareness. His first wife, Cassandra, died of Ovarian cancer in ���� at the age of �3. The couple had been married for �� years. The disease also robbed him of his stepdaughter, Charlotte, in ���3. Charlotte was only �� years old. Brosnan pursued painting
when Cassandra was diagnosed with cancer, finding it therapeutic, and has continued to channel his creativity and energy into his art ever since. A decade after Cassandra’s death, Brosnan remarried, wedding Keely Shaye Smith in ����. The happy couple has two sons, Dylan and Paris, and from his first marriage, son Sean and stepson Chris. Through all of the loss and acclaim, very public pain and applauded success, Pierce Brosnan has continued to keep his head high and plod on, in true Irish style. The real Pierce Brosnan may be even cooler than James Bond. Brosnan currently stars in the AMC drama The Son, playing the main protagonist, a cattle baron named Eli McCullough. Season � will debut at the end of April. ROUTE sat down with the charming thespian recently to chat about his work, his life and his extraordinary journey.
Congrats on your new show! It’s incredible. What drew you to the role of Eli McCullough on The Son?
was exhilarating, intoxicating, mystical and magical, and other worldly. As that saying goes, ‘a man becomes what he dreams’ and I managed to find my way to America. I was so blessed by getting Remington Steele and I was very conscious and fully aware that I was going into the fabric of American society. I was very aware that I was being accepted as an American and that was golden to me. It meant that I could have a career in America. It meant that ... when I was an actor in Ireland, when I was an actor in England where I trained as an actor, I was always being cast as the Irishman or the mid-Atlantic American. I found it hard to find English roles because they were given to the English actors, so I was a little bit on the sidelines fighting my way to center field. So, when I got to America, I felt like I could fly. I thought that I could play anything. I felt that I was accepted and I didn’t feel such a stigma about my own musicality of a voice, so there you go. Remington Steele gave me wings to fly and I held on with both hands. And then of course the whole story of Bond came along, and then it disappeared again, and I carried on working in America. I’m very proud to be an American citizen. I love the country. I love the people. I love the spirit of it, even in its mangled state right now.
Oh, thank you! That is very encouraging to hear. The story by Philipp Meyer was one that I knew, and I had read the book. It came out of left field really. Two years ago, I was headed to Russia to make a movie which fell apart, which is quite normal these days, and I told my agent that I wanted to work and he said ‘well, you’ve just been offered The Son.’ I knew about the book and they sent the first five episodes (scripts) to the house that night. I read them, and I said, “I’m in.” I’d love to play this role. It was very instinctual, and a very immediate response. There was no second guessing. I grew a beard, I just thought that a beard would be a good transformation for the matriarch of the family. Luckily, I grow a good beard. I did the accent, went straight to work on it ... that was a challenge.
I read that you reached out to Texans like Matthew McConaughey to help you master the Texan accent? Is that true? No, I’m a huge admirer of Matthew’s work and his Texan musicality and his bravado of performances, but no, I didn’t reach out to Matthew. He’s quite the hero there. But no. I have a wonderful dialect coach and there was one on-set. You know, I just immersed myself in the Texan dialects and listened to many senators actually. Ted Poe was one of them. I listened to him and to Waylon Jennings. I listened to Willie Nelson. You just immerse yourself, and then of course, when you get there, you’re surrounded by these magnificent Texans of great spirit, and that was it really.
You became an American citizen in 2004. Do you still ascribe strongly to your Irish roots, or have you been in America for so long now that you consider yourself more American? I think I’ll always be an immigrant at heart, and that heart and soul, and the fiber of my being is intrinsically Irish. And everything I do stems from an Irish heartbeat, but America’s my home and I’m an American. I’ll probably be scattered on American soil. You know, I dreamt of America as a young lad watching movies as a teenager. It 42 ROUTE Magazine
You’ll be 66 years old in May. Has it been difficult getting older in Hollywood? I think a lot of it has to do with my Irish Catholic faith, being brought up in the Church and having some philosophies of life added to that, just being as tough as old boots really, because you have to be as tough as old boots to be an actor. I wanted this life, I wanted success, I wanted to be famous, I wanted to be in movies, and I got it, and then when you get it, what do you do with it? Well, you just get on with it. You keep going out there, throwing the line out, and fishing. You want to get better and to sit in the saddle strong, and stay challenged, so all the nonsense of crisis really has escaped me. I’ve just had such a great time doing it all, and there’s a wonderful beauty of mystery to it. I came into my 5�s and it was ... 5� was fine, and then in my early 5�s, there was a little bit of turbulence, nothing to write home about, just a questioning of the doubting, and that time past, time present, time future, and so I think that lives with you always really. Ultimately, dealing with death ... you’re dying, not to be morbid, but I think
when you do face that, you have a certain strength within it, and especially being an actor, it’s such a precious game, so I can’t say I’ve had any crisis, not really. I mean, I’m aware that I have a number of years notched on the belt at 65, but it feels good, it feels strong, it feels powerful, and at the same time, I feel like I know nothing, I feel like I haven’t done enough, and there’s that kind of gasp in the night sometimes, when you go, ‘Oh, what have I done? What am I going to do?’ And you kind of take another breath quietly and get over it, and get on with, it and just enjoy it all. Because my job is to entertain.
You were quite young when your dad walked out on you and your family and disappeared from your lives. Do you think that his abandonment has impacted the type of father that you’ve been to your children? I think growing up without a father has given me a resilience in life. It’s given me ... somewhere deep down, buried in my heart, a sorrow and a sadness that I never had a father, that I don’t, and have not had that touchstone in those initial years of life, to have the vocabulary of being a father, of understanding the relationship as a son with a father. And I think there’s a melancholy there that I shall carry forever. I [do] wonder [about] who he was, and how I would have been different, if he had stayed. But at the end of the day, I’m glad he ran to the hills because, you know, I’ve made myself the man I’ve become, from sheer strength of character, and at times, isolation and a loneliness. So, there’s great beauty in that and great strength in that, and great poetry in that. When my first wife and I met, she had two children beside her, and I embraced that family. Embraced that life. She was a beautiful woman and the children, my stepchildren, were young, so I was fully aware that there was a sense of having a family, an instant family, as a young man of �3 or ��. She said she was �8, but she was actually a little bit older than that. (Laughs) So, I became a stepfather to Christopher and my late daughter [Charlotte] when they were � and 5 years of age. But going back, before that, when my father left, my mother had been a constant source of comfort and inspiration, and we both suffered the consequences of the Irish Catholic closeted shaming of religion, for a family that is broken. In the early 5�s, she had me when she was ��, and [my] father was a man of 3� years of age, Tom Brosnan ... He was a handsome fellow, he had great style, he had a great walk, he was a carpenter and he was an artist, and he was a great whistler. That’s as much as I know about Tom Brosnan. But he had the most beautiful girl in the town, my mother, and he was a jealous man. So I think that she suffered greatly. [Then] he left. In the 5�s, if you were a single mother, like she was ... I lived with my grandparents, Phillip and Kathleen, and an aunt and an uncle, (her sister and brother). Then she took courage in both hands, at a very young age, to go to England to be a nurse. And there was a lot of heartache in making that decision, but she knew that if she made the decision to stay in Ireland, there would be no life for her, and there would be no life for me. In church on a Sunday, they would call you out as a member of the congregation and it would be a shaming, because she was a single mother.
On the banks of the River Boyne, the church ruled your life, the church had a hold on your existence, and people would cross over to the other side of the street when she walked down the street. But my grandfather was my father, and he was a kind gentleman, and he was loved by everyone. He worked for Esso, the oil company, [as] a manager. We had a beautiful little bungalow on the other side of the river, across from the town, so I lived in a kind of bubble on my own somewhat. The aunt and uncle went off and got married, grandfather died and then I just lived with my grandmother, you know, in this kind of beautiful bungalow with a garden, an orchard, the odd cow here and there. It was ... it sounds terrible, but it was quite magical, because I had the world to myself, and I had my own imagination, my own upbringing, my own dreaming, and a longing and a yearning because I knew I didn’t have a father, and then my grandmother died and I lived with an aunt. But she was having her own family and children, this good heart that she was, she couldn’t take care of me, and the uncle couldn’t, so I ended up with a wonderful lady called Eileen. She had a lodging house in the town, and she had a son and a daughter and her husband had gone ... [they were] very very poor, and she had a lodging room upstairs, and she had these two lodgers, and I lived in the same room as them. So, I had a little bed at the end of the room, put a curtain round it, and it was a kind of a metal, iron bed with a horse hair mattress. But I was happy. I was beyond words happy.
How old were you when you joined your mom in England? I was eleven years of age when she and I reconnected, but she would come home. She would come home at ROUTE Magazine 43
to America when the show comes out’ and I said, ‘well, we don’t have the money’, we had just bought a house in Wimbledon. She had just worked on a James Bond movie, For Your Eyes Only, and so the proceeds from her movie and the miniseries, Manions of America, we bought this house. And she said, ‘no you’ve got to go. So, I went to our local bank manager and borrowed £�,��� and we hopped on a flight to Los Angeles. In those days there was a guy called Freddie Laker, he was an Englishman, and he had three flights, they were about $5� ... bring your own sandwiches … and we got on the back of the plane. We stayed with an agent that I’d just gotten a week before, an English guy, and we stayed there in the heart of Hollywood, in the shadow of the Chateau Marmont. We got in to LA that morning, so excited, Cassie and myself, ravenous, there was nothing in the apartment to eat, we walked up the road and landed on the Sunset Strip, and we went to a place called Schwab’s, and that was my first breakfast in America.
Wow, you remember where you took your first breakfast, all these years later? Christmas and Easter, whenever she could get away. She would write me letters every week, and these little letters would arrive, and there would be a comic book, and she’d write a letter and stick money, with a piece of scotch tape, on top, and I kind of got on with my life and waited for her to send for me. And she did eventually, but that particular time living with Eileen was just the deepest happiness of those childhood years, because I was surrounded by ... I was in the town, and I had kids to play with, and there was adventures, and cowboys and Indians, and going scrumping for apples in the orchards. I had a dog and there was the river right by us. You could swim in the river. So, there you go. I left Ireland on August ��th ��6�, the same day that Ian Fleming passed away. That was it, and then a new life began. I got off the plane, I was an immigrant, I was a fresh country-faced boy of eleven years of age, and I was with my mother. It was a lovely summer day, and beside her was a man called Bill Carmichael, and he became my stepfather, and he was a kind-hearted Scotsman. He was a working man, he was a panel beater, he did body work. He was from Glasgow, and that day, that morning, my life just became otherworldly. It was joy, it was happiness.
When you first immigrated to America, where did you begin your journey? I left with my late wife, Cassie, to go to America in ’8� and we went to Los Angeles. I had never been to America [before that].
That was quite a gamble! Oh, we threw the dice! I was an actor, obviously by this time. I’d been in the theatre, did a West End production of one of Timothy Williams’ last plays. Then I got an American miniseries [��8�] called The Manions of America which was about the Irish potato famine. It was a six-hour show with Kate Mulgrew, and Cassie said, ‘we should go 44 ROUTE Magazine
Well, because you know when you’re on the cusp of something great. I wanted America, I wanted it so bad, with every fibre of my being, and I was also in the hole for £�,��� (Laughs). I rented a car from a place called ‘rent direct’, and it was a lime green Pacer, with a wing kind of hanging off, and a cushion on the seat because the springs were going up through your ass, and I went on my first audition, I drove across Laurel Canyon, and the audition was for Remington Steele.
I know you travel a lot, but do you and your family enjoy road trips? I have never done a road trip, no. But my life has been a road trip, in the sense that the travel and the countries that I’ve been to ... It was one of my dreams actually, to get a motorhome in the early 8�s and do Route 66, but I was working so hard, and when I wasn’t working hard, I was working hard looking for work, that I never did the road trip.
You grew up enamored with Westerns and cowboys and Indians … There were two cinemas in the little town that I grew up in, one was called, The Palace, [the other] was called The Lyric. The Palace was the closest one to my grandmother’s house, so I would go to the pictures, as we would call them, and it was cowboys and Indians. Cowboys and Indians and British comedies like Norman Wisdom or Mother Riley. So the cowboys and Indians were deep in the fabric of the Irish heartbeat, and growing up with my grandmother on the banks of the River Boyne, every springtime this family of tinkers would come around, and she was a gypsy, and she had two sons ... she had a beautiful horse and cart and she would mend the pots and pans of my grandmother and her sons ... they knew all about making the best bow and arrows, catapults. So, what I’m trying to say is that I was always an Indian. (Laughs) I was always the Indian, however, when I got to
London and I discovered the movies, Clint Eastwood was my hero. So, there you go, roundabout story playing the cowboy.
What do you think is so appealing to Western Europeans when they think of Route 66 and the 1950s era of America? I think it’s the pioneer spirit of the people, because it was a virgin landscape in many respects, and there was such an innocence to life, and so the culture was discovering its own being and self, and the automobile created such an accessibility to the land, just like the railway came across the nation, and the music. I think it goes to the music of that age. Elvis, the romance of travel, the romance of falling in love with girls from another state, or just down the road, and then wanting to get out of that place to go find the world. When you build a road, it lets the world in, and that beautiful car with just four wheels and some kind of engine and gas in it, gives you a lot of freedom, and a lot of dreaming, and I think, you know, just the road itself has such a huge breadth of beginnings of people’s lives. England is quite small and intimate, and just the vastness of America.
I think you need to get on the road and do that road trip that you’ve been dreaming of. It sounds like its right up your alley at this point. Yeah, I think it could be, Brennen, I think it could be. My wife and I are almost empty nesters. Paris, our youngest, has turned �8, and Dylan’s off at college at USC, and Paris is going off to college soon. My eldest son has got his family, and my stepson has got his life in England, so Keely and I have been tripping the lights on down the road happily so for twenty-five years, as husband and wife. So we do talk about it. I’m going to carry on being an actor, and my painting has become more pronounced in my life, and I’d like to get better at that, having exhibits and, you know, we talk about my going off and doing character roles in movies here and there, and she’s a great lady, she’s my North Star and has given me wings to fly in this career, and travelled with me hand in hand across the world, especially in the days of Bond. She’s made the most beautiful home for our sons and myself. We talk about just getting up by ourselves and traveling, which we’ve never really done, it’s all because of work, it’s because of a movie. We have a home in Kauai, Hawaii, which is a really small little bungalow homestead, but it sits on 5 acres on the water’s edge, and she’s a great gardener, and from sands and weeds she has made a landscape of 3�� coconuts and an orchard and banana groves, she’s a powerful gardener and writer, and she’s just made her own first documentary film called Poisoning Paradise.
Who is the funniest actor you know? Robin Williams, bless his heart.
Tell me more. There was such a humanity, and kind of mischievous, devilish, outrageous flair of kaleidoscopic thought process, that you just didn’t have time to breathe with his
comedy. He just came at you like a freight train of ‘I want to please you’. He just loved to turn people on, and he turned the world on in the most glorious way. When I got Mrs. Doubtfire, there was a time I said to my agents, I said look, ‘I’m a working actor, I just want to work with good people, I just want to pay the rent.’ And Mrs. Doubtfire came along and whoa boy, the script was so well written, you could feel the movie, you could sense the movie. I flew up to San Francisco on a spring morning, I got there and they said, ‘do you want to meet Robin?’ and I was so excited to meet the guy, I was so thrilled to have the job, to be with Robin, to be with Sally Fields, I went into the makeup trailer and there was Robin Williams sitting in the Hawaiian shirt, with cargo pants on, and Ugg boots, but his arms, his big hairy arms hanging out, just Robin Williams. However, he had the head of Mrs. Doubtfire. So there he was, it was the head of Mrs. Doubtfire and he said (in her over-the-top voice), ‘oh Pierce, oh you’re so handsome, oh come here, give us a hug, you lovely boy you’ and I said, ‘so good to see you Robin. Then he said (in a husky, manly voice), ‘hey dude, I’m so glad you’re here man, so glad you’re here, it’s good to see you Pierce, good to see you. Thank you for being here.’ And I said, ‘oh I’m thrilled to be with you man, it’s just great to be with you.’ I never really worked with Robin Williams [on the movie] because every day I went to work he was Mrs. Doubtfire, and it wasn’t until the end of the movie that I saw Robin and sat with Robin, and hung with Robin, because I’d go to work and he’d be in the chair from four in the morning. We’d do a full day’s work, I’d go home, he’d go home, we’d all go home ... so there you go, that’s my Robin memory. It deeply saddened me.
It was very surprising, and very sad. You have so much going on, what other projects should we keep an eye open for? Well, we’ve optioned a book called, Girls Like Us, and it’s Carole King, Carly Simon and Joni Mitchell. The piece is a broader version and a kind of template, but really the story of women in music and the relevance of the song writing, and their own coming-of-age in a society that is very male dominated, so it’s not just those three ladies, it’s a broader neck. It’s women in music. We’re looking at this as a documentary, we’re looking at this as a four-part series.
For TV then? For TV, yes. We’re working with a wonderful director who did a magnificent documentary on Elvis, and he did one with Bruce Springsteen. We are fledglings, we like the documentary format. Keely started as a writer and producer with her own TV show, a gardening show, called Home Green Home. Really, kind of gave up her career to be a mother, to create this life for us, and she’s the most magnificent mother, incredible lady, her courage, her strength, her stamina, and her beauty. Yeah, the two of us have got plans to work. Catch Pierce Brosnan in Season 2 of The Son returning to AMC in April 2019. ROUTE Magazine 45
EL VAQUER Another Harvey House Gem
O HOTEL By Frank Jastrzembski
The Railway Arrives Seven years later, the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway (AT&SF) reached the young town. The railroad facilitated millions of buffalo hides to be shipped east. “The hides were [highly] coveted because they shipped them back east and made hats, coats, things like that from them,” Stevens explained. Skinners returned from the prairie with mounds of stinking buffalo hides in their wagons and piled them near the railway station. “Buffalo skinners could make about $��� a day, which was a lot of money at that time.” Within a few years, the demand for the hides outpaced the supply, and buffalo herds were virtually wiped out by �8�6. With the supply of buffalo depleted, the AT&SF turned Dodge City into a base for shipping cattle arriving from
Dodge City, Kansas stagecoach 1880–1910. 48 ROUTE Magazine
Texas. The heavy traffic in the frontier town attracted saloon owners, gamblers and prostitutes to cater to the cowboys arriving in droves, looking for loose women, strong drink and entertainment. “The cattle trail time is really when things got rough and rugged,” Stevens said. “Dodge City was kind of a tent city, then they became wooden buildings, and then we became a community. Once we became a community and had churches, cemeteries, and things like that, that’s when the trouble really started.” A British traveler described the town as “the sink of iniquity” and “perfect ‘hell upon earth,’” and even compared it to Sodom and Gomorrah. Noted lawmen, such as Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson and Bill Tilghman tried to maintain some resemblance of law and order, but this was a rough and rumble time, and the Old West, with its legends and myths, was being born. Even though this period of anarchy only lasted about a decade, its unsavory and wild reputation has stuck ever since.
A Man with a Plan In �85�, a teenager from England named Frederick Harvey arrived in New York City and landed a job as a dishwasher and busboy. He was industrious and worked hard for little. Fast forward twenty years later, Harvey, now an up-andcoming businessman, approached the president of the AT&SF to set up dining rooms along the railroad so that he could provide the railroad’s passengers with quality meals. Prior to Harvey’s proposal, passengers dined on unpalatable canned meats and vegetables, rancid bacon, and drank bitter coffee. “I think Fred Harvey saw a need the way Howard Johnson saw a need for restaurants and the highway, and Ray Kroc saw a need for fast, cheap hamburgers,” Kansas City restaurant critic Charles Ferruzza declared while giving a presentation on Fred Harvey at the Kansas City’s National Archives. “I think he saw a need and jumped right in.” In �8�6, Fred Harvey set up his first dining house in an AT&SF train depot in Topeka, Kansas. He decided to expand to hotels and purchased the Clifton Hotel in Florence two years later. Within seven years, seventeen Fred Harvey “Houses” popped up in towns along the AT&SF. By ����, forty-five restaurants and twenty dining cars were established across the United States, with the majority being in the southwest. Fred Harvey capitalized on the influx of traffic in Dodge City and set up two boxcars – one as a kitchen and the other as a dining room – on stilts, near the tracks, to feed the AT&SF’s hungry passengers. Harvey had a unique connection to Dodge City besides his crude dining house. Harvey’s wife’s sister – Margaret Mattas – was married to Jack Hardesty (Colonel Richard “Jack” Hardesty). The pair met on Fred Harvey’s ranch during a party in July �8��. “They were having a big party, it was the Fourth of July, [Harvey’s] wife and his sister-in-law came to this, and met this Colonel Hardesty, and [Mattas] married him. They lived in Dodge City and
Photographs courtesy of Boot Hill Museum, Inc., Dodge City, Kansas.
odge City, Kansas, best known for its history as a wild frontier cowtown dating back to the ��th Century, is once again in the spotlight, as history hunters flock to the welcoming area to take in some of the Old Western culture and heritage that still color this Kansas gem. Even the name is romantic. Dodge City. But few are aware of the history of the town’s actual origins and its connection to Fort Dodge, a structure that was built in �865 to protect travelers on the Santa Fe Trail running from Missouri to New Mexico. “The story is that [at] the fort they could not serve alcohol,” said Jan Stevens, Director of the town’s convention and visitors bureau. “It couldn’t be on the premises, except five miles away. That’s the closest you could set to Fort Dodge with any alcohol.” But in June �8��, a shrewd businessman saw an opportunity to make a profit from thirsty travelers. “George Hooker took a string and tied it to his wagon wheel and somehow calculated how many rotations that wheel had to go before he reached five miles.” Hoover built a sod and wood-plank bar and sold whiskey for twenty-five cents a ladle, thus establishing Dodge City.
Front desk at the El Vaquero.
their house is [now] the museum on Boot Hill complex,” noted Barbara Straight, a veteran tour guide of the Santa Fe Depot and El Vaquero Hotel.
Thinking Big Straight described Dodge City leaders’ push in �8�6 to get the AT&SF to build a sturdier depot to handle the substantial flow of traffic and to replace the deteriorating original structure. “The story is that the city fathers had gone to the Santa Fe [AT&SF] and said, ‘you know we need a new building, we’re this big point here, and there are trains going each way.’ So they promised the hotel, hot and cold running water, steam heat, electricity, and phone service. It was a big deal.” After laying out the plans for the depot, Jacob Frey, General Manager of the AT&SF from �8�3-�8��, proclaimed that “the structure will be first class in every particular.” The building, completed toward the end of �8��, was state-of-the-art. Dodge’s citizens were hugely proud of it. Most of rural Kansas did not even have electricity for another four decades. Construction got underway and James Clinton Holland, a prominent Topeka architect, chose to construct the building of red brick and stone in the Richardsonian Romanesque style. Buildings built in this style were known for their strong foundations and longevity. The stone used in its construction came from quarries in Cottonwood Falls, Kansas, and Colorado. Continuing its partnership with the AT&SF, the Fred Harvey Company abandoned its boxcars and built a dining room and hotel inside the new depot. A fire had destroyed one of his eating houses in nearby Kinsley, so the depot was selected to replace this service. The hotel portion, elegantly decorated and furnished, had forty-three guest rooms, all located on the second floor, in addition to a large dining room and lobby. The hotel became a popular meeting place for businessmen and for organizations to hold banquets or reunions. It was simply known as the Harvey House. Of the millions who eventually passed through the depot, President Theodore Roosevelt was one of its most famous visitors. Roosevelt stopped in Dodge City to have breakfast on his way back from a Rough Rider reunion. Another prominent visitor was Edsel Ford, the son of the automobile titan, who stayed in the hotel during a roundtrip with six companions in his Model T in ���5. Around ���3, a two-story dormitory was built about twenty feet away from the depot to accommodate its forty “Harvey Girls.” The building presently houses the Depot
Theater Company’s offices. In �883, Fred Harvey started hiring attractive, courteous, and morally upright women instead of men. His strategy was hugely successful. Author Lesley Poling-Kempes, an authority on the Harvey Girls, said that between the �88�s and ��5�, ���,��� single girls worked for the Fred Harvey Company. “More than half of them remained in the southwest to become part of the fabric of new communities built along the Santa Fe Railway,” Poling-Kempes declared. “What we had were a lot of farm girls,” Straight said of the women working there, “so coming to Dodge was a step-up for some of them.” Trains arrived at all hours and the girls worked irregular shifts. One Harvey Girl, Joanne Stinelichner, complained that, “There were more trains coming in there all the time because of the wheat and cattle.” The dust and the smells could be unbearable. Another Harvey Girl who worked there, Hazel Williams, grumbled that “the smell of cattle was horrible. Some days you could hardly stand it if the wind was blowing right.” As such, conditions were not always the most ideal, and a natural contradiction was present between the upscale lodging and dining experience provided and the actual living conditions of the Harvey team. In ���3, both the depot and hotel underwent a renovation. This construction added another two blocks to the building, totally �5,��� square feet, making it one of the largest Harvey establishments of its time. It cost around $��,���, nearly $�,���,��� in today’s costs. The citizens of Dodge City gained the consent of the company’s management to select a name for the beautifully refurbished hotel. They reasoned that they deserved to name the hotel “both as a matter of convenience and publicity.” El Vaquero – Spanish for cowboy – was chosen among the submissions. Today, it would be hard to miss the red three-story Santa Fe Depot and El Vaquero Hotel while driving down Dodge City’s East Wyatt Earp Blvd. It is the largest restored depot in the state of Kansas. The city’s CVB is located on the second floor in the old hotel portion of the building. “If you ever get to Dodge, you definitely have to go to Boot Hill Museum, but the depot is something you would be in awe of,” Stevens encouraged. “It’s got great
Zimmermann Hardware, Dodge City, Kansas. ROUTE Magazine 49
Harvey House El Vaquero Restaurant, Dodge City, Kansas, circa 1900.
history and it’s huge, and you can just wander the hallways and imagine what it was like back then.” Over time, the rise of automobile ownership began to diminish train travel on the AT&SF, finally leading to the closing of the El Vaquero Hotel in the late ����s. Afterward, the building fell into disrepair. “The Santa Fe left in the early ����s, so the building was abandoned, and it sat for about �� years,” Straight said. Over time the once grand, impressive building incurred extensive water damage and had a great many wires hanging from the walls, even its framing was bare. “At one point it was abandoned and nobody was in it, and of course, pigeons took over, and there were lots of homeless people that lived here,” Stevens recalled. “It was more or less an eyesore for the community.”
Salvation for the El Vaquero Hotel But the sad state of disrepair and neglect would not be the end of the tale for this storied venue. “The wonderful story is the whole resurrection of that building, because so many of the depots were torn down,”
Boot Hill Cemetery 1938, Dodge City, Kansas. 50 ROUTE Magazine
said Straight. The Depot Theater Company, looking for a new home, spearheaded the restoration project and raised money through grants and personal donations. Straight’s husband was one of the volunteers who helped to bring the building back to life, spending countless hours on his hands and knees sanding its yellow pine floors. After eight years, the old hotel rooms on the first floor of the east end of the building were converted into a theater, light and sound booths, dressing rooms, and a rehearsal studio. The theater company moved into the building in July ����. “Our building is alive and well,” Straight proudly stated of the revived historical landmark. “There aren’t many authentic buildings in Dodge City, and this is an authentic building.” Many of its original features are still intact, such as its leaded glass windows, floors and ornate tin ceiling. One of the hotel rooms was even restored so that visitors can see what it would have looked like when the hotel operated. John Stuff was impressed when he arrived in Dodge City three years ago to take over as the executive director of the Depot Theater Company. “I came here from central Illinois, a much larger metropolitan area, Urbana, with a major university and a lot of commercial activity,” Stuff noted. He was concerned that it would be difficult for him to adapt, but he was won over as soon as he entered the historic building. “I walked into the front door of the depot and said wow, I can do this. They did such a nice job renovating the building and it’s so beautiful. It’s a wonderful privilege to be able to work here. It has so much character.”
Haunted, in a Good Way Spirits still linger in the once opulent venue. “We have this paranormal group that comes out from Wichita,” Straight explained, “and they love the depot and the spirits ... whatever they find, the activity in the depot.” A doubter herself, she told the story of how one of her coworkers saw a ghostly spirit of a little girl in the building on the stairs going up to the third floor. “They were practicing doing a cabaret one night and she looked at the top of the stairs and a little girl was leaning over the railing.” Stuff, also a skeptic, admitted, “There’s a girl up on the third floor, there’s a guy down in the basement. There seems to be quite a bit of activity throughout the building.” Enjoyed by ghostly spirits or actual living beings, the Santa Fe Depot and El Vaquero Hotel is a testament to Dodge City’s rich history and its role in taming the Old West. “It’s a beautiful building, and it’s being repurposed, it’s not falling in. It’s really a solid building,” Stevens stated. “How much more authentic can you get than that? Ghosts and all, it’s pretty cool.”
Williams, Arizona has something for everyone. Plan a visit and see why visitors have fallen in love with Williams. ROUTE 66
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ROUTE Magazine 51
ROUTE Magazineâ€™s Picks for the Top Places to Eat Along the Mother Road
52 ROUTE Magazine
he American road trip wouldn’t be what it is today without the wonderful variety of food found along the way. With each twist and turn of the road, a new flavor can be found, making the country’s cuisine as much of an adventure as the drive itself. Take your taste buds for a ride as you explore the familiar and the new, each with their own story, style and character. Whether you have a major craving for a home cooked meal, or you feel like you want
to spoil yourself and splurge a little, one thing that you can always count on is the diversity that Route 66 offers. While some classic Route 66 eateries have permanently closed their doors, or their futures are in question - such as Angels on the Route (Baxter Springs, Kansas), Woody’s Diner (Miami, Oklahoma), The Golden Spur (Glendora, California), and the Summit Inn (Oak Hills, California) - there are still tons of great establishments still thriving along the iconic highway. While by no means a definitive list, we have compiled for you some of our favorite restaurants - and some of our best kept dining secrets for your journey down The Mother Road. If these above examples demonstrate anything, it is that nothing will last forever; so don’t hesitate getting out to spoil yourself and experience what these restaurants listed have to offer. Read on for our top picks for this year’s ROUTE 66 dining odyssey.
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Some venues just scream Route 66 - the comfort food on the menu, bright neon signs, black and white checkered floors, crowded walls plastered with dozens of posters or memorabilia – and many in this section of the story have been around for decades, making them certified purveyors of old-school cool. These venues are the places where you are likely to be referred to as ‘hon’, enjoy greasy breakfasts served 24/7 and have your nostalgia buttons pushed in all the right ways. And if the old jukebox still works, you’re in for a real treat.
Lou Mitchell’s, Chicago, IL For perspicacious Route 66 travelers, breakfast at Lou Mitchell’s - located at the beginning of Route 66 at 565 W. Jackson Boulevard - has become an important tradition before starting down the Mother Road - a rite of passage that any devoted Route 66er and intrepid traveler should visit at least once in their lifetime. Established in ���3 by William Mitchell, the family diner gained notoriety when his son, Lou Mitchell, a shoe salesman, joined the family business in ��36. Lou’s gregarious personality - he was known to remember his customers’ names and occupations - plus his famous home cooking, earned him the affectionate moniker “Uncle Lou” and the diner, legend status. Today, the iconic diner is headed by Lou Mitchell’s nephew, Nick Noble, who continues to carry the mantle of good food, tradition (milk duds for the ladies and donut holes for the gents) and friendly atmosphere that the diner has long been known for. Once inside Lou Mitchell’s it’s like stepping back in time: ��5�’s decor, a zigzag-shaped counter and soda fountain, retro booths engulfed in a spirited buzz. Meal options are endless, however an order of their generous sized pancakes served with real maple syrup is an absolute must. The food is hearty, the service friendly and fast, and the energy, palpable. The diner gets pretty busy, but the wait is worth it. Lou Mitchell’s is a definite must stop when starting your journey or enjoying the embrace of the Windy City.
The Berghoff Restaurant, Chicago, IL With a legacy that can be traced back to the late �8��s, Berghoff’s is one of Chicago’s oldest family-run businesses in the nation. How did it start? Herman J. Berghoff, a German immigrant, who operated a brewery in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, came to Chicago in �8�3, for the Chicago World’s Fair where he set up a beer stand serving craft beer to people entering and exiting the fair. His success prompted him to move to a permanent location, and in �8�8, Berghoff’s was finally opened. For a nickel, you could get a beer with a sandwich as a side. In the prohibition years they began selling what was then called “near beer” along with soda pop, further expanding their success. After prohibition, Herman opened The Berghoff Bar, securing Chicago’s first ever liquor license. The original - Chicago Liquor License No. � - currently hangs on a wall, enclosed in a glass case, onsite. While many things have changed since the end of prohibition, including the addition of The Berghoff Cafe below the original restaurant, and beer being a little more than just a nickel, Berghoff ’s is still emblematic of Chicago’s German community and humble beginnings. The historic interior and ambiance have largely been preserved. The dark oak wood paneling, old fashioned light fixtures, photos, art and murals depicting turn of the century Chicago, reek with the atmosphere of old-world charm. The food is authentic, service welcoming and the milieu is a snapshot of old Chicago. You will love it. 54 ROUTE Magazine
Dixie Travel Plaza, McLean, IL Dixie’s makes our list once again for its old-fashioned, all-American eatery vibe and for its position as the first truck stop in America right on 66. So, slide into one of their booths and transport yourself back to ���8 – when it all began. Built in a partnership between J.P. Walters and John Geske, Dixie Truckers Home, as it was originally called, housed a small portion of a mechanic’s garage and a single counter cafe and barstools. The goal was to ensure that truckers knew they had a home away from home. Over the course of several years and even through the Depression, the success of the truck stop continued until ��65, when a fire destroyed the original building. However, two years later, with help and support from the community, the new Dixie opened in the building being used to this day. You’ll still find the original road signs in place. The truck stop changed hands over the years until ����, when it was purchased by Road Ranger and remodeled. However, the interior still reflects the rich history of Route 66. A hearty buffet, a decent salad bar, an all-day breakfast and an extensive menu provide endless meal choices. For us, it’s all about the “signature” Cobb salad and chicken fried steak, and if you have a sweet tooth, you’re in luck, their double fudge dream, a warm fudge brownie in hot fudge and rich caramel, topped with a scoop of vanilla icecream, is to die for. Pump some gas, gorge on Dixie’s comfort food and sample true southern hospitality.
Ariston Cafe, Litchfield, IL The bright neon Ariston Cafe sign welcomes you to this vintage icon whose interior is characterized with booths, counter seating, white linen cloth covered tables, neon signs and Route 66 memorabilia. As a family owned and operated restaurant since its start in ����, the Ariston Cafe is filled with history and tradition. You only have to read the cafe’s guestbook to find stories of childhood memories and heartfelt reviews that attest to the establishment’s place in the town’s narrative. Originally opened in Carlinville by Greek immigrant, Pete Adams, the Ariston Cafe was moved to Litchfield in ���� and to its current location on Historic Route 66 in ��35. Nick Adams joined the family business to work alongside his father in ��66, and together, Nick and his wife Demi, operated the upmarket family style restaurant, building it to the must-visit attraction that it is today. Along with prime ribs and a popular Sunday buffet, which has an omelet station, hand-carved roast beef, ham and seafood, the Ariston Cafe also offers a plethora of Greek, Mexican, and American dishes that promise to hit the spot for every palate. After more than �� years of being run by one family, the cafe started a new chapter recently when it was sold in July ���8. Marty and Kara Steffens, co-owners of the Maverick Steaks & Spirits restaurant in Litchfield, now continue the story of this historic restaurant, while keeping its offering and appeal solidly in the past. ROUTE Magazine 55
Image courtesy of David J. Schwartz – Pics On Route 66.
Opened and operated by husband and wife team, Andrea and Peter Niehaus, the Wild Hare Cafe calls the ��th Century red brick, former bank building in historic Elkhart, home. Walking in, be prepared to enter an enchanting wonderlandlike space. Horsefeathers - the gift-and-antique shop, in the front - is a collector’s treasure trove. Specializing in an “eclectic blend of antique and vintage goods, as well as contemporary gifts and decorative accessories,” including Route 66 t-shirts and mementos, to Amish jams, this is a place to spend some time. You’ll find hand painted murals and decorative pressed glass along the interior of the building and tucked away in the back is the Wild Hare Cafe, with its hand painted murals, low lighting, mismatched wooden tables and chairs, exposed brick walls and wooden ceilings craft the perfect ambiance. The menu changes weekly but pasta, beef, and chicken dishes are staples. Favorites amongst customers are the seasonal salads – Moroccan wild rice, black bean salsa - the soups, quiches and sandwiches (grilled roast beef-cheddar chicken salad and turkey BLT spinach wrap.) Everything is made from scratch using the Niehaus’ family recipes, and their homemade desserts have won the hearts of many. When you’re done, take your time exploring the knickknacks and collectibles that will certainly bring back memories when you are back home.
Image courtesy of David J. Schwartz – Pics On Route 66.
Wild Hare Cafe, Elkhart, IL
Shelly’s Route 66 Café, Cuba, MO If you happen to be so lucky as to spend the night in Cuba, Missouri – we suggest The Wagon Wheel Motel – then breakfast at Shelly’s is a must. The cafe holds its own as one of the go-to places for Cuba locals and Route 66 enthusiasts alike. And breakfast runs all day! Shelly’s Route 66 Café has a history that begins in the early ��5�s. It was originally called Dairy Queen, but after some time, the owners decided that the name Dairy Cream suited their business better. However, name change or not, soon the business closed its doors. The present owner, Shelly, was so touched by the stories told by people who used to go to the diner that she decided to restore the old building and open up Shelly’s Café. In true diner style, the interior has a no frills feel and is peppered with Classic Route 66 nostalgia, framed photos and hilarious signs - ‘Bed and Breakfast Two Things Men Can’t Make’, ‘Today is Not Your Day. Tomorrow Doesn’t Look Good Either’- that will make you smile. Even though the café is small, it makes up for the lack of space with good ‘ole down home food. And the sign out front says it all: ‘EAT HERE, It’s cheap and HOMEMADE’. Enjoy the taste of the “Route 66 Slinger.” This dish comes with two biscuits and gravy, hash browns, hamburger patty, chili, and eggs. The meals are wellpriced, so stay a while, order another cup of coffee and savor the small town feel while you listen to the local folk chat. You may just learn a thing or two about life and business in Cuba, Missouri.
For something a little different and definitely refreshing, head to POPS in Arcadia. What makes this place unique is the collection of ��� kinds of sodas, sparkling water, and other ice-cold refreshments. This modern roadside attraction will catch your eye with its giant soda pop bottle neon sign that comes alive as the sun sets. You really can’t miss it; it’s 66-feet-tall and weighs four tons. Pumping gas and getting something to drink never seemed so cool. You can enjoy breakfast, lunch, and dinner, although people usually go for their selection of delicious and fresh hamburgers, such as the “Arcadia burger,” served with POPS homemade BBQ sauce, bacon, and blue cheese on a toasted bun. Whatever you choose, you won’t be disappointed. POPS is the rest stop that road trip dreams are made of.
Clanton’s Cafe, Vinita, OK You can’t miss the big red and white EAT sign outside of Clanton’s in Vinita, Oklahoma. Owned by a fourth generation Clanton, Melissa, and her husband Dennis Patrick, the restaurant has been serving classic home cooked food since ����. As the oldest continually owned family restaurant on Route 66 in the state of Oklahoma, Clanton’s has become a tradition in Vinita. Opened as The Busy Bee Cafe in ���� by Grant “Sweet Tator” Clanton, Clanton was known for coming out and banging a pot with a spoon to announce to the town locals that lunch was ready. After ����, The Busy Bee Cafe moved to its new location and officially changed the name to Clanton’s Cafe, with locals and travelers alike stopping in for down-home favorites like the classic American breakfast, the renowned chicken fried steak, or the regional-classic calf fries. Guy Fieri himself even stopped in and tried the calf-fries on an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins, & Dives. Get some of that homemade goodness in Clanton’s well-worn booths. Read the walls adorned with awards, memorabilia, photos of the famous and infamous, and the occasional taxidermy animal head, while you savor the food. And to ensure your spot in Vinita history, be sure to sign the guestbook before you leave. 56 ROUTE Magazine
Image courtesy of Efren Lopez/Route66Images.
POPS, Arcadia, OK
Lucille’s Roadhouse Diner, Weatherford, OK Lucille’s history is filled with southern charm and a perseverance that is incredibly indicative of Route 66. The original station was built in ����. Lucille Hamons and her husband Carl purchased the station and motor courts on Route 66 in ����, and the Hamons, including their three children, made the living quarters above the station their home. But the building of the interstate highway delivered a crushing blow to small and family run businesses, including their own. However, the Hamons kept on and in ����, on the 66th anniversary of Route 66, the Oklahoma Route 66 Association gave Lucille a special recognition for her 5� years in business. Dubbed “The Mother of the Mother Road,” Lucille operated the service station and souvenir stand until her passing in ����. The original Lucille’s station, which is now closed but can still be visited while on the way to Weatherford, inspired the creation of a replica, Lucille’s Roadhouse, which houses a diner, steakhouse and bar, owned and operated by ASAP Energy, Inc. who pay homage to Route 66 and Lucille Hamons all throughout the restaurant. The checkered floors and ceiling, wall murals, and turquoise vinyl seats ignite old childhood memories. The menu has a nice variety of choices, including some healthier selections. Start your meal with the corn nuggets battered and fried to golden brown and served with a side of ranch dressing, or Lucille’s fried pickles. Follow this up with the Classic Route 66 Burger and end your meal with a taste of Lucille’s three-layer carrot cake filled with carrots, golden raisins, pineapples and walnuts. Lucille Hamons would be proud of the tradition that is being continued at Lucille’s Roadhouse.
White Dog Hill, Clinton, OK There’s something to be said for dining in a picturesque spot. Off of Route 66 in Clinton is a venue that delivers on both: a great dining experience and panoramic views. Perched on a hill overlooking Clinton, Oklahoma, is White Dog Hill. Once an abandoned and vandalized remnant of a once-upon-a-time clubhouse for a golf course back in the ����s, this venue has been transformed into a unique upmarket dining gem, thanks to the vision and efforts of owner, Nelson King. Named after the owner’s mixed breed dog - who unfortunately passed away in ���6 - the venue’s rustic charm and simple elegance, together with an innovative menu and the dramatic landscape, have been a winning combination. This is a must-stop when motoring through Oklahoma. If you’ve never been, start with the house charcuterie spread which includes a variety of premium cheeses, breads and fruits. Then take your pick from White Dog staples such as the filet mignon, grilled smoked pork chops or try any of Chef Jacqueline Davies specials. Don’t miss out on the homemade dessert either. This is a reservation only restaurant and if you go at the right time, you get to indulge in the majestic view as the sun sets over the open country. Step outside into their outdoor sitting area with fire pit, and drink in the view. The experience is unforgettable. This is the place where you come for the food and definitely stay for the view and the ambience.
You can’t possibly enjoy a great steak in Texas without journeying to Amarillo’s Big Texan Steak Ranch, rated the no. � steakhouse in the state by the Texas Country Reporter. It’s hard to miss the canary yellow and light-blue trimmed structure on Interstate ��. Out front, a massive fiberglass bull statue acts as the gatekeeper and advertises the world famous “Free �� Ounce Steak.” When R.J. “Bob” Lee and his wife Mary Anne moved to Amarillo, they couldn’t find a Texas-style steakhouse to their liking, so they decided to open up their own in ��6�. Cowboys started flooding in from nearby stockyards to feast on Lee’s enormous steaks. On a packed Friday night in ��6�, Bob Lee decided to challenge a handful of cowboys to see who could eat the most one-pound steaks in an hour. The victor demolished not only � & ½ pounds of steak, but also finished a baked potato, a shrimp cocktail, a salad, and a bread roll. After accomplishing this feat, Lee announced that from that point forward, anyone who could emulate this achievement would get their meal on the house. This offer still stands for anyone willing to take a stab at it. If the prospect of biting into one of the Big Texan Steak Ranch’s juicy steaks or throwing back one of their unique brews doesn’t leave you salivating, nothing will. ROUTE Magazine 57
Image courtesy of Efren Lopez/Route66Images.
The Big Texan, Amarillo, TX
Pow Wow Restaurant and Lizard Lounge, Tucumcari, NM One of the only places open late in Tucumcari is the Pow Wow Restaurant and Lizard Lounge, which serves Mexican and American fare in a funky - old Route 66 diner, meets Mexican restaurant - atmosphere. Booths feature surreal life-like paintings of diners - so real looking that you will feel like you are dining with others at your table. A giant green lizard statue - the Lizard Lounge mascot - complete with a pair of dark sunglasses, provides humor with its recorded messages. An open Karaoke or live entertainment area with Route 66 inspired decor features walls dressed in murals, old newspaper clippings and photographs that provide a glimpse into a Tucumcari of the past. If you are road weary from a long day of travel, this is a great stop to grab a meal and have a drink at the bar - they serve a variety of cocktails but bring your ID as you will definitely be carded.
Route 66 Diner, Albuquerque, NM Whether it is the counter-service, the comfort food, the all-American atmosphere or the nostalgic vibes, there’s something uniquely special about eating in a diner. And if you are in Albuquerque, you simply cannot miss a stop at the Route 66 Diner. Known as New Mexico’s number one diner, it serves the best burgers, best shakes and amazingly great comfort food, all in a 5�’s style diner with full on neon signs, a jukebox, vintage decor, a soda fountain and friendly servers dressed in old skool turquoise uniforms. What is now the Route 66 Diner was once a Phillip’s Gas Station and Service Garage that met the needs of original Route 66 travelers. It wasn’t until ��8� that it was converted into a diner. However, much of the original building is still intact, including the hydraulic lift that’s still under the diner’s hopscotch court. The Route 66 Diner is also home to one of the largest Pez collections in the United States. They can be found along the walls of the establishment, illuminated by some of the many neon lights. Take a picture next to the giant Betty Boop printed on one of the walls or the famous collection of retro signs. Between the food, the service and the vintage ambiance, you’ll be glad you came.
“You kill it, we grill it” is the Roadkill Cafe’s motto. Don’t worry, you won’t actually have to run anything over on your way there. Serving charbroiled burgers and other American grub, this cafe is a staple for Route 66 travelers and adventure seekers anywhere. The creative roadkill-esque names on the menu - One Eyed Dog Hit in the Fog, The Bird that Smacked the Curb or the Chicken that didn’t Make it Across the Road - alone are worth a visit. A chance stay in Seligman, at what was then the Navajo Motel, enroute to California in ��6�, resulted in Jim and Jean Pope establishing roots in quirky Seligman, Arizona. The couple acquired several businesses in town, including the Navajo Motel, now the Historic Route 66 Motel, and a bar called the OK Saloon. A patio was added to the bar in ����, which was later enclosed, giving birth to the Roadkill Café, which the Pope family still owns and runs. The family style restaurant is perfectly suited for Route 66: rustic interior, stuffed animals on the wall, wood carvings, friendly service and Route 66 memorabilia that trigger flashbacks to what it must have been like back in the old road’s heyday. Once you’re done eating your choice of ‘roadkill’ head over and shop at the Famous O.K Saloon located next door. On the same premises is a replica of an Old West town, including an old territorial jail, primed to provide ample photo ops. One thing is certain, a visit to the Roadkill Cafe is fun-filled and will keep you laughing long after you leave. 58 ROUTE Magazine
Image courtesy of Efren Lopez/Route66Images.
Roadkill Cafe, Seligman, AZ
Whether you are celebrating a milestone or just want to experience an unforgettable meal, there’s no shortage of fine dining restaurants to choose from on and along Route 66. From repurposing old spaces so that your dinner can be accompanied by the charm and character of a revitalized building, to restaurants with a story to serve, be sure to book a table at these upscale highlights from our list.
Mei’s Corner – Whitehall Hotel, Chicago, IL Tucked away in The Whitehall Hotel - a landmark property built in ���8 just one block from the Magnificent Mile in downtown Chicago, this elegant eatery brings a level of class to Asian cuisine. Mei’s (Mandarin for “beautiful”) fuses traditional Mandarin, Szechuan and Taiwanese culinary cultures. With a sleek interior, the intimate restaurant is perfect for a relaxed but comfortable dinner or lunch. The food, which is made to order using natural ingredients, has an authentic home-cooked feel. Start with the Vietnamese shrimp spring rolls followed by either the duck wrap - roasted duck thigh, wrapped with scallions, cucumber and duck sauce with fried rice - General Tso’s chicken or Madame Chiang’s Szechwan short ribs noodle soup - a meal in itself. When spending time in Chicago, Mei’s is a memorable choice for sampling a taste of what the city has to offer.
Anju Above, Bloomington, IL Housed on the first floor of a former historic fire station in downtown Bloomington, Anju Above serves an eclectic blend of Asian-infused farm-to-table food inspired by Korean-born Nanam Yoon, as well as cuisine from around the globe. From pizza to sushi rolls and steamed dumplings, the meals are fresh, well presented and colorful, all made with local ingredients. Try the Anju pork dumplings, made of pork shoulder, garlic, ginger, and teriyaki. Follow that up with Farm � Face, a tempura roll with Napa cabbage, carrot, cream cheese, sweet pepper, and ponzu dipping sauce. This is the kind of food you will crave on a weekly basis. You will love Every. Single. Bite.
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Epiphany Farms Restaurant, Bloomington, IL Sitting right below Anju Above is sister restaurant Epiphany. Embodying fine, locally sourced dining that brings something fresh to the table, Epiphany is one of our favorite restaurants in Bloomington. The restored building, with exposed brick walls, high beamed ceiling and large farmhouse inspired windows, offer aesthetics to the eatery that are just as comforting and fresh as the food. After working for superstar chefs Guy Savoy and Thomas Keller in Las Vegas, Ken Myszka sought a more holistic way to bring food from farms to diners. While peeling carrots, he had an epiphany, and together with his then girlfriend, now wife, Nanam Yoon, and another chef friend, Epiphany Farms Hospitality Group (EFHG) was born in ���� with the mission to ‘blend socially conscious farming techniques with comfortable fine dining.’ The idea was to serve not only food that people would enjoy, but also believe in. Today, that epiphany has led to four restaurants with another opening in ����. Their farm-to-table approach offers seasonal plates that host intentional influences within each dish. Made from seasonal produce, herbs and meat from owned farms that feature tours to the farm to learn more about the farm’s sustainable agricultural practices, EFHG have perfected a more holistic way to bring food from farms to diners. They grow it, harvest it, create the seasonal menu, and prepare it in decadent ways. Featured entrees include rotini pasta, roasted chicken breast, braised pork shoulder, or their “prime creations,” like the Korean Bulgogi, or braised lamb shank. The food is visually stunning, texturally appealing and uniquely flavorful. If you are looking for a nice place to have a fresh and tasty dinner in Bloomington, definitely try Epiphany.
Eleven Eleven Mississippi, St Louis, MO This multi-level dining, ultra-hip modern restaurant has become a dining destination, thanks to an extraordinary vibe, exceptional service, and most importantly, innovative cuisine. Founders of Hamilton Hospitality, Paul and Wendy Hamilton, opened Eleven Eleven Mississippi - named after the street address where it is located - in December ���3, and since then, the restaurant has become one of the most recognized restaurants in St. Louis, winning the “Best Overall Restaurant” title many times over. Situated in a restored historic former shoe warehouse in the Lafayette Park neighborhood, the restaurant is known for its award-winning Tuscan-California infused cuisine and wine selection. The soft lighting, black and white photographs complimented with deep, rich colors and natural elements of brick and wood, set the stage for an inspiring dining adventure. They have outdoor patio seating which, in the warm summer months, is perfect for an intimate dinner for two. The impressive wine list is carefully curated with Northern Italian and California influences and the food is made from scratch, using fresh seasonal ingredients, most of which are grown in the restaurant’s own hydroponic greenhouse. Start off with the oak oven roasted mussels cooked in a cilantro pesto with bacon and garlic. It comes with the most delicious buttery bread. Then, let yourself go overboard with the grilled salmon, or better still, the Marsala braised rabbit hindquarter - that’s right, rabbit - served with sweet potato risotto, swiss chard and marsala braising jus. And whatever it takes, don’t skip the dessert. When you arrive in St. Louis - the gateway to the West – and decide to take a break from the open road, don’t miss Eleven Eleven for dinner. 60 ROUTE Magazine
Vin De Set, St. Louis, MO A sister restaurant to Eleven Eleven Mississippi is the Vin De Set, aptly named after the phonetic spelling of its street number - ���� (vingt-dix-sept in French). A trip to the Provence region of France inspired Paul and Wendy Hamilton to open this venue - the first rooftop restaurant and bar in St. Louis. Also located in the Lafayette Park neighborhood, the restaurant occupies the 3rd floor of the restored �8�6 Centennial Malt House on Chouteau Avenue and includes a large rooftop patio, decorated with twinkling lights and a spectacular view of the city lights and the Gateway Arch in the distance. The view and outdoor atmosphere alone are reason enough to dine here. The dress code is smart casual; however, the food and service are anything but. The menu changes seasonally; expect Mediterranean influences and decadent French inspired fare. Start with the seared sea scallops or escargot with garlic-herb butter, white wine and purslane - no sense in going small here. Follow this up with the duck confit served with mustard glazed vegetables, brandied apricot compote and duck jus. And for dessert, linger over the maple mascarpone cheesecake and enjoy the distant views of downtown St. Louis and the arch, in the shadow of stars. If it does get chilly, not to worry, they have heaters strategically placed to warm you up. If you enjoy outdoor dining, then this is the place to go. And yes, parking is free.
The Order - Hotel Vandivort, Springfield, MO Located on the lobby level of the Hotel Vandivort, (which in itself is also a must-see, must-visit) The Order, cocktail bar and restaurant, housed in the ��8-year-old building - originally built as a Masonic temple - brings a modern dining enjoyment with the spirit of yesteryear. The restaurant’s space was designed to create a lively contemporary social experience, while maintaining elements of the historic building: exposed brick walls, use of woodwork and iron, even the lights that hang above the dining room, were specifically designed to resemble plumb bobs (plumb-line). The result is a trendy atmosphere in a rustic, industrial setting. On weekends it is the hottest place in town to book a table! With an unusual but cool menu, food at The Order centers around celebrating the bounties of the Ozarks. Using locally sourced ingredients to create upscale and flavorful dishes, inspired by Missouri, the menu is seasonal, but do try the fan favorite, cashew chicken kebobs - a reimagined Springfield classic of perfectly crispy chicken bites served with a side of cashew sauce. With names such as Lady Vandivort or Noggin’ on Heaven’s Door, the cocktails at The Order are not your typical gin and tonic or margarita fare. Engineered in collaboration with the owners and the chef, Zack White, the drinks are well-crafted, unique and not to be missed. If you make it for brunch, an event in itself, The Ozarks Benedict - seared Circle B Ranch pork belly and � poached eggs served with a biscuit and sagesausage-apple-gravy, top the list. And of course, plan to visit the downstairs bathrooms to take the obligatory selfie. But that is a story in its own right. Check it out. #hotelvandivortbathroomselfie ROUTE Magazine 61
Mahogany Prime Steakhouse, Oklahoma City, OK Are you in for a phenomenal fine dining experience? Love a good steak? Then Mahogany Prime Steakhouse on Sheridan Avenue in Oklahoma City should be on your list. Like any fine dining spot worth its salt, this is a place where each course is accompanied by pomp and circumstance. Opened in ��86 by Hal Smith, Mahogany has become renowned across Oklahoma for the taste, class and energy that accompanies the food out onto the floor. The restaurant takes pride in providing an outstanding but less intimidating, finedining experience, perfected by the art of cooking a delicious steak, choosing only the finest custom-aged U.S prime Midwestern Beef. The steak is broiled at ��� degrees to lock in the corn-fed flavor. It is then served sizzling on a heated plate so that it stays hot throughout your meal. The ambience is just right for a cooked-to-perfection steak dinner, with inviting and delicious sides. This is a restaurant that pays attention to the little details. The service is perfectly attentive without being intrusive and the presentation is simply on point. The servers (some of whom have been working here for 3�-plus years) are knowledgeable, professional and eager to please. Valet parking is offered, and the wine list is up to the challenge. If you are up for prime steak, seafood, fine wine and premiere service, well, here it is.
Zinc Wine Bar & Bistro, Albuquerque, NM Featuring an open ambience and offering relaxed, upscale dining, there is plenty to like about Zinc Wine Bar & Bistro. One, it is located on Central Avenue in Nob Hill, so right on Route 66 in Albuquerque. Two, it has a very good wine selection and the choices by the glass are extensive. And three, they are flexible and offer a ‘lite’ or ‘regular’ portion perfect for those who want to try several things and don’t want to get filled up on appetizers. And if you want a five-star experience for a fair price, they offer an excellent three course tasting menu for $35! But the key thing to like about Zinc is of course the food; inspired and cooked to perfection and attractively presented. Space at Zinc is compact, but variety is offered in the choice of multiple seating areas - the bar, the main floor and the Mezzanine floor. Go for the mezzanine floor. Here you get a bird’s eye view of the open kitchen below and get to watch all the action as each meal is created and prepared by Chef Chris Pope. The menu flaunts traditional favorites and creative seasonal specialties. Another unique thing to like about Zinc is that they partner with local businesses and farmers; produce, meat, cheese, novelties, coffee, and tea are mostly locally sourced. On the ground floor is The Cellar Bar, which offers a light snack menu. Listen to live entertainment after dinner while you sample some more wine, or cocktails, or both. 62 ROUTE Magazine
Seasons Grill, Albuquerque, NM Seasons Rotisserie & Grill located on Mountain Road, just north of Old Town, Albuquerque, is a sister restaurant to Zinc Wine Bar & Bistro. The elegant, white tablecloth dining room is a mélange of warm adobe tones, natural wood floors and a wall of wine bottles that add a contemporary flair. The open kitchen, which serves as the restaurant’s backdrop, allows diners a front seat to the “culinary drama” that unfolds each evening, while the wood-burning grill and rotisserie - the centerpiece - adds an intimate ambience. Noted as one of the 5� reasons to love Albuquerque, Seasons holds a simple but important philosophy: take the best ingredients and let them speak for themselves. The menu is changed, you guessed it, seasonally. To make Seasons even better, if you go on the right day, you’ll not only be able to enjoy a culinary show, but live music as well, at the Rooftop Cantina/patio, which offers the same house menu, a lower-key enjoyment, jazz tunes and the “best views in Albuquerque’s historic old town.” Consider it dinner and a show and then some.
St. Clair Winery & Bistro, Albuquerque, NM St. Clair Winery & Bistro makes it to the “must eat at” list this year, due to its eclectic, light dishes and wonderfully open and airy ambiance that will transport you to dining in the French countryside. The French-inspired bistro opened in ���5 near iconic Old Town Albuquerque, but the history of the winery goes back beyond that. The bistro and winery are owned by a family of sixth generation winemakers. After running a winery in France, Hervé Lescombes moved to New Mexico, drawn to the state by the strikingly similar climate as his native Algeria. In ��8�, Lescombes made his first plantings, and in ��8� he bottled his first vintage wine. The winery gained early acclaim, and the bistro, a showcase for the St. Clair wines, was added thereafter and became an instant hit. The rustic but restored old pickup truck parked out front, laden with wooden wine barrels, welcomes you into an old-world style dining room and a spacious outdoor patio. It is evident that at St. Clair, they put a great deal of thought into the food that their bottles are served with; dishes are created to complement the wines rather than the other way around. Start off with the baked Brie, with toasted almonds, local lavender-infused honey, and grapes before ordering entrees. If you happen to be dining here on a Friday or Saturday night, you will be in for a treat of an evening with live jazz music, while you sip on some award-winning St. Clair wines. Be sure to take home a few bottles!
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From barbeque to pizza to seafood, check out these ‘loved by locals’ restaurants that will have you leaving happily stuffed and feeling like you are right at home along Route 66.
Doc’s Smokehouse, Edwardsville, IL This hidden gem is going to be your new favorite for BBQ. Doc’s Smokehouse, located off Century Dr. in Edwardsville – another terrific Mother Road town - is the classic story of a man who started out barbequing for friends and family for years before he finally entered a local rib cook-off and won first place. That win followed years of competing on the professional barbeque circuit, earning multiple awards and cementing himself as a legend in the small-town barbeque scene. In ����, Doc Richardson and his wife Susan, opened Doc’s Smokehouse and the restaurant remains a must-eat location today. With all the barbeque classics such as slow-cooked and smoked pulled pork, smoked chicken, beef brisket, smoked turkey, and spare ribs, Doc’s Smokehouse offers only the best in barbeque, all in the comfort of a modern, stylish, and minimalist setting. If you’re spending time along Route 66, be sure to stop in for food that’s almost as classic as the Mother Road herself. Trust us, you haven’t eaten your weight in American barbeque until you’ve eaten at Doc’s.
PW Pizza, St. Louis, MO This restaurant shares its name with its founders, Paul and Wendy Hamilton - the team behind Eleven Eleven Mississippi and Vin de Set. Housed in an old brewery building on Chouteau Avenue, PW serves up classic Italian favs like thin crust pizza and calzones. Go bold and choose from Paul’s Picks - The Wolf, Big Balls or the Shrimpy Shrimpy Bang Bang or from Wendy’s picks which include Gimmie the Greek and Vegged Out �.�.
Frisco’s, Cuba, MO Located just one block off of Route 66 in historic Cuba is Frisco’s Grill & Pub, so named after the St. Louis-San Francisco Railway Company or Frisco which had a railroad depot in Cuba. The train tracks still run right along the front of the restaurant. Owned and operated by Cuba native Jimmy West and partner Ben White, Frisco’s serves pizza, wings, sandwiches and pasta, plus �� beers on tap - with a wide selection of Missouri craft beer - and a full wine bar. All the food is made to order and prepared in-house using quality ingredients.
Bambinos Cafe on Delmar, Springfield, MO Awarded “Best Restaurant,” “Best Italian Food” and “Best Italian Dining” by Missouri standards, you can’t really go wrong here. Currently, there are two locations: Bambinos on Delmar and Bambinos on Battlefield. The original Bambino’s Cafe (Delmar), tucked in an off-campus neighborhood is a bit challenging to find, but well worth the adventure. From the Spinach and Artichoke Dip to The Ziti - made with tender chunks of roast beef braised in red wine and tomato sauce with cream and mozzarella cheese, everything is made fresh to order and every single bite is full of flavor. Springfield has a ton of fabulous places to dine, but this one will not disappoint. And it’s where the locals go! 64 ROUTE Magazine
Cave Gang Pizza, Carthage, MO Cave Gang Pizza & Pub is rooted in Carthage, Missouri’s history. The location, once an old filling station just off Route 66, sits atop the entrance of elaborate caves that conjure up mystery and adventure. Serving �� beers on tap, over �� drink flavors and delectable woodfire pizzas, the venue has become a very popular eatery in Carthage. Favorites include the ��th Street Special, The Seafood and The Buffalo Chicken. All the meat is smoked onsite, and they offer gluten options. They may offer the best pizza in town and Carthage.
Red Onion Cafe, Joplin, MO The word “cafe” is a bit misleading, because the Red Onion Cafe is far from what we normally envision when someone utters the word. Voted as one of the best restaurants in Joplin, the Cafe offers sit down dining, good food and service, without a pretentious aura. Located on the ground floor of a quaint ���-year-old historic building in downtown Joplin, one block off America’s Main Street, the Red Onion is a simple but fun hometown choice for locals with discerning taste.
Empire Slice House, Oklahoma City, OK With pizza so delicious, the restaurant self-describes the taste as if “Frank Sinatra and David Bowie had a pizza baby.” The pizza establishment opened its doors in ���3 in the trendy Plaza District neighborhood of Oklahoma City and has been at the top of the list for hip diners since. The mood is super relaxed but the décor and Italian cuisine blend perfectly together.
Goro- Ramen, OKC, OK This Japanese inspired Ramen spot in the Plaza District may seem out of place, but its cult following is no joking matter. The fresh, modern decoration gives the minimalist space a trendy vibe that makes you feel like you’ve discovered the hottest place in town before your friends have. The menu isn’t large, but what it offers is authentic and delicious. The spicy miso ramen and the Brussel sprouts salad with beets, miso vinaigrette, pickled Fresno peppers, mint and fried shallots are go to favorites for the local crowd.
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Revolucion, Oklahoma City, OK Tacos and Tequila are a must at Revolucion in Oklahoma City. Housed in a former auto shop, the establishment has a ��-seat island bar and patio in addition to regular tables - that allows room for even the liveliest of parties. While there’s a number of delicious dishes to choose from, the tacos are the most popular. Each taco platter comes with three tacos, rice, lime, salsa verde, and your choice of beans. If you like Mexican cuisine, Revolucion is a great option when in OKC.
Slapfish, Albuquerque, NM This is the only true franchise to make our list this year. Slapfish has found itself on our radar due to the sheer variety on their menu and the amazing fresh taste of their food. We literally tasted few other seafood options that matched it. What started off as a food truck in California before morphing into the first brick-and-mortar seafood concept - has grown into a franchise, with more than �� locations in the southwestern United States alone. The food is outstanding, the service is fast and friendly, and there is outdoor seating available. Make sure to pay Slapfish a visit when in Albuquerque.
Rickety Cricket Brewing, Kingman, AZ Bare metal beams combined with reclaimed wood give the Rickety Cricket a fun, old industrial feel. The ambience is as unique and distinct in vibe as the venue is masterful at crafting delicious food. Established in ���� by husband and wife team - Terry and Stacy Thomson - this microbrewery in historic Kingman, serves some of the world’s best pizza - with awards to prove it - and pub grub with a twist. When you stop in, embrace the bolder items on the menu such as the razzle fries (raspberry and chipotle fries with a side of homemade whip cream sauce). Wash the burger down with one of the local brews, like the chocolate banana nut hefe, or try a flight of six microbrews before you commit to just one. Rickety Cricket does Kingman proud.
Riverfront Cafe, Needles, CA The last stop on our dining hotlist is located in wonderful Needles, California. Known to regularly be one of the hottest spots in North America, Needles also boasts to being home to the Riverfront Cafe. The food, the Colorado River view and the friendly service make this unpretentious cafe the heartbeat of Needles’ active riverfront community. So, grab an ice-cold beer and a front row seat to a fantastic view of the fast-flowing Colorado and the many boaters and jet skiers as they whizz by. There is a boat dock at the restaurant so don’t be surprised to see boaters arrive to grab lunch or dinner. With Arizona just a few swim strokes away, there is plenty of activity and scenic beauty to keep you entertained. 66 ROUTE Magazine
POPS â€“ Arcadia
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Mariko KUSAKABE What’s your favorite place to visit in Oklahoma? Tulsa; the city is very exciting and evolving. What’s the most memorable site you have visited on Route 66? Carlinville’s Million Dollar Courthouse. What’s your favorite cemetery to visit? Elkhart, Illinois. It is haunted and beautiful. Most bizarre food you have tried on Route 66? Japanese food by other cultures. Favorite place you have photographed on Route 66? Santa Fe – the whole city has a good feeling. What is the strangest place you have visited? Vietnam. I’ve been there 35 times. Any plans for a future book incorporating Japanese culture and Route 66? Yes, for that I blog every day What’s your favorite piece of Jerry’s artwork? GTO at Gay Parita. Who has been the most influential person in your life? My father who loves Jazz music. What’s your favorite film? Recently, Bohemian Rhapsody. Do you have any hobbies? Hand sewing quilts, cooking. Most famous or noteworthy person you have ever met? Former President of Vietnam. What’s the best piece of Route 66 travel memorabilia you own? Cadillac Ranch pendant by artist Bob Lile. What characteristic do you respect the most in others? Positive thinking. What characteristic do you detest? Negative thinking. Most romantic spot on the Mother Road? The Chandler Museum, where we were married. Who is the funniest person on Route 66? Harley in Erick, Oklahoma. He is always exciting. Strangest part of Route 66? Two Guns in 68 ROUTE Magazine
Arizona. It’s too strange. Who would you want to play you in a film on your life? Anime girl, so cute. What would the title of your memoir be? Mariko: Life of Travel. Biggest fear or phobia? Snakes. Guilty pleasure? Researching for Route 66. Who – historical or alive – would you most like to meet? Bob Waldmire. What’s your favorite film? The Green Book. Do you have a favorite actor or actress? Meryl Streep. If you could live anywhere (other than Chandler) on Route 66, where would it be? Santa Fe, NM. Have you ever experienced paranormal activity? Once I experienced departure from the body, maybe? What’s your favorite book? Animal Ecology. I studied it at university. Where did Jerry take you on your first date? Charlie’s Spic & Span Bakery & Cafe in Las Vegas, NM. If you could meet one living influential person in the world, who would it be? Carole King, who influenced my love of American Music. What single word would you use to describe yourself? Curiosity. What did you want to be (career wise) when you were growing up? I wanted to be a musician. What talent would you like to have? None, I’m content. Oddest characteristic about American culture? Too much food in restaurants. Favorite thing about America? Marketing design; logo type, billboard, neon sign, goods, and others. Other than Route 66, where would you love to do a road trip? Nevada through Utah to Colorado.
Illustration: Jenny Mallon.
Recently married to famed Oklahoman artist Jerry McClanahan, Japanese national Mariko Kusakabe herself is no newbie to Route 66 and is this issue’s brave subject of ROUTE’s quick-fire interview. A writer, photographer, world traveler and one of the most enthusiastic, warm people connected to the road in recent times, Mariko offers a fresh and different perspective of the Mother Road that many will be able to relate to. In this issue, get to know her better!
The new Luciie’s Roadhouse has been a part of e western Oklahoma Route 66 traddon since 2006.
1301 N Airport Road · Weatherford, Oklahoma · 73096 Lucillesroadhouse.com ROUTE Magazine 69
FROM THE CHISHOLM TRAIL TO THE MOTHER ROAD America’s premier institution of Western history, art and culture
The Museum Store
Shop one of the largest selections of Native American-made jewelry at The Museum Store or online at store.nationalcowboymuseum.org
Open Daily • 1700 NE 63rd St. • 15 minutes north of Downtown OKC, along Route 66 nationalcowboymuseum.org • (405) 478-2250 Oscar E. Berninghaus, Arrival of the Wells Fargo Stage, n.d., Oil on canvas, 2010.17.03, Gift of Miriam S. Hogan Trust 70 ROUTE Magazine