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MISSION STATEMENT Our mission statement is actually pretty simple: If it’s good for the entire Road, do it! We are dedicated to the helping business survive and thrive across the entire Route 66 Corridor. We take preservation, protection and enhancement of the historic highway seriously. The history is well documented. Our goal is to accept that history, and move forward in this 21st century and beyond, using the most modern technology available to ensure future generations carry the work forward. Cate Ervin Event Planner

Please note: When submitting materials to this magazine for publication, it is understood and agreed you have full legal rights to its content. In the event any litigation ensues, advertiser agrees to indemnify, defend and hold harmless the Magazine from all claims (whether valid or invalid), sits, judgements, proceedings, losses, damages, costs and expenses, of any nature whatsoever (including reasonable attorneys’ fees) for which the Magazine may become liable by reason of Magazine’s publication of Advertiser’s advertising.

Please be advised that it is illegal to reproduce this magazine in part or in full without express, written consent from 66 The Mother Road, LLC.

We have made every attempt throughout this magazine to make links active to websites and emails for your convenience. September / October 2011


Outside back cover photo taken by John Springs, 2007


September / October 2011


July/August 2011

September / October 2011


The Blue Whale

A Gift to One, A Gift to Us All

by Beverly Maxfield It started out as a special gift for a special lady, and ended up becoming one of the most famous and unique icons you will see on Route 66. Located in Catoosa, Oklahoma, The Blue Whale has greeted happy travelers to its location for several decades. The unique attraction offers a welcome break from a long road trip, and the perfect spot to create lasting family memories with a unique photo opportunity or two. The recent drought conditions have kept the Blue Whale, the ‘Beached’ Whale, with water barely covering his belly—a condition Blaine Davis hasn’t seen since 1980. Blaine, the son of the actual creator of the Blue Whale attraction, Hugh Davis, is currently keeping the Blue Whale afloat, and its entire location intact to preserve and share with future generations. Back in the day, kids and their parents could take that break from days of travel and enjoy a fun and relaxing swim with the Blue Whale for hours on end. Today, public swimming is no longer available, but Blaine has assured us there will be plenty to see and do as time goes on—along with his family’s iconic Blue Whale. The Blue Whale is a concrete structure fashioned


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from hard work and plenty of creative imagination. Hugh expressly designed it so swimmers would have something fun to dive off of at the property’s swimming pond. “Kids always want something high to dive off of, “ Blaine said. “So that’s where the imagination part of it started with my Dad.” It was a wedding anniversary gift to his wife. “It took two years to build,” Blaine said, “Between the years 1970 and 1972. My Dad did all the work by himself. It’s a pretty big operation, the thing’s 80-feet long.” The only construction assistance Hugh needed was all of the welding work required to form the whale’s steel understructure. “He didn’t have a welding machine, and didn’t have the skills for any of that. So, he would bend the rods, tie them together, and position everything where he wanted it. Then his friend, expert welder Harold Thomas, would come by about once a week and weld all the pieces together. They just repeated this procedure until the entire understructure was built. From then on it was all concrete work done by hand.” On the property, before the towering Whale was born, there were just three places available to dive off of into the swimming pond, but they were low and just about water level. The swimming spot started out as a small farm pond and grew larger when Route 66 was changing the alignment of the roadway. Blaine explained that they took out a few of the “dead man’s curves”, and turned the roadway into four-lanes, a process that occurred between 1955 and 1959. “During that project they were in need of a lot of fill dirt, so my Dad arranged for them to come in and take all the dirt they needed right out of our farm pond,” Blaine recalled, “So Dad got a bigger pond and they got their fill dirt and everything worked out.” His family enjoyed swimming at the new and improved pond, and traveler’s got a much safer, newly aligned roadway.

As Route 66’s traffic flow grew exponentially, “People would go up and down the Road, would see us swimming out there, and would stop and ask if they could swim there, too. So we said ‘sure, jump in.’ It just took off. Back then there was no Facebook or Twitter, so they probably came back home, sent postcards out, and told everyone they knew about this great swimming place out there in Catoosa,” Blaine laughed. “It caught on as a swimming hole, and then Dad built the Blue Whale to satisfy the kids. Of course the depth of the pond fluctuated according to how wet or dry it was; primarily it was about 12 feet off the surface of the pond from the bottom of the main diving board that used to be there. So it was a high dive. The whale had three diving boards on it, two were at a little lower elevation from the big one that was positioned off the tail. That was the challenge. The kids that jumped off it could say they had been all the way to the bottom, and to prove that fact, have to come up with a handful of mud.” It was quite a trip to the bottom, about 18 to 23 feet deep. “It had

a very steep drop off to it,” Blaine recalled. “The center of the swimming pond had a ring like a donut, a deep trench where the earth scrapers had gone in and cut out all the fill dirt needed for the road work, and Dad wanted them to leave it just like that after they had finished.” Blaine’s mother didn’t know what the structure was going to be when his dad first starting building the Blue Whale. “Well, she knew it was something for the kids, that it was big, but thought at first it was an airplane,” he said. It wasn’t long before she caught on. “I don’t think she ever even saw a whale but she was very interested September / October 2011


in them. Dad knew the kids wanted something big— and there’s nothing much bigger than a whale—so she got her whale and so did the kids. I don’t know of any other woman who ever got an 80-foot concrete and steel whale for an anniversary present,” he chuckled. “This is a ‘have to’, people coming through here always say, ‘they have to stop to see this.’ It’s quite a compliment to hear that this is the one place, if no place at all, that they have to stop and see.” The Blue Whale pond stayed open for swimming until 1988. His folks decided to close it down after interest seemed to wane. “People started getting their own swimming pools in their backyards, and kids were starting to go elsewhere,” he explained. “It was beginning to lose revenue and my folks were getting elderly, so the time had come to quit doing things like this.” Original admission for swimming was 50 cents; going up to just $1.50 for the whole day at the time the pond was closed to the public. Blaine and his sister had left home, were holding down their jobs, raising their families, and had no real interest at first in keeping up the Blue Whale and the property after his folks had passed away. Now, there’s more time, and Blaine is planning to update some of the old buildings that have survived and weathered the years. They currently have picnic and restroom facilities onsite during the summer, and will be opening a souvenir gift shop and information booth that will operate during the tourist season. “One of the original buildings on the property was called ‘The Ark’, because it looked just like an ark, built to look like a boat. It’s not in as good of shape as the Whale, because it’s made out of untreated wood, and hasn’t been painted in years. But, it’s still 8

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repairable, though, and we have plans to do some reconfiguring of it, and turn it into a museum to tell the story about my Mom and Dad; all the things they did during their lifetimes. Dad was a photographer, so we have thousands of pictures to choose from,” he said. Soon to be demolished are the remnants of the original structure placed on the property. “Dad put up this one building in the early 60s to house a kiddie zoo operation called ‘Nature’s Acres.’ It was a place where kids come out and see baby animals. They even dug a few pits and moved in alligators. It was a menagerie,” Blaine said. Hugh Davis had retired from his job at the Tulsa Zoo where he had worked for 38 years; part of that time serving as its director. “So the business endeavors on the Catoosa property were a natural for him. You can’t just walk off and forget something like that. So he built up this little place out here for the zoo, and that preceded the Whale,” Blaine said. “We will have to demolish that old zoo building, then maybe put in some walking trails around where it was located. But there won’t be any alligators out there, I can tell you that,” he laughed. The Blue Whale was a gift to one, and a gift to us all. Make it one of your stops for a special photo opportunity, and an indelible memory to take home the next time you are heading down The Mother Road in Oklahoma.

Photos provided for this article by Blaine Davis

“Whoso would be a man must be a non-conformist.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

By Judy Springs

It is always fascinating to look at the dynamics of a family through the eyes of the individual family members. Each brings a unique perspective depending on where their position is within the group. More amazing is how two brothers – raised together under one roof – could turn out so differently. That would be the story of Bob and Buz Waldmire. Buz, the former military veteran and venture capitalist, and Bob, the laid back, peace-loving environmentalist. No matter their differences, the one thing that remained strong to the end is their love for each other and the fact that they considered themselves best friends. Bob spent approximately seven years running the Hackberry General Store in Hackberry, Arizona. He found that the day-to-day grind, along with all the confines placed on our society’s capitalistic ventures was not for him. Bob wanted to be “one with nature.” After meeting several local artists and finding a piece of property where he could move his portable, self-contained home, he set up “base camp” in Portal, Arizona. Portal is an unincorporated community in Cochise County, Arizona, which lies 25 miles (40 km) south-southeast of San Simon and at the mouth of Cave Creek Canyon on the east side of the Chiricahua Mountains. Still don’t know where that is? Precisely! We all know Bob traveled up and down Route 66, capturing on paper those people, places and things that inspired him and his imagination. Fewer knew that although Bob was always at peace with where he was, he was not always content. He was constantly looking for signs that humanity understood the impact they were having on the planet, but was aware most did not feel the same sense of urgency he felt. Buz tells us, “Bob used the same water bottle for years. He had the same cup, and when anyone offered him coffee, his beloved orange smoothies, or anything to drink, he would extend his cup and say, ‘just use this. Don’t wash it – just rinse it.’” Bob believed that if you walked into a forest, the only thing you should take was pictures. Zero impact. Bob’s heart was on Route 66, but he had also invested the latter part of his life to creatively replicating and promoting small towns such as Bisbee and Tombstone in Arizona, and was working on a series of National Parks materials and human organ post cards – health-awareness related cards such as heart, kidney, liver, etc. - in the same style as his Route 66 materials. All done by hand – no computers involved! Bob has entrusted his life’s collection of art to his beloved brother, Buz. Among the art are many original renderings of historic landmarks on Route 66 such as the Wigwam Motel in Rialto, California. Buz recently presented Kumar Patel with one of these original drawings because he says, Bob would feel that “they should be returned to their original owners.” Along with Bob’s passion for his environment, he had a very special place in his heart for his two grandchildren. As Buz promotes and sells Bob’s art, it is his goal to donate a portion of the proceeds to restoration projects that were important to Bob, and to some of the National Parks, Nature Preserves and research foundations he was involved with, as well as to his grandchildren. Buz is dedicated to “Preserving the Legacy.”

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by Beverly Maxfield


September / October 2011


e made a promise to his Dad, his Mom, and to Himself… now the “Man on a Mission”, Jess McEntire, is fulfilling the promises and the vision of keeping The Mother Road alive and well for generations to come. His goal is to fuel the fire of the torch he can pass on to others so Route 66 can thrive and live on. It’s all through music, his love for the people, and his love for the road. Jess has teamed with promoters, musicians, celebrities and fans of the road with Project, a non-profit organization driven by the mission of promoting tourism awareness of The Mother Road through music. Loretta Lynn, who credits her success to Route 66, and Danny Shirley lead singer of the group Confederate Railroad, have made themselves available and serve as prominent figures in his efforts. Musicians who created the foundation for all of the songs we enjoy today traveled the 2,400-mile stretch of Route 66 to promote their music as they were starting out. The Road served back in the day as a “marketing avenue” for these performers to travel as they hit radio station after radio station to get their sound acknowledged and on the air. “Now it’s time to give back,” says Jess McEntire, “to raise global awareness of Route 66 and preserve the backbone of our great nation.” Jess teamed with “The Coal Miner’s Daughter’s” recording studio manager, Bill Hamilton, to create Mother Road Music, a launching pad for any artist who wishes to record and contribute to the businesses all along The Mother Road. It’s all about raising the public’s consciousness of this living, breathing entity.

Jess is a true child of the Road, having grown up in areas all up and down Route 66; living for a time in Illinois, Missouri, and even out west as far as California. “There wasn’t too many places on Route 66 that we didn’t live,” he laughed. “That road back then was the ‘road of dreams’. My Dad dragged us kids up and down Route 66 thinking he’d find a pot of gold.” Jess will never forget his Dad’s words after what would be his last trip on The Mother Road. “My Mom and Dad went out to Arizona to see my sister, and they wanted to take in as much of Route 66 as they could along the way. When they got back from the trip, Dad called me and said, ‘Well, I think I’ve taken my last trip on Route 66, I don’t think I’ll ever see her again. She’s still there, but like me, barely hanging on. Someone ought to do something to help keep her going. I told Dad I was currently working on a song for him and Mom, and our life on Route 66. He said he couldn’t wait to hear it,” Jess remembered. Two days after that conversation his Dad was gone. “That kind of got me started on all this,” he said. “I had moved to Lexington, Illinois and was driving along Route 66 every day. One day I hit a pothole and pulled over to the side of the road, and that’s when the second complete song just came to me in about 10 minutes. I just felt like something was calling me.” Jess’ mother inspired him to take his songs a step further. “So, I talked to my Mother, and said, ‘you know I’m going to tell the story just like it happened. I’m going to do an album for the family, and I’m going to donate all the money to a non-profit organization, just let them have all the money so they can put it into something for the road, to help the road.’” She thought it was a wonderful idea, of course. So he set out recording his songs, “even some September / October 2011


at Loretta Lynn’s recording studio,” he said. Bill Hamilton, Loretta’s studio manager and engineer— also a child of the Mother Road—was the one who made Loretta aware of Jess and his music. “He was listening to my stuff, and then played it for Loretta,” he recalled. After hearing his Route 66-inspired music, she enthusiastically wanted to meet him, and the rest became history as their mutual passions and love for music created a bond between the three artists. Jess was quick to remember that so many of the early country careers were launched out on the Road, inspired by the Road, and all the people that lived and worked out on the Road. “Everyone’s always talking about Rockabilly,” he said, “Rock ‘n Roll, all that. It’s not just Rockabilly that the Road helped to promote. Country Music was there at the same time and promoters utilized it to promote acts like Hank Williams, Merle Haggard, Buck Owens, Loretta Lynn, Lefty Frizzel… the list goes on. A lot of careers were made on that Road,” he said. Jess writes his songs about his experiences, about his childhood memories on Route 66. “There’s a fable even about a ghost that’s out on Route 66.” His mission today is to work with everybody, help everybody, to help the Road. “We want people out there to send us their songs,” he said. “So Bill, who is the CEO of, had a dad who drove a truck, so he took many trips with him, traveling up and down Route 66. He too, being a child the road, knows that American Country Music was not just Rockabilly stuff. Country Music itself was born on the Road. I tell you, Route 66 made American music what it is today. That’s exactly what it did. If it weren’t for that Road, there wouldn’t of been a lot of careers.” Chances are that popular American music would sound a lot differently today. Jess’ mother offered support and inspiration for him to go on with his dream creating Mother Road Music, recording his songs, and promoting other acts that all shared the same vision for Route 66. 12

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“On August 4, 2009, my Mother was about to be taken down to the operating room to have open heart surgery. I had left the room for a bit to get a cup of coffee. While I was gone, the nurses came by to gather the family to have a prayer with her. When I got back, my sister was the only one there in her room, so I immediately got upset because I didn’t get the chance to pray with her. So Mom took my hand, excused my sister, and said, ‘pray with me, and don’t you cry.’ The last part of her prayer with me was the unselfishness she always had for us children with the words, ‘God be with my son on his musical journey.’ Then she said, ‘now you promise me you’ll keep the promise you’ve made to help your Daddy’s road of dreams. ’ Mother passed away the day before my birthday on August 8, 2009. I wrote the song for the album called ‘Man on a Mission,’ because of the promise that I’ll keep,” Jess said. Jess and’s Bill Hamilton are traveling Route 66 on their mission, talking to store owners and soliciting their help by selling the “Man on a Mission” CD, raising awareness for the Road. “Tourism is going to help for sure,” Jess says, “If we put billboards throughout, not just in this country, but throughout the world; then focus on magazine ads with the slogan, ‘Take a Trip On Route 66’, think of how powerful that would be. We are putting our first billboard up Sept 3rd, right on Interstate 40 west of Nashville Tennessee at exit 143,” he said. Anyone can attend the ribbon cutting for the first Route 66 billboard, held on September 3 at 2 p.m. “It is near Loretta Lynn’s dude ranch,

the eighth most traveled exit for tourism in the state of Tennessee,” Jess mentioned proudly, “It will be sitting there right as you exit. If you would like more information on the ribbon cutting, email us at: I’m going to be tickled to death having the ribbon cutting for it, having Mike Wallis, Jim Hinckley, and different ones out. The next billboard I would like to see would be right in Nashville,” he smiled. “Then it’ll be on to getting billboards with sponsorships.”

And there’s more from the “Man on a Mission”.

available for purchase and download at Every store stocked with it has sold out, and each store is in the process of reordering. “Offer me a gig or anything to help Route 66, and I’ll be there. I don’t care about being a star for 10,000 people in Tampa, FL to sell my own record. But I’d be a star for Route 66.” Jess is producing Volume 3 of “Man on a Mission”, a compilation of songs by classic Rock ‘n Roll bands including the Classics Four, known for the late 60s hits, “Spooky” and “Stormy”. The CD is scheduled for release in 2012. “We just gotta get these things out to the shops along Route 66,” Jess said, “And get them on board to help us generate money for billboards around the world.” Jess says he may even secure an old building and put a non-profit organization in it, selling musical items to benefit the Road. A total of 11 Route 66 handmade, custom Loretta Lynn Signature Series electric guitars will be available soon, a work by Forrest Lee, Jr., a renowned craftsman. “These are sure to be a collector’s item, and will be up for sale upon announcement at with all profits going to our”

Jess said: “The concept of the whole thing of promotion is putting up racks with different non-profit items, like maps and stuff that have Route 66 logos on it.” With that being said, he stopped for a moment before continuing. “And I’m the man to get it going. We get tourism up, people traveling Route 66, and that road will flourish like a flower.” He is currently planning the development of various merchandise items including a guitar, shirts, hats and other items that will generate dollars. “Proceeds will go to tourism awareness and therefore help people working in their businesses out on the Road,” he said.

“I want to get new acts together, want other acts to join us. This would be a launching pad for new careers,” Jess continued. “Music is a powerful tool, one of the most powerful tools to help us promote. A tool towards the goal of raising tourism and awareness for Route 66 throughout the world is music! If they are rappers they can rap about the Road, if they are Rock ‘n Roll, they can rock about the Road,” he laughed.

Demand remains high for his CD, which is also

He has had promoters and record labels contacting

Jess shared a few words of wisdom that Loretta Lynn shared with him as he started out on his mission: “You are to be the icon of this project; you are the man on a mission. You make Project Route 66 successful, and you will make your mission successful, and a whole lot of people along Route 66 will be proud to say they know you.”

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him with the promise of turning him into a country star. “I’ve already had record deals,” Jess said, “But if you want to help make the ‘Man on a Mission’ a star and icon for the benefit of helping ProjectRoute66, bring it on! You bet I want to be the star for Route 66, it’s my passion!” Jess is happy and gratified to see the various restoration projects going on all up and down the Road. It leads to hope, to the future. “The Boots Motel for one is getting back to the way it was,” Jess said. “I remember when Interstate 55 opened up and traffic was bypassing Braidwood, Illinois where we lived at the time. Etched in my memory is the look on the faces of the local merchants standing outside their businesses.”

Jess would like to thank the following people for their kind contributions to The “Man on a Mission” project... Forrest Lee Jr., Brad Conner, Ben Reno. Tim Hopkins, Lynn Easterly, Dustin Reynolds, Paul Byron, Bill Powers And Honey Don’t, Mike Shane, Mike Cullison and Terry Ellers. He added: “And a special thanks to Loretta for the song she wrote for me to sing, ‘Ole Route 66’, and Danny Shirley for being friend enough to drive a couple of hundred miles to sing with me, and Bill Hamilton my other brother, Greg Cole, and all the musicians who donated their skills for the project.” And the list will go on…….

Please visit Jess’ web site at and also View the latest press release here:


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This album (first in a series) includes 21 new heartfelt country songs written about Route 66. Sung by Jess McEntire, along with Special Guest, Loretta Lynn, and a duet with Danny Shirley of “Confederate Railroad.”

“I am proud to announce that, Inc., and The Route 66 Chamber Of Commerce have teamed up to place our first billboard promoting tourism on Route 66 in Hurricane Mills,Tn., home of the country music legend Loretta Lynn. The billboard is located at exit 143 off I-40 half way between Memphis and Nashville next to the Pilot Truck Stop.” Bill Hamilton

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“About the only thing that comes to us without effort is old age.” Gloria Pitzer

By John Springs

To say things are happening on Route 66 would be a great understatement. Restoration projects are underway up and down the road, Harley and Annabelle and their cancer battle is drawing support from around the world as roadies offer financial and moral support, and Buz Waldmire is working hard at keeping his brother’s legacy going. The Wagon Wheel Motel in Cuba, MO, leads the way in restoration with owner Connie Echols personally getting down and dirty in a complete remodel from the studs out of every room, including the office and Connie’s Shoppe. Wrink’s Market near The Munger Moss in Lebanon, MO is open again and serving Arbuckle coffee and other treats. Kevin and Nancy Mueller have wasted little time in putting their personal stamp on The Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari, NM. They are blazing full speed ahead bringing the Swallow back to its rightful place as a beloved Route 66 icon. With the work already done at the Motel Safari, Tucumcari boasts two wonderful, historic, motels for roadies to choose from. Peter and Mona Hoeller at The Globetrotter Lodge in Holbrook, AZ are doing a spectacular job with their historic property. They’ve even remodeled the pool and the entire area around the pool. Stop in and check out the fruits of their labor. Out in California The Wigwam Motel is seeing yet another round of major improvements. Kumar Patel and his family have put in all new mattresses, interior paint, and they have the grounds of The Wigwam nicely landscaped. The current project involves stripping all the stucco off the exterior and recoating the teepees. The ‘zigzags’ will also reappear on the exterior after being painted over by the previous owners. Our November/December will feature a story on The Wigwam! The legendary Boots Motel in Carthage, MO., has landed in the hands of two preservation-minded sisters, Pricilla Bledsaw and Deborah Harvey. These new owners will be bringing The Boots back to its rightful spot as a Route 66 icon! Check out page 9 in this issue dedicated to Buz Waldmire and his efforts to keep his brother’s artwork available to roadies worldwide! Proceeds from the sales will go to helping projects that were near and dear to Bob. PLEASE keep Harley and Annabelle in your thoughts and prayers. Cards and letters can be mailed to them at; Harley and Annabelle Russell, P.O. Box 121 Erick, OK 73645. Yes, Route 66 is alive and well and getting more popular by the minute, and the good folks on it are continually working away!


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the population of Afton dropped by almost twenty percent.


ccording to Oklahoma historian George Shirk, Anton Aires, a Scottish railroad surveyor bestowed the name “Afton” as commemoration of his daughter, Afton Aires. Moreover, the Afton River in Scotland was the inspiration for the naming of his daughter. The post office opened in 1886 but initial settlement in the area predates this by almost a decade. As a railroad and farming supply center, Afton soon became a progressive, modern community of red brick buildings that reflected its solidity and prosperity. By 1910, the economy in Afton was a healthy and diverse one with foundational elements that included the railroad, with a roundhouse and turntable, and the Pierce & Harvey Buggy Company, a building later utilized by Leo’s Grocery until 2009. In the same year the Kansas City, Fort Scott & Memphis Railroad established a second main line through town and by the mid teens, the town supported a large waterworks, a brick and tile plant, two garages, a blacksmith shop, a creamery, a variety of mills and grain elevators, two banks, two hotels, and a newspaper. Initiating a period of decline was the post World War I recession that manifested with a collapse of wheat, corn, wool, and beef prices. Between 1920 and 1930,


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The commissioning of Route 66 in 1926 proved a stabilizing force for the local economy with establishment of service related industries including motels, gas stations, and garages. This trend enabled Afton to weather the Great Depression with relative prosperity and through tourism fueled by construction of the nearby Pensacola Dam, the resultant creation of the Lake O’ Cherokees in 1940, and post war prosperity leading to the development of attractions such as the Buffalo Ranch, actually reverse the decline. The downward spiral from which the town never recovered commenced in the mid 1950s. With the suspension of railroad repair in Afton, and the demolition of the roundhouse and turntable, the completion of I-44 that resulted in the closure of motels and cafes, and closure of the Buffalo Ranch in 1997, Afton entered a period of severe economic distress. As of 2011, the majority of existent structures in the historic district are abandoned and numerous vacant lots serve as mute testimony to a once vibrant business district. Attractions of particular interest to Route 66 enthusiasts include the Horse Creek Bridge, built in 1929, with a unique pedestrian walkway on both sides, and Afton Station, voted best business on Route 66 in 2009, housed in a building that dates to 1930 when it served as a D-X station, purportedly the only 24-hour station in Afton.

Expansion of this D-X station during the 1930s included the addition of a building that allowed for several service bays. Also during this period, extension of the canopy to the edge of the Route 66 right of way allowed for three gasoline pump islands. The brand of fuel and related oil products changed over the years but the facility continued to operate as a gasoline station and garage until the mid 1980s. After this date, a succession of owners found various uses for the property including a flower shop, beauty shop, and Western Auto store. David and Laurel Kane purchased the property in 2000 and initiated refurbishment that would allow for the display of their automotive collection. It officially opened as Afton Station and Route 66 Packard’s, a name that left little doubt as to what brand of automobiles the Kane’s collected. Continued on Page 20

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Photo by Judy Hinckley Continued From Page 19 Representatives from other automotive manufacturers that include Studebaker, Citroen, DeSoto, Graham, and Chevrolet are also on display. Expansion of the facility, a favorable article in the AAA magazine, Home & Away, and addition of one of a kind 1917 “motor home” built on a Packard truck chassis in the summer of 2011 has fueled the popularity of this must stop business that exemplifies the very essence of Route 66. The owner who loaned the 1917 Packard truck has provided a brief history that includes a tie with the origins of the pioneering Pickwick Bus Line, a foundational component in the establishment of Greyhound. In addition to the eclectic collection of automobiles and related memorabilia, including a very rare Packard dealership sign, Afton Station is a repository for all manner of items pertaining to Route 66 and the history of Afton. In 2009, Afton Station was selected the best new business on Route 66. Plans for Afton and Afton Station reflect the changes and transformation of communities all along this highway because of the resurgent interest in Route 66. The Kane’s are looking to expand on their automotive display in the coming months. The Oklahoma Department of Transportation has authorized placement of a granite monument to commemorate Afton and its association with the legendary “Sidewalk Highway” that dates to 1922. Afton Station photo provided by Laurel Kane; Packard Sign photo provided by Jim Hinckley About the Author Jim Hinckley is a regular contributor to 66 The Mother Road, and writes about a different town along Route 66 for each edition. Jim has written many books including Ghost Towns of Route 66, Ghost Towns of the Southwest, Backroads of Arizona and Route 66 Backroads. 20

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say Rich Dinkela has left his mark on Route 66 is an understatement. You may have seen his unique Route 66 stencil shields marked upon the asphalt during his past adventure travels; applied with love and appreciation for the beloved Mother Road. He is inspiring the younger generation to learn, explore, experience, and keep the Road alive for future generations. A native and lifelong resident of the St. Louis, Missouri area, Rich has operated his own asphalt and paving company, Creve Coeur Paving (named after the nearby town), originally started by his dad back in 1973. “It took me a lot of years to learn to spell the name,” Rich laughed, as he began to tell the story about his close relationship with the Mother Road. The successful company specializes in high-end driveways, private roads and parking lots, located about 10 miles from Route 66. “Anytime I go out to do sales or business calls, I find myself traveling on the Road,” he said. “Route 66 in St. Louis follows many paths.” Rich grew up in the town of St. Charles, just northeast of St. Louis on the Missouri River, known as the starting point of the Lewis & Clark Expedition. His curiosity and avid interest in Route 66 began a little over 10 years ago, when he was 20 years old. “We had taken a lot of road trips when I was young,” he began, “We had property in Springfield, so the way we would travel there was through Stratford, and I would say just about every time we’d get on Route 66, my Dad would say to us, ‘this road here is the old Highway 66, and would take people all the way to California.’ And as a young kid, I couldn’t quite understand that concept. But as I got older, I got a better idea of what he was talking about. Especially when we were traveling Highway 44, we would see all these old hotels that are now starting to disappear every year.

You pass by John’s Modern Cabins (in Newburg, MO), that I thought was one of the coolest places out on the Road.” He also recalled the landmark Arch Motel on Highway 44 that had a scale model of the St. Louis gateway arch that would light up every night. “Everyone always wanted to go and drive under that arch, but I don’t think we ever did.” Rich recently heard that the beckoning arch from his childhood memories is currently safe, intact and in private storage today. It was a beacon that illuminated the night, always signaling to him that they were getting close to home after a long drive. Another fond memory of his family travels was seeing the deer blazing across the Ozark Court sign in Stanton, Missouri. There were so many wonderful places that led to his wonder and curiosity—the places that fueled his future passion for Route 66. “In ’88 or ’89 my Dad took me on a cross-country trip, leading us north, then out west, then down the coastal highway… traveling a lot of Route 66 on the way back,” he recalled, “it was shortly after the decommission.” The trip resonated something special in Rich, “I guess you could say my Dad was the main perpetrator in all this, that trip just planted a seed in me.” In 2000, Rich’s curiosity for Route 66 then hit its peak, “I started researching Route 66, and developing maps of the original route. At the time there just wasn’t much coverage on Route 66,” he said. “So basically I was kind of on my own trying to find stuff here and there.” Rich began studying old road maps, and with the help of a digital one he had on his computer, he fashioned his own maps, carefully plotting out the old routes of the Road. His first real Road trip, guided by these custom maps, took place in 2003. “I went down through Oklahoma, and then I started September / October 2011


getting lost,” he laughed. “I’m really a perfectionist by nature, and I thought at the time, if I can’t find everything this trip, to heck with it for now. I didn’t want to disappoint myself— I’ll just go back to the drawing board.” Rich over time acquired more information to finesse the work on his maps, and three years later was again ready to take a trip on the original Route 66. “I was all set for my first cross-country. I had the route perfected on my maps, and everything went great; it sure shaped up to a pretty good time,” he said. “I got into more online maps as time went on, with information becoming more readily available. I didn’t own a single Route 66 book, so I was relying on just my old maps and atlases bought off EBay.” Rich literally began from scratch to document the full old route of the Mother Road from start to finish. A couple of years ago he went through his paper map collection and his GPS-driven digital map on the computer, and metered the route against satellite images, published books, and every other source he could find. “There’s lots of inaccuracies about the route out there; lots of false information I found while researching,” he concluded. “So now, everything you can drive, I’ve driven it. Everywhere you can get to without getting shot, I’ve pretty well been there,” he laughed. There have been just a handful of places that weren’t 24

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accessible to Rich on the original route. “I didn’t think it would be a great idea exploring the alignment running through the Bridwell Ranch, west of Adrian, Texas without supervision!” Today, he can proudly proclaim that after some trial and error, his maps of the entire Road are about 98 percent accurate. “I spent six weeks out on the road on my last trip, and brought along a motorized bicycle that I built myself, complete with an engine so I could hop fences here and there—and I sure did! I was riding, following the path and looking for evidence of original road and railroad beds, and just straightening out my GPS road maps to get plotted accurately,” he said proudly. “I did a lot of adventuring, and got kicked off a few places, but I was hard core about it, spending about six weeks of nothing but traveling Route 66 from sunrise to sundown.” He traced it all. Rich kept a journal during his travels and hopes to eventually write a book about the adventures. “I didn’t tell anybody about any of this until the International Route 66 Festival in Amarillo, Texas this year—about the Route 66 stencils that I did throughout my six-week journey all the way from Chicago to California. There’s about 100 or so stencils of the Route 66 shield on the Road.”

Rich shared the information about his stenciling with just a couple of people, including Harley and Annabelle (the Mediocre Music Makers of Oklahoma who received a couple of shields at their doorstep), and Gary Turner (the Gay Parita Station in Paris Springs, Missouri). “Somebody I told then leaked the information,” Rich laughed. He started getting comments and inquiries right away about the stencils on his Facebook page, and is happy to report that the feedback has mostly been positive, with just a few people reacting negatively towards his creative expression of love for the Road. “I got caught doing the stencils a few times by random strangers, but it was usually a thumbs up, or a honk, or a smile. There’s just been a few cases on Facebook where I’ve had people condemn what I was doing,” he said. “I’ve been accused of being a tagger or a graffiti artist. But most of my shields have been applied in obscure and remote places, off the beaten paths that haven’t been published in books.” Rich views the stencils as a ‘welcome mat’ for travelers, a mark to assure that they are on the right path and just to say, ‘glad to have you here’. “When I did my first trip on the Road in 2003,” he fondly recalled, “I was just getting into Kansas when I saw my very first Route 66 shield sign on the Road; and at that moment I started to feel overjoyed. It was such a great thing to see that sign because I had no idea if I was on the right track or not. I had a pretty good hunch that I was, but when I saw that first shield sign of Route 66, it was just the greatest feeling in the world.” Rich attributes that welcoming moment as one of the inspiring factors of creating the shield stencils that mark the approximately 100 key places he has selected. “I’ve had a request to put some sort of game together

with the shields, a kind of connect the dots basically. I could do something like this with the help my GPS maps and pinpoint the locations exactly,” he added. Some have been covered over with repaving, some have been intentionally painted over by the less appreciative, but many remain upon the asphalt to welcome all in all their glory. “I just wanted to make that trip super special and wanted it to last,” he said. “I want to head out 10 or 15 years from now and be able to spot one of my shields that I put down. I just want to know they are still out there welcoming everyone; that they are still a part of the Road.” Before Rich set out on his adventure last fall, he built a special-purpose vehicle, a Chevy Blazer truck expressly designed for exploring all the old Route 66 alignments. “ I painted the hood black with a Route 66 sign on it. I wanted to capture and immortalize the iconic figures of Route 66 today. Everyone from authors, to business owners, and just normal everyday people on the Route has so far signed the hood of the truck.  I’m still pursuing the mission to this day of collecting more notable autographs on it. I recently added author and preservation activist, John Weiss, and Proprietor of the Pig-Hip Restaurant and storyteller Ernie Edwards. Frances Edwards signed it as well. I have several other autographs I will get in the near future, which include Ted Drewes and Frank Cunetto, the Owner of Carl’s Drive-in, here in St. Louis.  Once I feel the hood is complete, I will have a protective coating put on it and will lend it to various businesses and museums along Route 66,” Rich said proudly. He has also set up a ‘mini museum’ at his house featuring several black and white Route 66 signs and September / October 2011


shields, a Goodrich marker sign that pre-dates the Road, chunks of concrete and asphalt from different parts of it—and of course the maps.

to see, different diversities, just different ways of life, especially when you get into the Southwest. It really is a humbling experience.”

“Thank God for the baby boomers,” he said, “They are the ones that are really nostalgic; Route 66 really catered to them as children. They are the ones that are returning the favor right now by restoring things and raising awareness. Most Americans don’t realize what Route 66 is, what it means for our economy. I have met people young and old thinking Route 66 doesn’t exist anymore; they say it’s gone, that it’s obliterated. There’s a lot of ignorance out there in regards to the Road, but now I think it’s turning around,” he observed.

Rich encourages younger people to make time to travel the road and generate awareness that will build and shape the future of Route 66. “There’s so much history out there,” he continued. “A lot of people like history, both young and old. They want to go out and seek the history, to see it and touch it. And that’s what Route 66 is all about. You could walk into one of John’s Modern Cabins today and close your eyes and just imagine what those walls could tell you, who stayed there and all. Route 66 is a playground for your imagination, it’s about reliving history.”

“Anytime I take somebody out on Route 66, I’ve noticed their whole attitude about life in this country seems to change. It’s a humbling experience that Road gives you; there’s so much different culture

Photos for this story provided by Rich Dinkela


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Museums, Murals, Merchants & More!

Opening July, 2011! The Pontiac ~ Oakland Automobile Museum & Resource Center ~ Free Admission!

FREE Visitors Guide!

For information on attractions, tours, or retail space available in Downtown Pontiac, contact:

800-835-2055 • 815-844-5847 •

September / October 2011


The Land E of nchantment

Out West

By Gregory R.C. Hasman The open road with its infinite horizon is certainly a place of mystery, an entry leading to whatever drives our inquisitive mind as we watch the miles tick by. I have been to the Mother Road from Tucumcari to Albuquerque in the Land of Enchantment. As the Route 66 Festival approached, it was now time to visit the western portion of the Mother Road in New Mexico… an experience I will never forget. After a stop at the Route 66 Diner in Santa Rosa, an hour east of Duke City, I was ready to set out for the west. West of Albuquerque, the sky soon became gray and smoggy, reminding me of a bad day in Los Angeles. But as the increasing elevation and plethora of mesas and mountains grew near, I began to appreciate the scenic beauty of westcentral New Mexico that surrounded me like a welcoming

friend. My next move was to take the exit 22 off Interstate 40 and head towards the El Rancho Hotel. The El Rancho Hotel was built by R.E. Griffith in 1937 as a refuge for some of Hollywood’s who’s who, including the likes of John Wayne, Spencer Tracy and Ronald Reagan. As you enter this majestic hotel, you first notice the middle two sets of staircases that lie along the sides. You immediately feel in good company as you head up to the second floor and stop to inspect pictures of the Hollywood actors that hang along the wall. As for the rooms, each one has the number and name of the actor who stayed there. In my case it was Humphrey Bogart. Picture walking into his room with the welcome in that famous tone: “Here’s looking at you kid.” The adventure continued the next day as I drove to New Mexico Roads 602 and 53 towards El Morro (Headland) National Park. (That’s where you take I-40 West to Exit 20). The drive down was very smoky on this trip as fires raged in southwestern Arizona, a couple of hours south of Gallup. Nonetheless, I knew it was time to keep on trucking, and as my destination came closer, the skies opened up just in time to do some sightseeing. Unfortunately, I got there too late to do the two-mile Headland Trail, so I took the half-mile Inscription Trail, which took an hour. As you climb the 23 marker trail, you will notice various inscriptions from groups ranging from Native Americans to the Spanish in the 17th Century to Americans during the earlyto-mid 19th Century. If you go along Highway 53 northeast you will reach El Malpais (Badlands) National Monument. If you want a gorgeous panoramic view of the volcanoes and monuments head to the Sandstone Bluff by exiting I-40 onto NM 117. The trip up to the Bluffs is quite bumpy, so just be very cautious. Now, friends, just follow along as I go through some directions, and you will sure to be ready on your own upcoming adventure. As for the Mother Road, take NM Highway 118, which lies on the frontage or access road. Among the plethora of trading posts is Richardson’s, which is owned by a couple from Elk City, Oklahoma. Not only will see you various Hopi and Navajo made jewelry, but you will see some of the most beautiful Native American and western art. Although it is not on 66 (a block south on W. Coal Avenue) enjoy a delicious breakfast of hash browns and bacon at Jerry’s Cafe


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on 406 W. Coal Avenue, where you will see the true community of Gallup as they embark on their day. If you want to learn how to get around town on 66 head to the historic society located at the Rex Museum on 300 West Route 66. A Native will give you details, directions and an opportunity to visit the historical museum in the back. For more information head across the street to the Gallup Chamber of Commerce. Before you leave, be sure to walk just over a block to the Gallup Cultural Center where you will see a wonderful exhibit on Native American “Storytellers.” Then, as you continue east on 118, where you will go through towns such as the Continental Divide, hit NM 122 and travel through Thoreau, Prewitt, Bluewater, which had a thriving motel business years ago and Milan before entering Grants. One of the best places to visit is the New Mexico Mining Museum. It not only describes the history of the region, but the role of uranium, which made Grants a boom town for decades. If your heart desires, you can continue east on Sanders Avenue, which will lead you to Highway 117. At which point, cross over I-40 at exit 89 and take Highway 124 through McCarty’s, San Fidel, Budville (stop by the Trading Post and Dixie’s Bar), Cubero and Paraje. As you drive to and through Paraje, you will make some sharp curves through some mesas, a treat for anyone willing to forgo the blasphemous Interstate. At around exit 114 on I-40, turn left on the north frontage road heading east. If you choose to take the older road, it can be bumpy and there are deer, so be extra careful. Afterwards you will hit NM 6 and head north (although I recommend driving south a bit, as the scenery is beautiful). After reaching Leguna follow 6 to Correo and take that until you reach highway 314 (Luna Avenue). From there take 314 until you can see the Rio Puerco Bridge and on to 66 into Central Avenue in Albuquerque. The drive and experience is what makes driving down 66 a pleasure. So, take a detour, get off the interstate and explore the past and make new friends on America’s Highway. Gregory R.C. Hasman is a Hunter College graduate, where he was a sports writer and editor. His fascination with Route 66 started in 2005 with a road trip to Tucumcari, N.M. for a car show. This was just one of his many journeys. Thanks for sharing, Greg! Visit Greg’s blog at:

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2nd Annual

o c i x e M New te 66 Motor Tour Rou

by Bob (Crocodile) Lile

The 2nd Annual New Mexico “ Route 66 Motor Tour” kicked off in Tucumcari on Friday, July 22nd. Participants in classic cars, pickups and RVs ( plus one old school bus ) came from Texas, Kansas, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico. Cheryl & I got a late start out of Amarillo, were caught in a heavy rain storm at the state line and into The Land of Enchantment. We arrived at Motel Safari too late to have dinner with some of the group but our Route 66 Roadie friends Mike & Sharon Ward, and Richard & Gail Talley had refreshments waiting on us when


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we pulled in. Motel Safari, The Blue Swallow, Route 66 Inn and the RV Parks, plus Tucumcari restaurants were doing a booming business. Passport stamps were available at Tee-Pee Curios, Route 66 Auto Museum, Archie’s Auto Museum in Moriarty, 66 Diner in Albuquerque, Car Show in Grants and Gallup for a chance to win prizes at the end of the tour. There were lots of “ photo ops” along the way and I am sure everyone on the tour took many photos to share. Saturday morning the caravan met at the Tucumcari Convention Center for instructions and pictures.

Everyone who registered was given a “ goodie bag “ that included a numbered yellow and orange New Mexico license plate with “ Tucumcari to Gallup, Route 66 Days July 22-23 2011, and US 66.” How cool is that? We then headed out to Santa Rosa through the ghost towns of Montoya, Newkirk and Quervo. Everyone enjoyed a stop at Bozo’s Route 66 Auto Museum, then it was on to Moriarty had a BBQ lunch at Archie Lewis’ Antique Toy Store and Auto Museum. Archie has a few tons of some really old cars, pickups, tractors and toys. This is a must-see stop and is just across the street from the Sail Plane Museum.

missed this one, make plans now to be a part of the adventure next July. I guarantee you will have a very enjoyable time. A HUGE THANK YOU to Vickie Ashcraft, Andy House and the rest of the crew for a magnificent job again this year — and if you have not staged an event like this you have no idea how much time and effort goes into it! Looking forward to seeing you next year on Route 66 in The Land of Enchantment.

We then drove Route 66 into Albuquerque through Edgewood and Tijeras to Central Avenue where the annual street party was in full swing. They blocked off about three miles of traffic in the Nob Hill district and there were thousands of people milling around enjoying live music, eating and visiting street vendors. The intermittent showers did not seem to dampen anyone’s spirit, in fact they were reveling in it. After the festivities and dinner, our group met at Enchanted Trails RV Park & Gift Shop on Nine Mile Hill ( what a view of Albuquerque at night from up there! ) for a “ Drive In/Walk In Movie. It seems that someone donated a LARGE portable movie screen to the New Mexico Route 66 Association so they put it to good use. We watched “ Thunder Road,” had a lot of fun, enjoyed the movie and free popcorn and candy. Sunday morning after a breakfast everyone met at the Route 66 Casino for the trip to Gallup through Mesita, Laguna, Budville, Villa de Cubero, San Fidel, McCarthy’s and Grants. A car club in Grants staged a car show for us in the park and we added to their show; lots of really cool classic vehicles to drool over and all of us received goodie bags from them that contained discount tickets to restaurants, flash lights, etc. Thanks guys! After a couple of hours in Grants we drove to Thoreau, over the Continental Divide into Gallup ( Indian Capitol of The World ). Every town on 66 in New Mexico is unique and has its own personality, Gallup is no exception with lots of interesting shops, restaurants, and motels. We met at Gallup’s Chamber of Commerce office where plaques and prizes were awarded. The group received a sizable dollar amount worth of prizes. The New Mexico Route 66 Association had gathered together and everyone in the group enjoyed a fun filled weekend. It is such a joy to meet old and dear “ Roadie Friends “ and make new ones on historic Route 66. If you September / October 2011



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815 East Route 66 Blvd. Tucumcari, NM 88401 575-461-9849

September / October 2011