On the road back to Needles CA…

 Arizona, California, Daily  Comments Off on On the road back to Needles CA…
Apr 202012

Phase 2 begins on the sign!

On our trip from Holbrook to Needles (I say OUR because I am traveling with Rich Talley, Motel Safari – Tucumcari fame). We decided to hit a few places on the way to Needles.

Now, on the way BACK to Flagstaff, we will be driving most of the route to stop at a bunch of places….

Until then, here are a few places we stopped at:

We met at the Globetrotter Motel and headed out to Flagstaff.
In Flagstaff, it was MANDATORY we stop at the Mother Road Brewering Company.

This is a new business on Route 66 and Rich really wanted to stop here, and we are glad we did!
It was 2pm and although they did not open until 3pm, they let us in and gave us a tour, and even better, a sampling of beer!

These folks are passionate about what they do and I feel they will be a great addition to Route 66. They are distributing in Arizona, but are looking for distributors all along the route.

After buying a 6 pack, we headed out.

We then headed out to Kingman and decided to stop and eat at Mr. D’s. I had about 8 glasses of their Root Beer and a burger. I was not disappointed.

We will spend all day getting the sign looking like it should and I will post the updates as well as our trip back to Flagstaff.

It begins! The fundraiser for the restoration of the 66 Motel sign!

 California, Daily  Comments Off on It begins! The fundraiser for the restoration of the 66 Motel sign!
Mar 292012

IndieGogo Fundraiser to relight the 66 Motel sign in Needles CA.

Here is your chance to help restore and get the 66 Motel sign lit up again after 15 years of being off!
Every dollar counts! Share this with EVERYONE you know to get the word out to save this iconic historic sign!

We have several folks and businesses along the route who have donated items to donors – so not only do you get the gift of satisfaction for helping such a worthwhile cause – you also GET something from the route!

The painting work has been started and this will be for the neon, transformers, electrical , and installation.
I cannot thank you enough for the help!

Click HERE for more information on how to donate.

Ed Klein
Route 66 World

Holland Burger Cafe a historical point of interest

 California, Daily  Comments Off on Holland Burger Cafe a historical point of interest
Oct 172011

After surveying eateries from coast to coast, Guy Fieri, host of the Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives,” proclaimed Emma Jean’s Holland Burger Cafe among the top three roadside cafes in the entire nation.

On Sunday, the cafe — the Victor Valley’s oldest restaurant and a Route 66 landmark — received recognition of another kind: a historic point of interest.

“This is a historic place that has gone back to an older, simpler time,” said Brian Gentry, son of Emma Jean Gentry and namesake of the cafe’s signature Brian Burger. “People know the person they are sitting next to before they leave.”

E Clampus Vitus, a fraternal organization dedicated to preserving Western heritage, selected the Holland Burger Cafe to receive the honor and plaque dedication. The group on Sunday dedicated a plaque honoring the roadside diner.

Founded in 1947 by Bob and Kate Holland, the cafe is a part of Route 66’s history.

Its appeal among truckers and locals has allowed the eatery to flourish over the past 64 years, according to Cass Ellsworth, president of E Clampus Vitus, better known as the Clampers.

In 1979, Emma Jean Gentry, who was a waitress, took over the cafe and turned it into a family business. Brian Gentry was only 13 years old at the time.

When she passed away in 1996, her husband, Richard, continued to run the cafe with his son and his son’s wife, Shawna.

More than six decades later, Brian Gentry is still serving food the same way. Cooks make homemade food and provide a home-style atmosphere for customers, he said.

One of its most popular dishes is the Brian Burger, which is a handpessed patty that includes mild green chili and Swiss-American cheese on Parmesan toast.

The cafe has been featured in many scenes in Quentin Tarantino’s “Kill Bill: Vol. 2,” as well as Fieri’s “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.”

The Clampers select locations that meet the organization’s standard twice a year.

During these ceremonies, new members are initiated into the group. These potential members have to go through a “rite of passage” in order to become a member, which included preparing for Sunday’s dedication ceremony.

Emma Jean’s Holland Burger Cafe is at 17143 D St. in Victorville.
Hours are 5 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. Monday through Friday and 6 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturdays.

Wigwam Motel gets makeover

 California, Daily  Comments Off on Wigwam Motel gets makeover
Aug 102011

SAN BERNARDINO – Have you slept in a teepee lately?
Kumar Patel thinks more people should experience Americana from one of the last remaining Wigwam motels in the country.

The historic motel has a team of painters working to restore San Bernardino’s Wigwam Motel, 2728 Foothill Blvd., along the old Route 66, to its original external color scheme as part of its application to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Patel said.

“We hope to have this completed by the start of the (Stater Bros. 22nd annual) Route 66 celebration (on Sept. 15),” Patel said.

The 20-unit Wigwam Motel in San Bernardino was built in 1949 and was the last of seven built by Frank A. Redford, said Patel, the motel’s manager.

The concept was inspired by a popular ice cream shop shaped like an upside down cone and teepees he had seen while visiting a Sioux reservation in South Dakota.

His first motel was in Horse Cave, Ken., in 1935. And the second followed in 1937 in Cave City, Ken. Over time others were built in Alabama, Florida, New Orleans and Arizona.

The only other remaining Wigwam motels are in Holbrook, Ariz., and Cave City.

Patel said that the Holbrook location was the only franchised property and the franchise fee was the coins from the guests who put coins into the “magic fingers” slot beneath their bed.

Many guests at the San Bernardino site, Patel said, are from other countries, particularly Australia, Holland and England.

“They believe staying in a teepee should be part of their American experience,” he said.

Guests are often enthusiastic about Route 66 and everything connected with it, Patel said.

“Many foreigners are astounded that you can drive 2,000 miles and still be in the same country,” said Patel, who has immersed himself in Route 66 lore since his family bought the Wigwam Motel in 2003.

Coming from the east, the Wigwam Motel is near the end of the historic route, Santa Monica. Driving time for the 78 miles from the motel to Santa Monica, is about five hours – longer than most people think, Patel said.

On Wednesday, workers were scraping off the brown paint on the motel’s 20 teepees. Eventually all will be a white/cream color.

The original red zig-zag lines around the cones and red trim on the windows will also be restored, as will the yellow paint on the three poles protruding from each building.

The poles are actually heat vents that extend deep within the structure.

For a time, Redford lived in San Bernardino’s unit No.1, where he built an firepit, which is still there.

Later he moved into another unit and built an office area in the front. And that’s the office today.

The rooms have modern touches, flatscreen televisions and large refrigerators.

Patel said Wigwam Motel guests are often walk-ins, people stopping in on their cruise of the historic Mother Road.

And the walk-in room rate is $66 – a natural fit.

At a glance
Wigwam Motel

Began in 1935 and grew to seven locations, including San Bernardino.
Only two others remain: one in Kentucky and one in Arizona.
The San Bernardino motel owners have applied for registry as a historic place

Contra Costa Times – Jim Steinberg, Staff Writer

New Route 66 signs from Barstow east

 California, Daily  Comments Off on New Route 66 signs from Barstow east
Aug 032011

If you put up the signs, they will come.
Well, truthfully, they’re probably coming anyway, but with the signs, they might not get lost.

Sometime in the fall, San Bernardino County will begin erecting 75 signs between Barstow and Needles identifying Route 66.

It’s not like the road’s been lost. It is traveled all the time. There are even painted stencils on its surface to help identify it for those who are pursuing a piece of America’s transportation history. The stencils, which began appearing in 2000, were a response to the theft of the iconic Route 66 road signs, perhaps the most recognized highway sign in the world. The road from Chicago to Santa Monica was the main artery from the Midwest to Southern California for much of the 20th century.

The famous logo of the sign appears on T-shirts, coffee mugs, tennis shoes, you name it.

That will not be what the new signs look like.

Part of the County Route Marker Program — a 1958 initiative to establish signage for tourist routes that highlight points of interest and provide an alternative to the state highway system — the modified pentangle signs will have a blue background with San Bernardino County 66 in white lettering.

First District County Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt said he got the idea for marking the route last year and asked the Public Works Department to research the project.

Route 66 is one of those treasures that we are fortunate to have inherited,” Mitzelfelt said. “It draws visitors from around the world. I think we need to do more to promote it and maintain it better and make it more of a tourist attraction.”

While he hopes the county can eventually install signs every couple of miles along the road from the state line to Upland, right now only the desert section from Barstow east will be marked. The cost of that part of the project will be $30,000. That includes brochures and a website.

Mitzelfelt said he hopes the investment will pay off in increased travel and commerce on the roadway.

With special incentives, he said, he hopes “to encourage commercial and retail development that would have a retro feel to it and rebuild some of that history and generate sales tax dollars at the same time.”

Albert Okura, who owns the local Juan Pollo chain of restaurants, is one of the few people with a retail business on the route’s Barstow-to-Needles leg. But it’s not a Juan Pollo.

Five years ago, he bought the storied town of Amboy and has kept the landmark Roy’s Cafe in operation as a gas station and souvenir shop. No fresh food is served, but Okura hopes to reopen the cafe in the future.

He’s not sure the signs will increase his business, but he does think they will help tourists.

“A lot of people get lost,” Okura said. “We always get people asking directions, especially the Europeans. I think if you have a unified sign they can look for, that would help them.”

Okura said he also thinks there is the potential for more commerce along the historic road.

“What I’m trying to do is get the tourists to drop their money in our county,” he said.

Among the states that Route 66 passes through, he said, California is the only one lagging behind where there’s no organization where people are restoring things and getting businesses going. There are things that could be highlighted between Barstow and Needles. There’s a lot of history out there that people don’t know about.”

But he adds, it’s important not to do too much and maintain the flavor of places like Amboy.

“People are more interested in keeping it the way it is,” he said.

Mark Muckenfuss – The Press-Enterprise

After Foreclosure, The Aztec Hotel Faces Uncertain Future

 California, Daily  Comments Off on After Foreclosure, The Aztec Hotel Faces Uncertain Future
May 102011

The historic building, which has long been the subject of “haunted” tales, will go up for sale on May 16.

The Aztec Hotel, one of only three properties in town listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is in the process of foreclosure and will go up for sale later this month at an asking price of more $2.4 million. The fate of the landmark building after it changes hands remains to be seen.

The hotel is currently being run by HTL Hotel Management and a sale by the appointed trustee, Stewart Default Services, is set to be held at the Pomona Superior Courts Building on May 16 at 10:30 a.m.

Chester Reed and Chris Ott of HTL are managing the building until a new buyer purchases the property. Currently, about half of the 44 rooms are either rented to tenants or available to overnight guests.

“We do pretty much everything we can to maintain the building and clean up what’s here,” Ott said. “We’re trying to rebuild the reputation of the hotel.”

“We’re here to do whatever we can to make the place the way it used to be,” Reed added. “Just try to bring back the luster of the place.”

Reed, a chef with 22 years of experience, has revised the menu in the Brass Elephant, the Aztec Hotel’s restaurant. To attract patrons, Ott and Reed are also trying to bring more musical acts to the hotel.

“We’re going to be adding more entertainment on Thursdays and Sundays,” Ott said.

HTL has been managing the Aztec Hotel as a third party ever since the owner defaulted on mortgage payments, leading to foreclosure, according to Reed.

The Los Angeles County Assessor’s Office lists the current owner of the hotel as Kathryn Reece.

The current managers have been on the premises since January 28, after the Los Angeles County District Court appointed HTL to manage the hotel.

The hotel features live music on Fridays and Saturdays. One well-known group is the Billy Haarbauer Band, which has been playing at the venue for about 10 years. Indie rock bands have also filmed music videos at the hotel, Reed said.

Monrovia historian Steve Baker explained more about the building’s significance last month during a MOHPG presentation in the Aztec’s Mayan Room and lobby.

The hotel was constructed along the route of the original Route 66 in the 1920s, and opened in 1925 to much fanfare, Baker said. It was designed by architect Robert Stacy-Judd, who was primarily inspired by the geometric designs and artwork of the Mayan culture. Although it is often cited as an example of Stacy-Judd’s “Mayan Revival” style, the building was named the Aztec Hotel because it was thought the public would not be as familiar with the Mayan civilization.

A novelty attraction frequented by celebrities, the Aztec Hotel nevertheless suffered financial difficulties. A few years after Route 66 was rerouted, the hotel closed in 1935. After reopening in 1938 and undergoing numerous changes, it was finally listed on the National Register of Places in 1978.

Several features, such as the floor tiles, stained glass windows and top light fixtures in the lobby, date back from the 1920s, Baker said. When the Brass Elephant was created in 1983, the right wing of the lobby had been partitioned off. In the last several years, the partition was torn down so the lobby is closer to its original state, and the front doors were restored.

Many of the murals were painted over, but some of them have been restored almost to their original state. One on the east wall, called “The God of Joy” by Stacy-Judd, is still in its original state.

“Interestingly enough, next to the women’s room, the design is called ‘The God of Lust,’” Baker told an amused audience.

Guests have also reported that the ladies room in the main lobby is the location of “psychic phenomemon,” one of several stories of ghostly activity at the hotel. One story involved a pair of newlyweds who purportedly stayed in the famously haunted Room 120 on their wedding night.

“Supposedly their nuptial activities were a little rambunctious,” Baker said. “The bride fell out of bed, struck her head on the radiator, and died from the blow.”

There is another story about the haunted room, with a slightly different yet strangely similar ending.

“A young woman who had the interesting name of Razzle Dazzle allegedly also functioned as an ‘independent contractor’ in the Aztec bar, and one of her clients she went up with, either an argument came up over the monetary proposition, or who was going to do what to whom, and she was shoved and fell and hit her head,” Baker said.

Guests have told Reed and Ott of strange noises and banging coming from Room 129, which is also rumored to be haunted, although it is not as famous as Room 120.

“I think everyone’s familiar with Room 120. People call and ask,” said Reed.

“Specifically for that room,” Ott added.

Not surprisingly, the accounts of ghostly happenings means that the Aztec Hotel has also attracted its share of ghost hunters.

“I’ve got a paranormal group coming out at the end of the month to check up on some stuff,” Reed said.

Part of historical El Rancho complex destroyed in fire

 California, Daily  Comments Off on Part of historical El Rancho complex destroyed in fire
May 052011

A fire destroyed part of a historical building connected to Route 66 early Thursday morning on Main Street.

At the time of the blaze the building was unoccupied and no injuries were reported.
Firefighters were called to a structure fire at on the 100 block of East Main Street at about 1:11 a.m.

Barstow Fire Protection Chief Darrell Jauss said the fire started in the attic of the building of what used to be El Rancho Restaurant — currently Cedar Restaurant and Travel Store.

About 20 Barstow Fire Department firefighters arrived at the scene at 1:15 a.m.

According to Jauss, firefighters received help from the Marine Corps Logistics Base Fire Department and from the Barstow Police but by the time firefighters arrived the fire was very big and had consumed most of the building.

“We were able to stop the fire but by the time we did the roof collapsed in,” Jauss said. “We are concerned that the main wall might collapse also.”

The fire was contained in two hours and was completely put out in four hours.

“We wanted to make sure that it wouldn’t spread further to the neighboring business,” Jauss said.

Firefighters are currently trying to stop smaller pockets of smoke that are smoldering in the building.

There is no estimate of the amount of damage on the structure yet.

By FIORELLA CASELLA, Desert Dispatch

Kingman air/auto show returns after 4-year absence

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May 032011

The Kingman Air and Auto Show is returning after a four-year absence and is looking for sponsors and volunteers. The show is planned for Oct. 8-9 at the Kingman Airport and Industrial Park on Route 66.

The organization plans to have at least 20 planes, with around 10 giving rides, said Air Show President Andrew Raynor. Unfortunately, there will be no drag races this year. However, there will be a car show with plenty of vintage cars, racing vehicles, off-road vehicles and more. Tickets for the show will be available online at www.kingmanairshow.com starting May 1.

The organization hasn’t been able to hold a show since 2007 because of the economy. Sponsors simply didn’t have the funds to support the project, Raynor said. The organization has reworked its budget and some of the acts that it hired this year, trying to get more bang for its buck, while still providing a show for spectators.

“We’re trying to broaden things out a bit,” Raynor said.

However, they need vendors, sponsors and volunteers to help with the crowds. People interested in renting a space for their business, becoming a sponsor or volunteering for the show should call (928) 377-7260.

Suzanne Adams – Daily Miner Staff Reporter

East Hollywood’s Neglected Santa Monica Boulevard May Get Some Love

 California, Daily  Comments Off on East Hollywood’s Neglected Santa Monica Boulevard May Get Some Love
May 032011

Looking to transform a grimy-looking stretch of Santa Monica Boulevard, the East Hollywood Neighborhood Council applied this week for city grants to help pay for what’s being called the Route 66 project. The proposed streetscape improvements would gussy up 22 blocks of the corridor between Hoover Street to the 101 Freeway.

Armen Makasjian of the Santa Monica Boulevard/Route 66 Task Force says his group hopes to capitalize on Route 66’s reputation as one of the nation’s best known highways. The effort would be modeled in part after West Hollywood’s own stretch of Santa Monica Boulevard, he tells Curbed.

Granted, East Hollywood’s goals are more modest: The Task Force wants more trash cans, cleaner bus stops, and less tagging. Longer-term goals include adding Historic Route 66 marker signs, benches, bike racks, and decorative trash cans. Anything to lure more pedestrians and more shops, really. “We haven’t had any new businesses moving in,” says Makasjian of the area. “You have to have more services.”

About 50 people, including business owners, and City Councilman Eric Garcetti, who represents the area, attended a recent neighborhood meeting to talk up goals for the area. “Santa Monica, like Melrose, is one of those great streets that have languished,” said Garcetti at the meeting, encouraging the group’s work.

Invoking Route 66, which at one point traversed eight states, and was disbanded in 1985, as a historic marker is often successful. The Cucamonga Service Station off Route 66 in Rancho Cucamonga was designated a historical landmark two years ago because of its position as a pit stop on the highway.

Michael Wallis, author of the book Route 66: The Mother Road said he was pleased to hear about East Hollywood’s plans. “It’s music to my ears to hear about these grassroots efforts,” said Wallis, who said he has seen numerous examples of thoughtful preservation and commercial efforts along the highway.

And while East Hollywood may not be seeking tourists, Europeans — particularly the French and the Brits — “love to drive the entire route,” he said. Viva la Santa Monica!

Route 66 in California

 California, Daily  Comments Off on Route 66 in California
Mar 162011

For much of the early twentieth century, Route 66 was the way most people got to California. After its creation in 1926, it was the way west for migrants escaping the Dust Bowl, hoping to find work in California’s fields and factories. After World War II and the beginning of America’s new car culture, it carried vacationers who wanted to tour The West, visit a new-fangled attraction called Disneyland or see the Pacific Ocean.

In 1985, it was removed from the United States highway system, replaced by wider, more modern Interstate Highway, but in those six decades it gained a status few strips of asphalt enjoy, passing into the fabric of our culture. It was the backdrop for John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath, the topic of a song by Bobby Troup and the backdrop for a 1960s television show. Steinbeck called it the Mother Road – and the name stuck.

In California, Route 66 ran from the Arizona border near Needles, through Barstow, across San Bernardino County, into Pasadena and south into Los Angeles, a distance of about 270 miles. Today, drivers making the same journey travel on I-40, I-15 and I-10.

If you’ve strolled along Route 66 in Williams, Arizona or cruised the neons along Albuquerque’s Central Avenue, don’t expect to find anything comparable in California. In the east, the Interstate often bypassed towns along the Mother Road, leading them to inevitable decline. Further west, fueled by dreams of growth and funded by state money earmarked for redevelopment, San Bernardino and Los Angeles County’s civic leaders all but obliterated the old Route 66 landmarks and today, you’ll find Route 66 signs outnumber the sights.

If you want to focus on exactly where every square inch of asphalt ran and when it ran there, following tortuous routes to drive on as much of it as possible, this guide may not be for you. However, the highway department has conscientiously signposted every possible exit from I-40 that leads to a section of Historic Route 66 and the California Route 66 Preservation Association has a mile-by-mile guide and some nice historic photos to go along with it. And if you want to know all the details of where Route 66 went in Los Angeles County, experts say Scott R. Piotrowski’s Finding the End of the Mother Road is the definitive resource.

By Betsy Malloy, About.com Guide