‘On the Sixth day of Christmas, Route 66 gave to me…’

 Daily, Texas  Comments Off on ‘On the Sixth day of Christmas, Route 66 gave to me…’
Dec 172013


Is there a doctor on the route?!?

Nick Gerlich is really one of a kind Route 66 roadie. Most of us know him, a lot of us have traveled part of the route with him, and not too many can claim the dedication on tracking and mapping of the old(er) sections of Route 66.

I met Nick like most folks: Via Social Media. I actually met Nick in person for the first time in Las Vegas totally by chance as we found out each of us would be there, the same day for different events. So naturally we set up a time and met for a beer (or three) and talked about one thing: Route 66.

From there out Nick and I have become close ‘roadies’ and we share in each others passion. ANYTHING I need to know about Route 66 throughout Texas, I know I can ask him.

I have traveled parts of the route in Texas with Nick (3) times now and each time all for different reasons. I always try my best to see Nick if I know either one of us are within a few hundred miles from each other.

He has such a vast knowledge of everything Route 66 and his intentions are nothing but pure, and I admire that.

He is a fellow lecturer, has been on TV and in print as well as many other formats to share his passion for the route, so it almost seems he and I are running parallel lives (if not missions) for Route 66.

And he seems to always have his mountain bike in the back of his van to hit the parts of the route when a car just simply won’t do!

You can check out his website at www.drgerlich.com or his Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/nickgerlich

Postcards showcase flavor of Route 66

 Daily, Texas  Comments Off on Postcards showcase flavor of Route 66
Jul 282012

Travel on Route 66 in its heyday was something to write home about.

The Mother Road opened new worlds to tourists eager to send postcards to share their discovery of such exotic places as Florence “Mom” Madsen’s Dining Room in Amarillo. Known in these parts as “The Chicken Queen,” Madsen served fried chicken and biscuits to locals, foreign ambassadors, actors and sports heros.

Postcards now are an essential and abiding part of the road’s lore, preserving images of lost stops along the famed east-west band.

“To be a hardcore, serious Route 66 follower, ‘collectible’ means finding an authentic postcard or an old highway sign or mementos of the businesses that no longer exist,” said Nick Gerlich, who this month joined his brother in retracing their father’s journey down Route 66 from Chicago to Amarillo.

A West Texas A&M University marketing professor, Gerlich chronicled the trip on a MilesFromNowhere Facebook page.

“I still have a hard time today completely wrapping my mind around the idea of loving an old defunct road,” Gerlich wrote July 10, explaining that public fascination with the Mother Road grew as the federal government decommissioned it in 1985.

“More than anything, I think that 66 stands out among other old U.S. roads because it played such an important role in our history, literature and pop culture,” Gerlich wrote.

Steinbeck didn’t write about U.S. 30, and Bobby Troupe didn’t harmonize about U.S. 1.

Little Feat may have sung about Highway 95; Greg Allman may have been born in the back seat of a Greyhound bus (rolling down Highway 41), but those roads just didn’t cut muster. They only moved people.

“Route 66 moved lives.”

A story in cards

A closer look at Route 66 postcards reveals more than a geographical connection to the road. Hundreds bear the stamp of McCormick Co., now an Amarillo advertising and public relations firm.

“McCormick started in 1926, and that’s when Route 66 began,” said Cathy Pruiett, creative services director and keeper of the agency’s postcard collection.

Company founder James L. McCormick operated a photography business and engraving shop in Amarillo through the 1930s and ’40s and often was hired to photograph attractions along the highway, agency Chairwoman Kathy Cornett said. The company also distributed other companies’ postcards to businesses in the region, Pruiett said.

Employees and friends scour garage sales and antique stores to add to the agency’s collection, which numbers in the hundreds, Cornett said.

The earliest card in the collection, printed in 1934, pictures a seated woman gazing across Palo Duro Canyon, Pruiett said.

Postcard collecting is a “huge, huge hobby,” according to Rudy Franchi, an appraiser for PBS’ “Antiques Roadshow.”

“There are thousands of categories people specialize in, and Route 66 is one of the most popular,” Franchi said.

Postcards are abundant, so most won’t bring sellers more than coins. But a Route 66 tie can boost a postcard’s value, Franchi said.

Route 66 is roadside America — old motels, drive-in theaters, diners,” Franchi said. “There are as many topics as there are people.”


Left-behind legs of the Mother Road expose many once “ultra- modern” tourist courts as forgotten shells — if they’re still standing at all.

“I’ve been fascinated with old motel architecture and things like that since I was a wee one. I’m 65 now,” said Mike Ward, of Mesa, Ariz., whose collection of more than 2,500 postcards gets a regular airing on a Route 66 Postcards Facebook page he helps administer.

“I’ll post them, and if I can find an address and get a (Google) Street View of what’s there now, I’ll post that. Sometimes, (a business) is still operating under another name or it’s been repurposed.”

Many Texas Panhandle attractions freeze-framed on postcards no longer exist.

A Wienerschnitzel operates where Tha Best Tourist Court once stood on East Amarillo Boulevard.

CVS occupies the prime corner at Amarillo Boulevard and Pierce Street/U.S. Highway 87 where La Rose Courts once advertised 22 cottages, 12 hotel rooms and a reading room. A postcard declares the location “Where the Highways of the Nation Meet.”

When Interstate 40 siphoned tourists from Route 66, many businesses died. Newspaper archives contain a few clippings detailing fire damage or petty crimes at the sites.

Moving history

A “confessed time traveler,” Gerlich said technology and social media have helped create a new era of postcards — or posts, at least.

“One of our biggest collectibles is our photographs,” said Gerlich, a participant in a Route 66 Pictures Facebook group page where people post photos from the old highway.

“Taking those photographs today of things that might have existed 50 years ago, posting pictures of the wreckage, chronicling the historical, in some case, collapse of the buildings — it’s a moving history,” Gerlich said.

“Those old structures are brought forward with today’s pictures … that help the serious Route 66 follower keep it going.”

By Karen Smith Welch – Amarillo Globe News

Our (partial) Route 66 trip – Day 3

 Daily, Texas  Comments Off on Our (partial) Route 66 trip – Day 3
Jun 242011

Woke up and was eager to stop back over at the U Drop Inn and see it in the daytime.
We went inside and spoke with a lady (man, I forgot her name!) and she went over the restoration process with me and told me while it was great the government funds helped with the restoration, the government told them they could not run the diner / kitchen for 10 years after the project was complete. They have (fortunately) 2 more years to go before they can ‘open shop’ in the diner.

Overall, I was impressed with the building.

Juliana waiting for service – she might have to wait a bit!

The Philips 66 Gas Station in McLean TX.

The fantastic ‘Leaning Water Tower’ in Britten TX.

We stopped at the Cross in Groom TX again. 10,000,000 visitors a year visit this place – did you hear that Groom TX?!?

Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo TX – Met a woman from Germany here. Juliana was able to use her German on her, and she told me she was looking forward to meeting Rich Henry at Henry’s Rabbit Ranch. I gave her my card and told her to tell Rich she could get a free gift!!! (Sorry Rich!)

Juliana spray painting for the first time – very little room to spray paint your name! These cars are covered!

We stopped in Tucumcari in the afternoon, this is a whole ‘nother post for another day – seeing we are BACK in Tucumcari this weekend doing preservation work…

Our (partial) Route 66 trip – Day 2

 Daily, Missouri, Texas  Comments Off on Our (partial) Route 66 trip – Day 2
Jun 232011

We woke up to a nice sunny day and started over to Joplin. Unless you visited it – you can not understand the devistation these folks have faced… The damage was just south of Route 66 in Joplin, but you can see damage for miles with signs blown out, shingles tore off, limbs blown around…

We decided the best way we could help out Joplin was fill up a cart and donate the food to the food drive they were having… how can you not after seeing all of the destruction…

We drove pretty much thru Oklahoma and ended up in Shamrock TX – and was fortunate enough to grab a picture of the U Drop Inn all lit up. Now it was time to call it a night….

More tomorrow…

Rust rocks the Ranch – Cadillac Ranch on Route 66

 Daily, Texas  Comments Off on Rust rocks the Ranch – Cadillac Ranch on Route 66
Feb 132011

Having endured lousy reviews and the insults of Panhandle weather, one of the stars of Cadillac Ranch is entering rehab.

The roof has rusted away from a junker Caddie, a first at the mercurial monument rising from the Earth off Interstate 40 just west of Amarillo.

Stanley Marsh 3, the Ranch’s patron saint, isn’t sure when the top dropped from the vintage auto situated second from the west in the row of 10 buried nose down in the flatlands. But he knows what needs to be done: Amarillo artist Lightnin’ McDuff will have to operate.

“Eventually it will have its head back on,” said Marsh, the millionaire and jester who orchestrated the move of the roadside wonder in 1997 to its current location from a spot two miles east. “Lightnin’ McDuff is a real good welder. I always get the best and give them credit.”

Observers have described Cadillac Ranch, installed almost four decades ago, as everything from “a serious place in the history of the ridiculous” to “an American folly” to a mere “point of interest.” Marsh describes the line of four-wheeled relics more whimsically.

“The dominant feature of the Panhandle is the horizon line,” he said. “Having those fins cut the horizon line, it’s magical.”
Except for that headless heap. McDuff pledges the repair will begin soon.

“I’ve been waiting for the weather to warm back up. I can’t hardly take that into the shop,” McDuff said. “I’ll have to build a framework to straighten it back out and have something to weld to. If the weatherman’s not lying, I should be doing something on it next week.”

A California architectural cooperative called the Ant Farm originally installed the Cadillacs during the summer solstice of 1974. Graffiti artists turned the cars into a metal canvas.

And the creation turned iconic, mused and fawned over in songs by Bruce Springsteen and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, depicted in Pixar’s animated hit “Cars” and appearing in movies and documentaries and on album covers.

“Cadillac Ranch wasn’t made by any one person,” Marsh said. “It was made by everyone who has done anything to it.” Still, Marsh is forever linked to the Ranch.

“I first heard about (the line of standing Caddies) from a biker in Tulsa about 1976,” said Mark Morey, who teaches humanities classes at Amarillo College and has worked as curator of research at the Amarillo Museum of Art.

“He told me there was this crazy, rich guy in Amarillo who stuck Cadillacs in the ground. The myth had already become the reality that he had created it. It reached an extremely layperson’s level that quickly.”

The Cadillacs ended up in a row, from the 1949 Club Sedan to the 1963 Sedan de Ville, parallel to U.S. Route 66 and leaning at an angle said to be the same as the Great Pyramid of Giza.

“Based on research I’ve seen, Stanley and (his wife) Wendy had a fair amount of input into the arrangement,” Morey said. “The Ant Farm wanted to arrange them more randomly.”

Marsh saw a deeper vision.

Driving along I-40 “you see one fender in front of another then, when you’re directly across from it, you see the profiles. That’s just the right view, but it’s ephemeral,” Marsh said. “It’s like a butterfly being born, then it’s gone.”

Those profiles might get a face-lift.

“There’s a door or two missing” from some of the cars, McDuff said. Metal fillers might fill the gaps, he said.

“It would be hard to find the right doors.”

The topless Caddie stood Friday in a field blanketed with snow, two spent spray paint cans at its base. The neon colors on the car spelled out the thoughts of visitors who are encouraged to leave their marks — “Wild West,” “RIP,” “Flint, MI” and simply “Miriam.”

Peyton Green, of Amarillo, brought his sister’s family from Colby, Kan., to see the Ranch.

“The whole thing is kind of odd,” he said.

Jared and Kelly — children of Green’s sister LaDonna and her husband, Tom Sloan — both are interested in art.

“I told them I wanted them to see it, and we stopped by the hardware store and they were, ‘What?’” Green said.

They soon pulled out spray cans to make their contributions to the graffiti that covers every inch of every Cadillac.

“It gives people a place to come express themselves,” LaDonna Sloan said.

But is it art? Teenager Jared Sloan, fingers multicolored with spray paint, said “yeah” enthusiastically. He thought he might want to try something similarly monumental.

“Only bigger.”

By Kevin Welch

Restored 1929 Route 66 Gas Station – McLean TX

 Daily, Texas  Comments Off on Restored 1929 Route 66 Gas Station – McLean TX
Jan 182011

Nice article from Roadside America – visit their website by clicking HERE.

Just down the road from the Devil’s Rope/Route 66 Museum stands this vintage service station, circa 1929. It was the first Phillips Petroleum filling station opened in Texas, and operated for over 50 years. The station was renovated by a local Route 66 preservation group in 1992, claimed to be the first old gas station restored along the “Mother Road,” and continues to be maintained.

There are several nice touches. The pumps are painted in the bright orange color of Phillips 66, as is an old tank truck parked adjacent. There’s an old raised vehicle platform, also painted orange, for mechanic work.

On the station building itself, the windows and glass on the door are painted fakes. Locals probably got tired of replacing broken glass…

It’s been decades since it pumped a drop of gasoline, but the landmark is a required stop for Route 66 pilgrims.