Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program Grant Awards – 2011

 Arizona, Daily, Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma  Comments Off on Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program Grant Awards – 2011
Aug 092011

Below is a liting of the (10) properties / businesses who were awarded Preservation Grants. PLEASE keep in mind these places do not get this money upfront – it is a ‘cost share program’ which means they need to spend a dollar to get a dollar. So, they still need help!! Either you can donate your dollars and/or time. They get a ‘cost per hour’ charge for every hour of work from volunteers – which turn into dollars they get from these grants. Check with the local proerty to see how you can help!!


Project: Route 66 Motel Sign and Roof Rehabilitation
Recipient: Private Owner
Amount: $10,319 NPS, $10,319 match

The Route 66 Motel has been a welcoming stop on Route 66 in Kingman, Arizona for more than 50 years. Its towering red and yellow neon sign remains a beacon in the night for travelers stopping to photograph the sign, stay the night, or visit the Route 66 gift shop. Built in 1963 as the “Pony Soldier”, the motel is a two-story, brick building with decorative, extruded mortar joints.
An aging electrical system has caused many portions of the sign to stop working, and the flat roof on the motel building needs repair. Grant funds will assist with these priority preservation needs, so it can continue to serve as an important Route 66 landmark in Kingman.


Project: Ariston Cafe Rehabilitation
Recipient: Private Owner
Amount: $10,000 NPS, $10,000 match

The Ariston Cafe in Litchfield, Illinois opened in 1935 and has been continuously operated by the Adam family ever since. A standing tradition for locals and travelers alike, the cafe offers favorites such as toasted ravioli and homemade red velvet cake. With its distinctive curved parapet, finely crafted brickwork, and its original Art Deco-style dining booths, this beloved Litchfield landmark was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2006. In 2008, a preservation plan was prepared for the cafe, and rehabilitation work has been ongoing since. Grant funds will assist with the current phase of the project, which will focus on structural repairs to the exterior brickwork.

Project: Dell Rhea Chicken Basket Rehabilitation
Recipient: Private Owner
Amount: $7,000 NPS, $7,000 match

Dell Rhea Chicken Basket has its origins in the 1930’s as a lunch counter attached to a service station in Hinsdale, Illinois. Oral tradition has it that two local farm women offered to reveal their excellent fried chicken recipe to the owner if he would promise to buy their chickens. The recipe was so good, that by 1946, the service station was closed and the new Chicken Basket was born. Built adjacent to the lunch counter site, the building reflects the nononsense,
utilitarian, commercial style of the post-war years. After being bypassed by the Interstate in 1962, the business fell on hard times. The Dell Rhea family purchased the Chicken Basket in 1963, and through savvy marketing and its famous fried chicken recipe, the business flourishes today. The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2008. Grant funds will assist with much needed structural repairs to the exterior brick walls.

Project: Luna Cafe Neon Sign Restoration
Recipient: Private Owner
Amount: $11,000 NPS, $11,000 match

The Luna Cafe in Mitchell, Illinois was built in 1926, the same year Route 66 was commissioned as a highway. With over 85 years of continuous service, the Luna has reportedly had many famous visitors including Al Capone, Elvis Presley, Hank
Williams Sr., and Ike & Tina Turner. Local memory recalls it serving variously as a Route 66 cafe, piano bar, boarding house, brothel, upscale restaurant, and meeting spot for gangsters. The neon sign with its iconic ruby red cherries lit up the night for over 40 years before going dark in the 1990s.The Missouri and Illinois Route 66 Associations are partnering with the owner of the Luna to oversee the restoration of the sign. Grant funds will assist with this effort.

Project: Sprague Super Service Window Rehabilitation
Recipient: Private Owner
Amount: $10,000 NPS, $10,000 match

In 1931, William W. Sprague built a two-story, Tudor Revival style building on Route 66 in Normal, Illinois to meet the
burgeoning demands of automobilists. Although Sprague opened the business during the Great Depression, he could count on travelers and local residents who needed food, gasoline, and car repair to stay in business. By providing on-site housing in the upstairs portion of the building for himself and a gas station attendant, he could readily meet the needs of his customers while lowering his housing costs. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2008, the current owner is restoring the building for use as a visitor center. Following a preservation plan prepared in 2009, a new roof and ADA accessible bathrooms have been installed. Grant funds will now assist with rehabilitation of the historic, wood frame windows.


Project: Meramec River Bridge Historic Structures Report
Recipient: Landmarks Association of St. Louis
Amount: $15,000 NPS, $30,000 match
Constructed in 1931-1932, the Meramec River Bridge is a 1,009’-long, three-span, steel deck truss and girder structure located near Eureka in the Missouri Route 66 State Park. The bridge carried Route 66 traffic until it was bypassed by I-44 in the 1960’s. Today it serves as a centerpiece of the Route 66 State
Park, and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2009. Now closed to traffic and under threat of demolition due to its deteriorated condition, it has been listed on Missouri Preservation’s Most Endangered Historic Places list for two years in a row. As part of a larger master planning effort, grant funds will assist with the preparation of a Historic Structures Report to evaluate preservation options and rehabilitation costs for the bridge.

Project: Sunset Motel Entrance and Exit Signs Restoration
Recipient: Private Owner
Amount: $7,100 NPS, $7,100 match

The Sunset Motel was built just after World War II in the “Hi-Way Hills Subdivision” of Villa Ridge, Missouri. Built in a distinctive Vshape, it had a twin-sister property known as the Pin Oak Motel just two miles west on Route 66. The motel featured a spacious lawn and central garden, a circular driveway around the rear of the property, and front and back entrances to each room. Since 1971, the property has been owned by the same family, and is currently operating on a weekly rental basis. Restoration was begun in 2009 to replace the roof, repoint exterior brick work, restore the interior floors, and return the neon sign to operating condition. Grant funds will assist with restoration of the damaged
and missing neon Entrance and Exit signs.

Project: Wagon Wheel Motel Roof Replacement
Recipient: Private Owner
Amount: $17,500 NPS, $17,500 match
Built in 1935 in Cuba, Missouri, the Wagon Wheel Motel, known originally as the Wagon Wheel Cabins, is a rare example of the transition in roadside lodging from individual tourist cabins to attached units. A well known local mason built the motel using local stone that farmers brought to him. While stone was a common building material for motels in Missouri, the Tudor Revival styling was not. Today, the motel is still locally owned and operated, and is the earliest tourist court on Route 66 in Missouri that still accommodates nightly travelers. Ongoing restoration work has included porch and soffit repairs, window repair, floor refinishing, and heating/cooling improvements. Grant funds will assist with roof replacement on two of the motel units.


Project: Arcadia Round Barn Siding Restoration
Recipient: Arcadia Historical and Preservation Society
Amount: $21,000 NPS, $21,000 match
The Round Barn has stood sentinel in Arcadia, Oklahoma, since 1898. During construction, boards were soaked in water to make them pliable enough to bend into the round shape of the barn.
The barn was used variously to house stock and hay, but it is the dances on the second floor of the barn that people remember most. In 1914, Oklahoma County obtained a right-of-way and built a crude dirt road between the barn and the railroad tracks. In 1926, this unpaved road was designated U.S. Highway 66, part of the new national highway system. The barn has been a landmark on the route ever since and today serves as Route 66 and local history museum. The barn was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977. Grant funds will assist with much needed repair of rotted siding boards and trim.

Project: Firestone Station Restoration
Recipient: Private Owner
Amount: $25,000 NPS, $25,000 match
In July, 1929, the Bristow, Oklahoma Daily Record reported that
Firestone had purchased lots on Route 66 for the purpose of constructing a building that “will be one of the most modern in the state”. The store opened in May, 1930, and included an Art Deco design with six large service bays, a wash bay, an office and sales area with large display windows. The station prospered through the 1950’s, relying on its premier location and national brand recognition, as well as is distinctiveness as a full service station. Now under extensive and meticulous restoration for use as an auto body shop, grant funds will assist with site improvements including the exterior lights, sign, and concrete driveway repairs.

OK state eyes Route 66 enhancements

 Daily  Comments Off on OK state eyes Route 66 enhancements
Aug 062011

Officials sought public input for how to improve State Highway 66 from Post Road east to the Oklahoma/Lincoln county line near Arcadia.

Craig Moody, Oklahoma Department of Transportation public involvement specialist, told the capacity crowd at the Arcadia Community Center that the meeting was designed to answer questions about the proposed project and get public feedback.

“This is not set in stone,” Moody said. “This is something we are still looking at and discussing. We have not created any design plans. We are listening to you.”

Moody told the audience that traffic has been increasing steadily on State Highway 66 and road safety was a growing concern.

He said the projects would be divided into two sections — a west project and an east project. Upon completion the highway would be able to carry a heavier traffic load and improve traffic safety.

Moody said the proposed west project includes widening a 1.6 mile section of S.H. 66 to four lanes from Post Road east to the Coffee Creek bridge. The $7.2 million project is expected to start construction in 2015.

Moody said the current daily traffic count for the west project is 7,500 vehicles per day. With the proposed improvements that count would rise to 10,000 vehicles per day.

“We feel confident that we could construct that project through traffic,” Moody said. ‘We wouldn’t have to close the road.”

Moody said the east project includes resurfacing a 6-mile stretch of S.H. 66 from the Soldier Creek bridge east to the Oklahoma/Lincoln county line and adding 8-foot shoulders along that stretch of roadway.

Estimated cost for the east project is $18.7 million and construction is expected to start in 2016. Current daily traffic count for the east project is 4,200 vehicles per day. With the proposed improvements that count is estimated to rise to 6,700 vehicles per day.

“The majority of this section of road is two-lane with no shoulders,” Moody said. “This is a concern for us.”

Moody said ODOT would have to conduct an environmental study and conduct a right-of-way and utility relocation plan before any construction could start. Funding for the road projects would be a combination of federal and state money.

Moody added that none of the proposed road projects would go through Arcadia.

“We are not making any improvements through Arcadia at this time,” Moody said. “What is there now is how it’s going to be.”

Several audience members questioned Moody about the need for a four-lane section on the historic Route 66 highway that runs through Arcadia.

One of the most vocal critics of the four-lane project was Arcadia Mayor Marilyn Murrell.

“I think we ought to be able to reach a compromise,” she said. “Fix our bridges and give us some shoulders and don’t turn any more of Route 66 into a four-lane period. We want to preserve our Route 66.”

U.S. Route 66 was a highway within the U.S. highway system. One of the original U.S. highways, Route 66 was established on Nov. 11, 1926.

The highway, which became one of the most famous roads in America, originally ran from Chicago through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California, before ending in Los Angeles, covering a total of 2,448 miles.

Route 66 served as a major path for those who migrated west, especially during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, and it supported the economies of the communities through which the road passed.

U.S. 66 was officially removed from the U.S. highway system on June 27, 1985, after it was decided the route was no longer relevant and had been replaced by the Interstate Highway System.

Moody said he understood the concerns of residents and assured them that their comments would be taken into consideration when designing the projects.

“This particular project is special,” Moody said. “You have four cities with Oklahoma City, Edmond, Luther and Arcadia involved. It’s a historic route. It’s Route 66. In 2005 Oklahoma recognized Route 66 as a state scenic byway and in 2009 it was designated a national scenic byway.”

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…

Cross Country Trek – Route 66

 Daily, Oklahoma  Comments Off on Cross Country Trek – Route 66
Mar 042011


The afternoon air in Oklahoma City on New Year’s Day, 2008, was still crisp and cool, but with the sun shining brightly overhead it promised to warm up more as the day passed. After spending the morning at the Oklahoma City National Memorial, I was ready for some lighter hearted entertainment in the afternoon before heading out of Oklahoma and into Arkansas.

Continuing along the famed Route 66 into Arcadia, Oklahoma, there were two places I was very excited to visit. The first was a roadside restaurant, gas and convenience store called Pops, and it was anything but ordinary. The first thing that came into sight was the 66 foot tall, 4 ton white metal spiral structure of a pop bottle, complete with a straw sticking out the top. The store and restaurant was no less impressive, built with steel beams and glass, with a long stretching “canopy” that ran over the gas pumps outside, providing a shelter from inclement weather. Inside, the glass walls were lined with shelves from floor to ceiling, featuring rows and rows of different types of colorful sodas in glass bottles.

The sight of all those colors and the promise of countless interesting fizzy sodas to be had provided some serious fun. After fueling up the U-Haul and checking out the huge soda bottle landmark, I headed inside where there were all sorts of Pops souvenirs, clothing items and of course, bottles of soda. With over 500 different varieties to choose from, it took a while to settle on three mix-and-match six packs filled with all sorts of sodas. The pop was sorted by colors, red being represented by cranberry, black cherry, raspberry and fruit punch flavors to name a few. In the orange group were orange, mango, peach and tangerine. On and on it went. Choosing root beer was a feat unto itself, as the selection boasted over 100 varieties, including some with funny names, like Zuberfizz Root Beer, Jackson Hole Snake River Sarsaparilla and Judge Wapner’s Root Beer.

Choosing sodas to fill my six packs was a blast, though it was a challenge narrowing down which ones to just marvel at and which ones to actually take home. For more information on Pops, visit

Just up the road from Pops was the Round Red Barn, another popular landmark on Route 66. Built in 1898, the barn was used for livestock as well as a place for the local townspeople to hold dances and events. It is the only true round barn in the country, and was designed this way to supposedly help withstand Oklahoma’s tornadoes. No one knows if the design actually helps ward off the twisters, but as the barn is still standing, the signs are good!

In 1988 the barn’s 60 foot diameter roof collapsed after 90 years of wear, and it took a group of local volunteers and $65,000 raised through various donations and fundraisers to rebuild the immense roof and restore the barn. As a result of these efforts, Arcadia’s Historical Society Members were given the National Preservation and Honor Award which recognized their accomplishment in preserving the barn.

The Round Red Barn is a unique centerpiece in the small town of Arcadia and is still used for various local events. It is open to the public to visit anytime and donations are welcome. For more information, you can visit .

Winding my way back to I-40 from the old Route 66, I was struck again at how beautiful Oklahoma was with the lush green foliage present in January and the red roads prevalent in the countryside. Crossing a bridge over Lake Eufaula heading east, I found myself laughing out loud at an exit for Lotawatah Rd. I wondered who in the world named that road and marveled at the originality and humor in the name.

Oklahoma gave way to Arkansas as I pulled into the town of Van Buren for the night, just as the sun went down on the evening. I felt truly blessed after the New Year’s Day I spent paying my respects to the memory of sad events, and then having a little fun picking 18 kinds of soda pop out of 500 offered. I was thrilled at having visited and photographed the only round red barn in the country and was happy I could officially call myself a Route 66 traveler after three full days along the old route.

Copyright 2011 The Times and Democrat

Miles of Meals along Historic Route 66

 Daily  Comments Off on Miles of Meals along Historic Route 66
Feb 262011

Are you hungry for savory burgers seared on the grill, or freshly-scrambled eggs slathered in sweet tangy ketchup? The roadside diners of Historic Route 66 are just the place to satisfy your cravings.

If you are in the Land of Lincoln, come to the city where this byway begins its iconic westward trek — Chicago! Located right at the eastern start of the byway, Lou Mitchell’s Diner is an 85-year-old veteran of the highway .Their generous breakfast is surely a Chicago staple. Or drive the byway southwest past Bloomington, Illinois and try the Palm’s Grill Cafe in Atlanta, Illinois. You can’t miss the giant “Hot Dog Man” across the street. Originally opened in 1934, this café still bears a neon sign that diners once flipped on to signal approaching Greyhound buses that prospective passengers were eating inside. Before you leave, take a minute to imagine a Greyhound bus screeching to a stop, ready to take you on a journey across the country on one of our nation’s oldest highways.

Heading through northeastern Oklahoma? Stop at Waylan’s Ku-Ku Burger, a local favorite in the town of Miami. The last remaining restaurant from an old Midwestern fast-food chain, Ku-Ku Burger is familiar to Route 66 enthusiasts for its hand-made burgers and its giant yellow fiberglass cuckoo bird, a Route 66 landmark. Soak up the ‘60s vibe and don’t forget to snap a picture of one of America’s oldest novelty restaurants.

Stop in New Mexico for a taste of Mexico at Joseph’s Bar and Grill, a Route 66 veteran that has been serving homemade Mexican food for over 50 years. Originally founded as La Fiesta by Jose Campos in 1956, the restaurant is now run by his son, and keeps locals and travelers alike coming back for the locally grown chiles, delicious enchiladas, and Southwestern atmosphere. This family-owned restaurant is a great place to spice up your Historic Route 66 tour. Joseph’s Bar and Grill is located at 1775 Historic Route 66 in Santa Rosa, New Mexico.

In Arizona, start off with a hot plate of Splatter Platter or Swirl of Squirrel at the Route 66 Roadkill Café, located in the town of Seligman, Arizona. Known for their burgers and their whimsical slogan (“You kill it and we grill it”), this fun-filled and family-friendly restaurant will keep you laughing. (Just to be clear, they don’t actually serve roadkill. Or squirrel.) After you eat, keep your eye on the ball with a game of pool before heading out for further adventures on the All-American Road segment of Historic Route 66.

2011 Oklahoma Travel publications now available: For free!

 Daily, Oklahoma  Comments Off on 2011 Oklahoma Travel publications now available: For free!
Jan 242011

Although this is for the entire state of Oklahoma – they offer one especially for Route 66 through Oklahoma. Read thru the article to find out how to get your free copy! There is a LOT to see on Route 66 in Oklahoma and one of their guides only make it easier to enjoy!

The Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department offers two new comprehensive publications free of charge to assist travelers in planning trips to Oklahoma.

The 2011 Oklahoma Travel Guide is a glossy magazine filled cover to cover with helpful tips, stunning photography, contact information and travel ideas covering the entire state. Special features in this year’s guide include extended coverage of Oklahoma’s most popular sites including outdoor recreation activities, art and cultural destinations, agritourism hot spots, and the best places to enjoy the urban nightlife.

The second publication hot off the press is the Discover Oklahoma Destination Dining Guide. This food lover’s companion is compiled by the Oklahoma experts from Discover Oklahoma, and is a must-have guide for any foodie looking to explore Oklahoma through its many diners, kitchens, drive-ins, and restaurants.

“These easy-to-reference guides are an excellent resource for anyone planning to explore our beautiful state,” said Hardy Watkins, executive director of the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department. “Both publications take the guesswork out of traveling our state by extensively laying out the many diverse destinations Oklahoma has to offer.”

The 2011 Oklahoma Travel and Dining Guides are free and can be ordered online at or by calling an Oklahoma Travel Counselor at 1-800-652-6552. They are also being distributed through the 12 Tourism Information Centers statewide.

In addition to these annual publications, travelers can also order specialty brochures like the popular Oklahoma Route 66 Guide or Oklahoma Agritourism guides which plot out wineries, guest ranches, hunting destinations and much more all across the state. These brochures are free resources to help plan a day trip or getaway in Oklahoma.

For more great travel ideas, tune into the weekly television program Discover Oklahoma, click on the newly redesigned or check out Oklahoma Today magazine for all the latest must-see restaurants, shops, attractions and more statewide.

New bicycling bills introduced in Oklahoma

 Daily, Oklahoma  Comments Off on New bicycling bills introduced in Oklahoma
Jan 232011

More and more states along the route are preparing to have these ‘bike trails’ which will eventually run the entire length of Route 66!

Senator Andrew Rice and Representative Lewis Moore introduced four significant pieces of bicycling legislation for the upcoming session. One caution about this is in order. These bills were just introduced. They will very likely see some changes before reaching Governor Fallin’s desk – if they reach her desk. As we learned last year with the stop light bill, changes can occur right to the very last.

Senate Bill 443 changes the Oklahoma state driver’s license examination to include a section on bicycle operation. It requires that a prospective driver know Oklahoma traffic law including bicycle operation. While this may seem unnecessary to some, consider that many young drivers leave high school for college, only to discover that a bicycle is more convenient and efficient on a college campus where driving may be restricted.

Senate Bill 487 calls for a new law creating the Oklahoma Bicycle Safety Awareness Act, with a voluntary funding mechanism coming from driver’s license renewals. It would ask those renewing their license if they’d contribute a dollar or more toward the fund.

Senate Bill 951 adds bicycling language to existing law that makes throwing objects at motorists a felony. Penalties can include a prison term of not more than 10 years and a fine not more than $10,000. The bill also clarifies violations of the 3 feet passing law, including a fine of not less than $500 for a violation and a fine of not less than $5000 for a collision resulting in a death. This is in addition to other fines and penalties.

Representative Lewis Moore introduced House Bill 2049, designating the portion of State Highway 66 between Sapulpa and Edmond as a “Historic Bike Trail”. It directs the Oklahoma Department of Transportation to erect suitable permanent markers along the highway and install a shoulder designated for bicycle travel. This is contingent of the availability of funding. The route offers rolling terrain and relatively low traffic volume. Oklahoma has more existing miles of the original Route 66 than any other state. Making it a Historic Bike Trail will increase tourism.

Citizens Share Plans in TulsaNow Forum

 Daily, Oklahoma  Comments Off on Citizens Share Plans in TulsaNow Forum
Jan 202011

TulsaNow, a grass roots citizen-based group working to make Tulsa a better place to live, invites Tulsa citizens to attend the upcoming Battle of the Plans, a citizen planning forum scheduled for 6:45 pm, Monday, October 28, in the Great Hall, Allen Chapman Activity Center, University of Tulsa, 5th and Gary. Admission is free and no reservations are needed.

Participants will have the opportunity to hear from citizen planners about their Vision for Tulsa. Plans being presented include.

– A 20/20 Vision of Tulsa – by local lawyer C. Rabon Martin

– Arkansas River Development – by engineer and former Mayoral candidate Ray McCollum

– Blue Dome District – by Michael Sager and Kathleen Page

– Creative Use of the Arts – by Ken Busby of the Arts & Humanities Council of Tulsa

– Enrichment Plan for Tulsa: Oil Capitol of the World – by Michael Steed

– Mohawk Park – by Mary Collins, Tulsa Zoo Friends Executive Director

– Plan for Route 66 – by the Route 66 Business League of Tulsa

– Rooftops – by Rachel Zebrowski of Zebrowski Architecture & Planning

– StreetLife – by Jamie Jamison, developer of the Village at Central Park

– The Tulsa Connection – by the Dr. Thomas Costner Family including 13 year old Kayla and 10 year old Chase

Mayor Bill LaFortune is scheduled to give a ‘call to action’ and to welcome presenters. Moderator is Glenda Silvey, news anchor for KOTV Channel 6. Audience members will have the opportunity to pose questions to the citizen planners. An informal reception and discussion with presenters follows the program.

TulsaNow hopes to influence the public process by making great ideas public and offering a forum for grand plans that otherwise would go unnoticed. For more information go to the TulsaNow website at

Biker buddies open old Route 66 motorcycle museum

 Daily  Comments Off on Biker buddies open old Route 66 motorcycle museum
Jan 092011

Two biker buddies buy historic filling station, open motorcycle museum on State Highway 66, where travelers from around the world drop by.

WARWICK — Gerald Tims likes old motorcycles. Jerry Ries likes anything old.

That’s the short version of how two biker buddies ended up owning an old filling station on a lonely stretch of State Highway 66. Today, Seaba Station, as the 5,000-square-foot brick building listed on the National Register of Historic Places is called these days, is a motorcycle museum that houses about 75 vintage motorcycles, most from a collection put together by Tims.

Seaba Station Motorcycle Museum owners Jerry Ries and Gerald Tims stand with some of the bikes on display in Warwick.

“That’s part of the fun of owning it, letting people see it,” he said. “I couldn’t tell you how many private collections there are in this country that nobody ever gets to see.”

The long version: About 25 years ago, Tims bought a 1953 James motorcycle, similar to one his father rode. Then he bought another interesting old bike. And another and another. Before Tims knew it, he was a collector. A self-proclaimed “motorcycle addict” who grew up with one hand on a throttle, Tims had raced motocross, three-wheelers, four-wheel all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and about anything else that had a motor and off-road knobbies. He worked at motorcycle shops and eventually got his own dealership, Performance Cycle on Historic Route 66 in Bethany.

One day about 15 years ago, Tims answered an advertisement for a used trials bike, a specialized machine that is light, nimble and powerful enough to hop boulders and perform other radical maneuvers. “He bought it,” recalls the guy who sold it to him — Jerry Ries, a science and physical education teacher at Crutcho School in northeast Oklahoma City. The two men competed together in trials events, Ries said, and “we’ve been friends ever since.”

As Tims’ collection of vintage motorcycles grew and was refined into a line of mostly racing models, he and Ries thought about the unused space on the second floor of Tims’ dealership. “We’d always talked about putting a museum up there,” Tims said.

However, for years, Ries had been intrigued by a building he often passed in a blink of a town on SH 66. The place, built in 1921 by John and Alice Seaba in the then-busy town that boasted rail lines and three cotton gins, was a filling and service station selling DX Nevernox gasoline and offering a modern rock two-seater outhouse featuring some of the first automatic flush toilets.

The Seabas then used the place for decades as an engine rebuilding shop. In recent years, the landmark at the Warwick curve along SH 66 about 25 miles east of Oklahoma City spent time as an antiques shop.

“It always fascinated me,” Ries said.

One day, Ries noticed a “For Sale” sign on the old place. “This would be a pretty neat place for a museum,” he thought.

Tims always wanted to show his bikes. And Ries, a hobby carpenter and woodworker who built several homes, always imagined turning his skills on a classic building. “This would be cool place to do it,” Tims remembers thinking. “We both had the same kind of vision.”
Three years ago, the two, who point out they “aren’t exactly rich,” bought their dream. “We both kind of got our wish that way,” Tims said.

Ries retired from teaching and dived in, with Tims pitching in when he could spare time from his business. The building came filled with antiques from the previous owner, so the men sold most of the inventory, some of which is still for sale in a small room. The men restored much of the original layout of the building, reopening a covered porch area. Inside, they removed foam that was sprayed on the arched ceiling and replaced it with finished wood, which is highlighted by exposed steel trusses over the main showroom.

The motorcycles, which include four contributed by Ries, range from a 1909 Triumph with a carbide lamp headlight and a 1913 Pope “boardtrack” racer to a dirt track speedway bike with no brakes and one footpeg (the rider kept one foot on the ground) and, the most valuable machine, a 1965 Ducati road racer, one of 12 made. There are oddities — a Honda Mini Trail, a tiny Indian with no internal engine parts (it was built for a carousel), a “brand new” 1979 Triumph Bonneville — still in the crate.
“It’s never seen the pavement,” Tims said. “It’s kind of unique.”

Some people stop for the building or the service station or Route 66 memorabilia inside, some just to see the outhouse. Most drop in for the bikes. “The biggest comment you hear is ‘I used to have one of those as a kid,’ ” Tims said.

For Tims, 49, and Ries, 54, it’s all good. “The building and motorcycles kind of go together,” Ries said. So do the old bikers and other gearheads who drop by, often in groups, Tims said. “People come out and talk about old motorcycles with people who want to talk about old motorcycles.”

And, of course, there’s the highway. Historic Route 66’s magic lures visitors from around the world, some of whom fly into Los Angeles or Chicago, rent cars or motorcycles and hit the Mother Road. The Seaba Station visitors’ log is filled with notes from people across North America, from Japan, Australia, Switzerland and on and on.

“It’s amazing how many foreigners, this is their lifelong dream to come do Route 66,” Ries said. Like one Italian guy who spoke little English. After touring the museum, he approached Ries, rolled up his sleeve and pointed to his arm.

“You give me goose bumps!” he said.

Seaba Station Motorcycle Museum
Where: Warwick OK, one mile east of U.S. 177 on State Highway 66.
Admission: Free; donations accepted.
Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Fridays through Sundays. Closed Wednesdays. Arrangements can be made to open for groups.
More information: or (405) 258-9141

Grant sought to restore Route 66 icon in Catoosa

 Daily  Comments Off on Grant sought to restore Route 66 icon in Catoosa
Jan 052011

CATOOSA, Okla. (AP) – The city of Catoosa is hoping to learn soon whether it will receive a $600,000 grant that would help in the restoration of the Blue Whale.

The whale is an icon along the former U.S. Highway 66 and the city wants to buy it, expand the parking lot around it, install decorative signage and build a trail from a nearby grocery store.

The city turned in its final application for the Transportation Enhancement Grant on Thursday. The Oklahoma Department of Transportation accepted the city’s initial grant application this past fall.

Mayor Rita Lamkin tells the Claremore Progress that the time is right for Catoosa to start the Blue Whale preservation project, which she says would cost about $720,000.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.