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Art's Motel, Farmersville, Illinois

Arts

Art McArarney and Marty Gorman set up shop in a speakeasy on Farmersville's Main Street in 1932, when the county was wide open. They went legit after prohibition ended and added a dance hall and casino. Art decided to get out of the gambling business and moved to Route 66 on the outskirts of Farmersville, where he had first a bar and restaurant, then after a fire, a restaurant and motel.

 

Blue Swallow Motel: Tucumcari, New Mexico

BlueSwallow

"Tucumcari Tonight! 2000 Rooms!" Floyd Redman gave his fiancee, Lillian, the Blue Swallow as a wedding present. She added the fancy office and an apartment for her parents, and when the competition to fill those 2000 rooms became very stiff, Lillian added the giant sign and turned the Blue Swallow into a Route 66 icon.

 

Sundown Motel, Amarillo, Texas

Sundown

Not much to say about the Sundown, other than I love the setting sun over each window.

 

Save 5 Cents: Santa Rosa, New Mexico

Save5Cents

Pumping gas was never more than a penny business, and there were more than a dozen gas stations vying for every gasoline nickle that came down Route 66 to Santa Rosa. Independent pump jockeys mixed whatever they could with gasoline-kerosene, naptha, alcohol--in order to bring their costs down and make that penny.

 

Uranium Cafe, Grants, New Mexico

UraniumCAfe

Paddy Martinez discovered uranium in Haystack Mountain in 1950. Grants boomed. Hearing of the boom, Eugene Woo pulled up stakes in Winslow, Arizona where he worked at the National Restaurant, and joined the rush to Grants. There, he bought a simple block and stucco cafe, erected a sign in honor of Paddy’s discovery, and served chop suey, burritos, and burgers.

 

Ella's Frontier, Joseph City, Arizona

Ellas

Mormons established five villages on the Little Colorado River after 1873. Joseph City, settled in 1876, was the sole survivor. If Ella Blackwell had her facts straight, her trading post was built by Mormons and she ran the oldest trading post on Route 66, but then, God talked to Ella through the TV.

 

 

The Jackrabbit: Joseph City, Arizona

Jackrabbit

James Taylor purchased a snake farm several miles west of St. Joseph, Arizona, evicted the snakes, turned the building into a souvenir stand, and named it the Jackrabbit. Then, he erected Jackrabbit signs as far east as Springfield, Missouri, and this one, across Route 66 from the store.

 

Osterman's Shell Station, Peach Springs, Arizona

PeachSprings

John Osterman was a Swedish sailor who landed in Peach Springs, where the largest body of water was a dry wash. He opened a small gas station, and quickly developed a reputation for honest work. He would tow a car day or night. He persuaded his brother, Oscar, to join him, sold him the gas station in 1925, and moved to Kingman. A year laterArizona designated the road in front of the gas station U.S. Highway 66. Oscar built a bigger garage with living quarters over the service bay.

 

Chambless Camp, Cadiz, California

Chambless

James Albert Chambless and his children came west from Arkansas in the 1920s and settled near Amboy.  When they saw opportunity in the Cadiz valley, each family member, James, Melvane, and Pearl, took a desert homestead--160 acres--and improved it. They mined their land, and built a roadside business along the newly designated U.S. 66. When the highway moved to Cadiz in 1932, the family moved with it and built Chambless Camp. In the late 1930s James married Fannie Gould. She ran the place, turning the camp into an oasis, complete with rose garden and fish pond.

 

With few gas stations in the desert, places like Chambless Camp and Roy’s, on west at Amboy, grew into full service enterprises geared to helping naive travelers cross the Mojave. Wreckers were the center of their businesses, with repair shops to fix cars, cafes to feed stranded motorists, and cabins to bed them down while they waited--sometimes for days, the press of business was so great.

 

Roy's Motel: Amboy, California

Roys

Buster Burris, a Texas boy, settled in Amboy in the 1930s, went to work for Roy Crowe's garage and gas station, married Roy's daughter, and drove Roy's tow truck, picking up wrecks and vapor-locked cars along Route 66 in the Mojave Desert. When he tired of seeing Roy's customers sleep in their cars while they waited for Roy to repair them, he built the motel. His occupancy was 100% day and night.

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