Route 66 - Part 1
Day 20 Elk City to Shamrock, TX10/13/2012
58.88 Actual Mileage / 1,372 Actual Elevation
The winds today were almost straight headwinds all day 20-30 mph... It was a tough day in the saddle for all of the riders. Several riders called it quits and jumped into the truck...not that I blame them...the winds were buffetting the truck and pushing it around a lot.
A quick flashback to the dark days of Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath.
Beckham County Courthouse was prominently featured in the movie version as Henry Fonda and the rest of the Joads rattled down Route 66 toward California.
Shortgrass Country Museum - 106 E. Poplar Street – housed in the old Rock Island Line railroad depot, with changing displays documenting regional history from Cheyenne times to the arrival of homesteading settlers during the great Land Rush of 1892.
Western Motel - 315 NE Highway 66 [580-928-3353] which has a fine old neon cactus sign.
Route 66 Bar – Mural
Owl Drugs – State’s largest antique soda fountain
Some main streets are named for local musical heros such as Sheb “Purple People Eater” Wooley and Roger “King of the Road” Miller.
This pleasant town had a speeding problem. In fact, Erick had become known as one of the worst speed traps in the nation. Using a speedy black 1938 Ford with Oklahoma overdrive, Officer Elmer could catch just about anyone he had a mind to. When he once busted Bob Hope, the comedian quipped on his next radio show that the only way he would go through Erick again was on a donkey.
100th Meridian Museum - [580-526-3221] Displays inside trace life on what used to be considered the edge of the habitable world—everything west of the 100th Meridian was officially thought to be the “Great American Desert”—and also explain that Erick used to be on the Texas border, until the border was realigned.
Mediocre Music Makers - A two-person performance group comprised of Harley and Annabelle Russell of Erick, OK. They entertain Mother Road travelers in their Sandhills Curiosity Shop with music, singing, and endless humor, and all for no particular fee (though tips are welcome).
Redneck Capital of the World - Self-effacing name given by Harley and Annabelle Russell to their tiny corner of Route 66, the Sandhills Curiosity Shop.
Sandhills Curiosity Shop - Located in a former meat market building in downtown Erick, the Sandhills Curiosity Shop is an unlikely center of entertainment for this small time. The shop is run by Harley and Annabelle Russell, also known as the Mediocre Music Makers.
Roger Miller Museum - [1936-1992] - An American singer, songwriter, and musician, Miller grew up in the small Mother Road town of Erick, OK, where today one can find both a Roger Miller Boulevard and Roger Miller Museum. His most famous song, for which he won a Grammy Award in 1965, is "King of the Road." Established by his widow.
Texola – Borderline Ghost Town
Old Territorial Jail Will Rogers Marker
Welcome to Texola sign reads:
Known as the panhandle because of the way it juts north from the rest of Texas, this part of the route is a nearly 200-mile stretch of pancake-flat plains. Almost devoid of trees and other features, the western half , stretching into New Mexico, is also known as the Llano Estacado or “Staked Plains,” possibly because early travelers marked there route by driving stakes into the earth. The Texas Panhandle was the southern extent of the buffalo-rich grasslands of the Great Plains, populated by roving bands of Kiowa and Comanche Indians. Now oil and gas production, as well as trucking and Route 66 tourism have joined ranching as the region’s economic basis. Old Route 66 has been replaced by I-40 most of the way across Texas, though in many of the ghostly towns like McLean and Shamrock, and the sole city, Amarillo, old US 66 survives as the main business strip, lined by the empty remains of roadside businesses. A select few are still open for a cup of coffee and a sharp taste of the living past.
CRI and P – Route 66 crosses a concrete bridge over this abandoned railroad. The former Chicago Rock Island and Pacific Railroad (also known as the “Cry and Pee” for its initials).
Blarney Stone - A particular stone in a castle in County Cork, Ireland. Legend states that the stone will confer skill in flattery or storytelling on anyone who kisses it. Elmore Park in Shamrock, TX contains what is reputed to be a fragment of the true Blarney Stone.
Nunn’s Cafe - Former name for what is now the U Drop Inn, a cafe-gas station enterprise at the junction of US 66 and US 83 in the Texas Panhandle.
U Drop Inn - Formerly called Nunn's Cafe, the U Drop Inn is a combination gas station and cafe complex situated on Route 66 where it crosses US 83 in the Texas Panhandle. The building, in the art Deco style, was conceived in the 1920 s by John Nunn's, who is said to have sketched the original design in the Texas soil using a nail. In 2003, the building was beautifully restored and has since become the home of the local chamber of commerce.
Tower Service Station complex – dating from 1926, is perhaps the finest example of Art Deco architecture on all of old Route 66. Both the former Conoco Station and the adjoining café have been restored—the tower is even outlines by neon. If the building looks familiar, its look-alike appeared in the feature film Cars.
Pioneer West Museum – 204 N. Madden Street
Tomorrow we are off to Groom, TX.
Tomorrow we are off to Groom, TX.