• Holiday Sale on Classic Black and White Images of Route 66 Landmarks

    Click Image

  • Along Route 66

    Click to Buy Book

  • Route 66

    First 66 Book

  • July 2009
    M T W T F S S
     12345
    6789101112
    13141516171819
    20212223242526
    2728293031  
  • Categories

Lester Dill and Stanley Marsh

They are two Route 66 characters who, today, are better known for the artifacts they left on the roadside than for who they are.

Barn in Oklahoma

Meramec Caverns Barn in Oklahoma

Lester Dill owned and operated Meramec Caverns in Stanton, Missouri. And he promoted his cave with signs painted on barns all along Route 66 and throughout the Midwest. He painted his first barn on the Ohio Turnpike in the thirties: See Meramec  Caverns, U.S. 66, MO.

Meramec Caverns Sign, Missouri

Meramec Caverns Sign, Missouri

Travelers saw the first barn, then the second barn. With each sighting the anticipation became intense. Children clamoured to see the cave. Parents caved when they got to Stanton. And, in the days before air conditioned cars, it was a steady 58 degrees in the cave, a place to cool off from the summer heat.

Read the full story about Lester and his cave and his barns in Route 66: The Highway and its People, Photographs by Quinta Scott, Text by Susan Croce Kelly. Its available at the Along Route 66 Bookstore.

Lester Dill had a public face, a familiar character on late night television.

Cadillac Ranch, Amarillo, Texas

Cadillac Ranch, Amarillo, Texas

Stanley Marsh is not. No barns announce the Cadillac Ranch, a sculpture just west of Amarillo, more on I-40 than U.S. 66. There is no anticipation. If you don’t look north from I-40, you just might miss it. But travelers somehow get to the side road, clamour over the fence, and risk picking up chiggers in the grassy field where ten Cadillacs are planted nose down in the soil.

Cadillac Ranch Amarillo, Texas

Cadillac Ranch Amarillo, Texas

The ranch is a work in progress. Graffiti artists change it weekly. Every photograph of it is different. When I made photographs of it, it was not nearly as colorful as it is today.

Advertisement

Route 66 Landscape, Grant Park, Chicago

Grant Park, at Jackson and Lake Shore Drive, Chicago

Grant Park, at Jackson and Lake Shore Drive, Chicago

When Chicago, founded in 1833, incorporated Fort Dearborn into its townsite six year later, it designated the land east of Michigan Avenue public land. In 1844 the city name the old fort, Lake Park. Eight years later the city built a causeway just off shore, creating a lagoon between the beach and the roadway, which turned in to stagnant water. The city filled the lagoon with debris from the Chicago fire in 1871 and in 1896 extended the park into the lake with landfill. It became Grant Park in 1901.

Wrong Gas Station

I attributed the wrong gas station to the Laurel Kane’s hard restoration.

See her gas station/museum at http://postcardsfromtheroad.net/afton.shtml.

Route 66 and the Landscape It Crosses–Chicago, Part I

Route 66 begins on the edge of Lake Michigan at the foot of Jackson Avenue

Route 66 begins on the edge of Lake Michigan at the foot of Jackson Avenue

I have conducted oral history interviews with the people who invented Route 66 and published the first book, Route 66: the Highway and its People, on the old highway in 1988.

I have documented the architecture along the roadside, conducted more interviews, and published a book on the architecture generated by the old road, Along Route 66: the Architecture of America’s Highway. The University of Oklahoma Press published both books.

Now, I am thinking about the landscape the road crosses between Chicago and L.A and how it was formed.

So in the next few weeks I will dig through my files and find images of the Route 66 landscape, some in color some in black and white and publish a little information about it.

Oklahoma Gas Stations

Oklahomans built serious gas stations along Route 66, possibly because they pumped so much oil, possibly because it was so hot in the summer. Big canopies over the pumping area were the rule.

Davenport, Oklahoma

Davenport, Oklahoma

A single column supported the canopy at the gas station in Davenport.

Cities Service Station, Afton, Oklahoma

Cities Service Station, Afton, Oklahoma

Cities Service built a station that was more clearly Spanish in its design with its rough stucco finish, heavy arched porte cochere, and green-painted tin-tile roof. A canopy must have been attached to the flat surface on the front of the porte cochere. Under the porte cochere, two storefronts–enough room for a cafe and a gas station office–monitored the service area. Tiny square rest rooms with over-scaled hipped roofs were added in adjacent buildings. Cities Service provided living quarters  in the rear for the agent, Doc Story, who operated the station.

Afton, Oklahoma Gas Station, Now a museum.

Afton, Oklahoma Gas Station

In Afton, Laurel Kane has rehabed this handsome Spanish-style DX station close by the Cities Statin. Like the others it has a big canopy.

As 66 traveled further and further west and the summer weather got hotter and hotter, the canopies got bigger and bigger until you reached the Mojave Desert, when they got bigger than the building itself.

Chambless Camp, Chambless, California

Chambless Camp, Chambless, California

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.