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Bill’s Station Phelps, Missouri

Bill's Station, Phelps, Missouri

Thirty years ago, when I was first exploring the idea of writing a book on U.S. Highway 66, I made this photograph of Bill’s Station in Phelps, Missouri. The old station sits on one of those sections of the road, which at the time, could be considered a Route 66 museum. Between Springfield and Carthage I-44 had completely abandoned U.S. 66, stripping away the economic viability of the business in between.

When I wrote Along Route 66, I learned what I could about Bill’s Station. And all I could learn was Bill’s last name: Bill Tiller.  He built this little building, finished it in stucco, and added a wooden lean-to at the rear. Bill may have had a canopy over service area which may have met a bad end. The little mansard roof supported by steel poles must have been added to the front later. A few steps to the east he built a small, wooden garage. And the stucco building to the rear may have been a small motel.

Bill's Station, 2010

Rich Dinkela, who had been documenting what is left of the roadside buildings, posted this image, along with my image on my facebook page. Bill’s Station is well on its way to disintegrating.

Rich’s image brings to mind Alan Weisman’s great book, The World without Us, in which he examines what is happening in built places we humans have abandoned. What he wants to understand is what would happen if humans no longer roamed the earth. Nature, he concludes, would take it all back. This is what is happening to Bill’s Station.

I suspect what is happening to Bill’s is happening to many of the wood frame and stucco buildings that line this section of the old highway. Nature–wind, rain, and vegetation–is taking them back, bit by little bit.

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4 Responses

  1. Amazing, isn’t it? Nature just takes it all back . . . . article well done, Quinta. I really enjoyed it!
    Wendy

    • One of these days I am going to take a World without us look at your part of the world.

      Thanks, Bayou Woman

  2. Your information on Bill’s Station is incorrect. The station had been there for many years before Bill Tiller ran a tire business there in the 1980’s. It was called Bill’s Station before Bill Tiller ever bought it. He just kept the name. Seemed kind of fitting. The only reason I know this information is because I have known Bill for many years, we went to school together.
    It is a shame to watch the building deteriorate.

  3. so glad I found these pictures! Bill Tiller is my husband…he and his father ran a tire shop here from 1984-1988…..we later sold the property. It was originally Bills Station and the owner was Bill Hitch. So sad to see it get in such bad shape…it was sold to another person and they have since torn it down. Really wish we would have just kept it…would be so neat to own a piece of history!
    Kathy Tiller

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