Friday, January 28, 2022

RonnieAdventure #0501 - Texas 2021 Part V

Historic Route 66 in Amarillo (6th Street) is now going through a renovation cycle with older buildings being repurposed for more tourist-friendly businesses. However, some things have not changed. The famous Smokey Joe's restaurant/bar still does a booming business during the evening hours and on weekends. Deuce's Speed shop still builds hot rods. 

When I stopped by Deuce's, the speed shop owner was very friendly and we could have visited for hours about "the good old days." He even showed me his picture books and told me stories about famous hot rods that he had worked on.

I do not know if the 6th Street murals painted on buildings were there during the Route 66 heydays, or if the murals are a more recent addition. 

Unfortunately, Beef Burger Barrel has increased the price of their four-hamburger pack from $1 to $13.

A friendly T-Rex greets visitors to the Discovery Center and a six-story tall Helium Time Columns Monument and Museum is located on the other side of the parking lot. The four columns are time capsules that each contain various books, documents and artifacts that were sealed in a helium atmosphere in 1968. (Helium was used because Amarillo is built over one of the largest helium reserves in the United States.)

A sign on the monument states that the four time capsules will be opened in twenty-five, fifty, one hundred, and one thousand years from the time of filling. The twenty-five year column was opened in 1993 and the fifty-year column was opened in 2018.  

Located east of Amarillo is the "Stoner Patriot Peace Garden of All Faiths" that contains a mixture of patriotic, religious, and other icons. This attraction is more recent and was constructed after the Route 66 heydays.

"Slug Bug Ranch" is similar to Cadillac Ranch, but features Volkswagen Beetles buried nose first into the ground. An abandoned motel and gas station is located just down the road a bit, in the same area as a Texas-sized six shooter.

There are two famous landmarks near Groom (population 574). 

Just west of Groom is a 19-story high cross that can be seen from 20 miles away. "The Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ" is one of the tallest crosses in the Western Hemisphere and contains over 2.5 million pounds of steel. Surrounding the cross are life-sized statutes of the 14 "Stations of the Cross" that depict Jesus on the day of his crucifixion. There is also a visitor center and gift shop located on the property. 

Just north of Groom is "The Leaning Tower of Britten." The leaning tower was originally a functioning water tower that was scheduled for demolition, but was instead purchased by Ralph Britten to advertise his truck stop; thus, the tower's name. The truck stop was destroyed in a fire decades ago and now only the water tower remains on the site.

Leland Chapman ("Dog the Bounty Hunter") was born in Groom and spent his early years in this part of Texas.

Located in McLean (population 744) is the Devil's Rope Museum. The museum is housed in the old McLean Brassier Factory and is now considered to have the largest collection of barbed wire material in the world. Anyone that grew up on a farm or ranch could easily spend a day looking at all of the exhibits. It really brought back a lot of memories of when I had to repair barbed wire fences. 

In one corner of the museum there was a small Route 66 exhibit that contained a number of signs. Anyone over the age of 65 probably remembers the catchy Burma Shave signs that were posted along roads all across America. One of museum's sign series stated: "Don't stick your elbow out so far it might go home in another car Burma Shave." (For readers under the age of 65, most cars built before the 1960s did not have air conditioning; so during the summer months people typically drove with their elbow sticking out of the window.) 

Also located along Historic Route 66 as is passes through McLean is an abandoned photogenetic Phillips 66 gas station. This was the first Phillips 66 gas station in Texas and now pictures of the station often appear in tourist brochures. 

Traveling east, Shamrock (population 1,910) is the last town on Historic Route 66 before entering Oklahoma. Even with its declining population, Shamrock is still the second largest Texas community along Historic Route 66. 

Shamrock was named by Irish immigrants living in the area because they believed Shamrocks brought them good luck. The town still holds an annual Saint Patrick's Day celebrations. Located in Blarney Stone Plaza is a statue of St. Patrick and a chunk of Ireland's Blarney Stone with a sign "Kiss this Blarney Stone for Everlasting Good Luck." 

The Shamrock Conoco Tower Service Station and U-Drop Inn is one of the most famous icons along Historic Route 66. When it opened, the U-Drop was the only cafĂ© within 100 miles of Shamrock. 

The art deco style building was constructed in 1936 and features geometric detailing, curvilinear massing, and neon highlights. Unfortunately, I was not there at night to see the building with its brilliant neon lights, but I have seen night pictures and the building is quite spectacular when the neon light are working. The U-Drop Inn was featured in Disney's 2006 animated Cars movie as Ramone's House of Body Art. 

In 1963 Elvis stayed at the Shamrock Sun and Sand Motel and dined at the U-Drop Inn. Elvis stayed in Room 18 and Colonel Parker stayed in Room 23. While standing in the motel lobby, the motel owner's daughter accidently ran over Elvis's white buck shoes with her tricycle. When guests stop by, she still tells them about the incident.

No one ever has a hard time finding Spinning Jenny's House of Music. Mounted on the outside of the building are large speakers and even without my hearing aids turned on I could hear Elvis music from several blocks away. Nearby is Rusty's 66 Pizza business.

The historic Reynolds Hotel is now the Pioneer West Museum, which also includes a farm equipment display directly across the street. Just down the street is the famous Magnolia Gas Station.

Shamrock's water tower is the tallest of its type and class in the world, and one of the tallest water towers in Texas. The tower is visible for ten miles in any direction.