Route 66 Icon in Needles Gets a Makeover

April 3, 2012
66 Motel Sign in Needles, CA

66 Motel Sign in Needles, CA

Needles, Calif. – Many folks simply slow down and stare. Some even honk their horns and wave. They are waving to a man, 25′ off the ground painting a sign. And yet this is not your ordinary run of the mill sign. It just happens to be one of Needle’s most famous signs.

Ed Klein came to Needles in January 2011 on a request. The request came from Linda Fitzpatrick, a resident of Needles who was trying to figure out ideas on how to grab the estimated 40,000 travelers who make Route 66 their annual pilgrimage. Her plan was to restore the old abandoned gas station on the corner of Dobson and Broadway – or famously known as ‘Carty’s Camp’.

When Ed and Linda met, the ideas started to flow about how to get travelers to stop and enjoy the history Needles had to offer its Route 66 travelers. After a few hours of brain-storming and several return visits back to the gas station, Ed asked Linda what the plans were for the old 66 Motel sign, as he put it, ‘had seen better days’.

“I looked at the sign and felt it was a shame such a classic and iconic sign as this one on the route was looking as beat down as it did. I had to figure something out,” said Klein. “The restoration of the gas station would be a very large project over a few years, but the sign could be done in a few months.”

Klein is the owner of a website dedicated to the preservation and travel information on Route 66 (route66world.com) and has had his hands in several restoration projects along the route.

After a few weeks of preparation, several phone calls to the 66 Motel owner as well as Linda Fitzpatrick, Klein and his wife set on their 5 hour drive to Needles.

Starting off the weekend was figuring out the old neon and wiring which at one time pumped vibrant life into the glowing sign. Most of it was disconnected, broken, or simply cut.

“We spent a good few hours trying to figure out the wiring and removal of the neon. I need to keep as many pieces intact to have them recreated.” Klein said.

The one factor Klein did not consider was the wind this weekend. Wind gusts of up to 35 MPH hit late in the afternoon and proceeded to continue through Sunday. The wind blew hard throughout the southern part of California and Needles would not the exception. It blew hard enough Klein had to stop the painting early due to fears he might be blown of his 32′ ladder which was leaning up against the sign.

The historic sign will go through a total restoration. Klein told me he will do this in three phases. The first two phases will be painting and getting the neon ready and the third phase will be installing and lighting the neon, which will be the first time it has been on in over 15 years.

This total restoration is not costing the owner of the motel or the town of Needles a dime. Klein said he was paying for the paint out of his pocket as a ‘donation’ to the route and the town, and there will be a fundraising event via his website to raise money to pay for the neon, electronics, and installation.

“You would not believe the wave of support when I mentioned what I wanted to do to this sign. I have heard from travelers all around the world who want to help out with this restoration and there are so many historic businesses along the route who are donating their items for donors. They are all giving back to what we all care about so much, and that is the preservation of a true American icon. You will not meet the nicest, passionate people than those who live on, work on and drive Route 66″ Klein added.


State Parks and State-Owned Historic Sites on 11 Most Endangered List

June 16, 2010

The National Trust for Historic Preservation has named America’s State Parks and State-Owned Historic Sites to it’s 2011 list of most endangered historic sites. Six states are singled out as being of particular concern, and three of them are on Route 66 – Missouri, Arizona, and California. You can read the full report here: http://tinyurl.com/39uux2u


National Organization Announces Ten Most Endangered Roadside Places

March 3, 2010

From a huge concrete cowboy statue in Canyon, Texas; to California’s once common roadside orange stands; to a three-mile strip of forlorn motels in Lordsburg, New Mexico; to a Depression-era pullout in Garrison, Minnesota, many of America’s iconic roadside places are threatened.

The Society for Commercial Archeology announces its first Falling by the Wayside, a list of the ten most endangered roadside places in the United States. The list, ranging from a single building to a 65-acre park, includes the following threatened places:

  1. Buckhorn Baths, Main Street, Mesa, Arizona
  2. California’s Roadside Orange Stands, US Highways 66 and 99, California
  3. Clark County Rest Area, Interstate 64, Clark County, Kentucky
  4. Pig Stand Coffee Shop No. 41, Calder Avenue, Beaumont, Texas
  5. Motel Drive (former US Highway 80), Lordsburg, New Mexico
  6. Dinosaur World, Arkansas State Highway 187, Beaver, Arkansas
  7. Garrison Concourse, US Highway 169, Garrison, Minnesota
  8. Val Rio Diner, Pennsylvania State Highway 23, Phoenixville, Pennsylvania
  9. “Tex Randall,” US Highway 60, Canyon, Texas
  10. Teapot Dome Gas Station, Yakima Valley Highway, Zillah, Washington

These places are all marked by threats which can include natural weathering, economic hardship, neglect, abandonment, inappropriate zoning, lack of maintenance and demolition. The list showcases the diversity of roadside places and highlights the issues and challenges facing the preservation of important roadside places.

The Society for Commercial Archeology (SCA) established the Falling by the Wayside program to raise awareness of the importance of roadside places throughout the United States.

“Our hope is the list will bring attention to roadside commercial architecture—especially these threatened places,” says Nancy Sturm, co-president of the organization. Along with the attention, SCA will help property owners connect with local, state and federal preservation programs.

Established in 1977, the SCA is the oldest national organization devoted to the buildings, artifacts, structures, signs, and symbols of the 20th-century commercial landscape. The SCA offers publications, conferences, and tours to help preserve, document, and celebrate the structures and architecture of the 20th century: diners, highways, gas stations, drive-in theaters, bus stations, tourist courts, neon signs, and more.

“We’ve encouraged research and appreciation of highway architecture over the years. Now it’s the time to move toward advocacy, as more roadside places are threatened,” says Sturm.

For more information: www.missouri66.org/10_most_endangered.html


Route 66 Association of Missouri Welcomes New Business Members

January 7, 2010

We welcome the following new business members and thank them for their support:

Connie’s Shoppe at Wagon Wheel – Cuba

Main Street Bakery & Cafe – Cuba

Florissant Old Town Partners, Inc – Florissant

Sandie’s Interiors – Florissant

Joplin Transmission & Auto Center – Joplin

Forest Manor Hotel – Lebanon

Historic Route 66 Motel – Lebanon

Route 66 Stop – Lebanon

Value Tire Center – Lebanon

Big Chief Holdings, LLC – Wildwood

Pacific Plaza, LLC – Pleasanton, California

Please patronize the business members that support what we do. Here is a link to the complete list: Route 66 Association of Missouri Business Members


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