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Oklahoma Route 66 Mini Road Trip

During a recent trip to Tulsa Oklahoma I ended up with a few hours to spare. Rather than drive the turnpike all the way down to Oklahoma City, I jumped off at Stroud Oklahoma and drove the 40 mile stretch of Historic Route 66 to Arcadia. I could have covered the same distance, on the Turner Turnpike, in less than a half hour. But how much fun would that have been?

This is a great stretch of highway. There are some historic attractions along the way, and plenty of opportunities to stop and look around. Some of the historic attractions have been polished up, but a lot of what I saw was unvarnished. Buildings and places from a bygone era should look old. Kind of like a rare old coin or piece of antique furniture: worth more in its original state. Clean the tarnish from a rare old coin, and its value is diminished. The knocks and dings are part of the provenance of the piece. In other words old stuff looks more authentic if you don’t fix it up too much.

Stroud Oklahoma

Rock Cafe Stroud Oklahoma

Rock Cafe Stroud Oklahoma

Rock Cafe Stroud Oklahoma

Rock Cafe Stroud Oklahoma

I started out in Stroud Oklahoma. The town’s old commercial district is just west of Highway 99 on Route 66. Here you’ll find the Rock Cafe, a Route 66 Roadside Attraction. The business was established in 1939, and constructed with rock unearthed during the original road construction. This is a real sweet place with an old neon sign out front. It’s still a cafe too. Some locals own the place and had their kids waiting tables, the day I was there. I love it when these places are still active businesses. [The Rock Cafe burns May 20, 2008. They intend to rebuild. More]

Stroud Oklahoma Skyliner Motel

Stroud Oklahoma Skyliner Motel

Stroud Oklahoma Coke Sign

Stroud Oklahoma Coke Sign

A little further west on 66, on the same side of the street, was a nice old Coca Cola sign on the side of an old building. Then after that there’s a little park with a gazebo and an vintage water tower behind it. On the corner of Route 66 and Highway 99 was an old motel with a classy neon sign. The Skyliner Motel, that name just reeks of the 1950′s.

Chandler Oklahoma

Chandler Oklahoma Lincoln Motel

Chandler Oklahoma Lincoln Motel

Chandler Oklahoma is a few miles further west on Route 66. This town has several roadside attractions worth stopping to check out. The Lincoln Motel is on the main road and you can’t miss it. This is a classic 1930′s motor court. Small wooden cabins each house two rental units. The whole place is finished with dark brown paint or stain. Very rustic! Neon sing out front, too.

Chandler Oklahoma Interpretive Center

Chandler Oklahoma Interpretive Center

A little further down the road is the Chandler Route 66 Interpretive Center, housed in a 1930’s-era armory building on the crossroads of Route 66 and Mickey Clarkson Avenue. They have video presentations that tell the story of Route 66, America’s Mother Road.

Chandler Oklahoma Phillip's 66

Chandler Oklahoma Phillip’s 66

In the main commercial district is the historic Phillip’s 66 Station. It’s closed but still interesting to see. On the next block is the Lincoln County Museum of Pioneer History. The museum was closed and I didn’t get to visit, but you should stop in and ask questions.

Chandler Oklahoma St Cloud Hotel

Chandler Oklahoma St. Cloud Hotel

Across the street is the office of the local news paper. The St Cloud Hotel is a couple buildings down the street. Researching on the Internet, I found little about this property. it’s a National Register property and I found it on a list of endangered Route 66 hotels. Closed and in need of repairs, it has some nice old painted signs.

Chandler Oklahoma Seaba Station

Chandler Oklahoma Seaba Station

Just a bit out of town is the Seaba Station. It was built in 1924 as a filling station and garage and operated continually until 1996. Today the building is still a work in progress. It houses an antique store and some sort of repair shop. This is another designated Route 66 Roadside Attraction.

Filling Station on Route 66 West of Luther Oklahoma

Filling Station on Route 66 West of Luther Oklahoma

West of the town of Luther is a 1920′s filling station. it’s just a shell of a building now. A small sign tells the story of the place. It was built in the late Teens or early 1920′s. This was before electricity so gas was sold out of a 50 gallon drum. The building was heated with a fireplace.

Arcadia Oklahoma

Arcadia Oklahoma Round Barn

Arcadia Oklahoma Round Barn

Arcadia Oklahoma Round Barn

Arcadia Oklahoma Round Barn

The next major town is Arcadia. The big attraction in Arcadia, and along this stretch of Route 66, is the Round Barn. This historic barn was built by William Odor in 1898. By 1988 the barn was severely deteriorated and some time after that the roof collapsed. The owners deeded the property to the Arcadia Historical Society. A group known as the over the hill 60′s gang got involved with the restoration and in cooperation with local business and many volunteers the Historic Round Barn in Arcadia was restored.

Even on the day I visited the barn, a local volunteer was busy painting. He showed a real sense of pride in the barn and the work that had been done by the community. According to this fellow, the barn was originally built as a place to have dances and meetings. The ground level of the barn was for livestock and farm business, but the second level of the barn was a place for meetings and dances. The second level of the round barn is still a place to have a party or dance. It can be rented for a reasonable rate. The ground level is a gift shop today.

Cains Ballroom in Tulsa Oklahoma

Cains Ballroom in Tulsa Oklahoma

This was the end of my Route 66 journey. It took 2 or 3 hours to travel the 40 miles from Stroud to Arcadia Oklahoma. I could have easily spent more time exploring, but I needed to be on my way. If you wanted to extend this trip by a few more hours, the ride through Tulsa is interesting. There are several landmark Route 66 attractions in Tulsa. Cain’s Ballroom in Tulsa has a rich history. The stretch of the Mother Road from Tulsa to Claremore has plenty of marked attractions and would also make a good extension of the trip I describe here.

Let me know if you make your own Route 66 trip. Leave a comment or drop us an email. Most of all, if you do travel the Mother Road be sure to stop and visit with the people along the way. That’s the best part of road trip travel, meeting the locals and discovering the people and stories behind the places you visit.

Copyright © 2008 by Sam Fenstermacher
All rights reserved

9 Comments

  1. Jessica says:

    Did you have a chance to visit POPS on your trip to Arcadia?

    POPS is the newest, coolest landmark on historic Route 66. It’s the effervescent essence of the Mother Road: colorful, free-wheeling FUN! Located in Arcadia Oklahoma, POPS is a must-see destination and attraction.

    Of course, POPS’ signature item is… FIZZ! Take your pick from an awesome collection of 500+ sodas and beverages. Love a good root beer? POPS has over 54 varieties. Craving cream soda? Find 50+ kinds. With POPS’ world-class selection, there’s something ice-cold, refreshing and probably fizzed!

    Check out http://www.pops66.com for directions, hours of operation, menus and merchandise!

    Jessica Ockershauser
    POPS Marketing Manager
    Arcadia Oklahoma

    Editor’s note: Check it out, this place is highly recommended.

  2. Paige says:

    POPS is overpriced, and frankly no different than any other fast food place. The building looks cool, but the customers are paying for it, no doubt.

  3. Patty says:

    I thought POPS was fun! Yes it is for tourists but isn’t that what we are all when we drive the Mother Road. And the prices weren’t that bad. I will be back with more out of state guests!

  4. Carolyn says:

    I read with interest this account of your travels between Chandler and
    Arcadia. BUT, what about Warwick and Wellston? LEGENGDS OF AMERICA
    indicates that there are some relics from the Route 66 heydey available to see there………did you see them?

  5. Sam says:

    Carolyn,

    I seem to remember an old service station in Warwick that someone was fixing up. These are pretty small towns.

    It would be fun to go back and see the things I missed the first time. I seem to remember something about an alternative alignment in the area of Luther. Chandler is interesting enough to spend a day there.

    I think I had more fun and learned more about Chandler talking to the lady working in the donut shop across the street from the St. Cloud Hotel than anywhere else on that drive. There’s something for everyone out on that road, I guess. Thank you for commenting.

    Sam

  6. Brandon says:

    I live in Chandler and very much enjoyed your story. Thanks for taking the time to appreciate our little town. The Lincoln Motel has since been painted a terrible beige color but in better news, the old Phillips 66 gas station is now fully restored, or at least seems to be. The St. Cloud Hotel building has always been my favorite. I’ve never been in but I love seeing that mural when I’m coming home from the west. Holler if you’re ever back in town.

    Brandon

  7. Sam says:

    Brandon,

    Thank you for the update.

    Sam

  8. I recently took a road trip through Oklahoma on Route 66 and found it quite enjoyable. Going through Tulsa was unique. It was kind of tough to find the old route sometimes but it sure provided some interesting sites. Tulsa is one of the towns on the old route that I suggest you give yourself plenty of time to explore. The Art Deco architecture is worth the trip.

  9. Samf says:

    Arthur,

    Agree 100 percent. Tulsa is a wonderful place. This article was the result of a drive back to Texas from Tulsa. Tracing Route 66 is tough. I spent time researching the original roadbed before visiting. The 11th Street Bridge was on the route. The park along Riverside Dr. and near East 31′st St., in this same area is nice. The Creek Nation Council Oak is also in this area of Tulsa. Cain’s Ballroom was interesting, but not in a good neighborhood. I spent a half a day at the Gilcreast Museum. The architecture in Tulsa was nice, and I remember how charming some of the residential neighborhoods were. You could just tell they had spent some time on urban planning.

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