Sunday, June 24, 2012

An Art Deco Tower In The Panhandle

We finally had a chance to stop at the Tower Conoco Gas Station in Shamrock, Texas. We've exited here before to stop at the McDonald's, but never driven into town to see the gas station, which sits on old Route 66. You can see us parked in the background of this photo.
This station may seem familiar to some of you, as it was the inspiration for Ramone’s Body Shop in the Disney/Pixar movie Cars. I love the Art Deco design of the building. It's so unique and really unseen in any of today's modern buildings. This building has character, it's not cookie-cutter like the one's we're used to patronizing.
Taken from the site is the following: "In the 1930s it became clear that the newly established Route 66 would cut through the north end of Shamrock, TX. The owners of the prime corner lot at the new crossroads of the Del Rio Canadian Road (83) and Route-66 were offered a deal. Sell the land and have a beautiful custom designed building constructed on the site for their own use. The owners jumped at the deal and one immediately grabbed a stick and sketched the building he wanted in the dirt for the prospective buyer. The drawing was transferred to paper and the station was born.
The building was constructed as three separate businesses: 1. The Tower Conoco Station, so named for the tall tower gracing its roof. 2. The U-Drop Inn Cafe, named by a local schoolboy in a contest that awarded him $50.00 for his idea. 3. A retail store, never used as such, but soon taken over by the cafe folks for use as a ballroom and overflow dining room.

The building was
beautiful in its day; neon lighting, deco details and glazed ceramic tile walls. It gradually took a beating, the biggest hit coming in the 70s when it was painted red-white-and-blue and converted to a FINA station. The building operated successfully for most of its life, finally closing completely in the mid 90s."
The building now houses the Shamrock Chamber of Commerce. There is a small gift shop seeling t-shirts and memoribilia with the Tower Conoco image on it.

We also had dinner at
Big Vern’s Steakhouse, which is just down the street from the Conoco. The steak was good, although we thought a bit pricey for Shamrock, TX, must be the captive Route 66 audience and the absence of places to eat in the area.
That's not to say we wouldn't go again. The corn muffins were awesome, the steaks done perfectly, and the fried zucchini appetizer unexpected (as you can see in the photo) - huge hand-cut batter dipped pieces, not the frozen sticks you get in some places.

What I also liked is that they seemed to be using vintage china and cutlery - big, heavy plates rimmed in gold, with a big gold "F" on them, and heavyweight cutlery stamped with the words "Fairmont Hotel". When I asked the owner about it she said she had a choice to buy new plates which were made in China, or these, which came from the old Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco and were made in the USA. She chose the USA. Now that's a good 'ol Texan for you.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Traffic Might Just Have Saved My Life
2010: Joining The Ranks
2009: The Daily Rant Goes Farther East Than Ever Before
2008: What He Does When I’m Sleeping
2007: Now You Don’t Have To Go To The Ghetto To Get Crack
2006: Satchel Pitches A Great Question
2005: A Night In Yakima

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