Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Sixty-Six Fix

Three days away from Route 66 was too much to bear, so after a pretty sunrise in the park and a good breakfast at Jimmy's Egg, I needed to feel the tires on a lumpy road. I didn't want to drive east again, however. Four or five days a week for most of the year is quite enough of that stretch. I needed something different. Having not much choice, I pointed the car to the west.

I stopped at the new little Route 66 park in Red Fork, just west of Tulsa, and took a couple of photos of those amazing, huge, majestic train cars parked there. I'm not sure if I've posted photos of the caboose and the tanker car, so here they are.
The restorers have done a fantastic job of bringing these behemoths of transportation back to life. We "car people" often forget the importance the railroad played in the development of Route 66.

The countryside never looks quite as ugly as it does at this time of year. The leaves are gone, the fields are brown, and even under a bright, sunny sky I get a slightly foreboding feeling. Driving west out of Tulsa at this time of year doesn't do much to dispel this feeling, and yet I tend to be drawn to this stretch of Route 66 in the winter as if by magnet. No offense to any who may disagree, but the miles between Red Fork and Sapulpa are some of the ugliest on Route 66. There's not much other than a few small manufacturing facilities, rundown houses and trailers, several abandoned gas stations, and crowned by the unfortunate hulk of what used to be Frankoma Pottery, until recently one of the premier stops along the Route. Try as hard as I can, I still can't picture this stretch in the heyday of Route 66. The train tracks run along one side of the road and the sounds of the Interstate can be heard from the south. It just seems so forsaken.

Sapulpa is a great little town, but today I drove through it quickly. I decided that it had been over 10 years since I drove the Tank Farm Road, a small alignment of old 66 between Kellyville and Bristow, so that's where I headed. This loop isn't the most exciting when it comes to scenery, but it contains a stretch of original concrete pavement and some of the old, rusted oil tanks for which it is named.

After bumping along on the Tank Farm Road, I turned back toward Tulsa, refreshed. It was still only 10 a.m. But aahhh, now I feel much better!


Trevor Hilton said...

I like the Tank Farm Loop. Between Sapulpa and Stroud there're several interesting old stretches of 66.

Anonymous said...

I've always liked the stretch through Oakhurst and Bowden. The Tulsa Auto Salvage yard has a great old sign waaaaaaaaay up a tall pole, and I'm madly in love with that gorgeous old gas station in Oakhurst (which has a sort of twin directly across from it, now nearly consumed by vegetation). I also get a kick out of the robot mailbox somebody has out there, and the little houses all huddled between the road and the railroad track. I think I like it because it's so unpretentious.

Laurel said...

Emily --
Unpretentious certainly describes it. I think the charm (if you could call it that) of that stretch is its abandonment. When you get to the Bowdon School you almost can't understand why something so "now" is in the middle of all those ruins. I say to myself, "Are there really kids out here to populate that school?" I can't help the feeling of depression I get when I'm out there.