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Wagon Wheel Motel Filling Station Route 66 Cuba Missouri

Before the advent of the Interstate Highway System, Route 66 was one of the main east-to-west roadways. It was officially established late in 1926 and route signs were put in place in 1927. The highway is also known as the “Mother Road” began in Chicago, IL, and ended 2448 miles west in Santa Monica, CA.

As time went by the Route 66 was lined with, hotels, gasoline stations, eateries, and tourist attractions. Today’s featured image contains the filling station on the left and the main office at the Wagon Wheel Hotel located in Cuba, MO, which survived, has been restored and remains in operation.

This postcard image contains an early 1950s Oldsmobile and a Hudson at the gasoline pump island where an attendant is filling up the Olds with Standard Oil Company motor fuel. Share with us what you find of interest in this image courtesy of Joe Sonderman

36 responses to “Wagon Wheel Motel Filling Station Route 66 Cuba Missouri

  1. Sitting up on the dash of this ’52 Olds Super 88, in the lower corner of the windshield directly behind the radio antenna, is the “Autronic Eye” automatic headlight dimmer, an expensive option for a mid-level sedan.

  2. Um, where’s the wagon wheels? And is someone getting regular for that new Olds 88? Something the old man would have done. I believe Standard ethyl, or high test, as we called it, had the red and white globe, regular was just white. Judging by that tire on the ground, somebody got their money’s worth. We’d hang old tires on the pier that were better than that. Run it until it blew, was the motto. When gas stations had well dressed attendants, a hose that would reach to either side, and the driveway bell. As a kid, I always wondered how that worked.

    • As I recall, the family’s ‘54 Olds ran just fine on regular. “High Test” really doesn’t automatically increase power unless the engine is designed for it. A while back when I was up north, before I left I filled the tank of my CRV with the alcohol-free Premium they have up there rather than the usual 10% gasohol Regular I use. Drove about the same as usual on the 330 mile trip back. Got some of the worst mileage I’ve ever gotten on that trip. Go figure.

      • Hi Jay, well it mattered in 1952. 1st, I have a theory about your situation. Many times, premium is seldom sold, and can go stale in a short time, plus, your CRV probably freaked out. It’s designed to run on paint thinner( the old paint thinner, not this new junk they sell today) My old man ran nothing but regular in everything, white gas if he could find it, ( kidding) even his Oldsmobiles with “Ultra High Compression”, and it’s a testament to how well those motors were built, to tolerate that. Dad was easy driver, and pinging was just part of driving to the old man. I’m sure the car here had a V8 and 4 barrel, and really should have had premium. It was a dang 4 cents a gallon more for heavens sake!

        • I don’t know about the earlier Olds V/8’s but I can tell you it matter in the 60’s Olds V/8’s. I accepted in trade a gorgeous 1964 Olds Super 88, in like new condition as part trade in a Hot Rod deal I made with a fellow years ago. I didn’t even want the car but the deal hinged on it and the guy wanted the Rod and I wanted the money, to sink into another project on the backburner.

          I ended up with that Olds for next to nothing. It turned out to be one of the most beautiful and powerful stock cars of the hundreds I have owned. We lived in Calgary Alberta at the time, and decided to take that thing on a long weekend spin down to Helena Montana, the state capital. I got used to running regular in it and if I could keep my foot out of it, it performed just fine.
          When we got to Shelby Montana , we needed to fill the tank (it was a monumental hog on gas), and noticing that premium at the pump there was less than regular in Cowgary, we pumped her full of premium platinum juice.
          Well without belabouring the story – that high test as we used to call it sure put the Rocket back in that 394 cu in Olds V/8. If I so desired it would have smoked the rears all the way to Helena no problem. I really loved that car. It’s in Germany today.

    • Hi Howard, About 15 years ago I was given the original Milton Driveway Bell by the owner of an old time service station in Madison. I stopped there to have a flat repaired and told the man how much I admired his old station. We talked for probably a half hour about his father-in-law building it after the war and all the history. At one point, he leaned with his hand on the bell and I mentioned how the bell is one more interesting part of his station, so he took it off the wall and handed it to me. One of my most prized possessions. It plugs into a 120 volt outlet and has a hose connection on the bottom. The hose has to be a certain kind that is soft with the end plugged air tight. Flattening the hose briefly by driving over is all the puff of air it takes to make a solenoid ding the bell. As kids we used to do that with our bikes taking a shortcut through the Spur station in Hales Corners.

    • Howard Johnson’s was mostly an eastern seaboard chain, but in the 1950s there was some expansion into the Midwest. The last one standing was in Lake George, NY, but if it’s still open it has diverged from the iconic format since the corporate logistics train has long since disappeared. The motor lodges are now part of the Wyndham Hotels operation.

    • I’m in Omaha, and the only HJ I ever knew of was combined with a hotel. The name’s gone, but the hotel, while vastly remodeled, still stands. The chain wa on its way out by the time I came around (`60) so I have no idea if their food was good or bad.

      • Howard Johnson restaurants featured a great “clam roll,” Will; plump, juicy fried clams served in a slightly modified version of a hot dog roll. I also remember good ice cream, their house brand – with a notable pistachio – was one of their 28 flavors.

  3. Nice tidy Service Station. up at the pumps is a 1953 Oldsmobile Super 88. On the other side of the island is a Hudson StepDown

  4. The tint on the windshield of the Olds. Was this standard or optional. My 59 Chevy had upper windshield tint. But it was much lighter and greenish. This appears to be very dark.

    • Tinted windshields were an option but factory tinting had a transition zone between the dark top section and the lightly tinted lower section. The tinting of the pictured car has the distinct border characteristic of aftermarket installations and it does not appear that the lower section of the windshield is tinted at all, so it looks like a standard untinted windshield with an owner-added top tint. Cheaper than adding a sun visor.

  5. We stayed in the Wagon Wheel Motel a few years ago. It was so much fun. You can stay in a Holiday Inn anytime! Try something different!

  6. Wow, big memories here! When my family and I emigrated from England in October 1952, our York, Pennsylvania, sponsors picked us up in New York in a ’52 Oldsmobile sedan identical to this one. Even at age nine, I was already a car guy, so automotively and literally, America was a whole new world. Cruising southward down the New Jersey Turnpike, we stopped for lunch at a Howard Johnson’s. Can’t recall where or what I ate, but it may have been their delicious clams. Wish I could post a photo here of us with the car.

    • Hi Frank, I am an older, retired, Yorker. Graduated in 1968, from York Suburban Senior High School. I am 69 years young, and live in Las Vegas, NV, now.

      How interesting that you were a sponsored immigrant, way back.

      Take care !!!

  7. In 2018 in July my wife and I stayed there. The place was well restored and service was excellent. We were traveling along 66 from Illinois to about the middle of Oklahoma. We stayed at several restored hotels , including one where Clark Gable stayed, we stayed in his room too.
    Someday we will do the rest. The trip was great.

    • Manning my mom will be 66 on October 30th. We are heading out on October 31st from Detroit Michigan. We will stop in Illinois Missouri and Oklahoma City what suggestion do you have for a hotel along Route 66 in Oklahoma City.

      • The wagon wheel for sure. There were others but we need to remember them and it doesn’t appear we have enough time. Get a Rt 66 travel book when you first start on 66, that will help.

  8. It’s for sure a ’52 Olds. The little guard piece in the middle of the center grille bar is the key. The ’51s did not have it.

  9. Tinted glass was an option. One could select windshield only with the tint band or opt for full tinted glass, all around. I think GM called theirs “E-Z Eye” glass” back then.
    I asked a Pilkington Glass rep at SEMA why the tint bands are disappearing. His reply? The auto manufacturers did not want to spend the (then) approximate 50 cents extra to get the tint band in/on the plastic sheet that is sandwiched between the two glass sheets that forms a modern safety windshield. There are some exceptions by some manufacturers but most are opting out and for us in the Southwest, it is a glare inducing omission. On my GMC Sierra, I had the tint shop install custom cut bands to reduce the glare. The tint is supposed to be above the “AS 1” line stamped into the glass. That mark is usually there even if no tint band. Always cost cutting and still raising MSRP’s. They are dumb. Spend the 50 cents and add it as an option on the vehicle or up the MSRP by one dollar and make 100% profit. Their logic escapes me. If a new windshield is needed, you can opt for the tint band replacement by your glass shop, depending on the glass company who makes the windshield. You may have to pay the slight up-charge, which will surely be more than 50 cents but it may be worth it if glare is reduced.

    I love these pictures that show a motorist actually getting “service” at a service station.

  10. whenever I think of Route 66, I think of my late wife’s parents.
    A recent discharged Navy vet, he his wife and mother-in-law left Chicago to start a new life. Four kids eventually came along including the youngest, who I married.
    They bought an acre in the San Fernando Valley and he started a buisness…lawn and garden equipment, which did very well.
    (I used to call it “Lawn mower to the stars”…once we were visiting and Gene Hackman was buying out the place. Also, in the 60s when he was just another retired actor, Ronald Reagan was a customer).

    Just one story (out of who knows how many) who started a new life by heading West on the Mother Road.

  11. The story goes that Bobby Troup and his wife were traveling from the east to California in search of fame and fortune. While on US 40 they were trying to improvise a tune based on the highway with no luck. That all changed after picking up 66 at St. Louis. The rest is history. I’ve had the privledge of running 66 numerous times in the early 60s between Springfield, Mo. and Chicago while at Ft. Leonard Wood. I remember the Wagon Wheel well. Just two days ago I was in Litchfield, Illinois at the Route 66 Cafe, visiting a family that just purchased the business. There’s a stretch of the old Mother Road there yet.

    • Hi Robert, there’s more on Bobby Troup. He ditched his then wife when he got to California, and met up with Julie London, who was Jack Webbs ex wife. I think she had her own show, and he helped her produce her million dollar hit, “Cry Me a River”. He and London later appeared on the hoaky, yet entertaining TV show, Emergency, which was oddly one of Jack Webbs series. They were married until he died in 1999.

  12. Well, I was born in Santa Monica by parents with roots back East and in the South, so many a summer vacation was spent traveling on 66! Dad would usually try to leave in the afternoon in order to hit the first deserts at night. Vestiges of 66 still exist in that area and I took my kids through there recently and stopped at the first 66 sign we saw. With modern A/C and cooling systems, no problem traveling during the daytime, so it was a bit of an eye-opener to see some of these places by day, Daggett (terminus of the 20-mule team), Ludlow, Chambless (pop. 6 and a dog!), Amboy (model for Radiator Springs in “Cars”), Needles (Carty’s Camp, Grapes of Wrath). Also, this station is a far sight better than the ones we generally stopped at along the way. The new highways are a real improvement over the two-lane roads dad struggled over. However, I do miss Burma Shave signs!!

  13. What usually happens on forums like this where there is a picture of an old service station someone laments the olden days “where they’d check your oil” and how now there’s no such service. Here’s the reality of that; most cars used a quart of oil every 500-700 miles, or just about every other tank of gas. That’s why they checked your oil. They wanted to sell you a quart. And there was such demand that there was plenty of oil right by the pumps waiting to be sold.

    • Well, I worked in a service station and we did truly ‘full’ service with an eye to selling needed items. I stress needed because although we were told that sales would add to our income, we were never pressed to sell just for sales sake. We checked everything at times, a helpful duty for most women and the elderly, and gave advice when we thought proper. Perhaps our owner was unique, but we made a number of fine customer relationships through that approach. Today’s ‘full’ service consists of pumping the gas for someone with not even a windshield cleaning…ugh!

      • Oh yeah, true full service still exists here in Japan and they go overboard (LOL) at times. Empty ash trays/trash bins, full window and mirror cleaning, moist rag provided for one to wipe the dashboard and inside windshield, floormat washing, fluid checks, tire air check when requested, etc. All with a smile and efficiency!

  14. 1. There is an actual service station in attendance. 2. He is wearing a formal uniform that identifies him as such – including the standard peaked military style cap that denotes some degree of responsible authority. Taxi and bus drivers, livery drivers (milk, bread, ice etc.) also wore uniforms with peaked caps. They looked professional.

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