(Editor’s Note: For my 2019 posts, I will be posting photos from my travels in 2018. I visited 26 states and drive over 13,000 miles in 2018. These posts will feature of few of the road signs and business signs I came across, as well as some stories behind them. Enjoy the Read and Enjoy the Ride!)
It is always a GOOD thing when I am on the road, looking at the Great scenery, the Grandeur of the mountains and the Garish signs and road markers. Here are a few G signs that I saw during my 2018 travels across 26 states. Enjoy the Read. Enjoy the Ride.
Gold Bar, Washington
The town of Gold Bar is situated at the foothills of the Cascade Mountains on US Route 20. The grandeur of the mountains surrounding the town is wonderful! The Gold Bar website has a fun story that I am including here:
An early historical account of Skagit and Snohomish Counties published in 1906 gives this description of the town’s early history:
“Gold Bar is a thrifty sawmill town of between two and three hundred people, in the Skykomish Valley along the overland line of the Great Northern Railway, 29 miles east of Everett. Platted September 18, 1900, by the Gold Bar Improvement Company, it has grown very rapidly and is now among the substantial villages of the County. A two-story schoolhouse has been erected in which 43 pupils receive instruction, besides which the town enjoys good telephone, telegraph and transportation facilities. As the timberlands become available for agricultural purposes, many small farms are coming into cultivation, thus furnishing additional support for Gold Bar. Last year 886 cars of lumber and shingles were shipped from this point, which is indicative of the town’s volume of business. The Gold Bar Lumber Company operates an extensive lumber and shingle plant there.”
As of 2010, the population was a tad above 2000 Golden folk!
Goobertown is one of the fun town names you can find in Arkansas, along with places like Booger Hollow and Toad Suck, among others. It is located on US Hwy 49, about 10 miles Northeast of Jonesboro, Arkansas. The name was apparently a result of Confederate Civil War soldiers who camped there and ate the wild peanuts. So, after the war, many of the soldiers returned here and settled, naming it Goobertown. It is now actually just a section of the township of Brookland, Arkansas.
Griff’s Hamburgers, Haltom City, Texas
Griff’s is a burger chain with 12 locations, mainly in Texas, then 3 in Louisiana and one in Albuquerque, NM. The first “Griff’s Burger Bar” opened in March of 1960 in Wichita, Kansas. The company was founded by H.J. Griffith. have Known for their big burgers, they also serve “steak fingers,” chili cheese fries and other goodies. Being a Texas place, plan on requesting the sliced jalapenos.
Gorilla Country, Solomon, Kansas
Betcha didn’t know we had Gorilla Country in the U.S. Well, meander into Solomon, Kansas and you will find that Solomon High School’s mascot is the Gorillas. I have no idea why they are the Gorillas… Solomon Saints, Solomon Swans, Solomon Salamanders… but Gorillas? Hmmmm….
The Grill District, Walnut Ridge, Arkansas
I am always a sucker for vintage neon signs. The Grill District sign hangs in a location that once housed a restaurant called The Grill in downtown Walnut Ridge, Arkansas. The sign was refurbished in 2012 and reattached to “add spunk to Main Street and draw extra attention to the businesses in the area” according to owner Charles Snapp.
Glendale, Kentucky is an old railroad town and now is basically a stop off of Interstate 65 south of Louisville, KY. Full of vintage buildings and antique shops, its most well known place is the Whistle Stop Cafe, which I will feature in my W signs post in a couple of weeks.
GAS Signs in Washington, Texas, Missouri and South Dakota
There are lots of Gas signs dotting the country. This is one of them. Then there is the No Gas sign from Decatur, Texas. Gotta love that one. I got a GAS selfie in Uranus…go figure, GAS in Uranus? Finally, the old…last gas for miles ploy in South Dakota…except, it is NOT a ploy. There really wasn’t a gas station for another 60-70 miles.
Looking for a unique and fun gift for yourself or your traveler friends? How about a book about offbeat and quirky places to take on your road trips? You can see both of my books at http://amzn.to/2ks6fQZ. Working on Book 3, coming in late Spring 2019!!
I am always on the lookout for fun places to visit when on the backroads of America. My travels in 2018 took me to 26 different states and along the way I found more unique town names and fun street signs to add to my collection. In 2017 I published my first book titled “Less Beaten Paths of America: Unique Town Names.” (Check out the book here) At the time I wrote it, I didn’t think I would get enough new places to fill up a second book, but , indeed, I have. And 2018 really helped with that.
Obviously, in my road trip plans I did set my sights on a few of these places intentionally. Once such place was Marvel, Alabama. I even bought a Marvel T-shirt to wear in front of the sign. But, having never been there, I had no assurance that there would even be a sign in such a small place. Luckily, my granddaughter Autumn (who also had a Marvel T-shirt for the occasion) and I did find a sign for the Marvel Baptist Church!! LUCKY!
But, I had many more instances where the places just happened to be there.
This post will quickly hit up on some of these fun discoveries, along with photos of signs, etc. ENJOY THE RIDE!
Y City is an unincorporated community in Scott County, Arkansas. It is located at the junction of U.S. Routes 71 and 270 in the southern part of the county on Mill Creek and the junction is shaped like a Y.
This small community was apparently a “freedmen’s” town. It is located in Okfuskee County, Oklahoma on Oklahoma State Highway 48. It has about 59 or 60 residents.
While in Okfuskee County, we also visited Okemah, the home of famed folk singer Woody Guthrie — you know, the guy that wrote “This Land is Your Land,” and “Bound for Glory,” among numerous others.
Gold Bar, Washington is located on US 20 in Snohomish County, Washington. The town has a little over 200 residents and is located in the heart of the Cascades. Beautiful mountains frame this small town. Gold Bar started as a prospectors camp in 1889, named by a miner who found traces of gold on a river gravel bar.
I never knew that fairies were Baptists nor that they die and get buried. But, there is a Fairy Baptist and a Fairy Cemetery in Fairy, Texas, a very small unincorporated community in the northern part of Hamilton County (north of Hico). It is at the junction of Texas FM 219 and 1602.
Lame Deer is on the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation in Rosebud County, Montana. The community is named after Miniconjou Lakota chief Lame Deer, who was killed by the U.S. Army in 1877 under a flag of truce south of the town.
Sublime, Texas is a small community off of US Route 90 about 60 miles west of Houston. It has a small church and a Post Office.
Goobertown is an unincorporated community in Craighead County, Arkansas, near Jonesboro. You can pick up a Goobertown T-shirt if you want one at the Goobertown Grocery on US 49. The T-shirts feature a personified peanut after which the tiny community is supposedly named.
From peanuts in Goobertown to Punkins in Punkin Center. Punkin Center is a small, rural Unincorporated community in Lincoln Countyat the intersection of State Highway 94 and State Highway 71. Yes, that is literally the middle of nowhere! Originally had a small store that was painted orange (this the pumpkin reference), but it burned down in the 1950s. There are currently “about” 4 residents in this dot on the highway.
Zigzag is another unincorporated community. It is located in Clackamas County, Oregon on US Route 26, near Rhodendron. It is supposedly named after the Zigzag River. It is home to the Zigzag Ranger Station, which was built in 1935.
I am always looking for a smile and I thought Smiley, Texas would be just the place! I have been all over the country and seen many water towers with those fun smiley faces on them. Ala, no such luck in this town. Smiley is located in Gonzales County, Texas on US Route 87 and has a population of about 500 not too smiley people. It is about 60 miles east of San Antonio, the seventh largest city in the United States.
Light, Arkansas was named after Daniel Light, the first settler. The small unincorporated community of 50 or so is located in Greene County at the junction of US Route 412 and AR Hwy 228.
I saw the town of Cloudy, Oklahoma on a map as I planned a return trip home from Texas and figured I needed to try to get there. It was actually more of an adventure than I had planned as Cloudy Road, which heads north out of Rattan, Oklahoma, snakes its way for about 12 miles into some hilly country. Some of the roads were in bad repair. But I made it!! Due to flooding, I had to return back to Rattan to continue the trek home.
Dime Box, Texas is located at the junction of TX Hwy 141 and TX Hwy 424 in Lee County. The community has maybe 200 people in town. There is actually a Dime Box Independent School District and a high school. I’ll feature more about Dime Box in future posts.
Brothers, Oregon is a dot on the map on US Route 20 about 40 miles east of Bend. There is a small stage stop, rest area and post office located in the unincorporated community. The place is in the Oregon high desert and is in the midst of a vast sagebrush field. If you travel about 60 miles northwest on US 20, you will arrive in Sisters, Oregon. I have been there a couple of times and have noted the town in my blog in the past (see post).
Ding Dong, Texas is an unincorporated place on the Lampasas River between Gerogetown and Kileen on TX Hwy 195. I had stopped there in hopes of buying Hostess Ding-Dongs… But, among all of the Hostess Cupcake products in the store, they did not carry Ding Dongs. A Ding Dong fail!! Ding Dong was named when two early settlers in the town, Zulis Bell and Bert Bell, opened a store and hired the artist Cohn Cohen Hoover to make a sign for it. Hoover painted a sign with two bells on it. Inside the bells, Hoover painted the initials of the Bell brothers. Underneath one bell he painted the word “Ding” and the word “Dong” under the other bell. Over the years, because of this sign, this community became known as Ding Dong.
Helper is small quaint community of about 2,200 located off of US 191 just north of Price, Utah in Carbon County. The town is a coal mining and railroad town. It gets its name from the “helper” engines that would help push trains up the long hill to Soldier Summit as trains made their way to Salt Lake City.
Telephone, Texas is located at the junction of TX Hwy 273 and TX Hwy 2029 in Fannin County north of Honey Grove, Texas and just south of the Oklahoma border. There are about 200 folks in this community, which got its name after numerous rejected name submissions to the US Postal Service in 1886.
Startup, Washington is a small community located just west of Stevens Pass on US Route 20. The name was to honor George G. Startup, manager of the Wallace Lumber Company. The Startup post office was established in 1900. There are about 700 people in this very scenic town at the base of the Cascade Mountains.
Many, Louisiana is just east of the Texas border on Louisiana Hwy 6 and the junction of US Route 171 in Sabine Parish. The community takes its name from Colonel Many, who was an officer stationed at nearby Fort Jesup.
Back to Texas (again) to the community of Flat. The town is on TX Hwy 36 northeast of Temple in Coryell County. There are about 850 people currently living here.
Are you looking for Big Foot? Maybe you can take Big Foot Rd. near Wall, South Dakota and find him. I wouldn’t know… I just stopped for a photo of the exit sign on Interstate 90.
Finally, there is the “faux” town of Uranus, Missouri on Route 66 west of Cuba. It is actually a huge tourist attraction filled with fun. The main attraction is the Uranus Fudge Factory and all of its employees, called Fudge Packers.
And I’ll end this post in Uranus… hope you enjoyed the ride
Looking for a unique and fun gift for yourself or your traveler friends? How about a book about offbeat and quirky places to take on your road trips? You can see both of my books at http://amzn.to/2ks6fQZ. Enjoy the Read and Enjoy the Ride!
Over the years I have been able to travel the majority of US Route 2 from Michigan all the way to the other side of Glacier National Park. But I have never had the opportunity travel Route 2 in Washington, which would effectively let me finish the western segment of the highway, which, ultimately stretches 2,112 miles from St. Ignace, MI to Everett, WA. Within Washington, the highway traverses a 326.36-mile-long route that connects the western and eastern regions of the state as a part of the state highway system and the National Highway System. US 2 also forms parts of two National Scenic Byways, the Stevens Pass Greenway, which goes over a portion of the Cascades, and the Coulee Corridor Scenic Byway near Coulee City, which offers some wonderful views of the Grand Coulee Dam. The drive also goes through one of Washington’s fruit tree country and provides views of the massive orchards that cover the landscape.
I started my early April morning traveling from Wallace, ID and enjoying a nice breakfast in Coeur D’Alene with a an old friend. I was then off on my last leg of a year’s long quest to complete a drive across US Route 2. The drive from Spokane enters the northern reaches of the Columbia Plateau, which is a high desert shrub-steppe environment and is pretty much this way all the way past Coulee City to the small community of Waterville.
My first stop along the way was in Davenport, WA. As I drove through I noticed a quirky old place called the Black Bear Motel so I just had to stop. I also decided it was a good place for a restroom break, so I headed over to a gas station/convenience store. I was overly amused by the signage, so, in the nature of Sumoflam fun, I took full advantage of it!!
And then there is that Restroom at the Gas Station!!
After that fun adventure, I was back on US Route 2 heading west towards Wilbur.
The next leg of the trip continued through the high desert steppes until near Coulee City. Coulee City sits at the southern end of the 27 mile long Banks Lake, which was been created as a result of the Grand Coulee Dam, which sits at the northern end of the lake.
From Coulee City, US Route 2 meanders into a massive basin near Sulphur Canyon as it runs along one of the walls of the canyon. It was actually quite a site.
Route 2 eventually gets into the small community of Waterville, which is about the halfway point on Route 2 between Spokane and Everett. I took a quick drive through town and found a couple of goodies in this historic little community. Perhaps the most interesting thing was the whimsical “Lumpy Dowser” Statue that sits outside the Douglas County Museum , and was sculpted by local artist, the late Rich Beyer (1925-2012). (Note: I also got a shot of his work “The Kiss” while in Olympia, WA on this same trip. It will be in my Olympia Post). Dowsing is using a stick to find water…a unique piece of art for a town named after water. During the sculpture’s dedication in July 1996, local resident Joanne Whitehall compiled a history of water dowsing. The last paragraph of her composition follows:
“Not everyone has the ability to dowse. Many of those who have, attribute it to a gift, as it has not been a learned art. Judged by scientific standards, the practice has little basis in fact. However, the countless good sources of water found by this method is hard to dispute.”
Living in the eastern US, I am used to seeing advertising on the sides of barns, typically Mail Pouch chewing tobacco. While stopped for gas in Waterville, I noticed a barn with an ad for Dr. Pierce’s General Tonic on it. I had to look it up and see what it was (or is). Turns out it supposedly resolved a number of health issues such as bronchitis, laryngitis, sore throats, constipation, indigestion and other problems. Its main ingredients included water, borate of soda, golden seal root, queen’s root, stone root, black cherry bark, mandrake and glycerine. It was available from around 1890 to 1900. As for the barn ad shown below, some research indicates that these ads were on the sides of barns in Washington, Oregon and Utah. Fun discovery!
From Waterville, US Route 2 continues west to Orondo and then heads dues south along the beautiful Columbia River into the fruit orchards of the Wenatchee Valley. Wenatchee sits at the edge of the Cascades on one side and borders the high desert on the other. Honestly, Wenatchee deserves an extended visit. They also claim to be the Apple Capital of the World.
US Route 2 crosses over the Frances Farmer Memorial Bridge just north of the confluence of where the Wenatchee River flows into the Columbia River. Absolutely lovely scenery here! And then there are the apple orchards. I really am kicking myself that I didn’t go into town to get pictures, but I was running behind on schedule. Next trip to Washington, Wenatchee is a destination!
Once across the Columbia, Route 2 continues west and follows the Wenatchee River as it the road begins its ascent into the Cascades with fruit orchards on both sides of the highway continuing into the small community of. Dryden. I then made my way into Leavenworth, WA, the next sweet surprise for me on this route.
Located in the midst of the Cascades, members of the community decided to give the town a unique Bavarian flair since it sits in the lovely alpine environment. Everything about the town screams tourism, but it is also a lovely place. I had to take a few minutes to drive around and grab some pictures. As with the Wenatchee Valley, I plan on an extended visit to Leavenworth on my next trip to Washington.
From Leavenworth, US Route 2 heads due north into the Cascades and proceeds to the highest point on the road at 4,061 feet, where it crosses over Stevens Pass. Even though it was April when I took this trip, as I got up higher, both sides of the highway had “snow walls,” some taller than six feet. It was truly a winter wonderland.
It is hard to image so much snow at an altitude of only 4,000 feet. I saw similar snow walls along the route up over Beartooth Pass in Montana on Memorial Day weekend in 2015, but it was up at the 11,000 foot range.
With the descent, US Route winds westward into the mountain towns of Skykomish, Gold Bar, Startup and others. The scenes from the road were marvelous and, at times, even breathtaking.
The Historic Great Northern Depot in Skykomish is a vestige from the early days of the former Great Northern Railway. Originally built in 1894, the depot is a one-story rectangular wood-frame building that consisted of a passenger waiting room, the station agent’s office and a freight room. Passenger service on the railway ended in the 1950s and this depot has been listed in the National Register of Historic Places as one of the last Great Northern depots still remaining in the State of Washington.
For miles US Route 2 wandered its way along the Skykomish River and through some awe-inspiring mountain scenery. I felt like I was in heaven as I passed through towns with names like Gold Rush, Startup and Sultan.
Finally, US Route 2 had made its descent into the Everett area. Unfortunately, due to having to catch the Edmonds Ferry and meet up with my family at the ferry, I had to cutoff at Interstate 5 and go south to Edmonds. I had hoped to get to the end of Route 2 in Everett, which was about a mile away in downtown. But, effectively, I can really say that I pretty much have now driven across the 2,112 mile stretch of US Route 2!
ENJOY THE RIDE! CHOOSE HAPPY!
If you like what you see, you may want to check out my book: Less Beaten Paths of America: Unique Town Names, available on Amazon. My second book, Less Beaten Paths of America: Quirky and Offbeat Roadside Attractions, is currently being worked on and I hope to make it available in late June 2018. Click on the photo below for more details or to get a copy of the book.