Vintage Neon Everywhere

Old Mojo Gas Sign - Rock Springs, Wyoming

Old Mojo Gas Sign – Rock Springs, Wyoming

Everywhere I go I see old neon.  These signs remind me of the my youthful days in the 1960s and 70s when we traveled.  Alas, for many, the only signs they see are the same unoriginal fast food, gas station and motel chain signs all over the place.  But, in the by gone days there were few McDonald’s and Motel 6 spots.  Instead, there were the little cozy motels with the old metal chairs in the front and the unique neon signs.  There were the local burger joints with their big shiny signs.  And there were the drive in movie theaters and the downtown theatres with their unique names.  Here is a trip down memory lane with neon I have captured along the less beaten paths and just a few comments, when appropriate.

OLD MOTELS

Chinook Hotel - Chinook, Montana

Chinook Hotel – Chinook, Montana

Of all of the unique neon signs, perhaps the hotel and motel signs are the most fun and bring back the fondest memories.  My first ever motel stay was in some non-descript motel in Amarillo, Texas in 1968.  At the time I was only 12.  It was exciting to sleep in a motel bed, see the paper covered drinking glasses, taste the strange tasting water, sit on the metal rockers on the front porch.  We watched the news and stock reports on the local television and ate pancakes at a local cafe before heading to our new home in Richardson, Texas (we were moving from Albuquerque, so yes, we were on Route 66 back then).

Motel Galata on US Hwy 2 - The Hi-Line - in Galata, Montana

Motel Galata on US Hwy 2 – The Hi-Line – in Galata, Montana

Thunderbird Inn in Savannah, Georgia

Thunderbird Inn in Savannah, Georgia

El Kapp Motel in Raton, NM

El Kapp Motel in Raton, NM

Covered Wagon Motel in Lusk, Wyoming

Covered Wagon Motel in Lusk, Wyoming

Kool Breeze Motel in Irving, Texas

Kool Breeze Motel in Irving, Texas

Cave Land Motel - Cave City, Kentucky

Cave Land Motel – Cave City, Kentucky

Log Cabin Motel - Ashton, Idaho

Log Cabin Motel – Ashton, Idaho

Dude Motel - West Yellowstone, Montana

Dude Motel – West Yellowstone, Montana

D-K Motel - Arco, Idaho

D-K Motel – Arco, Idaho

Wagon Wheel Motel - Kadoka, South Dakota

Wagon Wheel Motel – Kadoka, South Dakota

4 Winds Motel - Jackson Hole, Wyoming

4 Winds Motel – Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Arena Motel in Shelby, Montana  The sign is all that remains

Arena Motel in Shelby, Montana The sign is all that remains

Generic Motel Sign - Shelby, Montana

Generic Motel Sign – Shelby, Montana

Old Stanley Cour-Tel Sign (from Missouri) now at Ra66it Ranch in Staunton, Illinois

Old Stanley Cour-Tel Sign (from Missouri) now at Ra66it Ranch in Staunton, Illinois

Lays Motor Lodge sign in Kingdom City, Missouri.  Motel building is dilapidated, but the sign remains

Lays Motor Lodge sign in Kingdom City, Missouri. Motel building is dilapidated, but the sign remains

Motel in Havre, Montana

Motel in Havre, Montana

Palace Hotel - Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Palace Hotel – Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Antler Motel - Kemmerer, Wyoming

Antler Motel – Kemmerer, Wyoming

Texan Motel - Raton, New Mexico

Texan Motel – Raton, New Mexico

And to round off the trip, how about one of the more famed ones….

Sleep in a Wigwam - Wigwam Motel in Cave City, Kentucky

Sleep in a Wigwam – Wigwam Village Motel in Cave City, Kentucky

CAFES AND RESTAURANTS

Goody Goody - St. Louis, Missouri

Goody Goody Diner – St. Louis, Missouri

After a nice evening a a comfy motel, what is better than starting the day off with a great breakfast at a diner, a pancake house or a local cafe. The servings are always big, the mom and pop service is better than any fast food joint.  Of course, while on the road you can also stop for lunch and even a big dinner, in some cases even more than you can manage if you are willing to take the chance (think Amarillo, Texas!!)

Donut Whole - Wichita, Kansas

Donut Whole – Wichita, Kansas They have a giant rooster on the roof there too!

Voodoo Doughnut - Portland, Oregon

Voodoo Doughnut – Portland, Oregon

Royal Donut - Danville, Illinois

Royal Donut – Danville, Illinois

Crystal Cafe - Raton, NM

Crystal Cafe – Raton, NM

Golden Burro Cafe - Leadville, CO

Golden Burro Cafe – Leadville, CO

Presti's Bakery - Cleveland, OH

Presti’s Bakery – Cleveland, OH

Lil' Cafe - Commerce, Oklahoma

Lil’ Cafe – Commerce, Oklahoma

Irma Restaurant and Grill - Cody, Wyoming

Irma Restaurant and Grill – Cody, Wyoming

Pickle's Place - Arco, Idaho

Pickle’s Place – Arco, Idaho

Sport Bowl Cafe - Tripp, South Dakota

Sport Bowl Cafe – Tripp, South Dakota

How about some burgers for lunch?

Wimpy's Hamburgers - Dallas, Texas - I'll gladly pay you Thursday for a hamburger today....

Wimpy’s Hamburgers – Dallas, Texas – I’ll gladly pay you Thursday for a hamburger today….

Paul's Hamburgers - Kansas City, Kansas

Paul’s Hamburgers – Kansas City, Kansas

Waylan's Hamburgers - Home of the Ku-Ku - Commerce, Oklahoma

Waylan’s Hamburgers – Home of the Ku-Ku – Miami, Oklahoma

Scotty's Hamburgers - Idaho Falls, Idaho

Scotty’s Hamburgers – Idaho Falls, Idaho

Hutch's on the Beach - Hamilton, Ontario

Hutch’s on the Beach – Hamilton, Ontario

Frostop Root Beer - Ashton, Idaho

Frostop Root Beer – Ashton, Idaho

Schroeder's Drive-In - Danville, Illinois

Schroeder’s Drive-In – Danville, Illinois

Perhaps you want to try an ORIGINAL Cozy Dog….a Route 66 Classic indeed.  This one deserves two photos

Cozy Drive-In - Home of the Cozy Dog - Springfield, Illinois

Cozy Drive-In – Home of the Cozy Dog – Springfield, Illinois

Cozy Drive-In - Springfield, Illinois  The sign says it all

Cozy Drive-In – Springfield, Illinois The sign says it all

Don’t want a burger or a corn dog?  How about a Maid-Rite Sandwich?

Maid-Rite Sandwiches - Lexington, Missouri

Maid-Rite Sandwiches – Lexington, Missouri

Or perhaps some great authentic Bar-B-Q?

Bryant's Barbecue - Kansas City, Missouri

Arthur Bryant’s Barbecue – Kansas City, Missouri

And a little Ice Cream for an afternoon treat….

Zesto - near the zoo in Omaha, Nebraska

Zesto – near the zoo in Omaha, Nebraska

Another Zesto in downtown Omaha, Nebraska

Another Zesto in downtown Omaha, Nebraska

Jimmy's Ice Cream - Waldo, Arkansas

Jimmy’s Ice Cream – Stamps, Arkansas

Okay.  So this next one is not neon.  But it is certainly Vintage.  And who can resist stopping for an ice cream at a place that LOOKS like an Ice Cream?

M & M's Twistee Treat - E. Peoria, Illinois

M & M’s Twistee Treat – E. Peoria, Illinois

There are lots of places that you can get dinner…many of the old neon places are a combo bar/grill or bar/restaurant.   And many have unique signs.  Personally, I don’t drink alcohol, but I have certainly enjoyed a few good meals at some of these kinds of places.

Manhattan Bar - Leadville, Colorado

Manhattan Bar – Leadville, Colorado

Mint Bar and Lounge - Chinook, Montana

Mint Bar and Lounge – Chinook, Montana

Acoma Restaurant and Lounge - Butte, Montana

Acoma Restaurant and Lounge – Butte, Montana

Atomic City Bar - Atomic City, Idaho - no longer in business, but the sign is a classic!

Atomic City Bar – Atomic City, Idaho – no longer in business, but the sign is a classic!

Elk Bar and Good Food - Chinook, Montana

Elk Bar and Good Food – Chinook, Montana

Steaks - what more needs to be said? - near Turkey Ridge, South Dakota

Steaks – what more needs to be said? – near Turkey Ridge, South Dakota

Riscky's Steakhouse - Fort Worth, Texas

Riscky’s Steakhouse – Fort Worth, Texas

Lariat Saloon - Buena Vista, Colorado

Lariat Saloon – Buena Vista, Colorado

And let’s not forget two of the most iconic vintage neon places for travelers….

Cowboy Bar - Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Million Dollar Cowboy Bar – Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Big Texan Steak House - home of the FREE 72 OZ Steak (if you can eat it all) - Amarillo, Texas

Big Texan Steak Ranch – home of the FREE 72 OZ Steak (if you can eat it all) – Amarillo, Texas

Maybe you prefer something a bit more ethnic in the evening….

Joe Mama's Italian - Time for Fine Eats - Pittsburgh, Pennsylania

Joe Mama’s Italian – Time for Fine Eats – Pittsburgh, Pennsylania

El Fenix Restaurant - Best Tex-Mex in Texas - downtown Dallas, Texas

El Fenix Restaurant – Best Tex-Mex in Texas – downtown Dallas, Texas

Hung Far Low - Famous Chop Suey and Famous name - Portland, Oregon

Hung Far Low – Famous Chop Suey and Famous name – Portland, Oregon

Or perhaps just a late night Philly Cheese Steak?  How about two choices and they are just across the street from each other in the triangle….(I actually tried one at each place on the same evening – add the whiz!)

Geno's Cheese Steaks - Philadelphia, PA

Geno’s Cheese Steaks – Philadelphia, PA

Pat's King of Steaks - Philadelphia, PA

Pat’s King of Steaks – Philadelphia, PA

Movie Theaters, Drive-In Theaters and Music Halls

Teton Drive-In - Rexburg, Idaho

Teton Drive-In – Rexburg, Idaho

Perhaps you have had a long day on the road and need a break from motel room TV.  A visit to an old drive in theater with some popcorn and thus fuzzy little speakers hanging in your window will do ya.

Too cold outside?  Then there are some classic old movie theaters around that show some cool movies or maybe even will have a live band playing in them. Many of the old theaters are multi-purpose nowadays, but their old neon signs still draw you in and bring back the memories of 1960s childhood.

Following are a few classic looks with neon I have seen over the years as I travel the back roads of America.

 

Plaza Theatre - Glasgow, Kentucky

Plaza Theatre – Glasgow, Kentucky

Lund Theatre - Viborg, South Dakota

Lund Theatre – Viborg, South Dakota

Liberty Theatre - Vandalia, Illinois

Liberty Theatre – Vandalia, Illinois

Great American Music Hall - San Francisco, CA

Great American Music Hall – San Francisco, CA

The Blue Room - Kansas City, Missouri

The Blue Room – Kansas City, Missouri

Pix Theatre - Winner, South Dakota

Pix Theatre – Winner, South Dakota

Westside Theatre - Newman, California

West Side Theatre – Newman, California

Kentucky Theatre - Lexington, Kentucky

Kentucky Theatre – Lexington, Kentucky

Fox Theatre - Detroit, Michigan

Fox Theatre – Detroit, Michigan

Skyline Theatre - Rudyard, Montana

Hi-Line Theatre – Rudyard, Montana

El Raton Theatre - Raton, NM

El Raton Theatre – Raton, NM

Fischer Theatre - Danville, Illinois

Fischer Theatre – Danville, Illinois

Orpheum Theatre - Wichita, Kansas

Orpheum Theatre – Wichita, Kansas

Leeds Theatre - Winchester, Kentucky

Leeds Theatre – Winchester, Kentucky

Bing Crosby Theatre - Spokane, Washington

Bing Crosby Theatre – Spokane, Washington

VARIOUS AND SUNDRY OTHER PLACES

Pelo's Sundries - LeClaire, Iowa (Home of the American Pickers!)

Pelo’s Sundries – LeClaire, Iowa (Home of the American Pickers!)

Sure, I meant it when I included “Sundry” in this section.  That term seems old fashioned now, but the old five-and-dime shops had “sundry” items.  There were also the old drug stores that sold magazines, had fountains in the shop and they sold “sundries.”

I also include the “various” in here since there are a few odds and ends neon signs that I  want to include in this section.

The famous Public Market sign in Seattle, Washington

The famous Pike Place Public Market sign in Seattle, Washington

Pilgrim Cleaners in Houston, Texas.  They also do shoe repairs

Pilgrim Cleaners in Houston, Texas. They also do shoe repairs

Arco City Hall - Arco, Idaho - First City in the world to be lit by Atomic Power

Arco City Hall – Arco, Idaho – First City in the world to be lit by Atomic Power

Boring Rexall Drugs - Warsaw, Missouri

Boring Rexall Drugs – Warsaw, Missouri

The Old Drugs Store - Cumberland Gap, Tennessee

The Old Drugs Store – Cumberland Gap, Tennessee

Now, wasn’t that just a yummy adventure through the past?

Yummy House - Idaho Falls, Idaho

Yummy House – Idaho Falls, Idaho

Some roadside assistance provided by friends at……

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0 thoughts on “Vintage Neon Everywhere

  1. Bill Otto

    Hi, love your site and as I am from Montana, I remember the Chinook Motel sign. One cool sign I’ve seen is the Rocket Motel in Custer, SD. I think they have a postcard as I had one at one time … you should investigate them!!
    Bill

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