Skip to main content

Tower Station and U-Drop Inn - Shamrock, Texas

 

Take a drive down old US Route 66 and you will find an abundance of roadside architecture, stemming from its days as a major highway between Chicago and Santa Monica, California. It was during Route 66's heyday that art deco architecture was quite popular. Enter the small town of Shamrock, Texas, which you will find is the home to the Tower Station and U-Drop Inn, located at the northeast corner of Business Loop I-40 (historic US 66) and US 83.

Just 15 miles west of the Texas-Oklahoma border, the Tower Station was designed by architect J.C Berry and built in 1936 by J.M. Tindall at the cost of $23,000. A beacon for the weary traveler, the Tower Station was the first commercial business located on the historic US Route 66 within Shamrock, and is one of the most imposing and architecturally creative buildings along the length of the road.

The unique design of this building came to be when the design was drawn with a nail in the ground. The building was actually designed and constructed to be three separate structures. The first and most notable structure is the Tower Conoco Station, with its four sided obelisk rising from the flat roof and topped with a distinctive finial. The second structure is the U-Drop Inn café, which got its name from a local school boy's winning entry in a naming contest. The third structure was intended to be a retail store, but instead became an overflow seating area for the café. Once the Mother Road had been bypassed by Interstate 40, the building served as a bus station for a time, then sat abandoned until it was restored through grants and fundraising. Now, the building serves as a visitor center for Shamrock.

Up until around the late 1970s, the Tower Station and U-Drop Inn was sided with light brick and green tiles. Now renovated with light pink concrete highlighted by green paint, it still looks similar to what it looked like during historic US Route 66's heyday. The towering spire above the service station spells out Conoco, an ode to the the history of this building.

Fans of the movie Cars may find the Tower Station to look a bit familiar. That is because the sights and scenes of the fictional town of Radiator Springs in the movie is based on various landmarks of the historic US Route 66. In particular, Ramone's body art shop is exactly inspired by the Tower Station and the U-Drop Inn in Shamrock.


Tower Station with gas pumps.

A touch of Texas.

A wide view of the Tower Station and U-Drop Inn.

The Conoco Tower.

Vintage Conoco gas pumps.

Those vintage Conoco gas pumps.

Get your kicks.

A Texas historical marker explaining the history of the Tower Station.

Restored service bay.

Peering through the window of the U-Drop Inn café. This was closed during my visit.
How to Get There

Sources and Links:
The Texas Bucket List - Tower Station and U-Drop Inn in Shamrock
Texas Escapes - 1935 Tower Conoco Gas Station 
National Park Service - Tower Station and U-Drop Café
Route 66 News - A Route 66 Guide to the Cars Movie

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

California State Route 232

This past month I drove the entirety of California State Route 232 in Ventura County. CA 232 is an approximately 4 miles State Highway aligned on Vineland Avenye which begins near Saticoy at CA 118 and traverses southwest to US Route 101 in Oxnard.  The alignment of CA 232 was first adopted into the State Highway System in 1933 as Legislative Route Number 154 according to CAhighways.org. CAhighways.org on LRN 154 As originally defined LRN 154 was aligned from LRN 9 (future CA 118) southwest to LRN 2/US 101 in El Rio.  This configuration of LRN 154 between CA 118/LRN 9 and US 101/LRN 2 can be seen on the 1935 California Division of Highways Map of Ventura County. 1935 Ventura County Highway Map According to CAhighways.org the route of LRN 154 was extended west from US 101/LRN 2 to US 101A/LRN 60 in 1951.  Unfortunately State Highway Maps do not show this extension due to it being extremely small. During the 1964 State Highway Renumbering LRN 154 was assigned CA 232.  Of n

One Long Drive - Allegheny County's Orange Belt

When I trace my early interest in traveling and the hobby of roadgeeking, I always go back to where I grew up. Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, PA 48, and the Orange Belt. I grew up on Route 48 in Elizabeth Township on the Orange Belt. One of my family's favorite stories of me growing up is when I was around three years old - so 1980 - I told one of my aunts, "It's not that hard to get to our house - we live on the Orange Belt!"  The Allegheny County Belt System is one of the many things that are uniquely Pittsburgh. A series of existing roadways - minor and major - developed in post-World War II Allegheny County to navigate the region. Never intended to be a "beltway" in the modern sense - a full freeway encircling a city - the Allegheny County system is more like a wayfinding system connecting you throughout the county. It is uniquely Pittsburgh - it's been asked about , written about , and videoed .  On a recent visit home, I decided to drive the entire

Mosquito Road Bridge

The Mosquito Road Bridge is a wooden suspension span crossing the South Fork American River of El Dorado County.  The Mosquito Road Bridge incorporates elements in it's foundation which date back to 1867 making it likely the oldest highway bridge in California still is in service for it's original purpose.  The Mosquito Road Bridge can be found approximately 6.5 miles northeast of downtown Placerville.    Author's Note; Gribblenation's 2,000th published blog This blog serves as the 2,000th published entry on the Gribblenation blog site.  Ironically the the 2,000th blog entry closely aligns with the 20th anniversary of Gribblenation.  Adam and Doug recently discussed the history of Gribblenation on the Gribblenation 20th Anniversary Podcast: https://anchor.fm/gribblenation/episodes/Gribblenation-20th-Anniversary-Podcast-ep2nh8 For my own part I (Tom) have been part of Gribblenation since late 2016, it has been an honor to be part of one of the longest lived highway pages