Selected Themes of Route 66 Matchcovers

A very popular category among matchcover collectors is Gasoline Stations. In fact gasoline collectibles of all kinds is a major antique and collectible category itself. Books have been written solely on this topic. I've heard of collections of gasoline station matchcovers that span album after album, thousands and thousands of individual matchcovers.

Gasoline station owners did a significant amount of advertising through the distribution of matchbooks. To meet that need all of the major matchbook manufacturers prepared brand-name artwork that was displayed in their catalogues from which gas station owners could choose when planning their matchbook purchase. This prepared artwork is called "stock" artwork or "cuts", meaning that it is in stock and does not need to be specially prepared by a staff artist for the matchbook buyer. If there really is a typical gasoline station matchbook it would likely have text on the front cover (station name, address, and services) and maybe a small corporate trademark or emblem for the brand of gasoline or motor oil sold, and a large corporate trademark or emblem on the rear cover. The major gasoline companies changed their corporate emblems from time to time too, modernizing them when they thought it was necessary. Different matchbook manufacturers prepared their stock cuts differently so if you are a serious matchcover collector of gasoline stations you will find dozens and dozens of different examples of artwork styles for your collection. Since millions of matchbooks were made and distributed by gasoline stations yearly, many such matchcovers are readily available today. (I should say that some gas station owners did not choose to use the gasoline-brand artwork offered by the matchbook manufacturers. They would choose a non-gasoline "stock" image for the rear cover instead.) Below is a sample gallery of 32 branded gasoline matchcovers that were made for stations along Route 66. I limited the display to only one matchcover from each brand so it does not even begin to touch upon all of the gasoline station matchbook varieties made. Gasoline brands are in alphabetical order. Most of the major national gasoline brands and many of the regional gasoline brands of the 1940s and the 1950s are represented and it is fun to look at all of the "fallen flags" of gasoline brands that no longer exist today. (By the way, some brands sold on the east coast, like Atlantic Oil, did not reach the Midwest and are not represented. Exxon's early predecessor, Esso, reached Arkansas and Louisiana but I am not aware of an Esso gasoline matchcover from Route 66. Sunoco barely got into the Midwest and I have not seen a Sunoco matchcover from Route 66 either.)

APCO Gas Matchcover Beeline Gas Matchcover Champlin Gas Matchcover Chevron Gas Matchcover Cities Service Matchcover Conoco Gas Matchcover Derby Gasoline Matchcover Douglas Gasoline Matchcover

DX Gasoline Matchcover ENCO Gasoline Matchcover Fina Gasoline Matchcover Flying A Gas Matchcover Gulf Gasoline Matchcover Hancock Gasoline Matchcover Husky Gasoline Matchcover Marathon Gas Matchcover

Mobil Gasoline Matchcover Phillips 66 Matchcover Pure Oil Matchcover Richfield Gas Matchcover Shell Oil Matchcover Signal Gas Matchcover Sinclair Oil Matchcover Skelly Oil Matchcover

Standard Gas Matchcover Texaco Gasoline Matchcover Tydol Gasoline Matchcover Union 76 Gas Matchcover Whiting Bros. Gas Matchcover Wilshire Gas Matchcover Wolfs Head Oil Matchcover Zephyr Gasoline Matchcover

Trading Posts are some of my favorite businesses from Route 66. Who wouldn't like a souvenir from a trading post? Matchcovers from trading posts are not common though. Trading Posts evoke images of the Wild West, certainly, but Indian trading posts came to be soon after the New World of North America was discovered and then settled by European explorers and people. Early trading was just that: Indians traded animal pelts or furs directly for European beads, trinkets, tools and items that they wanted. This continued into the nineteenth century throughout the West and Canada. Trading posts even began issuing their own local currency called Script to the Indians if the Indians did not need anything from the trading post inventory at the exact time they delivered their goods. The Script could be spent later by the Indians at the trading post store. Indians in the Southwest usually traded desirable items made with their own skills, like rugs, jewelry, baskets and pottery, to traders. But in the twentieth century and certainly through the halcyon era of Route 66, the roadside "Trading Post" was nothing more than a romantic name for a traditional store where the traveler "traded" money for merchandise.

Below are seven matchcovers, arranged from west to east, from so-called Trading Posts along Route 66 in the prime region of such in eastern Arizona.

Winona Trading Post Twin Arrows Trading Post Pow Wow Trading Post Marty's Trading Post Matchcover Log Cabin Trading Post Matchcover Big Arrows Trading Post Matchcover Tomahawk Trading Post  Matchcover

Camps take us back to the very earliest days of U.S. Highway 66 when travelers stopped their cars and "made camp" alongside the road itself. The early traveling camper would usually sleep on the ground, in a tent or in their car. Sometimes in rainy circumstances they might even sleep under their car. Some municipalities went so far as to upgrade their local parks for campers to use typically for free. But as time went on these parks attracted people less desirable than travelers and eventually most public parks were closed to overnight camping, a legal situation that exists in most American cities today in the twenty-first century. Soon roadside entrepreneurs, often farmers or cafe or gas station owners, saw an opportunity to earn some extra money from these highway travelers by providing basic conveniences such as water and outhouses and charging for a nightly stay. As time went on camps were improved with picnic tables and lean-tos for bathing. When camps were improved with wooden cabins and structures they became "cabins", "courts", "cabin courts", or "auto courts".

Below are eight matchcovers, arranged from west to east, that say they are "camps" along Route 66. However it is likely that none of them is solely a primitive campground. If you read the matchcover text most indicate that more substantial accomodations (cabins, cottages, motor inn) are actually available. Two possible exceptions are the 4 Acre Camp east of Lebanon and Camp Sixty-Six south of Bloomington. But I have a real photo postcard from the 4 Acre Camp and it indicates that "cabins" were available. Still, the inclusion of the word "Camp" has a certain romance about it and makes these matchcovers more interesting.

Cajon Mountain Camp Mission Camp White Cottage Camp Camp Dixie Log City Camp 4 Acre Camp Woodpecker Camp Camp Sixty Six

Cabins may take us back to the frontier days when "log cabins" were the common early living structures for the pioneers. Cabins were an early upgrade to the primitive campground. The entrepreneur built individual cabins that initially were just walls and a roof with a door and perhaps a window or two. A common out-house or bath house served the overnight guests. Later cabins had indoor plumbing. The most up-to-date cabins even had kitchen facilities. The heyday of the individual cabin construction was the pre-World War II years. Then the "duplex" type living unit came to be popular and by the 1950s the longer building with adjacent rooms considered to be the classic American motel was the dominent type of construction. But many of the earlier businesses with individual cabins stayed competitive and in-demand along Route 66 for many years after the War.

Probably the most famous cabins along Route 66 are John's Modern Cabins near Newburg, Missouri. The first cabins were built back in 1931. Even in such an advanced state of decay as they are today, these remains are still one of the best-preserved true cabins along old Route 66. And, as a bonus, these cabins were built like the frontier log cabins with notched, interlocking and chinked round logs.

Another favorite group of log cabins on Route 66 was the Log Cabin Camp in Gallup, New Mexico. The first six log cabins, each with a wood-burning fireplace, were built in 1937. After the war some duplex-type log cabins were added and eventually a traditional wing of motel rooms was built. Like John's Modern Cabins, these log cabins are remembered for being built from round and chinked logs. The Log Cabin Camp in Gallup was abandoned by the mid-1990s and razed in 2004. Images of these cabins survive in a number of different postcards.

Below are eight matchcovers, arranged from west to east, that say they have cabins available along Route 66. To my knowledge only the cabin ruins at Chambless, California, ("61 miles West of Needles") exist today.

Alexandria Cabins de Luxe Chambless Hyde Park Cabins Hinton Junction Big Corner Cabins Motor Inn Cabins Highway Tourist Cabins Rut's Corner

Patriotic matchcovers featured artwork that included illustrations, comics, propaganda, or slogans that were clearly patriotic in nature. The principal colors used for matchbooks printed for American businesses were red, white and blue. Most patriotic matchbooks that collectors know today were manufactured and distributed soon after the United States entered World War II and continued through that time. (By the way, since Canada is part of the Commonwealth, Canadian matchbook manufacturers also made patriotic matchbooks for their Canadian customers during World War II.)

Different matchbook manufacturing companies captured various patriotic themes by creating stock artwork that could be ordered by businesses. Artwork was available that unambiguously supported the military and the troops. Some artwork had comics that ridiculed Hitler and the Nazis while other comic artwork targeted all three Axis leaders. Some slogans promoted the importance of domestic industrial and manufacturing efforts. Other artwork advertised the purchase of United States Defense Bonds in America's time of need. Some artwork reminded citizens to save and recycle household items (except it was not called "recycling" then) for the war effort. Other artwork even offered security warnings about espionage and reminded the smoker to keep military or industrial secrets to one's self.

Although rarer, some patriotic matchcovers actually preceeded the entrance of the United States into World War II. These early matchcovers were typically printed in red, white and blue too but they had printing like "Bundles for Britain" or "Stop Hitler Defend America by Helping Britain" and probably date from 1940 or 1941. There are also matchcovers for "Russian War Relief" and "Benefit of United China Relief" organizations promoting help for Russia and China that were invaded by Axis powers prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Businesses along Route 66 did their part to promote patriotism and support the war effort and below are eight matchcovers, arranged from west to east, that have patriotic sayings and artwork and are likely all from the World War II era.

Budget Ranch Market in Monrovia Copper State Court in Ash Fork Angelus Coffee Shop in Amarillo La Rose Court in Amarillo Texas Drive In in in Sapulpa Will Rogers Motor Court in Tulsa Ted's Bar & Grill in Joplin Cozy Inn in Pontiac

Telephone numbers printed on matchbooks sometimes tell a story. Long before area codes and direct-dial calling every town had a switchboard staffed by operators who manually connected calls from telephone to telephone. Even when local direct dialing came to be long distance calling still required operator assistance to get beyond one's local switching network across the country to another switchboard and then to the final destination. Low telephone numbers printed on matchcovers are the most intriguing. Some matchcover collectors enjoy building collections from any type of business with telephone numbers from, say, 1 to 999. Veteran matchcover collector Loren Moore has built a fantastic collection around telephone numbers from 1 all the way to 9999. He actually has four collections with consideration of whether the telephone number is preceded by a lettered exchange or not, and whether the telephone number is on the saddle or the front cover! (To view the matchcovers in this collection, visit his website here. On the right side Phone Number seach box type any number with up to four digits and see the results. If Mr. Moore has examples of all four telephone numbers you will see four images. Fewer than four, Mr. Moore is still searching.)

Very low telephone numbers (say, below 10 or 100) can be found among older matchcovers from commercial enterprises usually in very small towns or wide spots in the road where there were not many businesses or residents. Sometimes a matchcover with a low telephone number can be found from a business in a larger city but this only occurs if you make a very lucky discovery. After all, in the established cities 5 or 6 or 7 digit telephone numbers were common back before World War II. Also when considering very small towns, be aware that some of them that were very close to larger cities were tied into the larger city's switchboard and the residents and businesses did not have low telephone numbers. The best opportunities for finding a matchcover with a very low telephone number are from isolated tiny towns. I've displayed some matchcovers with single digit telephone numbers on the web page titled "Introduction to Route 66 Matchcovers." The Road Runners Retreat was reached by calling "Cadiz 1". The Bagdad Service & Café was reached by calling "Bagdad 5". And if you look carefully at the inside of the second-from-the-left matchcover where I displayed some optional inside printing, you can see that the "First Stop in Arizona" was reached by calling (Lupton) 1.

Below are eight additional matchcovers from businesses on Route 66 that have telephone numbers that are less than ten. Most are from very small locations but the matchcover on the far left from the Yucca Hotel in Grants, New Mexico, requires some special consideration. Since the Yucca Hotel dated back to the early part of the twentieth century, it seems to me that it is likely that it may really have had the very first telephone in Grants when that town was initially wired up. (I can not tell you when Grants was wired but the early growth years of wiring in the United States were the decades of the nineteen-teens to the beginning of World War II.) At that time the Yucca Hotel would have been the best place to stay in Grants and probably would have welcomed telephone service to the rest of the world. In fact the Yucca Hotel is the only listing for lodging in Grants, New Mexico, in my 1946 AAA Directory of Accommodations.

According to noted Route 66 expert T. Lindsay Baker in his book Portrait of Route 66: Images from the Curt Teich Postcard Archives, the Yucca Hotel lasted until the 1960s when it was demolished. But if you place your mouse over the image of the Yucca Hotel matchcover below left you'll see a matchcover from the Valencia Inn which also has the phone number of 1. The Valencia Inn matchcover looks to me to be from the decade of the 1960s. Certainly by this time new telephones in Grants would have had at least 5 digit numbers. Perhaps when the Yucca Hotel closed the Valencia Inn seized their prestigious "Phone 1" number.

Yucca Hotel in Grants Matchcover Comer's Coffee Shop near Albuquerque Matchcover Burton's in Cajon Pass Matchcover Zuni Mountain Trading Post Matchcover Wagon Wheel Court in Cuba, MO, Matchcover Gerber's Motel in Edwardsville Matchcover Pacific Motel in Joseph City Matchcover Painted Desert Motel in Chambers, AZ, Matchcover

Ask a Gen X, Gen Y or Millennial who Will Rogers was and they would probably have to enter the name into Google. During the 1920s and 1930s Will Rogers was America's leading humorist and commentator and a decent popular actor. Will Rogers was born near Claremore, Oklahoma, and raised in northeastern Oklahoma. Rogers was killed in an airplane crash with pioneer aviator Wiley Post in 1935 at the height of his fame. Of course, recognition of his name was universal among the "Greatest Generation" of Americans. Baby Boomers like me learned of Will Rogers from our parents and our history books. But it seems that the awareness of his life and stature in the nation has fallen off rapidly in the last fifty years. Route 66 was long-promoted by the US Highway 66 Association as the "Main Street of America." It was later referred to as the "Mother Road" in John Steinbeck's novel The Grapes of Wrath published in 1939. (The famous movie was made a year later.) In 1952 a movie called "The Story of Will Rogers" starring Will Rogers Jr. as his father was released. The studio promoted the movie in some manner of coordination with the Association by referring to Route 66 as the "Will Rogers Highway" and by placing a plaque at the western end of Santa Monica Blvd. where it ends at Ocean Avenue. Therefore, for some time in the 1950s and 1960s, US Highway 66 was also known as the "Will Rogers Highway." Below are eight matchcovers, arranged from west to east, that have the Will Rogers name as either the highway or as the business itself.

Smoke House in Kingman Matchcover Cafe 66 in Ashfork Matchcover Hotel Randle in Tucumcari Matchcover White Cottage Camp in Tucumcari Matchcover Mint Cafe in San Jon Matchcover Nixon's Cafe in San Jon Matchcover Madsen's Dining Room in Amarillo Matchcover Will Rogers Motor Court in Tulsa Matchcover

Seasonal Matchbooks are matchbooks that were distributed for short periods of time. Some matchbook themes that were available for a limited time include political campaigns and conventions and fairs. Some businesses in towns with college or professional sports teams printed the football, basketball or baseball schedules on the inside so the printing had to be changed every year. The annual New Year's Day Rose Parade in Pasadena - most of which ran along Colorado Blvd. which was Route 66 - used to have matchbooks printed for it and it was just a single-day event! The most common seasonal matchbook type from a business was Christmas. A business would order a quantity of special Christmas-themed matchbooks and soon after Thanksgiving would pull their regular matchbooks from the motel rooms or dining tables or from wherever they were provided, and replace them with Christmas-themed matchbooks. Perhaps around New Year's Day the business owner would replace the Christmas matchbooks with the regular matchbooks, at least until the next Christmas season.

Below are seven Christmas matchcovers from Route 66 businesses. The Holiday Inn matchcover ("Season's Greetings from Your Innkeeper") is from the Bloomington, Illinois, location at U.S. Highway 66 and State Route 9.

Hotel Beale Matchcover Texas Ann Motel Matchcover Johnnie's Cafe Matchcover 15 Acres Truck Stop Matchcover Bel-Aire Manor Motel Matchcover Dixie Truck Stop Matchcover Holiday Inn Christmas Matchcover

Chicken in the Rough Postcard This Curteich linen postcard was originally printed in 1946.

Chicken in the Rough® is usually associated with Route 66 since Beverly and Rubye Osborne offered the concept at their flagship drive-in restaurant at 2429 North Lincoln Boulevard (U.S. Highway 66), just one block north of the state Capitol building in downtown Oklahoma City in 1937. (Beverly was commonly used as a man's name a century ago.) The idea was to serve inexpensive fried chicken meant to be eaten with the fingers. As the widely distributed postcard on the right proclaims, the standard meal was half of an "unjointed" chicken served "without silverware" with sides of shoestring fried potatoes and rolls and honey. Sounds pretty tasty! Although the Osbornes operated several other restaurant locations in Oklahoma City, their innovative move was to franchise their Chicken in the Rough® concept to other restaurants and cafés to reach more diners around the country. Their golf-playing rooster mascot, perched on one leg preparing to stroke his ball out of the rough, became a highway icon long before the Colonel or Ronald McDonald. At its peak, Chicken in the Rough® could be found in over 200 locations in the USA and Canada including a number of them on Route 66.

The Lion Match Company created colorful stock Chicken in the Rough® artwork for matchbooks that could be ordered by franchise operators to promote their businesses. The matchbooks made by the Lion Match Company are the most common Chicken in the Rough® covers I think. The blue matchbook artwork preceded the yellow matchbook artwork. For some businesses both the blue matchcover and the yellow matchcover can be found. Printing on the saddle says "The World's Most Famous Chicken" or "The World's Most Famous Chicken Dish". I show nine Chicken in the Rough® matchcovers below (ordered from west to east) on Route 66. The Diamond Match Company generated similar artwork but on a silver background, like the one below from Beverly's Drive In in Oklahoma City. The saddle says "The Original Chicken in the Rough." The red and blue Frederic's Colonial Village matchcover was made by the Superior Match Company and the artwork is much less elaborate. There were other businesses on Route 66 that served Chicken in the Rough® too, including at one time the famous U Drop Inn in Shamrock, Texas, Pop Hick's in Clinton, Oklahoma, and the El Rancho Hotel in Gallup, New Mexico, but I have never seen a matchcover from either of these places that had the franchise chicken on it.

Lockwaood Cafe in Kingman Matchcover Qumacho Inn in Peach Springs Matchcover Jones Brothers Drive Inn in Amarillo Matchcover Beverly's in Oklahoma City Matchcover Beverly's in Oklahoma City Matchcover Trusty's Drive In in Joplin Matchcover Colonial Village in Rolla Matchcover Club Pla-Mor in Divernon Matchcover Woodbine Inn in Hinsdale Matchcover

Despite the fact that so many businesses during the halycon years of Route 66 provided matchbooks to their smoking patrons, it was actually uncommon for these matchbooks to be illustrated with a Route 66 shield. The matchbook manufacturers did not usually provide federal highway shield emblems among their stock artwork. The most likely way to find a shield on an old front strike matchbook was if a locating map was printed on it (usually on the inside but occasionally on the rear cover). In that case US Highway 66 maybe could be identified with a shield with the double sixes inside. In the rediscovery years of the highway, a number of new businesses have purchased modern rear strike matchbooks for distribution to their patrons. And these business people know that the Route 66 shield is cool! These modern matchbooks with shields can make a nice collection today.

Given how few adults smoke today I think most of these new rear strike matchbooks are provided more as souvenirs rather than for the explicit purpose of providing lights for cigarettes. There are not that many businesses on Route 66 that provide matchbooks but you can always ask after making your purchase. One nice thing is that any new matchbook is unstruck and in perfect condition.

Below are eight modern matchcovers, arranged from west to east, that have the 66 shield. Notice that the artwork styles are very diverse. In the old front strike matchbook days choices were limited. The manufacturers employed many artists and typesetters who came together to set up the matchbook artwork and setting up matchbook artwork was a manual process. Symbols and graphics were generally restricted to what was available in the catalogue, and text sizes too were limited. As you can imagine by now, computers have taken over so anyone can create matchbook artwork that is only limited by their imagination. Pictures, emblems, graphics and hundreds of text types and sizes are easily available from the internet and word processor programs today. Of course, all matchbooks made and distributed today are rear-strike matchbooks.

Route 66 Motel in Seligman Twisters in Williams Cruiser's Cafe in Williams Standing on a Corner in Winslow 66 Diner in Albuquerque Ollies in Red Fork Route 66 Lounge in Cuba Cozy Dog in Springfield

Matchcovers that I call Errors or Curiosities can be interesting. Most matchcover collectors turn their noses up to them but I find some intriguing. Now, I'm not referring to matchcovers that are mis-printed or mis-cut by the manufacturer, although there are certainly plenty of them. The latter are matchcovers where the colors are mis-aligned or the sheet of printed cardstock artwork was mis-registered in the cutting machine so the cover artwork is severely shifted and the final matchbooks do not properly advertise the business which is the whole point of the free matchbook. I would think that the retailer who bought these matchbooks would have declared them unacceptable and turned them back to the manufacturer but likely not since many make their way to today's collectors in their matchcover form. (Maybe the matchbook manufacturer refunded the purchaser's payment when an order, or part of an order, included defective matchbooks.)

Here are some examples of matchcovers that I consider errors or curiosities:

Qumacho Inn Matchcover
Chiefs in Valentine Matchcover

This early Qumacho Inn Cafe matchcover from Peach Springs, Arizona, on the left is very rare and highly desirable. On the other hand the later yellow Chicken in the Rough matchcover from the Qumacho Inn (shown above on this web page) is quite common. So it is disappointing to read the text on the front cover that describes this business as being "The Best Place to Eat on Hi-Way 60." While I am not sure if the Qumacho was ever the best place to eat, it certainly was not on US Highway 60.

The Chief's Chevron gas station on the right is a hard-to-find matchcover. (Actually it's quite difficult to find any matchcover from Valentine, Arizona.) If you drive through Valentine today there is an extremely rusted and faded sign where you can just barely make out the name "Chief's Motel." What's left of this motel are two similar buildings that appear to have had three rooms originally. But today the door that existed for the middle room is blocked off so perhaps that space has been absorbed into one or both of the adjacent rooms. I assume these rooms passed for the "Cabins" that were promoted on the saddle of this Chief's Chevron gas station matchcover. (Here is another example of a matchcover that does not have the highway number of 66 printed on it.) Now scroll over the Chief's matchcover image and you see another nearly-identical matchcover (it has a different manumark) but notice that the state is "Oregon"! (There is no Valentine, Oregon.) This error matchcover is not a sample or test run: it was really folded into the form of a matchbook and was probably distributed to customers that came by the gas station or motel back in the old Route 66 days.

Roy's in Amboy Matchcover

Roy's in Amboy, California, has been in business since the late 1930s so it is not surprising that there were many different matchbooks distributed from Roy's over the years. But this is the strangest one that I have seen. I'll call it a curiousity. What's with Roy's selling Glasspar boats and Evinrude boat motors? Is this for real? Where are people going to use them out in Amboy, at the Bristol Dry Lake bed? Certainly there have always been many folks from southern California who have towed their boats out to Needles to cruise the Colorado River for recreation but I would think that the business of boat and motor sales and servicing would have been conducted in the owners' hometowns, or perhaps in Needles if an emergency repair was required. I have never read anything in the history of Roy's in Amboy about selling motor boats. So I don't get it. Is this a joke? Could Buster Burris have been pulling a fast one by choosing this artwork for this version of his matchbook as a bit tongue-in-cheek? If so, he spent extra money on this matchbook for inside printing. Scroll over the image of the outside cover surface and you can see two boats printed on the inside. Does anyone know if Roy's out in Amboy ever got into the boat business? If you know of anything please contact me.

Alice Texas Matchcover

Collectors frequently encounter matchcovers that say the business location was "Highway 66" but the business was on a State Highway 66. At one time or other there were State Highway 66s in Colorado, Connecticut, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin, and maybe other states too. Usually the matchcover includes the state's name so if a collector sees a "Highway 66" matchcover from Michigan, for example, the collector knows it references Michigan State Highway 66 and not US Highway 66. But matchcovers from towns on the old State Highway 66 in Texas have thrown people off since Texas is one of the US Highway 66 states too. There was a Texas State Highway 66 that once ran north and south from San Antonio and through the towns of Alice, Three Rivers and Falfurrias in southern Texas during the active US Highway 66 era. It is not uncommon on auction websites to see sellers unknowingly advertising "Route 66" matchcovers from these southern cities that were really on Texas State Highway 66. (More pathetically there are a couple of on-line auction sellers who know better but they still do it. Caveat emptor.) This old Texas State Highway 66 no longer exists as it was mostly re-designated US Highway 281 decades ago. That said, there is a more modern era Texas State Highway 66 that runs from Garland to Greenville, Texas (east of Dallas), but this highway coincides with the decline of matchbooks as an advertising medium and it is rare to find a matchcover from this highway 66. When it comes to collecting US Highway 66 matchcovers, the key is to "Know Your Cities." For example, this W & M Cafe matchcover is a nice Federal Match Corp. matchcover but the W & M Cafe was located on Texas State Highway 66 in Alice, Texas, and had nothing to do with US Highway 66.

Ray's Motel Matchcover

It's always frustrating when a collector encounters a matchcover from a business where no city or state is indicated. This matchcover from Ray's Motel on "Hy. 66" is one of them. What are we to do? Well, I've already said that there were many state highway 66s around the nation so this matchcover could be from a Ray's Motel on one of these state highways. But it may be from US Highway 66 too. Some detective work is required and although I am not convinced that this matchcover is from US Highway 66 I do keep it in my personal collection until I can determine its location with certainty. I know of only one Ray's Motel on US Highway 66 and it was in Clinton, Oklahoma. (Some buildings still stand in Clinton at the northwest corner of Opal and South 8th. Opal was an early alignment of Route 66 through Clinton.) Is that where this matchcover is from? There are some clues on this matchcover. First is the telephone number. I got some assistance from Mark Potter who looked through the couple of telephone / city directories that he had but none of the telephone numbers listed for Ray's Motel were 603J. If he had found such was the case the question about the location of this Ray's Motel would have been answered, but it was not. So that was not good news. But telephone numbers change over the years as systems were expanded or modernized. But he was able to find a residential listing for a "T. Reeves" (the manager's name) in Clinton and the location of the Reeves' residence was just a few blocks away from Ray's Motel, so that's good. And then there is another favorable clue and it comes from the manumark. The agency with this Ray's Motel matchbook account was located in Oklahoma City (this is difficult to read up near the striker). Sales agencies usually served businesses in their local area and since there was never an Oklahoma State Highway 66 during the front strike matchbook era, that suggests that the Ray's Motel on this matchcover was located in the state of Oklahoma (e.g., Clinton) on US Highway 66.

Silver Valley Station Matchcover

On the left is another curious matchcover. It's from Smith's Silver Valley Station "30 Miles E. of Barstow." No highway number is printed on the matchcover. I have seen matchcovers where the business states it is east of Barstow but the business was really northeast of Barstow on US Highway 91, the road toward Las Vegas. But the mileage table printed on the inside of this matchcover references Needles, Flagstaff and Albuquerque and not Las Vegas or Salt Lake City, so I think that Smith's Silver Valley Station was on US Highway 66 but I can't prove it. There is a Silver Valley School District east of Barstow and a Silver Valley Road that runs north and parallel to old Route 66 between Daggett and east of Newberry Springs today so this is the right area. Any business with a cafe, cabins and gasoline would have to be on a major highway it seems to me. The Mojave Water Camp, later Poe's and later still Desert Oasis, was also 30 miles east of Barstow but I have never known any of these businesses to be called the Silver Valley Station at any time but I am not an expert on the region. It is possible that the Silver Valley Station was a different nearby business. In Jack Rittenhouse's A Guide Book to Highway 66 at mileposts 205 and 206 (reference to the Colorado River but these mileposts work out to be about 30 miles east of Barstow) he mentions facilities for gasoline so there were other businesses in the Mojave Desert. This matchcover looks to be from the 1950s so it may have been a business built after Mr. Rittenhouse's book was published in 1946. If anyone has any information on Smith's Silver Valley Station in the Mojave Desert please contact me.

Some matchcovers are from such obscure locations that you have to think twice, or do some research, to verify that they are really from US Highway 66. Here are seven matchcovers (one from each state except Kansas) that were distributed by businesses on Route 66 that were located in less-known locations. See how many places you recognize:

Helendale Matchcover
Helendale was halfway between Victorville and Barstow. All of old Helendale is gone as it was bypassed in 1959 when the "Barstow Freeway" (later named Interstate 15) was opened.
Sun Valley Matchcover
The Sun Valley Motel and Restaurant once welcomed tired travelers out in eastern Arizona. Never heard of Sun Valley, Arizona? Hint: it's just east of Holbrook.
Milan Matchcover
The Green Goose Dining Room in Milan, New Mexico, featured "curb service". Milan called itself the "Carrot Capital of the World" between about 1940 and 1960. Milan is just west of Grants.
Lela Matchcover
Lela was one of those wide spots on the highway in the panhandle of Texas. The Lela Service Station was the area's post office and may have been the only traveler-oriented business in town.
Quapaw Matchcover
Allee's Dari-Burger sounds like a fun place to visit. In addition to sandwiches and ice cream miniature golf was available. Quapaw is about as far northeast as you can get in Oklahoma.
Doolittle Matchcover
Doolittle is so unnotable that this Joe's Place matchcover actually references Rolla, Missouri, eight miles to the east. The telephone number is tied into the Newburg exchange.
Braceville Matchcover
The Village Pump apparently doubled as a gas station and a liquor store. Braceville is a tiny town on US Highway 66 between Wilmington and Dwight in northern Illinois.