When it was announced in the summer of 2019 that the contents of Afton Station were going to be auctioned off, the Oklahoma Route 66 Association was tremendously sad. Afton Station had been a great asset to Route 66, not just in northeast Oklahoma but as a vital piece along all 2400+ miles. It wasn’t just an old D-X station with an impressive Packard automobile collection inside that endeared it to everyone; it was owner Laurel Kane and her loyal volunteers that really set the place apart.
Laurel’s unexpected passing in early 2016 was a real heartbreak. The fear was that Afton Station was not long for this world without her passion in residence. The shop and museum remained open for a time, but when her ex-husband David Kane also passed suddenly in late 2018 that was the end of the road.
On June 29th 2019, the day of the auction, Association President Rhys Martin drove up to Afton. He hoped to secure some artifacts for the Association to preserve Laurel’s legacy in some fashion. Alas, other pockets were deeper…including representatives from Barrett-Jackson auctions out of Arizona. Even the man that bought the station ended up selling it a short time later. The site became a grow house for the region’s burgeoning marijuana-growing operation.
Imagine our surprise when we received a message in late August telling us the item our President most wanted to secure for Oklahoma Route 66 was once again available: the Bob Waldmire U-Haul Truck.
Bob Waldmire was an artist and considered to be the prototypical Roadie. He spent a lot of time wandering the country (especially Route 66) creating artwork and speaking out in support of preservation. He turned the vacant Hackberry General Store in Arizona into a Route 66 destination in the 1990s and was the inspiration behind the Volkswagen Microbus character ‘Fillmore’ in Disney/Pixar’s Cars.
In 2007, Bob painted a giant mural on one side of an old U-Haul truck for Ken and Marian Clark of Tulsa. According to Ken, Bob originally used the truck to move some items from Illinois (where his family runs the Cozy Dog Drive-In) to his off-the-grid home in Portal, New Mexico. Although Bob had originally intended to sell it, he passed away before that became a reality. The Clarks donated it to the National Route 66 Museum in Elk City, but they didn’t have room for it. In 2012, it was given to Afton Station where it was displayed until the auction in June 2019.
The Oklahoma Route 66 Association is so proud to announce that this artifact has been secured in Chelsea, Oklahoma. Project Chelsea has stationed it near the restored Pedestrian Underpass. Travelers and roadies can continue to experience this beautiful work by one of Route 66’s most enduring artists.
Many thanks to Sylvie Kane, Samantha Extance, and Route 66 Germany for their donations that made this possible. Thanks also to Pam Stanbro and Project Chelsea for coming together and taking stewardship of this treasure. Through continued donations and support, we hope to restore the truck to working order and potentially restore the faded parts of Bob’s artwork. One step at a time…
The next time you’re in Chelsea, stop by and take a selfie with this one-of-a-kind Route 66 Artifact and tag #ok66!