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Rt 66 Ride: John Hargrove’s

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John Hargrove’s OK County 66

By Sam Allen

8A Gas_StationI recently visited John Hargrove at his OK County 66 Mini Museum. John has created replicas and representations of many Route 66 attractions, including Twin Arrows, the Blue Whale, the Wigwam Motel and the Cadillac Ranch. All of these are interesting displays, but John Hargrove himself is even more interesting.

John is about 70 years old but looks much younger. He claims to be falling apart physically, but that is far from the case. He works out religiously. He is not particularly musclebound and not overly trim, but he is one of the most physically fit people anyone could ever meet. Incredibly, he has run over 40 100-mile road races. His longest run was 139 miles. Those are not typos. John talks about those extreme races like it’s something everybody does all the time. He doesn’t lift weights and he eschews stretching exercises. Instead, he believes the key to fitness is good joint health, and he does lots of exercises designed to keep his joints supple and in good working order. He is an exceedingly cheerful guy with a spritely enthusiasm.

VW

8B VWJohn is a retired airline mechanic who grew up on 23rd St. in Oklahoma City right on Route 66. After he retired, he bought some property about a mile from the Round Barn in Arcadia, Oklahoma, and started on OK County 66, which opened in 2001.

He began building replicas of well-known Route 66 attractions and other Route 66 themed displays. Some of them are outright bizarre. For instance, he has a Volkswagen beetle sticking out of the second floor of his building. Visitors can squeeze themselves into the driver’s seat and peer out over the grounds like they are the bombardier in a WW II Flying Fortress.

There is a rebuilt 1930s gas station. He has a replica of a diner that looks much like the one in the Hackberry Store in Hackberry, Arizona. There also is a drive-in movie theater. The bathroom is an indoor outhouse. The facility is filled with Route 66 era memorabilia including antique signs, model cars and old books and magazines.

Oddly enough, John has not been to most of the sites that he has memorialized. Although he has traveled on Route 66 through Oklahoma (much of it while participating in hundred mile runs), he has not seen much of Route 66 outside of that state.

Cutlass MC

8C Cutlass_MCEven though OK County 66 has a Route 66 theme, there’s much more to see. John’s business card says that he is in the automobile upholstery business, but he can build or restore anything.

The day I was there he was finishing the restoration of a model A Ford. He also has a replica of a 1934 Indianapolis 500 racecar on display. For the bikers, he has a trike he made out of a Chevy Malibu. There are two wheels in the front with one wheel and back, and the cockpit has the full Malibu dashboard. All you Spider riders just shut it down!

John Hargrove is living life large. He doesn’t sell anything and there is no charge to roam around his facility. He has built everything in his museum, and be builds only the displays he wants to build. He takes on only the restoration work that interests him.

OK County 66 is located just east of the Red Barn in Arcadia. If you are traveling east, it’s on the left-hand side at the crest of a hill. Be alert because it’s hard to see.

It is not always open. You can call at 405 396 2055 to see if John is in. Visiting in the afternoon is your best bet. If the gate is open he’s there. Go on in and he’ll welcome you.

By the way, if you take a left out of John’s property and go about a mile, look to the right for a marker that looks like a sawed off telephone pole. It is the entrance to an older alignment of Route 66. For a brief and worthwhile adventure, take the right hand turn and follow it back to the main road.

 

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