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November 14, 2011

Shea’s Gas Station On Route 66

By Tom

Yup, Ruth called in a favor and so I am writing this one today.  So be forewarned: you will not get writing that snaps crackles and pops here.  I am only properly trained in two of the three “R’s”.  But I digress.  So anyhoo, after our spring road trip through the midsection of the country, I volunteered to write a post about one of the most unusual and most rewarding stops we made.  [I really thought Ruth would forget about it…] 

This was a great stop even though it took a little bravery to knock on the front door at 2075 Peoria Rd, Springfield, IL.  For Route 66 coolness, very little beats Shea’s.


Shea’s is a one-time operational gas station along old Route 66 that has been attended by Bill Shea for over 50 years.  Mr. Shea himself gives tours of the gas station (for a minimal fee) and is a fabulous host.  His station appears to be well known to European travellers (his guest book itself is worth flipping through).  We were the only ones there when we arrived, so it was a little scary going in that little door on the right and waiting as footsteps slowly approached us in the dark, only to reveal harmless Mr. Shea.


The highlight is the collection of beautiful old gas pumps.


Not only was this a tour of Shea’s old gas station, but a second gas station was moved to the property to house Mr. Shea’s very cool collection of Americana.


Below are just a few of the items jammed into these two small buildings.


For some unknown reason, I love “Tom’s” merchandise.  One of life’s mysteries. 


And here is Bill Shea posing next to some of his collection.  I absolutely asked Mr. Shea’s permission to take this picture of him… and it is “Mr.” Shea. That is the minimum level of respect needed for a veteran of the D-Day invasion of Europe… and he has the beach sand on display to prove it!  Having spoken with him and seen his life displayed in pictures, collectables, and more, this is a living legend (I know it is cliché, but it is absolutely appropriate here.)


Another Tom’s vending machine… they made sandwiches?


We were in a rush since we had to drive to Lawrence, KS before bedtime, but you can’t say no to Ruth when it comes to a classic Airstream!  No Ruth, I will not take pictures through the window… no… well, ok.  But then I get a Cozy Dog, right?


The interior (through the windows)… looked original… of course.


I think Ruth approves of the Airstream.  If I had a nickel for every time Ruth asked if we could buy our own Airstream… I’d be able to afford an Airstream.


So this marks the final post from our Route 66 trip in March.  I held up my end of the bargain.  However, this was work gladly done.  I can’t believe that we didn’t make Shea’s Gas Station Museum in Springfield post #1 when we got back.  I hope that we can go back and spend more time digging through Bill Shea’s collection.  Absolutely amazing.  ‘Nuff said.

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7 Responses to Shea’s Gas Station On Route 66

  1. sablemable Reply

    November 14, 2011 at 9:52 am

    Tom-Tom!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!111 Excellent piece! I’m afraid to ask what the favor was, so we’ll leave it at that, LOL!

    I like Airstreams, too, but don’t feel like hauling one behind my truck anymore.

    • RetroRuth Reply

      November 14, 2011 at 10:22 am

      Ha! The favor was just to write the post, Jan! 🙂

  2. Sara in AZ Reply

    November 14, 2011 at 11:33 am

    What a cool post Tom – great job!!! Wow, Mr.Shea seems like such a fun guy, I’m sure he has a zillion great stories to tell! We will definitely have to make it to Shea’s one of these days. HA! You love Tom’s merchandise – I cannot imagine why?!?! 🙂

  3. Andrea Reply

    November 14, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    Great post, Tom! Shea’s looks like you could spend days in there and still not have seen everything! That airstream is utterly gorgeous, too, wow.

  4. ae Reply

    November 14, 2011 at 10:08 pm

    Nice job, Tom.

  5. Tom Reply

    November 16, 2011 at 12:02 pm

    Thanks all!

  6. Jen Reply

    November 16, 2011 at 3:30 pm

    Wow, it looks great! When we stopped there in ’10 it was a bit more jumbled. Looks like they’ve done some painting & cleaning up! Next time we go through IL 66 we’re definitely knocking on the door here. 🙂

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