U Drop Inn

U Drop Inn

Four states into our cross-country Rodder’s Journal road trip, my co-worker Geoff and I made a quick stop near the Texas/Oklahoma border. Earlier that day, we battled powerful winds and clouds of dust at Cadillac Ranch, and we soon discovered conditions weren’t all that different 100 miles east. Nonetheless, we kept rolling with our sights set on Shamrock.

Shamrock is a little town of 2,000 located on Highway 40. Although it’s never been a booming metropolis, it is home to the U Drop Inn—an ornate Art Deco gas station opened in 1936. Designed by J.C. Berry and constructed by J.M. Tindall, this early travel-center has been a must-visit for Route 66 motorists for generations.

And so, on a dusty four-way intersection far away from home, we caught our first glimpse of the historic building. We saw the four covered gas pumps, one service bay, one cafe, tons of triangles, hundreds of ribs and ridges and yes! A pair of towers standing tall above the arid Texas landscape. “CONOCO” read the first in bold white letters. “CAFE” chimed the second. The whole thing was glorious.

With camera in hand, I made my way towards the U Drop Inn. Up close, I was able to take in the details, from the beautifully restored pumps to the intricacies of the station’s roofline. Now owned by the City of Shamrock, the old station has been restored and serves as a visitor’s center, so we weren’t able to fill up on that particular day. It’s a stop worth making if you’re ever in that part of the world.

***

After leaving Shamrock, I thought back to a photo snapped by my friend Joel Kokoska of Johnson’s Hot Rod Shop. Back in 2016, he joined his dad on a cross-country trip to the L.A. Roadster Show in his freshly finished Deuce sedan and, naturally, they stopped at the U Drop Inn. The simplicity of the ’32’s lines compliment the complexity of the gas station, and it’s amazing to think they were built a mere four years apart.

So, with that being said, I’ll ask you this. Have you ever dropped in to the U Drop Inn in your rod or custom? If so let’s see some pictures.

Joey Ukrop

Notes: The U Drop Inn has appeared on screen many a time, perhaps most famously as Ramone’s in the movie Cars. For more on our TRJ trip, click the link here or come see me at the Jalopyrama this weekend. 

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