Shamrock, Texas: Famous Conoco Tower Station


More than anything, Shamrock is a crossroads.  It’s the point where US Hwy. 83 and old US Route 66 cross.  It shouldn’t come as any surprise that the town’s most important landmark is right there, at the corner of those two main roads.

The only thing you really must see in Shamrock is the 1930’s art-deco Conoco “Tower Station” and “U-Drop-Inn Cafe”.  The building is an icon of the Mother Road–so distinctive, that it inspired the Ramone’s Body Art building in Disney/Pixar’s Cars.

The U-Drop-Inn & Tower Station was built in 1936, and after years of neglect, received a complete overhaul in recent years.  That restoration includes some awesome neon that you can’t see in the daytime, but at night it’s a sight to behold.  The building is owned by the city, and the Shamrock Chamber of Commerce operates out of the gas station portion of the building.  It looks like the cafe still serves food, but it and the chamber gift shop were both closed when I arrived, late in the afternoon.

Shortly after the U-Drop-Inn opened, one newspaper report called the restaurant the “swankiest of the swank eating places” on Route 66.

From the crossroads, I drove north just a bit, to buy some expensive gasoline, then south, to explore Shamrock’s downtown.  There is a nicely restored Magnolia gas station along the main street, a few blocks away from Route 66.  But I didn’t take any other pictures in Shamrock, since it was getting late and I needed to move on.

I was in town just a few days before St. Patrick’s Day, and as you can imagine, an Irish holiday is a big deal in a town named Shamrock.  The town has held an annual St. Paddy’s Day celebration for decades, and you can find out about next year’s plans here.

Note: This trip was first published in 2008.

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