1920s Route 66 Gas Station
Cool Springs, Arizona
We were shocked to see this pristine relic sitting along an otherwise empty stretch of Route 66, at the entrance to the Black Mountains. Did isolation and a dry climate somehow preserve it? Well, no. Cool Springs Service Station had been a ruin -- nothing more than a blackened pile of rocks -- until 2001. That's when Ned Leuchtner, a real estate agent from Chicago, bought it and began its careful restoration, based on vintage photographs. The work was completed at the end of 2004.
Cool Springs Service Station was built in the 1920s and eventually had a cafe, a bar, and cabins. But Route 66 was bypassed in 1953, and the station was abandoned in 1964. Adding insult to injury, its ruins were blown up for the 1991 Dolph Lundgren/Jean-Claude Van Damme film Universal Soldier.
While we are happy that Leuchtner spent his time and money to bring Cool Springs back from the dead, you shouldn't drive to this isolated spot with your gas gauge on "E." Cool Springs may look like a service station, but it only sells snacks and Route 66 souvenirs.