Conoco building.

Tower Service Station and U-Drop Inn

Field review by the editors.

Shamrock, Texas

Dubbed "the Taj Mahal of Texas," the Tower Service Station and U-Drop Inn opened for Route 66 business on April 1, 1936. It was the vision of John Nunn who, according to Mother Road lore, sketched his design for the place with a nail in the dirt of a nearby motor court driveway. A forerunner of the gas station/mini-mart, it was built out of concrete, stucco, glazed brick, and terra-cotta tiles, with plenty of neon accents. Total cost: $23,000 -- a lot of money in 1936.

Conoco building.

The name "U-Drop Inn" was the winning entry in a contest, submitted by an eight-year-old schoolboy. When it opened it was the only cafe within 100 miles, and advertised itself as "the swankiest of the swank eating places."

Tower Service Station and U-Drop Inn slowly fell into disrepair and was repossessed by a bank in 1997. Later that same year the empty building was added to the National Register of Historic Places, and this kickstarted its restoration, which was complete in July 2003 (Since no color photos existed of its old neon signs, the restorers had to guess their colors).

The once-again-swanky building caught the eye of Hollywood, and was reworked as "Ramone's Body Shop" in the 2006 Pixar movie, "Cars."

Despite appearances, modern visitors will not find gas or food at the Tower Service Station and U-Drop Inn. It now serves as a visitor center and chamber of commerce office.

Tower Service Station and U-Drop Inn

Address:
102 E. 12th St., Shamrock, TX
Directions:
I-40 exit 163, then south on US 83 for four blocks. On the left, at the corner of US 83/Main St. and 12th St./Old Route 66.
Hours:
Lit at night. (Call to verify)
Phone:
806-256-2501
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

George Garza's Machinery GardenGeorge Garza's Machinery Garden, Shamrock, TX - < 1 mi.
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In the region:
Busy Corner Vintage Gas Station, Hollis, OK - 42 mi.

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October 19, 2019

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