The Remains of The Wagon Wheel

Yes, we are still in California! Although the Disneyland portion of our trip is over, we still have lots of plans! Meanwhile I want to share with you our detour to the Wagon Wheel.

As some readers of this blog will already know, I am a complete and utter sucker for roadside Americana. Seriously, I brake for old neon signs, or in this case, frantically exit the freeway.

On our way south on the 101 my eye caught sight of a ginormous neon sign featuring a buckboard wagon with horses pulling it. I quickly changed lanes to exit the freeway as Patrick attempted to locate the sign on his phone for us to get there without getting too lost. We ended up on Saddle Avenue, and also saw signs of Winchester Drive and Cactus Drive before coming upon a pile of rubble with this gorgeous sign towering above.

As I snapped pictures through the chain link fence, my mind raced with thoughts of what this place must of looked like, and my heart ached to think that yet another piece of roadside Americana bit the dust. Patrick meanwhile was busy looking up the history of the Wagon Wheel on his phone.

Built in 1947 by Martin “Bud” Smith, the Wagon Wheel Motel and Restaurant quickly became an icon of the city of Oxnard, with its stunning neon, and western themed building. Later Smith added more buildings, including a roller rink and a bowling alley, both of which still stood during our visit, though the Wagon Wheel itself had been reduced to a mound of concrete hunks and twisted iron rods.

The restaurant portion closed in 2005, and the motel shut its doors the following year. Preservationists attempted to get landmark status as plans began to roll out to demolish the motel and build bland, cookie-cutter homes, and a group even sued the city of Oxnard over the project. But, as you can see, history lost in the end, making way for housing. Though it seems like it’s slow going, as I was shocked to learn that the site was bulldozed back in 2011, though it looks as if it were just yesterday!

Lots more to come from our trip to California! Stay tuned!

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