One-of-a-Kind Roadside Sights from Oregon, Idaho & Utah

After Nevada, we continued briefly into Oregon before arriving at our destination of Idaho. While visiting with my mother, we still took some time to drive around and I found so many great signs and more! After wrapping up our visit, we drove into Utah before eventually arriving in Vegas. So today I bring you another installment of “I pulled over for this!”

View of the gate leading to Charbonneau's grave, a metal gate with cut silhouettes of Lewis and Clark, and reads "Jean Baptiste Charbonneau" beyond that is a large wooden sign with white text and beyond that a flag pole with the American flag at the top.

A stone grave marker with a metal plaque reads "1805-1866 Jean Baptiste Charbonneau As a baby was with his mother Sacajawea as a member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. As a man was a pioneer of the west of pleasant manner and esteem in the community. Placed by Malheau Chapter D.A.R. August 6, 1971.

John Baptiste Charbonneau’s Grave, Jordan Valley, Oregon

John Baptiste, fondly known as “Pomp” was the youngest member of Lewis and Clark’s Corps of Discovery when he was born to Sacajawea and Toussaint Charbonneau on Feburary 11, 1805 at Ford Mandan in North Dakota. When Sacajawea passed away in 1812, John Baptiste was taken in by William Clark, and later traveled to Europe and Africa, learned German, French, and Spanish, and was welcomed by royalty. Upon returning to America he became a guide, interpreter, miner, an all ’round mountain man. Sadly when traveling to the newly found gold strike in Montana he passed away due to pneumonia on May 16, 1865 and was buried in a mass grave with five others.

Overall exterior of an old theater with a red, blue and yellow color scheme, and "Star" in neon going down the front and across the marquee.

Star Theater, 322 State Street, Weiser, Idaho Operational as live performance venue.

Home to the Illustrious Onion Skin Players, the Star Theater was built around 1917 as the Wheaton Theater for live performances. When a movie screen was added it became the Star. It is currently experiencing an ongoing restoration.

A faded painted sign reading "Weiser Auto Parts Dependable Champion Spark Plugs"

Weiser Auto Parts, 534 State Street, Weiser, Idaho. Undergoing construction.

Overall view of a single story drive-in restaurant with a covered area for cars on the right and a walk-up window on the left. A features an onion shape and reads "Hungry Onion" inside, below "Burgers" in neon, and an arrow pointing toward the building.

Close-up view of the Hungry Onion sign, upper portion is backlit plastic in the shape of an onion, and reads "Hungry Onion" below is a red and white sign reading "Burgers" in neon, and a yellow arrow below that and below that small neon reads "Curb service"

Hungry Onion, 334 N. Main Street, Meridian, Idaho. Closed.

The Hungry Onion had been a staple of Meridian since at least the 1960s, but sadly it shuttered in December of 2021. A March 2022 Facebook post on their page made note that they had owned the property “outright since the 60’s” and cited rising costs and that they were “dealing with a limited amount of space and a 75 year old building” and other issues. They also expressed a desire to become a franchise chain. However they have since let go of their domain name, which seems like a bad business move if you ask me. The drive-in was also used in the 1980 film Bronco Billy starring Clint Eastwood.

A pink and blue streamline modern doorway to a pool, in letters above the door it reads "Municipal" and to the right of the door reads "Pool"

Angled view of the pool, which is above ground, concrete and glass blocks make up the pool walls, with the pink and blue streamline modern doorway to the right.

Lowell Pool, 1601 N. 28th Street, Boise, Idaho. Temporarily closed.

Overall view of the entrance to the streamline moderne pool painted in blue and purple. Above the door reads "Municipal" and to the right of the door reads "Pool"

Angled view of the entrance to the pool.

South Pool, 921 Shoshone Street, Boise, Idaho. Temporarily closed.

Boise is home to two stunning streamline moderne swimming pools, designed by the innovative Westley Bintz, of Lansing Michigan. Bintz’s unique above ground, egg shaped pools took up less space than a traditional in-ground pool because the locker room area supports the pool deck, and because less excavation is required, they often cost less too. Eventually there were over 100 Bintz pools across the country. The pools in Boise opened in 1953 and enjoyed swimmers of all ages until COVID-19 hit and they were shuttered. Amid the pandemic there was concern if they would ever reopen. Thankfully Friends of Boise Historic Pools was formed and created a grassroots effort to save both, as Boise is the only city to have two Bintz pools still standing and of recent use. Friends of Boise Historic Pools triumphed in September 2022 when both pools landed on the National Register of Historic Places. The pools are still closed, as they are both in need of some updates, but they are at least saved! Sadly there are fewer than 20 of Bintz pools surviving.

When I arrived to take a photo of the Lowell pool, a woman walking her dog came up to me and asked if I was part of Friends of Boise Historic Pools, I said no, and that I had found the pool somewhere on the internet and had to see it for myself during my visit to see my mom. She introduced herself and she told me all about the efforts to save the pools, and when doing research I learned she was the founder and vice president of Friends of Boise Historic Pools! Talk about serendipity!

A red, white, and yellow neon sign reading "State Motel"

State Motel, 1115 N. 28th Street, Boise, Idaho. Operational.

Overall view of the Fanci Freez, with its building in the background and its neon sign with an ice cream cone in the foreground.

Fanci Freez, 1402 W. State Street, Boise, Idaho. Operational.

Fanci Freez has served Boise residents since 1947 and has been regularly voted among one of the best places for ice cream and milk shakes. They even opened a second location in Meridian, but this is the original!

Overall view of a neon sign reading "Boulevard Mo-Tel"

Boulevard Mo-Tel, 1121 S. Capitol Boulevard, Boise, Idaho.

Built in 1938, this example of a classic roadside motor court was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1997. At some point the city purchased the property to become low income housing, and the Idaho Heritage Trust aided in restoring the neon sign.

Atop a large rectangular sign is an animatronic woman washing clothes in a tub. The backlit plastic sign reads "Cucina De Palo Home Style Superlicious Food Emporium" below an arrow shaped sign reads "Serious Comfort Food"

Close-up of the washer woman, who wears a denim outfit and roses hang from her wash tub.

Betty the Washerwoman, 1504 S. Vista Avenue, Boise, Idaho.

Originally built in the 1940s or 50s (sources vary) to catch the eye of passing motorists for a Maytag laundry, Betty has become a beloved icon of Boise. When Maytag left Cucina Di Paolo, an Italian restaurant, moved in and the public begged for Betty to stay. Since then she has donned new outfits monthly and even been made into a calendar with sales going to charity.

A large neon ring sits atop a backlit plastic sign that reads "Artsmith's Jewelry Diamond Setter Creative Designs"

Artsmith’s Jewelry, 700 S. Vista Avenue, Boise, Idaho. Operational.

A combination neon and backlit plastic sign reads "Viking Drive-in" and features a Viking man with a spear.

Viking Drive-In, 3790 W. State Street, Boise, Idaho. Operational.

A combination backlit plastic and neon sign grouping reading "Star" and "Chinese & American Food"

Golden Star Restaurant, 1142 N. Orchard Street, Boise, Idaho. Operational.

A rearing horse stands atop an awning for a building, on the side of the awning reads "Dining Dancing Entertainment" in neon.

Somewhere, 3544 W. Chinden Boulevard, Garden City, Idaho. Operational.

Formerly the Ranch Club (which read “Ranch Club” in neon text above the smaller neon) opened in 1949, and was also featured in Bronco Billy.

An orange crescent moon makes up part of a sign that also has a cocktail glass on top, all neon, with a backlit plastic sign reads "Compos Market"

Campos Market, 413 S. Orchard Street, Boise, Idaho. Operational.

With a sign like this, I suspect Campos Market was originally a bar. But I couldn’t find anything while digging. If you happen to know, let me know in the comments below.

Overall view of Tiki Teriyaki Burger Time. To the left is a sign with a tiki reading "Tiki Teriyaki Burger Time Hawaiian & Hamburgers" a marquee portion below reads "Now closed Thanks for 5 great years" to the right is the building, a combination walk-up and drive thru restaurant with neon "Burger Time" above the order window.

Close-up of the neon "Burger Time"

Close-up view of Disney characters in hula attire.

Back view of the restaurant with a mural of an ocean scene, tiki, and burger.

Tiki Teriyaki Burger Time, 1273 S. Orchard Street, Boise, Idaho. Closed.

Burger Time opened in 1965, and Tiki Teriyaki took over five years ago, and closed in May of 2023. While the murals are not vintage, I loved them too darn much not to share!

A large horse shaped sign sits atop a building and reads "The Pioneer Company"

Pioneer Tent and Awning Company Building, 598 Main Street, Boise, Idaho.

The Pioneer Tent and Awning Company was founded in 1900 and manufactured, you guessed it, tents and awnings, mostly catering to the miners of the area. In 1910 they had this building constructed, and they expanded to make covers for the new fangled automobile. The business shuttered in 1971, with the building being purchased and restored in 1974. You can see historic photographs in this YouTube video from KTVB7 News.

A neon sign with a buffalo head on it reads "Saloon Pengilly"

Pengilly Saloon, 513 W. Main Street, Boise, Idaho. Operational.

A combination neon and backlit plastic sign reads "Holiday Motel" in red and white.

Holiday Motel, 401 W. Main Street, Jerome, Idaho. Operational.

A large faded sign reads "Amber Inn Motel" in neon.

Amber Inn Motel, 1132 E. 1000 S, Eden, Idaho. Operational.

A top a white building in green neon letters reads "Garden of Eden" with a neon apple on the left.

Garden of Eden Traveler’s Oasis Truck Plaza, 1017 S. 1150 E, Eden, Idaho. Operational.

The Garden of Eden was en route to  the Amber Inn Motel, and we only stopped to snap a photo of its amazing neon apple, but we didn’t need anything, so we didn’t step inside. Much to my disappointment when working on this post I found out there is another neon sign inside and a tree complete with snake of temptation!

A black and yellow backlit plastic sign reads "Motel" with each individual letter in its own lighted box. At the top is a star lit with bulbs.

East Park Motel. 507 E. Main Street, Burley, Idaho. Operational.

A faded red and white sign reads "Cafe" in neon.

Charlie’s Cafe, 615 E. Main Street, Burley, Idaho. Operational.

Overall view of the Perish Motel" a Googie style sign reads "Perish Motel TV" in red and white with a large white arrow pointing toward the rooms.

Parish Motel, 721 E. Main Street, Burley, Idaho. For sale.

Large letters spell out "The Safari" atop a motel.

Safari Motel, 413 S. Main Street, Nephi, Utah. Operational.

A sign featuring a yawning man in pajamas reads "Fillmore Motel"

Fillmore Motel 50 N. Main Street, Fillmore, Utah. Operational.

An old marquee is vacant with neon letters above reading "Avalon"

Avalon Theatre, 43 N. Main Street, Fillmore, Utah. Uncertain of status, it’s certainly not a theater anymore.

A sign made in the shape of a spinning wheel reads "Motel" in neon through the middle.

Spinning Wheel Motel, 65 S. Main Street, Fillmore, Utah. Operational.

Close-up of the El Bambi sign, inside a circle at the top is an image of a cartoon deer, below in neon reads "El Bambi" below that in large backlit plastic black letters reads "Cafe" and below that in neon reads "Truck Stop"

Overall view of the El Bambi, which has large windows and painted in various colors. Atop is a combination backlit plastic and neon sign reading "El Bambi Cafe Truck Stop" with an image of a deer at the top.

El Bambi Cafe Truck Stop, 935 N. Main Street, Beaver, Utah. Operational.

Overall view of an abandoned car shop.

Ron’s Chevrolet, 1095N N. Main Street, Beaver, Utah. Abandoned.

A large red and white neon sign reads "Arshel's cafe" in script and has a neon star on the left. Across the side of the building in red neon script reads "Arshel's Cafe"

Arshel’s Cafe, 711 N. Main Street, Beaver Utah. Operational.

Combination backlit plastic and neon sign, reading "Motel" in black letters on yellow to a blue oval reading "De Lano" in white script neon.

DeLano Motel, 480 N. Main Street, Beaver Utah. Operational.

A blue sign features a neon ice cream cone and neon letters reading "Drive Inn" in white letters.

Mels Drive Inn, 155 N. Main Street, Beaver, Utah. Operational.

A tree has grown into a sign that reads "Sleepy Lagoon Motel" in neon with a moon over a body of water made of neon.

Sleepy Lagoon Motel, 885 S. Main Street, Beaver, Utah. Abandoned.

A partially burned down home made of brick.

Abandoned House, 885 S. Main Street, Beaver Utah.

A large abandoned building reads "Greenwood Feed" in fading green letters.

Greenwood Feed, 1266 S. Main Street, Beaver Utah. Abandoned.

A large neon sign reads "Sands Motel Be Our Guest"

Sands Motel. 581 East E St. George Boulevard, St. George, Utah. Operational.

A large neon sign features a boy carrying a massive burger and below reads "Larsen's Frostop"

Larsen’s Frostop, 858 E E St. George Boulevard, St. George, Utah. Operational.

Frostop was a chain, akin to A&W, and this location opened in 1965. At one point it had a large root beer much sign that rotated. The chain went out of business in the 1980s, but some locations stuck around with individual ownership, such as this one. This location has changed hands several times, and closed in December 2021, but reopened in 2022.

If you choose to visit and photograph these locations, please remember to be respectful. Many of these signs are located on or near residences. I always abide by “No Trespassing” signs and use my telephoto to get close-up shots.

Want more from in and around these places? Check out the post below!

I Break for Vintage Neon

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