The day promised good weather and a Sunday drive seemed the proper thing
to do but I couldn't get any plan to really jell. In the past I've let a
few days like this slip away through indecision and made myself get out of
the house so it didn't happen again. The initial target was the
Restaurant for breakfast. I'd heard of the Echo (it's been there since
1945!) but had yet to eat there. Cool place, good food, and friendly
folks. After a cheddar, Swiss, & mushroom omelet, I moseyed around
Hyde Park Square where someone had soaped the fountain overnight.
Filling my stomach had not firmed up any plans so I found myself moving
away from the city and towards the river by default. Driving along the
Ohio River is always enjoyable even when I don't know where I'm going or
maybe especially when I don't know where I'm going. I tend to end up in
Ripley a lot but that's OK. It's a town I really like. I'll usually stop
at Rockin' Robin's Soda Shoppe for some ice cream and/or at Snapper's
Saloon overlooking the river. Although both were open, it seemed just a
bit early for either Rocky Road or Rolling Rock so I drove along the
riverfront without stopping. A plan was starting to form, however.
I'd recently learned that the very first episode of the Route 66 TV series
was filmed in Concord, Kentucky with the Ohio River town playing the part
of fictitious Garth, Mississippi, on the Pascagoula. Virginians Wes &
Dee had spotted it on their GPS when they came through on the way to their
Route 66 adventure and mentioned it to me. I knew that it was somewhere
east of Maysville and Maysville isn't too far from Ripley. I plugged it
into my GPS and it told me I could be there in a hour or so. Why not? I
crossed the river at Maysville and was soon following the GPS instructions
along KY-984 and through some very pretty country. In Lewis County the
road closely parallels the East Fork of Cabin Creek with quite a few homes
on the other side of the creek. Picturesque swinging footbridges connect
these homes with the road but they're not just for looks. I don't believe
there is any paved access to these properties and that vehicles get in and
out by fording the creek or through some other "off road" path.
I've heard of people so dumb that they've pulled into rivers because their
GPS said "turn here". I don't think I'm quite that dumb but I must be
pretty close. I had the GPS set to route for shortest distance and it had
me turn left on Chalk Ridge Road to save me, I later found out, about a
mile over just continuing on KY-984 to KY-57. It didn't quite work out that
way, though. Within a mile I turned from the narrow Chalk Ridge
Road to the narrower East Fork Church Road. What looked to be well
attended services at the Historic East Fork Church were just letting out
as I approached. A couple of departing parishioners and I crawled past each
other. Just past the church the road turned to gravel and I stopped to scroll
through the GPS map. Yep. Looks like it goes through and I'm already half
way to Fifty-Seven. Past the cemetery, which was my last chance to turn around,
thing got a little worse. Slow and easy, I tell myself and keep on going.
About a half mile farther, the "road" split at a house trailer
and a couple of out buildings. Straight ahead it quickly faded to nothing but
there was a well defined two-track to the right and that's where Garmin
wanted me to go. I could have turned around at the trailer but you already
know I didn't. Nope, I eased on down the last hundred yards to the scene
in the last photo. My GPS showed a path going straight through the gate
and I have no doubt that a road once did that. Just not recently. The
church parking lot was almost empty when I got back.
My return to KY-984 was rewarded with this neat little Texaco house within
a quarter mile and a short smooth ride to KY-57. The second picture is of
KY-57 and the third is the east end of East Fork Church Road connecting
with it. Incidentally, DeLorme correctly shows a half mile break right
where I found it.
I'm finally getting to Concord, a.k.a., Garth. I'm heading north. The
chimney belongs to the Killen Station power plant on the Ohio side of the
river. It went on line in 1982, long after Tod & Buz drove away.
There's not much Hollywood left in Concord. KY-57 turns into Main Street
and heads straight to the river. The grass at its end looks like it might
cover a one time river approach and, getting a little closer, it seems
possible that a '59 Corvette once rolled up the slope on wooden planks.
But did it? Is that the spot? Don't know.
Johnny or his brother Ed might know but I didn't ask them about that detail.
They didn't live in town but "up on the hill" when the film crew
came to town. Their older brother, now deceased and whose name I didn't quite catch, got some
work with the crew and they think he might have been in the show a little but they're
not certain about that. Johnny's
biggest memory of the event was the fake bridge (ramp?) they built. It looked
pretty good from a distance but was actually pretty flimsy, he said. But that's not why
he remembers it. It affected him personally when it broke up and he and his buddies
got fishing lines tangled up in it for the next couple of years.
As I started to leave town on KY-8, I stopped to get a picture of the old
store across the street from the retired above ground gas tanks. Only after
I stopped did I notice the enlarged newspaper article taped to the window.
The copy is incomplete but describes the store that was used in the show
and this is clearly not it. But there are some similarities (compare
that stove with your DVDs) and I suspect they're not entirely accidental.
It seems possible that some of the contents of the old store were moved here
when it was torn down. The place was locked today but someone knows.
No date is visible on the article but there's a clue and some local
trivia in the lower corner. The real store was run by J. H. Mackey
and there is a picture of him and a Mr. William O'Connell in front of the store.
Also in the picture is J. H.'s son, Bobby, who looks to be about 18 or 20.
Bobby's aged a
little since then and now runs what has to be one of the nation's
largest country & western clubs that has both a mechanical bull and a ghost.
And to think that his daddy owned the store where Buz broke his first window.