Channel 19

Todd Dills

Notable independent Colorado truck stop closes shop; chance encounters on the road

| February 25, 2011

The Rocky Mountain Travel Center just north of Pueblo, Colo., on I-25 exit 110 closed up shop yesterday, reported Carlos Mora of the Pueblo Chieftain newspaper. According to Mora’s report, the owner cites a confluence of factors for the demise of the near-half-century-old family business that was the truck stop and travel plaza. Chief among them appeared to be large bank loans structured in such a way as to become untenable in repayment, owner Grant Koury, who purchased the stop from his father eight years ago, told Mora. “Have you ever had to make a payroll for 40 employees? Pay a $15,000 a month utility payment? Make $18,000 a month mortgage payments?”

As Mora noted, “The closure comes as workers near completion of a major Love’s Travel Center a few miles south on the highway.”

The closure is another among several over the past year. You’ll no doubt remember my reporting on the situation at Willie’s Place in Texas, and a couple months back I received a call from trucker Charles Allen, reporting the bad news from the top of Monteagle Mountain on I-24 in Tennessee as an independent stop was being torn down there. “It’s a big shock in the trucking world right now,” Allen said. “Everybody used to go up there and cool down their brakes and take their own break.”

More and more, the traditional, full-service truck stop with motel, sit-down restaurant, plenty of parking and more seems to give way to the situation I encountered in Manchester, Tenn., two days ago after a visit to the scale house on I-24 there. Needing to get a little work done before making the hour’s drive back to Nashville, I pulled off at a Starbucks just off exit 114, got a coffee and sat down. I was troubleshooting my laptop’s then-developing display problem a few minutes later when, lo and behold, a familiar face popped into the entryway in front of me.

Lee Jordan, whom you’ll remember on my reporting about Jasmine “Jazzy” Jordan’s run last year, had parked his Wagner Trucking-leased 2003 Volvo (pictured, above), loaded with a couple big oversize John Deere tractors, at the Ramada Inn across the street to run in for a coffee. Thought you might enjoy the pics here of the chance encounter, including yet another face you might recall — that of Jordan’s dog, Radar (pictured here, of course).