Overdrive Extra

James Jaillet

Rearview: The heyday of mom and pop truck stops

| June 09, 2016

Overdrive‘s Rearview series is a new recurring monthly feature taking a historical look at the trucking industry through the lens of archived editions of Overdrive.

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The difference a decade makes | The small black and white ad (below) for the Iowa 80 Truckstop in Walcott, Iowa, self-dubbed the World’s Largest Truckstop, ran in the September 1965 issue. The full-color ad above ran in the mid-1970s.

An ad for the Iowa 80 Truckstop from the September 1965 issue of Overdrive. Compare it to the aerial photo above, which ran less than 10 years later in Overdrive.

An ad for the Iowa 80 Truckstop from the September 1965 issue of Overdrive. Compare it to the aerial photo above, which ran less than 10 years later in Overdrive.

Before the proliferation of large truck stop chains came to grace interstate highways, one-off mom-and-pop establishments found on two-lane highways were the norm.

In the 1960s, the peak of such operations, Overdrive offered an advertising outlet for those small businesses to make their locations, products, services and amenities known to the nation’s independent truckers. Small ads promoted the stops, some referred to as on-highway “terminals.”

Rearview: Tool of the trade

Befitting the CB’s repute of the era, Overdrive each month in the late 1970s published an entire section devoted to CBs, associated equipment, articles about ...

Unlike the gleam and overall uniformity of today’s efficient operations, the truck stops of yesteryear offered a downhome, sometimes gritty feel, and often a distinctive character. As the 1960s ended, however, Overdrive’s truck stop ads became larger and more colorful as the interstate system fostered larger operations with greater amenities. Eventually many small truck stops closed or were absorbed by the big chains establishing a national reach.

Discount ditties | Bunks were a common amenity in truck stops in the 1960s, offering a no-frills place to nap or stay overnight. Also, note this sign of the times from the L+F ad: “We have one of the last 5 phonographs left in the U.S.!”

Discount ditties | Bunks were a common amenity in truck stops in the 1960s, offering a no-frills place to nap or stay overnight. Also, note this sign of the times from the L+F ad: “We have one of the last 5¢ phonographs left in the U.S.!”

Lounging at the Tiki Oasis | Themed truck stops, such as the Tiki Truck Stop and its Tiki Oasis, were common in the 1960s.

Lounging at the Tiki Oasis | Themed truck stops, such as the Tiki Truck Stop and its Tiki Oasis, were common in the 1960s.

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Changing times | By the late 1960s, the U.S. Interstate system had expanded to a point where large truck stop chains and their ability to offer larger lots and better amenities made them the preferred destination for on-highway truckers, as this two-page spread in a 1968 edition of Overdrive shows.

Here are a few other unique ads pulled from Overdrive archives:

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