The Mother Road — Rancho Cucamonga to Rialto

Andy Romanoff
Sep 21, 2018 · 5 min read
Approaching Man Cave, south side of E Foothill Blvd at Beech Avenue, Fontana

Route 66 changed it’s path many times before it was finally abandoned. Today much of the old highway is gone but there is a portion of it running through Rancho Cucamonga headed east to Rialto where you can still see traces of the old road. Nowadays it’s called Foothill Boulevard. Much of modern Foothill is wider than the old 66 so it’s hard to know exactly what remains from the Mother Road years but some places mark themselves by their appearance and some are famous from years of traveler postcards and snapshots.

Man Cave was closed when I stopped by. The temperature was already up around a hundred so I made a few pictures and got back in the car. I love these little backwater eddy’s. Standing here you can turn in any direction and see things pretty much as they looked sixty years ago. Signs change, businesses come and go but the feeling remains.

Bono’s Restaurant, 15395 Foothill Boulevard, Fontana

Bono’s is original Route 66. The Bono family built their first place in this location back in the thirties when they owned a vineyard. Then came this place where you probably could have seen Sonny before he met up with Cher and his destiny.The building was constructed in 1943 and sat along the highway offering Italian meals and a full service menu.

Bono’s Orange

Sitting on the edge of the Bono property is this big orange drink stand. The Bono’s Wiki has this to say about it, “The Big Orange is one of six surviving orange-shaped buildings in California. It was originally located about three miles east of here and moved here in the 90s.” The signs say “coming back soon” but if you’re hungry I’d think about someplace else.

Rose Motel, 17829 E Foothill Blvd, Fontana

A leftover from the forties, you can find the Rose Motel on the Mom and Pop Motel website. When I first traveled west in the early sixties this is the kind of place I drove by wishing we could afford to stop.

Club Azteca, 17845 E Foothill Blvd, Fontana

If I was a beer drinker the Azteca would have been irresistible on this scorching hot afternoon. A perfect place to sit in the darkness making wet circles on the bar top while a TV played.

Later, I went looking on a review site to see what people had to say and found this: “The nightlife is pretty cool if you’re single at this bar but be careful with the skanky hookers that want you to buy them endless drinks then charge you $300 for sex. Stay away from them, there’s plenty of cleaner hoes to take to a motel in this bar. Good luck muchachos!” … I guess it was better I kept on rolling.

Moana Motel 17610 E Foothill Blvd, Fontana

Looking for information about the Moana I found a website with a phone number and called it hoping to learn when the place was built. A patient sounding woman answered the phone with “Hello” and when I asked if it was the Moana she told me I had reached a private number and that it had been wrongly listed on the website for fifteen years. She told me they had tried for years to get the number removed from the listing with no luck.

Wigwam Village #7, 2728 E Foothill Blvd, Rialto

You know this place even if you’ve never been there. The shapes of the rooms are that iconic. They’ve been seen a thousand times in magazines and movies, the stuff of nostalgia on so many levels. In person they are still startling, permanent stucco reproductions of temporary canvas dwellings. They promise a unique experience by virtue of their shape, and they spawned a million postcards with “Hey, last night we stayed in a wigwam” scrawled on their backs.

Swimming pool at the Wigwam

I never sent one of those postcards because I never stayed in a Wigwam but I remember my first sight of them as clear as yesterday. Early sixties, driving in a beat up Plymouth from Chicago to L.A. In love with the roadside stands and truck stops that had been our sustenance on the journey, a canvas water bag slung round our radio antenna, proud proof we were hardened travelers from across the desert. Then Holbrook, another town to drive through on our unending way to L.A. What the hell is that??? Teepees up ahead, a bunch of teepees just sitting along the highway. I think we slowed and gaped at the fantastical sight, then picked up speed again headed on to the end of the road.

Thanks for reading!

If you want to see more of Highway 66 check out Mother Road

There’s lots more pictures here

and lots more stories here

Stories I've Been Meaning to Tell You

Stories, pictures and ruminations about life, photography, adventures on the road, my friends and the times we all are sharing

Andy Romanoff

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These are the days of miracles and wonders. This is the long distance call — Paul Simon

Stories I've Been Meaning to Tell You

Stories, pictures and ruminations about life, photography, adventures on the road, my friends and the times we all are sharing

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