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Author Topic:   The History Highway, Dining Cars Cafe
the poor mans museum
Active Member

Posts: 1650
From: Solvang, CA, USA
Registered: Oct 2004

posted 03-07-2006 08:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for the poor mans museum   Click Here to Email the poor mans museum     Edit/Delete Message
It has been awhile since I have posted a feature on Oldgas, so letís see if anyone is interested. Before you write this off as drivel, let me assure you that there is a service station involved, as well as race cars and race track. So donít lose heart Petroholics. Check back as the story unfolds and if you eat here, youĎre sure to get gas.

Itís 1946 and youíre traveling down Highway 101 in the center of middle-of-no-where California. The world war has ended and youíre celebrating your release from the Uncle Sam by taking a trip with your family from the Bay area to Santa Barbara, California. You havenít seen much since you left Salinas some 300 miles to the north several hours ago, but out of the twilight glows a neon sign. You shake your head to make sure youíre not falling asleep as you approach the neon sign and your unbelieving eyes reveal a pair of railroad cars sandwiching a building on the side of the road.

This canít be real! Who in their right mind would build a restaurant like this in the middle of no-whereís-ville California. Yet there it sits, Mullenís Dining Cars. Who is this nut case and what the heck was he thinking when he forever stranded these train cars at this out of the way siding just north of Buellton, California?


Stick around and youíll find out.

[This message has been edited by the poor mans museum (edited 03-22-2006).]

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THE AMERICAN GARAGE
Active Member

Posts: 5342
From: LONG ISLAND, NEW YORK
Registered: Jun 2004

posted 03-07-2006 08:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for THE AMERICAN GARAGE   Click Here to Email THE AMERICAN GARAGE     Edit/Delete Message
(I FALL OFF MY CHAIR....)

CURT, YOU'RE ALIVE! YOU'RE BACK! COOL DADDI-O! AND WOW! A DINING CAR STORY! I LIKE DINERS AND HAVE EATEN IN SIMILAR STYLE PLACES IN MY MANY HUNGRY TRAVELLING YEARS ALONG THE ROADSIDE. MULLEN'S LOOKS LIKE A DOUBLE SIDED DELIGHT! MAN, I WISHED I LIVED BACK THEN. TAKE US BACK CURT, DOWN THE CALI ROADSIDE AND FEED US THE NOSTALIC MAIN COURSE AND GIVE US GAS FOR DESSERT! CAN'T WAIT! GREAT TO SEE YOU BACK!

~DOC @ TAG.WEST

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Bob Richards
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Posts: 473
From: Longview, WA
Registered: Feb 2005

posted 03-07-2006 09:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Bob Richards   Click Here to Email Bob Richards     Edit/Delete Message
I for one, have been going through withdrawls waiting for the next chapter of your history lesson. I'm glad to see them and you back. How is the book coming? Well, I hope.

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the poor mans museum
Active Member

Posts: 1650
From: Solvang, CA, USA
Registered: Oct 2004

posted 03-07-2006 09:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for the poor mans museum   Click Here to Email the poor mans museum     Edit/Delete Message
Thanks for asking about the book Bob and forgive me while I drift off to the siding for a minute.

I just got word last week that my book will be released on May 26, 2006. We will be doing a book signing on Memorial Weekend at Andersen's Pea Soup Restaurant in Buellton for the public and then a community book signing on June 5th, hopefully at the Dining Cars Cafe (still to be arranged).
I will be contacting Mr. Potts to find out how I get the books on Oldgas so that this site gets a bit of the action too.

Here's the cover

There will be pictures of...service stations, motor courts with service stations, diners with service stations and stories abou t service stations and Buellton, which was known as "Service Town, USA" because of all of the service stations. Otherwise, not much of interest to gas geeks (did I mention service stations). Also a few really sexy gas pumps and race cars.

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nochevys
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Posts: 855
From: Sherrill NY
Registered: May 2004

posted 03-07-2006 10:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for nochevys   Click Here to Email nochevys     Edit/Delete Message
Nice to see you back!I loved your last feature on here.That was about the time I started visiting the site.I can't wait for more.Keep up the excellant work.
Tom

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st.rod
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Posts: 1356
From: Edgewater, Colorful Colorado
Registered: Feb 2002

posted 03-07-2006 10:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for st.rod   Click Here to Email st.rod     Edit/Delete Message
WOW its Curt! Hey there Curt hows it going, where ya' been and all the rest. When we were in your neighborhood last september I'm thinking I saw that rail car restaurant building!? Does it still exist? Man it looks familiar as does the Split Pea Soup!
Welcome back from exile, work, vacations or relaxation. Where ever ya' been Welcome. Larry

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FrankSargent
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Posts: 992
From: Seattle,WA,USA
Registered: Oct 2002

posted 03-07-2006 10:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FrankSargent   Click Here to Email FrankSargent     Edit/Delete Message
I'm loving it Curt... I was stationed at March AFB in Riverside CA in the early 60's and used to drive home to Seattle on leave... up that highway... You are bringing back fond memories. I always stopped at Andersen's.
Thanks for the memories...

------------------
Frank

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the poor mans museum
Active Member

Posts: 1650
From: Solvang, CA, USA
Registered: Oct 2004

posted 03-07-2006 11:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for the poor mans museum   Click Here to Email the poor mans museum     Edit/Delete Message
I've been in rehab (that's writers rehab not AA).

Yes Larry the Dining Cars are still there, but you're making me get ahead of my story so let's go back to 1946 for awhile.

Dining Cars Continued

Ed Mullenís wasnít completely out of his mind. He had worked as a steward on a real dining car and he knew that the old cars were surplus that could be had for virtually nothing. All he had to do was haul them up the coast from Los Angeles where they originally ran and find a piece of property to put them on. Some twenty years earlier a crazy Dane named Anton Andersen had made a name for himself in the town of Buellton selling split pea soup from a tiny diner. Why wouldnít the novelty of two dining cars sitting at the side of Highway 101 between Los Angeles and San Francisco attract a following?

The ten acres just north of town was relatively cheap allowing Mullenís room for expansion if his business succeeded, so why not give it a try? No, Mullenís wasnít crazy, he was just ahead of his time and a little too far out of town. When people were reaching Buellton they were looking for the pea soup place, not a pair of dining cars. If they were arriving from the south they had already stopped and eaten at Andersenís. If they were coming from the north they blew by the dining cars as if it were a mirage, never expecting to see such a place in the middle of nothing. By the time they hit the brakes they were in the middle of Buellton and there was the pea soup place along with a lot of other choices for food, gas and restrooms.

By the middle of 1949 Mullenís decided to give it up and let someone else have a try. He leased the restaurant to Louise Lane, who despite her connection to Superman, didnít last long either. From there it was a succession of attempts to make the novel idea work and a series of train wrecks in the form of failed businesses in the dining cars.

Stay on track, there's still more to this Dining Car story.

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Thunder II
Active Member

Posts: 1675
From: Elbert County Colorado
Registered: Jan 2006

posted 03-08-2006 09:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Thunder II   Click Here to Email Thunder II     Edit/Delete Message
Good to see that you found your way back to Oldgas.... Love the local history stuff.

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the poor mans museum
Active Member

Posts: 1650
From: Solvang, CA, USA
Registered: Oct 2004

posted 03-08-2006 11:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for the poor mans museum   Click Here to Email the poor mans museum     Edit/Delete Message
The staff of the dining cars waiting to serve the rush of customers. Note the neon bowtie on the ceiling (still works).

I know, I know. I promised you a service station. It's coming!

[This message has been edited by the poor mans museum (edited 03-08-2006).]

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+Chris Holt
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Posts: 2211
From: St. Clair MI USA
Registered: Mar 2002

posted 03-09-2006 05:43 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for +Chris Holt   Click Here to Email +Chris Holt     Edit/Delete Message
Ladys and gentlemen please Welcome Curt Cregg, Writer, author, collector and Historian , Applause , Applause, Welcome back Curt, Looking forward to the next chapter

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Dick Bennett
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Posts: 6015
From: Santa Paula, Calif
Registered: Oct 2000

posted 03-09-2006 08:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dick Bennett   Click Here to Email Dick Bennett     Edit/Delete Message
Curt,
I always thought those were TROLLY CARS from Los Angeles !
Dick

------------------
**PUT A LID ON IT**
1qt CAN RE-LIDDING

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the poor mans museum
Active Member

Posts: 1650
From: Solvang, CA, USA
Registered: Oct 2004

posted 03-09-2006 09:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for the poor mans museum   Click Here to Email the poor mans museum     Edit/Delete Message
Dick Bennett knows his history. Here is the dope on the dining cars from my friend Dick Shelley.

"Let me add a bit history about the two streetcars. These are Type-B Huntington Standards, designed by the engineering staff of Henry Huntington, owner of the Los Angeles Railway. These were built by St. Louis Car Co., and messured 44' 7" long. They are unique in that they have five window ends. #643 and #644 (that make up the restaurant) were part of a 100 car order that entered service in 1911in Los Angeles; and ran until the early '40s when they were sold for scrap. I would guess that Mr. Mullens bought them from the scrapper. Probably more information than you wanted, but....."

And now for some more of the story...

[This message has been edited by the poor mans museum (edited 03-09-2006).]

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travis_towle
Active Member

Posts: 1136
From: Topeka, Kansas USA
Registered: Jan 2003

posted 03-10-2006 10:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for travis_towle   Click Here to Email travis_towle     Edit/Delete Message
There is a old dining car on a rail that is still open as a taco place in Emporia Kansas... I will get a pic next time I am there. I was supprised to see how much room is in one of those cars!


Travis E. Towle
Topeka, Kansas

785-357-1004

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GASMAPS
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Posts: 29
From: Adelaide South Australia
Registered: Jan 2006

posted 03-11-2006 09:18 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for GASMAPS     Edit/Delete Message
While we wait for the next exciting episode of Curt's 'The History Highway, Dining Cars Cafe'
Old Gasers can relive The Lompoc T Club -
The Original Rat Rod Racers , another of Curt's histories.

It includes racers with UNION , SHELL and GILMORE'S lion on their sides..link...
http://www.oldgas.com/shoptalk/ubb/Forum4/HTML/001103.html

Robert

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