Taking a Route 66 road trip? Be sure to drop in to this iconic attraction: the Conoco Tower Station and U-Drop Inn Café in Shamrock, Texas.
The Tower Station and U-Drop Inn Café was built in 1936.Located along historic Route 66 in Shamrock, Texas, the art deco gas station and restaurant is sometimes referred to as “the Taj Mahal of Texas.” And it is easy to see why.
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The structure is constructed from concrete, stucco, glazed brick, and terra-cotta tiles. Though it was built during the Great Depression, the design was all opulence. Green and gold terracotta tiles decorate the facade and canopies flank the side. As a centerpiece, a tall, 100-foot obelisk anchors the building. On the tower big letters spell out “CONOCO” and a large metal tulip tops it off.
The design was based on an idea from John Nunn who owned the prime land that sat at the corner of U.S. Route 66 and Highway 83. Lore says that he designed it based on a nail he stuck in the ground. The design was then brought to life by architect Joseph Berry and built by J. M. Tindall and R. C. Lewis.
Originally the building housed two businesses: a Conoco gas station and a diner named “U-Drop Inn,” so named by an 8-year-old boy who won a naming contest. A third area was originally supposed to serve as a retail store but ended up getting absorbed into the cafe.
Over the years the businesses and owners turned over a few times. By 1997, long after the Mother Road was decommissioned, the Route 66 icon had fallen into disrepair and was repossessed by a bank. But, the same year, it was also added to the National Register of Historic Places. The First National Bank of Shamrock purchased the property and gave it to the city. Restoration work began and, in 2003, it was back to its former glory.
Now the Conoco Tower Station and U-Drop Inn Café is once again a must see Route 66 attraction. It was even memorialized as “Ramone’s Body Shop” in the 2006 Pixar movie, Cars.
While the vintage gas pumps remain, don’t expect to fill up your tank here. Long from serving as a functional service station, the location now serves as a museum, a visitor center, and an office for the chamber of commerce. Though, in a definitive bridge linking the past to the present, you can fill up a more modern car: in 2014 a Tesla supercharger was installed on the site.
There are even more things to see in Shamrock, Texas! Check out these other Texas Route 66 attractions in town: Blarney Stone Plaza, the Fake Blarney Stone, the Texas-Shaped Monument, the Welcome to Shamrock Sign, the Shamrock Mural, and the Big Red Cowboy Boot.
And if you’re looking to spend the night in town, you have to stay at the Shamrock Country Inn motel!
The Conoco Tower Station and U-Drop Inn Café
Address: 1242 N Main St, Shamrock, TX 79079
Cost: Free to See
Hours: 9am-5pn, always visible