A postcard down memory lane

According to the postcard, the  Hotel Pawnee “invites you to make it your home when here. You will enjoy our wonderful meals. You will have a good night’s rest. We will make your stay comfortable.” Gregory R.C. Hasman collection

Going to antique stores is the ultimate trip down memory lane. People can go inside and reminisce about an old oil company sign or Coca-Cola advertisements.

My favorite part of going into a shop is looking at postcards. It allows me to look at different places in its heyday or during another era and read messages people wrote to friends and loved ones.

I took a recent road trip across parts of the American Heartland, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa and Nebraska. I decided, however, to only go to one antique shop so as not to encourage my habits of purchasing old road maps and postcards.

In Woodbine, Iowa, I bought four postcards that day (it only cost a total of $4), but one that struck me was the Hotel Pawnee in North Platte, Nebraska, a Lincoln Highway community.

Gregory R.C. Hasman photo

On the back, Bee wrote a note to Art Allright in Denison, Iowa on Friday June 23, 1944.

Dear Art,

Hope everything is OK by you. I dropped a line to Carroll. Don’t think best I come to Denison this weekend but wiring Margaret back with you if she can possibly make it. Jerry is coming home for 30 days… Barbara was at Grandma Lilly’s for dinner last nite. I walked over to Lils but didn’t go up there. Betty Dilley was here last nite. She sure is a sweet one.

Love Bee

The postcard did not mention the hotel, but it did look at visiting friends and family.

The postcard is the traveler’s diary, a place to open themselves up to loved ones or friends.

Little hotel background

The Hotel Pawnee, originally called the Hotel Yancey, is an eight-story brick Georgian Revival hotel designed by Omaha architect F.A. Henninger. It was constructed in 1929 by Alex Beck, who also designed and built the Fox Theater across the street from the hotel. Minor alterations have occurred on the first level façade, but the hotel retains its historic integrity, according to a National Park Service National Registrar of Historic Places inventory nomination form.

It recently served as an assisted living facility.

For more on the hotel’s specifications look at the nomination form at https://npgallery.nps.gov/nrhp/GetAsset?assetID=5cf09e66-51d3-44b4-bd5c-653da7a221e1

Kersey’s Garage: Horse to Horseless

Kersey 2

Photo by Gregory R.C. Hasman

Taking detours on the open road will lead to pleasant discoveries.

Two weeks ago, after eating a delicious breakfast at Davies’ Chuck Wagon Diner in Lakewood, Colorado, I began the trek back to Rock Springs.

On Interstate 25 I wondered whether I should head to Cheyenne then turn west or go through Fort Collins. Instead, I went with  option C,  get off onto US 34, a road I haven’t traveled on and head east.

After reaching Greeley and taking pictures of a Union Pacific railroad depot I drove around until I found a filling station.

There aren’t many stations around which feature elements from different eras.  From the garage’s original sign and brick construction to Texaco gas pumps that saw fins off a 1957 Chevy Bel-Air, the nostalgic goosebumps spread like wildfire.


Clyde Clad Kersey came to Platteville, Colorado in the1880s  before relocating to Greeley. The area the station stood was a barn providing feed,  shelter for horses and storage for carriages and wagons.

In 1917, it became Kersey Livery and Feed Stable, which was built by W.F. Mortimer. Three years later when the automobile was beginning to proliferate, it was converted to a gas station and garage  built using a brick bonding system.

Kersey operated the garage until he turned it over to his son-in-law Maurice Burbridge, a lifelong resident of Greeley. Burbridge eventually changed the name to Texaco Star, which repaired cars as well as provided storage for trucks and wagons with produce needing protection from the cold.

Kersey 3

Photo by Gregory R.C. Hasman

In 1964, Ray Eckhardt and his younger brother Ronnie worked as mechanics and bought out Burbridge.

Today, it is Jim’s Auto Repair.

Travel to 531 8th St. and soak in specs of automotive, Colorado and American histories, but be careful, it is still a functioning business.

Kersey 1

Photo by Gregory R.C. Hasman



A Nostalgic’s Dream

Motel vac

One of the many neon gems on Colfax Avenue. This is heading east.

Photo by Gregory R.C. Hasman

Colfax Avenue in Denver, Colorado is known as neon row. It is filled with creativity and a dose of class.

On Monday as I was heading back to Rock Springs, Wyoming, I decided to head west on Colfax, also known as U.S. Highway 40, to see if I can find some more gems along the way.

In Lakewood, just outside of Denver, I stopped for a trip down memory lane.

Davies 2

I admit I filter or edit many pictures including neon signs.

Photo by Gregory R.C. Hasman

Davies’ Chuck Wagon Diner pays respect to the state’s Old West heritage while incorporating the stainless steel 50’s era diner more commonplace in the East Coast.

In 1957, the diner was brought from a New Jersey manufacturer. The 46-ton establishment was shipped to Colorado by rail and was placed on its current foundation.

In 1997, the National Historic Society inducted Davies’ Chuck Wagon Diner into the National Historical Registry.

The Experience

After opening the door, Bob Seger could be heard playing on a distant tabletop jukebox. Waitresess with sweat trickling down their foreheads took chocolate milks and strips of bacon to the counter while others greeted customers with, “What can I do for you?” as they put menus on the table.

By 9 a.m. people were standing by the door waiting for their chance to enjoy a meal down memory lane.

Davies 1

Photo by Gregory R.C. Hasman

A trip down memory lane

lh 1913 2

Photo by Gregory R.C. Hasman

A trip down memory lane is a cliché, but for a road-a-holic such as myself it is an appropriate one.

In August I took a trip from Green River to Rock Springs on a 1913 Lincoln Highway alignment. The 15-mile trip was filled with peaks and valleys with a side of uncertainty.

On the left  were vistas and buttes  and on the right was the conveyor belt, also known as Interstate 80. After several hills and a few sharp curves the soul went from feeling adventurous to where am I heading? Is there an end in sight?

After reaching the intersection of Foothill Boulevard and U.S. Highway 191 I was feeling calm again.

The experience, however, paled in comparison to when roads weren’t paved and driving was a relatively new phenomenon.

In 1915, Louise Graf, a Green River resident, drove to Rock Springs on the same bumpy, rocky and adventurous route.

“If you had a car, it was an all -day trip. If you didn’t have a flat or two on the trip, you were doing good,” she said. “Roads were dirt, not even graded. There wasn’t enough room for two cars to pass each other. If there was a car coming, you had to finagle your way through.”

The Lincoln Highway was Graf’s interstate. The uncertainly of the new road and how the car would handle the journey was as much a challenge as getting to her destination.

I did not encounter any flats, just an hour’s journey with an appreciation for what Graf’s generation had to deal with.

lh 1913 1

Photo by Gregory R.C. Hasman

The Hotel Tomahawk continues to protect the Lincoln

Hotel toma 2

Green River was a major stopping point on the Lincoln Highway in Wyoming and the Hotel Tomahawk, which sits less than a block from the Union Pacific railroad, was where many travelers stayed.

In 1919, two enterprising businessmen, Thomas Welsh and Dr. W. J. Hawk, built the hotel. M.H. Park was lessee and proprietor when it opened.

It was the first hotel built in Green River to look straight at the Lincoln Highway instead of the railroad and was one of the first highway-related buildings to be built in the community. It had about 75 rooms with half the rooms featuring a tub and shower bath, but hot and cold running water and phones were in all rooms.

The Tomahawk opened for guests on May 1, 1921, but the formal opening took place on May 10.

The May 6, 1921 Green River Star offered readers a glimpse into opening night.

“This is an event which means much to the town of Green River as the new Hotel Tomahawk is one of the finest hotel establishments in the west, and is furnished second to none. The ground floor aside from the lobby is occupied by live wires in the business life of the town who have attractive establishments that add much to the general appearance of the hotel block, while just east of the hotel is located the modern Sweetwater Auto Co. Garage, where the auto tourist can receive every need for the gasoline driven vehicles used by the overland tourist of today.”

SW garage

The hotel is on the left, Sweetwater Auto Co. Garage sits on the right.

The May 14, 1921 edition of the Hotel World: The Hotel and Travelers Journal spoke of the growing community surrounding the new roadside business.

“While it may seem somewhat large for the city, Green River has a good country back of it, and with the advent of several large new industrial plants, now being planned, there will be plenty of business for the motel.”

Many people including Ivan Edelman and his parents stayed at the hotel.

“Over 60 years ago my parents and I stayed at the Tomahawk Hotel. It is right next to the train yards and was host to railroad workers on layover. We could hear the trains all night. Green River is a major rail yard, and when we were there the locomotives were steam. Those are sounds I’ll never forget — or ever hear in person again.”

The hotel closed in 1980, but it still stands, reminding motorists and Wyomingites of a by-gone era in American and automotive histories.

Hotel toma 1


Hotel Tomahawk

Hotel World

Edelman’s hotel experience



James Cash Penney’s: Mom and pop to chain


Photo Courtesy: Gregory R.C. Hasman

The current location opened in 1929.

In 2015 about 40 J.C. Penney stores shut down and in 2016 several more will close its doors including one at the White Mountain Mall in Rock Springs, Wyoming on April 8.

It opened with the mall in 1978 and it will be missed in the community.

There are others throughout the country, but none will capture the imagination as the original location in Kemmerer, a little over an hour northwest of Rock Springs just off U.S. Highway 30.

Mr. Penney was born on a small farm outside Hamilton, Missouri and at the age of 8, his father told him he needed to purchase his own clothing. Over the next few years James Cash began investing money saved from running errands, collecting junk and performing farm work. He bought and sold pigs, which helped him launch a career as an entrepreneur.

Penney held several jobs after graduating high school, which included being a clerk at John M Hale’s dry goods store and proprietor of a butcher shop in Colorado. After a brief flirtation as a chef at a local hotel he went to work for Guy Johnson and Thomas Callahan, who operated several small dry goods stores called Golden Rule Stores in Colorado and Wyoming.

Penney relocated to Kemmerer with his wife and infant son and opened a store on April, 14, 1902. The one-room framed building was located between a laundry and boarding house off the main business district.  They lived in the attic over the store that was furnished with makeshift counters and shelves made out of packing crates.

Penney proposed to open a cash only store, which was laughed at by local businessmen, but embraced by the citizens.

Within two years he opened up in Rock Springs and Cumberland, Wyoming and when Callahan and Johnson dissolved their partnership he became full owner and began launching his own Golden Rule stores.

To Penney the Golden Rule name represented his deeper philosophical and religious beliefs and became his creed. He insisted on offering customers quality merchandise at the lowest prices. Customer service, thrift, shrewd buying practices and a growing cadre of talented store managers and associates formed the foundation of his new organization.

Here is a timeline of other events:

1909 – Established headquarters in Salt Lake City

1913- The Golden Rule Store name was phased out and replaced by J.C. Penney Company Inc.

1916- The company opened its first stores east of the Mississippi River in Watertown and Wausau, Wisconsin

At age 42, Penney became the company’s first chairman of the board

1917- The company published the first issue of The Dynamo, the first company newspaper

1921- He established an education department and in March 1921 the department shipped to the stores the first lesson the company’s business training course, a free correspondence course designed to give associates the most up-to-date training in salesmanship, merchandising and business management. By August of that year over 90 percent of the company’s 2,500 associates had enrolled.

1926- The company owned an 18-story office building and warehouse in New York on 330 W. 34th St.

1929- On Oct. 23 J.C. Penney common and preferred stocks are listed on the New York Stock Exchange for the first time.

1951- Sales are over $1 billion fulfilling his 1927 prediction

1962- The company acquired the General Merchandise Company, a mail order catalog  operation. a A year later, the first J.C. Penney Catalog was issued.

1971- Mr. Penney died on Feb. 12 at age 96


Gregory Hasman

Soaking in the nostalgia in Williams, Arizona


I am a General Assignments Reporter for the Rocket-Miner in Rock Springs, Wyoming.


I enjoy traveling down gravel, asphalt and other pavements that transport the soul to by-gone eras where Studebakers went in for full service at Sinclair stations and hungry motorists stopped by the Little Juarez Café on Route 66 in the Texas-New Mexico town of Glenrio on their way to Disneyland.

During the height of automobile travel, the interstate took over, causing businesses and communities to become pieces of roadside history. The way to keep the memories of the people and communities alive is to research, travel and document.

In May I graduated from the Mayborn School of Journalism at the University of North Texas with a Master of Arts degree. With this degree I hope to continue to do what people like Charles Kuralt, Jim Hinckley, William Least Heat-Moon and Michael Wallis have done, preserve the integrity of the two-lane highway.

Why do I love the open highway?

The dream began as a young man in Brooklyn, New York where I served as a Captain Navigator on road trips, a superhero of sorts who helped people find their destinations without them getting lost.

Over the  years, the keen sense of direction manifested into a passion for seeking the next mile. After relocating to Houston, Texas in 2006, I began to hit the open road with a fervor. From Fort Worth to Vicksburg, Mississippi I slowly began opening up to the vast highways of this country where I began documenting my travels.

In July 2012, I decided to pursue being a journalist by applying for graduate school at UNT in Denton, Texas. Over the past three years, I learned that in addition to blogging or documenting places with the camera that there are stories waiting to be told.

During my time at UNT,  I was part of an award winning series documenting the drought in Texas. “Water Woes” won First Place in the Texas Associated Press Managing Editors (TAPME) Community Service Category and as well as  first place in the Region 8 Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) In-Depth Reporting Contest.

From reporting on how a drought affected a West Texas rancher to a mom and pop mechanic closing shop after 50 plus years, I encountered diverse groups of people who help populate the towns and cities.

My goal is to continue improving as a writer, a story teller and a photographer.