Bob Waldmire

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Robert Waldmire (April 19, 1945[1]–December 16, 2009) was an American artist and cartographer who is well known for his artwork of U.S. Route 66, including whimsical maps of the Mother Road and its human and natural ecology. Being the son of Ed Waldmire Jr., he is often associated with the Cozy Dog Drive In restaurant in Springfield, Illinois (on U.S. Route 66), the elder Waldmire (along with his friend Don Strand) having created the Cozy Dog.

Bob drawing a campus map for Bradley University at the AEPi fraternity house

His career as a professional artist began during his student days at Southern Illinois University. He returned home to draft a "bird's-eye-view" poster of his hometown; merchants paid to include their businesses in the posters, which he could then sell in the merchant's place of business at a profit. He extended the idea to 34 cities, then turned his attentions to the promotion of historic U.S. Route 66.[2]

Waldmire was a well-known snowbird, spending his winter months in Arizona's Chiricahua Mountains in a self-sufficient home of his own design. During the summer, he travelled the country, but based himself in his native Central Illinois, living in a converted Chevrolet school bus near Springfield.

U.S. Route 66[edit]

Waldmire's van in Route 66 Hall of Fame

In 1992, Bob Waldmire re-opened the Hackberry General Store in the ghost town of Hackberry, Arizona as a Route 66 tourism information post and souvenir shop.[3] The 1934 store, originally the Northside Grocery[4] and Conoco station, had been closed and vacant since 1978[5] after Interstate 40 in Arizona bypassed the town (on 66) and left it stranded fifteen miles away from the very different route taken by I-40.

Waldmire sold the store to John and Kerry Pritchard in 1998[6] due to local disputes regarding the environmental and aesthetic impact of quarries removing local stone for use in landscaping.[7]

In 2004, Bob Waldmire earned the National Historic Route 66 Federation's John Steinbeck Award for his contributions to the preservation of Route 66.[2]

One of Waldmire's modified vehicles, an orange 1972 Volkswagen Microbus, was the inspiration for the character "Fillmore" from the 2006 animated motion picture Cars.[8] Pixar abandoned a proposal to name the character "Waldmire" as Bob was unwilling to sell marketing rights to Disney for a series of toys which would appear in McDonald's Happy Meals.[9]

On November 22, 2009 "Bob’s Last Art Show" was held at the Cozy Dog Drive-In.[10] On December 16, 2009, Waldmire died from cancer[11] which had spread from his colon to his liver.[12] His ashes were returned to the earth at multiple sites, including his parents' gravesite in Mottarville Cemetery near Rochester, Illinois, both U.S. Route 66 endpoints and other pre-selected US 66 locations including his longtime Arizona winter home.[13]

His official website,, remains in operation and is currently being maintained by his brother Buz Waldmire.[14] His trademark van and bus are now displayed in the Route 66 Hall of Fame and Museum in Pontiac, Illinois.[15]


  1. ^ Route 66 The Mother Road, Wallis, Michael, St. Martins Griffin, New York, 2001, p. 245. ISBN 0-312-28161-7
  2. ^ a b Venners, Bob (April 2005). "Artist Laureate of the Mother Road". Desert Exposure. Retrieved 2012-05-12.
  3. ^ "American Motorcyclist". 1995-02-17. Retrieved 2012-05-12.
  4. ^ Sonderman, Joe (2010-10-06). Route 66 In Arizona. p. 106. ISBN 9780738579429. Retrieved 2012-05-12.
  5. ^ Kaszynski, William (2003-05-01). Route 66: Images of America's Main Street. p. 128. ISBN 9780786415533. Retrieved 2012-05-12.
  6. ^ Sonderman, Joe (2010-10-06). Route 66 In Arizona. p. 106. ISBN 9780738579429. Retrieved 2012-05-12.
  7. ^ Matt Kelley, Associated Press (Sep 13, 1998). "Quarries vs. natural beauty keeps discord festering in Hackberry". Kingman Daily Miner. p. 1B.
  8. ^ Birthplace (maybe) of the corn dog by Charles Storch, Chicago Tribune, August 16, 2006
  9. ^ Bakke, David (May 31, 2006). "Bob Waldmire: 'An ethical vegetarian'". State Journal-Register. Retrieved 2012-05-12.
  10. ^ Crook, William (2009-11-25). "Bob Waldmire's farewell tour". Illinois Times. Retrieved 2012-05-12.
  11. ^ Bakke, Dave (December 17, 2009). "Route 66 legend Bob Waldmire reaches end of road". The State Journal-Register. GateHouse Media, Inc.
  12. ^ Hoekstra, David. "Bob Waldmire, The Free Spirit of Route 66 - Scratch Crib". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on 2012-06-22. Retrieved 2012-05-12.
  13. ^ Bakke, David (Apr 20, 2010). "Bob Waldmire takes one last ride". The State Journal-Register, Springfield, Illinois. Retrieved 2012-05-12.
  14. ^ "I always liked to draw, especially small things…". Bob Waldmire. Retrieved 2012-05-12.
  15. ^ Tarter, Steve (April 18, 2012). "You can still get your kicks on Route 66". Peoria Journal-Star. Archived from the original on September 7, 2012.

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