Shenandoah Travel Plaza re-opens after five-year hiatus

| 8/15/2008

After being shuttered for nearly five years, the historic Shenandoah Travel Plaza is slowly coming back to life.

Since January 2008, Ron Myers, a former truck driver and partner in the family-owned company, FLRR Inc., said he and others have been diligently working to restore the historic truck stop, on Interstate 70 near Cambridge, OH. The truck stop was originally built in the 1970s and has been closed since 2003.

Myers said it hasn’t been easy, though. The plan was to have the whole place back in operation by April, but instead they have been opening bits and pieces at a time as they can.

So far, they have opened a 27,000-foot truck garage with 14 bays. A convenience store opened recently, and showers will be open next week. Myers said he is hopeful the fuel island will open in the next few weeks.

“We’ve had some real battles, so to speak, with some of the inspection agencies in trying to get this place up and going,” he told Land Line on Friday, Aug, 15. “We are trying to do a good thing here and create about 100 new jobs for the people around here, but it hasn’t been easy.”

One delay has been the process of getting the fuel pumps up and running. Myers said they now have the permits in hand from the fire marshal to modify the existing fuel island after having spent a good chunk of change in pumping out old fuel that was left in the tanks. The tanks also had to be pressure washed and cleaned to get the remaining sulfur out.

“We now have certified clean tanks. We’ve had them pressure-tested; now we are ready to rehab the fuel lane and get it open,” he said.

In recent months, the concrete barriers that were put up when the truck stop closed five years ago have been removed and Myers said approximately 40 to 50 trucks have been parking there a night since that time.

“Parking is an issue around here. There’s a lot of trucks that park along the interstate and ramps, and we’ve unblocked the entrances so trucks can park here as a courtesy,” he said. “We are trying to get them off the road for safety reasons.”

Myers said he thinks the Shenandoah will fill a big need for truckers traveling along Interstate 70 because the closest truck stops are at least 60 miles away in either direction, but he said many truckers still don’t know the Shenandoah is back in business.

OOIDA member Ray Shankle of Deerwood, MN, called Land Line after seeing new life at the truck stop, which he said was “badly needed” in that part of Ohio.

The Shenandoah Travel Plaza is best known for its unique building front, which Myers said was modeled after the cabin compartment of the USS Shenandoah, a U.S. Navy rigid airship – or blimp – that crashed near the truck stop’s location in Noble County, OH, in 1925 after being struck by lightning.

The truck stop is entirely built from concrete and brick with marble accents; no wood was used, according to Myers.

“This place is a fortress. This place was way ahead of its time when it was built,” he said.

Myers, who owns Pine Tree Towing, a family-owned business with locations in Buffalo, OH, and Caldwell, OH, said their connection in towing large trucks and dealing with truckers made them want to reopen the place.

“We were interested in the garage, first of all, but we wanted to open this back up as a place where truck drivers can come in and feel respected,” he said. “In the garage, our technicians don’t refer to truckers by ‘hey, driver,” here, but by their first names. That was important to me.”

– By Clarissa Kell-Holland, staff writer