Round Barn, POPs not just sights
ARCADIA — The historic Arcadia Round Barn and POPs, its effervescent neighbor across the way, are a living laboratory of the kind of attractions that are keeping the kicks on Route 66.
Fans of the big, red, domed barn, which dates to 1898, will celebrate the 20th anniversary of its restoration starting at 10 a.m. Saturday. The free public get-together will feature live music, Route 66 book signings, a square dancing demonstration, food vendors and other fun, trustee Linda Simonton said. And POPs, the diner-slash-shrine to soda pop, a bouncing baby on the Mother Road since just 2007, will provide its own fizz.
A new National Park Service study found that heritage tourists from far and wide generate some $132 million a year along Route 66 across eight states by spending time and money at places like the Round Barn and POPs, which are 5 miles east of Interstate 35 at Edmond.
“The Round Barn ... the fact that the thing was saved is historically significant,” said Melvena Heisch, state deputy historic preservation officer with the Oklahoma Historical Society.
Preservationists, alarmed to see the barn's 60-foot-wide hemispherical dome sagging from its original 43-foot peak, and seeing no hope for it, had documented the structure for pos
“We figured it was going to collapse and that it was going to be a goner. Then those amazing people up there came together and did that,” she said. They saved the Round Barn.
And 15 years later came Aubrey McClendon, the Chesapeake Energy Corp. CEO, soda pop lover and fan of Arcadia, who erected the giant neon roadside pop bottle, shop and diner, POPs, a present-day expression of the kind of attraction the Mother Road was known for in its heyday.
“They're working in tandem. People stop at the Round Barn and shoot pictures and drive over and have a soda pop,” Heisch said.
Route 66 and its tourist stops — and the preservation of now-historic sites — were meant to be experiences, she said, not just sights to see.