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Old Union 76 Truck Stops

Aug 13, 2012 - 10:57:59 AM | By Linda Caffee

Entry to the Restaurant

The restaurant at this location has atmosphere, which many of the TA-Petro restaurants no longer have.    When we walked in the first time we knew this place was a little different as it has a wood plank style floor leading us into the dining area.   The walls are adorned with old “real” worn out wagon wheels and a great fountain in the center of the restaurant.   The decorations are not overwhelming they are meant to sooth the weary traveler. It works….

The fountain


While we were sitting at one of the booths Bob Ryan, president and owner of this TA Franchise walked over to welcome us.   Bob immediately stuck me as a guy who has a great sense of humor and is very proud of his establishment.   I asked him about the history and he said it originally was a Union 76 Truck Stop.   That accounted for the unusual style of the building compared with many of the other truck stops.  


Old Wagon Wheel by each booth

There are a few TA-Petro restaurants around the country that have not changed that we really enjoy and we know we will not eat in the truck when we pull in for the night.   Another TA that we enjoy is east of Buffalo, NY, Pembroke, we have been in there during blizzard conditions and after sitting for a little bit we forget about the outside world as we listen to the train traverse the restaurant overhead.

One of my favorite stories when talking to the “Old Timers” is that when they pulled into a truck stop to get fuel and to eat is the way they were treated.   They pulled into the fuel island, handed the fuel attendant their keys and went into the restaurant for a meal.   They would come back out to a parked truck, windows clean, and their truck full of fuel.   Hard to imagine that level of trust.


Old Union 76 Pictute

The Unocal Truck Stops sold in 1992 or 1993 for 180 million dollars to National Auto/Truckstops Inc. and since then seem to have been divided up again a few times.   I am glad that TA-Petro has some of these places and has left them as close to original as possible. Finding one of these truck stops is like finding hidden jewels, as we can get our fuel, take a shower, have a nice meal, and head back out to the truck totally relaxed and refreshed.

Comments - Tell us what you think below

13 Aug 2012, 04:24
Comments Welcome
Jim Back
13 Aug 2012, 05:33
I miss some of the old 76 truck stops. Got to see quite a few of them as a child while riding along with my dad.

The TA in Lake Park, GA. Was once a 76 truck stop. We would stop and eat their every trip we made into Florida.

Sadly, the TA in Pembroke has been "upgraded" to corporate standards. The train is gone, replaced with the usual boring decore of most other TAs.
13 Aug 2012, 05:42
That is to bad Jim and I am sad to learn of this happening.
Henry Albert
13 Aug 2012, 08:05
I like finding places like the one youwrote about. Its like a portal into the past... the good part of the past that is. I like to think of the stories the wall of places like the old 76 could tell.
Nick M
13 Aug 2012, 09:42
Linda, one of my favorite old truck stops was Whites in Virginia. Still had the old feel to it, had great food,, $5 showers, a huge old gun collection and a store that sold weird truck stop trinkets. The service was always good and the folks working there, especially the waitresses were friendly. Sure they wanted your money, but they weren't the hurry up and leave type of folks like you have in most of the truck stops these days.
13 Aug 2012, 17:51

I really appreciated this. It reminds me of where we have come from in this industry.
13 Aug 2012, 17:59
I enjoyed talking to Bob and seeing his memorabilia hanging around on the walls.

I then called one of my friends who has been on the road when the attendant would park the trucks and got his thoughts. He had many good things to say BUT he also said he would not want to go back. He likes the comfort of the trucks and roads the way they are now.

13 Aug 2012, 19:38
I have to wonder ... where is this antique jewel? Or did I miss something in the story?
13 Aug 2012, 19:42
Wow details.... It is called Atlanta South TA and located on I-75 Exit 201

Thanks Monty for catching that I only gave the name and not the location!
14 Aug 2012, 13:39
Great story Linda...really enjoyed..
14 Aug 2012, 16:11
Thanks ELH I enjoy listening to drivers talk about the amenities and the way they were treated way back .... It is long gone ere BUT we sure have a lot of nice stuff now that they did not have. One thing for sure is private showers. When I was asking questions about this I learned that in many places the men took showers in the same room and IF a women needed a shower they had to shut the room down and put a sign up until she was finished. I am sure that did not go over very well.
14 Aug 2012, 21:30
The Lee-Hi is another well run old fashioned place.
The owner of the Lee-Hi has bought White's and franchised it as a Petro.
I hope he leave's the original Lee - Hi the way it is. He runs a wrecker service and Western Star dealership at the original location on rte 11 near the 81/64 jct in Va.
14 Aug 2012, 22:44
Not sure if it is still there, been awhile since I've been out that way, but there used to be a remaining REAL Union 76 truckstop in Blythe, Ca there on I-10 .. it isn't very well received,(place was the pits last time I was there), but it remains a haven for those waiting for the scales to close.
15 Aug 2012, 13:57
Linda, sure looks like this piece touched a lot of people..nice to see I'm not the only one that has. A nostolgic yearning..maybe you can make this a regular feature?? And we can all add to it as we come across nice spots..
21 Aug 2012, 10:44
I am old enough to remember all of the old union 76 t/s.
And old enough to remember the good feeling a driver got when you saw that "big orange ball" in the sky!
Hot showers, good coffee, freindly people.
I ran out of money one night,(had to buy a tire to replace a blowout) and a manager at a 76 told me to go ahead and eat dinner on them, and just come in and pay in the morning after I could get my comcheck from dispatch. You wont ever see that happen today.
And yes, they really did fuel,wash windows, (sometimes the whole tractor) and park the truck for you back in the day. I dont think there will ever be another t/s quite like the orange ball.
21 Aug 2012, 11:07
Time have changed and the idea of leaving the keys in the truck with the windows open is pretty scary.... When talking with my friend they did so much slip seating that all that he ever had in a truck was a suitcase that went with him from truck to truck.

There is good and bad from days gone by and how it is today.

What I thought was interesting was the lack of trucks and that a truck stop that had 20 trucks in the parking lot was not something they saw often.
Shawn mitchell
30 Aug 2012, 13:15
When I started driving in 88. YOU always knew going to the 76 you were going to get what you needed. A lot has changed since those days and now its not so much a good meal but how long will taco bell mcdonalds or popeyes chicken hold me up at the fuel island.
19 Oct 2012, 10:02
When I started driving in 1977 there were very few restrooms and showers for women truck drivers because there was so few of us driving. At the 76 in Amarillo, TX they ordered me to leave the driver section, it got real nasty I was refused service, so I picked up a coffee cup and threw it at the very large mirror that was on the wall at that time and broke it. I walked outside to go back to the truck, a man walked up to me from behind and grabbed my arm, I spun around to hit him, and he said wait, then he offered me his business card and told me that he had a driving job for me. He was the owner of Matlock, I never drove for him but probably should. He said that he liked what I had just done. Of course the 76 didn't like it and I was banned from the truck stop, lucky that I was arrested.
27 Oct 2012, 02:52
Back in the 1970s I would drive (car) out of New England, cross-country, and always would stop at the Union 76 Truck Stops.

In the glory days of CB radio and cheap gasoline, these places made the trip itself part of the vacation destination.
12 Nov 2012, 19:49
When I started long haul driving in '88 it didn't take me long to learn to look for the Union 76 truck stops throughout the country. To help me find them they used to publish a directory with all the T/S listed in it. You could pick one up at any 76 Truck stop. After driving cross country for a while I would plan on spending the night at one. Also would fuel up there and grab a meal and shower. I am retired now and was wondering what happened to all the 76's and went to Google today and found this web site. It was nice reading all the comments. By the way I drove for NAVL in the new products division.
Kermit Wiggins II
26 Nov 2012, 04:14
My dad used to be the resturant manager at the 76 state line truck stop outside Richmond, IN. From 1969 - 1972. Then transfered to Plymouth,IN from 1972 - 1974. Always enjoyed visting my dad there, the employees and truck drivers were like family.
Rick Worley
05 Jul 2013, 03:28
I grew up at the 76 at exit 4 on I85 in Fair Play SC. My dad was a mechanic in the shop his name was Bill Worley. I started going there when I was five years old in 1972. He stopped working there in 1982. I can remember alot of the drivers and the trucks they drove. Years later in 1999 I started driving myself. I guess I had to see the places that those guys told me about. One thing I learned back nice to the drivers you might be he last time you ever see them again.
Joe Allison
04 Oct 2013, 08:38
I go back with Bob Ryan when the Interstate used to be US 41, the 1960's, was a Truck Route, and I was Driving for Deggeller Amusement Company, and we would have money left for us at his Fuel Desk.

The Food is always Great, his People are always the Friendliest, and his Prices are always Acceptable.

Hi Bob, Happy you made this website.
Joe Allison
Jason E
10 Mar 2014, 20:06
I too remember traversing the country with my mom who drove truck through out the "glory" days stopping at the 76's. It seemed to be a national fixture and a sight for sore eyes. Two decades later I began to drive truck also as the diesel fever had been instilled into me at an early age. Through my journeys I had tried to locate as many of the 76's as I could remember. After having sold out in the 90's as mentioned earlier many have changed. There are a few left that still have the same feel and for the most part the same everything except the signs. The TA's in Sparks,NV (still has a map of the US marking all of the 76's by Interstate), Oklahoma City East, Atlanta South (as mentioned by the OP), Amarillo, TX, Dexter, MI (has areial pictures on the wall before I-94 was there), and I have to throw in Montgomery, AL (there is nothing special about this one except that they still have the original building AND original pavement in the parking lot. [A.k.a] a dump hole!)
22 Apr 2014, 10:31
I was a Road King Drivers Club life
member, first joined back in 1971.
What memories. I miss those days for
sure. I still have the buckle from
the club. The big orange ball was the
place to be back in the day. God Bless
all you truckers out there.
Joe Allison
24 Apr 2014, 19:56
Shortchange: Me too.

Remember "Speed and Briscoe"?
Tim Burke
25 Apr 2014, 20:44
The Union 76 Truck Stop chain has always been my Favorite. There were 3 I seemed to get to quite often, and I looked forward to getting there, and enjoying the time I had to spend there. Winnemucca, Nevada when I was out West, and Robin Hood in Benson N.C. were definitely favorites, but the 1 that seemed most like home away from home was Commercial Truck in Haines City Florida.
29 Jan 2015, 10:38
Back in the late '60 through the '70s I was a Police Officer in Effingham, Ilinois (junction of I-70 & I-57). We always patrolled the Pure/76 truck stop watching for thieves. Never ever had a problem with a trucker and got to help many during blizzards and road closures. Of course we got free food and coffee. No one ever took advantage. Great friendly and clean place with good food and strong coffee. I met a lot of very nice lady and gentlemen truckers. As a cop we were not there to harass only to help. I sure miss those days
01 Mar 2015, 06:23
Sad fact,but all "real" truck stops are extinct. How many of y'all remember the old "Mass 10" ? It was one off for sure, but everything was geared towards the drivers. I heard something about it being a "contaminated site" (whatever that means. Obviously EPA territory). There was a 76 in Wildwood,Florida. Merchandise they sold was actually geared towards drivers. I pulled into a "buc-ees"( thought it was a truckstop). Fueled up,went inside and asked ,"where I could find the log books". "What's that?" I got to looking around and decided it was a "tourist trap",not a truckstop.
I remember the "on duty drivers" section. You "had to"!put up with ma and pa kettle and their 10 heathens on the highway,but when you stopped to eat,you got to sit in a seperate section from them and were given priority over them. It's almost laughable what they try to pass off as truckstops. There might be a small section with items that a driver can actually use,but the rest looks like the items you find in typical Pakistanian quick stop gas station. Beer,condoms,girls gone wild DVDs . I ain't got nothing against that,but that shit belongs in "playtime". Hell I even miss the gal at the fuel desk gettin all irate because some driver forgot he needs to move his truck after he's fueled. She'd get on th PA system,"would the Eagle Motor Lines driver move your truck. Other drivers are waiting to fuel". There's a few left,but for the most part the "real truckstops" ( much like the real truck drivers ) are a distant memory.
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