Thursday, April 15, 2021

HGB Ep. 381 - Tri-County Truck Stop

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Moment in Oddity - Two Kings Eat Themselves to Death

Have you heard of the two kings who ate themselves to death? Many are aware that there was a time when kings had official food tasters. These poor people were not there to make sure the food tasted good, they were tasting the food to make sure it wasn't poisoned. But what to do when the food isn't technically poisoned and yet could kill the king? King Henry I of England found out. This man absolutely loved sea lamprey. First thing you need to know about these fish is that they are tough enough to have survived four extinction events. They are also known as the Vampire Fish. They feed in the ocean by latching onto other fish and sucking their blood and other bodily fluids. They need to be cleaned really well before eating and even then, we wouldn't risk it. But King Henry didn't care. He stuffed himself full of sea lamprey one night in 1135 and soon was dead from food poisoning. Our other unlucky king was King Adolf Frederick who ruled Sweden in the 18th century. This guy didn't know when to stop when he was eating fine food. On February 12, 1771, he ate a meal of lobster, caviar, sauerkraut, smoked herring, cabbage soup and slammed it down with some champagne. Then came dessert, which was semla. This rich dessert is a bun filled with hot milk and marzipan, which is a mixture of ground almonds and sugar. King Frederick had 14 servings of that and his intestines said no sir! He apparently died a very painful death. Two kings eating themselves to death, certainly is odd!

This Month in History - Beer Flows Again

In the month of April, on the 7th, in 1933, beer was sold again in 19 of the 48 states and the District of Columbia. This was the day that beer flowed again! And for that, Kelly and I are grateful because we have become quite the craft beer connoisseurs. But there was a time when no alcohol flowed in America because of Prohibition. This banning of alcohol had lasted thirteen years, but President Roosevelt had made a campaign promise to get rid of Prohibition and after he was elected, he did just that on March 22, 1933. And at one minute after midnight on April 7th  train whistles, sirens and fire alarms went off across the East Coast signaling that 3.2% beer could be made, sold and consumed. As a matter of fact, Pabst Brewing Co. was one of the first to fire up their brewery again and employees and onlookers cheered as they loaded cases and barrels of beer onto trucks. In some cities, crowds gathered outside bars, twelve deep. Two cases of beer were delivered to the White House aboard a truck that had a sign on the outside reading, "President Roosevelt, the first real beer is yours."

Tri-County Truck Stop

Route 66 was once known as the "Main Street of America" and is still affectionately referred to as the Mother Road. It's hard to believe this highway was once thriving with a host of businesses because now many of those businesses are closed and abandoned. One of these locations was The Diamonds, which started as a fruit stand, then became a restaurant and eventually a truck stop named the Tri-County Truck Stop that also had rooms to rent. The location is now closed and abandoned except for on certain nights when ghost hunts are offered. Many claim that this is the most haunted truck stop in the Midwest and perhaps even in the country. Join us as we explore the history and haunts of The Diamonds!

Hey Kelly, get your kicks on... (That was written by Marine Captain Bobby Troupe and first recorded by Nat King Cole in 1946.) Route 66 winds its way through eight states: Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California. It is fitting that we are featuring a stop along Route 66 in the month of April because it was in this month that two businessmen came up with the idea of naming the new route from Chicago to Los Angeles, Route 66. John T. Woodruff was from Springfield, Missouri and Cy Avery was from Oklahoma and so Springfield has been recognized as the birthplace of the infamous Mother Road. Route 66 would officially be established on November 11, 1926. When the highway was finished, it covered 2,448 miles. This was not only an original highway in the U.S. Highway System, it was the path to a better life for many people as they migrated west during the Dust Bowl. This also helped people living in rural areas to get their crops to market. And since the road was mostly flat, much of the commerce via trucks preferred to travel it. Life was good for business along Route 66, but by 1985 it was removed from the Highway System. Parts have been designated a National Scenic Byway and in 2026, Route 66 will celebrate its centennial. 

There are literally hundreds of ghost stories connected to Route 66 and many books have been published featuring those. For example, the town of Quapaw in Oklahoma is the first town you will hit when driving out of Kansas into Oklahoma. This city is known as America's Hay Capital and has spook lights that have been seen, particularly by truckers driving at night and that has lead to some claiming that this stretch of Route 66 is cursed. That's not the only ghost light along Route 66. The Joplin ghost light is seen near the Missouri-Oklahoma border. Truckers claim to see this ball of light on clear nights and it seems to dance on the horizon. The light has been seen for decades and cars have been parking along Oklahoma's East 50 Road to get the best glimpse of the ghosts light since the 1960s.

Along this road in Missouri, The Diamonds was founded. The Diamonds was located in Villa Ridge Missouri about 40 miles west of St. Louis, right off of Hwy 44. Villa Ridge was founded in 1889 with the establishment of a post office. The name is pretty simple. There is a ridge nearby and villa means town. The Diamonds started as a fruit and veggie stand that eventually became a restaurant owned by Spencer Groof, a young law student with big dreams. The name for the restaurant came from its design, a baseball diamond. This would become the Eating Place and the Meeting Place with over 75 employees and the nickname "The Old Reliable Eating Place." There were three U-shaped lunch counters serving up great American fare like hamburgers and pot roast. Groof owned the property across the street as well and he put in a Phillips 66 gasoline station and twenty-five cabins that he rented overnight. The Diamonds was open 24 hours and business was great, serving over a million people a year, until 1948 when a fire destroyed the building. This did not deter Groof. He rebuilt with an art deco architectural style and the place did even better with lots of celebrities stopping in for the food. These celebrities included Al Capone, Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe. The Interstate System caused Route 66 to get less and less traffic and once it was decommissioned, The Diamonds decided they needed to move and they did so two miles east in 1967.

Another restaurant moved in called the Tri-County Restaurant and Truck Stop in 1970. Truckers were still using Route 66 and they were the main customers until other truck stops were built along the Interstate and pulled them away. Since the truck stop was 24 hours, it started attracting late night eaters like the bar crowd who would show up in the wee hours of the morning for food. To make more money, the truck stop decided to renovate the second floor into hotel rooms and offered overnight rentals and showers. The takers were mainly women plying sex and random hitchhikers. This crowd brought crime and violence with them. In September of 2006, the truck stop closed its doors for good.

The location hasn't been left abandoned though. Paranormal investigators have been visiting since then and they have found plenty of evidence to back-up the stories that employees and patrons had been sharing for years. There were claims that objects like salt and pepper shakers would levitate and sometimes even move from one table to another. The appliances in the kitchen would turn themselves on and off. People were touched by things that they couldn't see. And sometimes they would see those things that touched them in the form of shadow figures or full-bodied apparitions. There were claims of weird sounds and disembodied voices. Probably the weirdest and maybe even most horrifying claim is that children have claimed to see a bloody monster on the stairs. Some have even described that this monster, which is more than likely a man, has a knife and that it climbs the stairs to the second floor where there is a woman that it stabs and kills. We're not sure why this has only been witnessed by children, but how horrible. And blood was actually found on the wall after the children reported the sighting.

A full-bodied apparition of a man would be seen in the dining room area wearing khaki pants and a checkered shirt and a shadow figure has climbed up the stairs from the basement and gone into the kitchen area.  Another spirit has been named George and he likes to get friendly with the ladies by stroking their arms or patting them on the back, which we hope is just the back and not the backside.  Most former employees claim that the basement and second floor are the places with the most activity and were to be avoided as much as possible.

The investigative group Paranormal Task Force were the first group to investigate the truck stop. They did so back in August of 2006 and it didn't take long for them to realize that they were not the only ones in the building. A coffee pot flew across the room and crashed to the floor. Greg Myers, the President of the group, said, "On the first night, we were setting up a camera on the second floor. I was holding a door shut, and something was trying to open it from the other side—we were actually fighting back and forth." That wasn't the only thing thrown at the group. A light bulb was thrown at them as well. Greg asked aloud if the group was welcome and a bunch of pots and pans banged and rattled and they caught this on audio that you can hear at their website: They also managed to capture on video a blue phosphorescent anomaly and they saw a full-bodied apparition of a man wearing a flannel shirt in the men's bathroom. They have a bunch of EVP that they have captured inside the truck stop. One of the best features a very loud and clear Class A EVP saying "Help, save me."

Activity continued throughout the night for the Paranormal Task Force and they reported many similar experiences as the former employees. The investigators heard disembodied voices and whispers and they were touched by the spirits. There was a loud banging noise like a door being slammed shut three times. That number three makes this even more unnerving. There were multiple EMF spikes and anomalies. And that spirit that has been seen in the dining room with the khaki pants was seen in the men's bathroom by an investigator. This was actually the brother of the owner and he claimed that he heard a dragging or growling noise in the hallway as he stood at the urinal. A translucent male apparition wearing a red flannel shirt and khaki pants walked in and then disappeared. He was so shocked by what he was seeing, he didn't even notice that he had turned and was peeing on the floor. 

An investigator also managed to capture a white mist in a photograph while in a downstairs bathroom. Investigators on the second floor watched a piece of paper turn itself over. Cold spots were felt throughout the building. The nasty smell of decaying flesh would happen occasionally on the second floor. The investigators felt like they were being watched wherever they went. Their equipment would be turned off and then turned back on randomly. And two pennies dated 1957 and 1969 were tossed on the floor while some investigators were conducting an EVP session on the second floor.

Dan Terry sent me his book "Missouri Shadows" and in it, he details his experience joining the Paranormal Task Force on this initial investigation. Before going, he interviewed a former employee and she told him that something would watch her every time she went down into the basement. Once when she was in the restroom, something prevented her from opening the door. she also would hear growling in the basement. She also had her hair pulled so hard that it unraveled her braid. Dan experienced much of what we described in this first investigation. The group returned a few weeks later and a really terrifying thing happened. An old knife on the floor was thrown at them. Now that would be enough to get me to leave. The group returned again and witnessed an orb cross the room and disappear into a wall. When investigators asked the spirits to make themselves known, the pipes started to rattle. A rock was thrown against a back wall too. Dan saw a shadow figure and when he blocked its path, it passed right over his head. He reported that a psychic claimed that a woman was murdered in the basement, killing her unborn child and that she, the child and the murderer were all down in the basement. 

An investigator named Tim told Dan that he had been slapped and shoved so hard that he would've fallen over if he hadn't been up against a wall. Dan also shared the story of a man named Stephen. His brother Kevin was hired to do security after the truck stop closed and he lived in a trailer on the property. Both Stephen and Kevin had worked at the truck stop in the 1980s and 1990s. They had experienced George the ghost in the bathroom while working there. One night, Kevin invited Stephen to come over because he felt there was another ghost at the truck stop other than George and this one was violent. Stephen said he wasn't afraid and he marched inside. They heard a voice yell, "Get out!" Stephen ran downstairs because he thought someone was down there. He found no one. Then he went upstairs and opened a door. Immediately after he pushed it open, the door pushed back against him. He forced the door open again and it slammed against him. He left, but did return later and his brother asked him to lock the back door. Stephen again heard a loud voice yell, "Get out!" and he was done visiting the place. 

Dan was told by another worker named Tina of a time when she was stocking cans in the pantry, putting everything in a certain order. She got called away for a minute. When she returned, the cans were all mixed up. The ghosts would play with the buffet according to Tina. They left the hot food alone, but moved the cold stuff all around. Tina never went to the bathroom alone and she hated the basement. She once went down there for a smoke and some fellow employees locked the door. She pounded on the door and something grabbed her arm and squeezed. She never went into the basement again. Another employee named Daniel witnessed a child's ball bounce down the stairs and he heard a child's laughter. He thought it belonged to a little girl. There was no child upstairs.

The strangest claim is that a black panther has been seen in the basement. Where this could have come from, nobody knows and we aren't sure if black panthers would have even been in this area. Maybe someone had kept one there at one time? Outside of the truck stop and down the road a bit, people claim to pick up a hitchhiker who asks to be taken to the truck stop and then he disappears. And people who live near the former truck stop claim that spirit activity spills over to their houses.

Stephen Wagner wrote "The Phantom of the Truck Stop" for, "The life of a long-haul trucker is a difficult one. Long, tedious hours on the road, away from family for days or even weeks at a time. As Mike L. explains, they also witness many weird and incredible things on their interstate travels. Yet Mike was not prepared for what he experienced one summer night at a tiny truck stop in the middle of nowhere... hardly the place where one would expect a ghost - if that's what it was. This is Mike's story....

I am an over-the-road truck driver and I drive across all of the lower-48 states. I see some unusual things from time to time, but nothing compares to what I encountered in Palestine, Arkansas in mid-June of 2011.

I was on a long haul from Detroit, Michigan to Houston, Texas. This was day three of my trip and I was beginning to run out of driving hours for the day. I noticed a truck stop/gas station on the side of I-40, pulled off and decided to call it a night. I was running ahead of schedule, so I was going to have myself a long, fourteen-hour break instead of the usual ten.


Off the bat, I didn't like the area but had no other choice. The bathrooms were unkempt and had enough graffiti on the walls to classify itself as an inner-city truck stop, even though I was practically in the middle of nowhere. It was also a small shop, with parking for only a dozen trucks. After washing up, I purchased a new work knife, some hot food and headed out to my truck.

I sat in the captain's chair and listened to the radio while I ate my dinner with the windows down, letting in the dry wind. The Mississippi River had just begun flooding, but there hadn't been any rain in over a week. The surrounding area was beginning to look like Nevada more than Arkansas.

I finished my meal and cleaned up a bit. I slid out of the seat and onto the pavement as a gust of warm wind hit me. I strolled over to the dumpster, tossed my garbage inside and began slowly walking back to my truck. I fished out a filterless cigarette and leaned against the bug-splattered side of my truck and lit it with my lighter. I enjoyed the smoke as I watched the sun set below the horizon. A few more trucks had backed into spots. I spotted one guy walking out of the store with a bottle of beer in his hand, looking around nervously as he quickly strode over to his truck. The life of a trucker. Something interesting and new every day. Risking his job over one, lousy beer.

I climbed back into the cab of the truck, dropped back into the sleeper berth, changed into a pair of pajamas and lay down to get some rest. I didn't bother setting an alarm. I felt sleep creep over me and accepted it as I drifted off into dreamworld.


I awoke with the cab of the truck rocking violently, knocking the bottle of water I had placed on my "nightstand" over onto the floor. I sat straight up, fully awake and pressed the button on the truck's radio/alarm. It was shortly after three in the morning. I reached down and grabbed the bottle of water that had fallen, twisted the cap off and took a few deep gulps before wondering what had rocked my truck so violently. Then I remembered: the wind. I settled back down, got my heart rate back below a hundred and lay my head down on the pillow. The truck rocked again, knocking my ashtray over that I had set in the cup holder and once again tossing my water bottle onto the floor.

I flipped on the overhead light, slid on my shoes and grabbed another cigarette from my pack. I opened the curtains, sat in the captain's chair and shut off the sleeper light. I opened the door and noticed that it had cooled down considerably. I shut off the truck, pocketed the keys and climbed down onto the pavement to look around.

At this time of night, the truck stop only had lights around the gasoline pumps, and their light could not reach the truck parking area. I looked around a moment, lit my cigarette... and then noticed something. The wind had stopped blowing. I wondered what had caused my truck to rock so violently. Earthquake maybe? I knew that a few had been reported around Memphis, and I was probably close enough to have felt a tremor, but that rocking motion did not feel like an earthquake. It felt like the wind hitting the side of my truck with a strong gust.


Curiously and cautiously, I walked around the front of my truck to the passenger side and looked down the length of my trailer. I noticed movement. Low to the ground, about four feet. Not fast. I used my keys to unlock the passenger-side door, jumped up and grabbed my large flashlight from an overhead storage compartment. I climbed back down and closed and locked the door.

I clicked on the light and shined it down the side of my trailer. There was a young girl standing off into the field about ten feet behind my truck, but when I looked harder, she wasn't there.

Well, like I said earlier, truck drivers see something new every day. This was certainly new. I began to walk toward the rear of my truck, scanning the field with my flashlight for any trace of the girl I had just seen. When I reached the back, there was no trace. It must have been a trick of the eyes. Heck, I haven't even fully awakened yet. I glanced over my shoulder. There were no cars at the pumps and the clerk definitely hadn't noticed me.

I felt "the call of the wild" coming on and didn't feel much like walking into the store wearing my pajamas. I was in the middle of nowhere and no one could see me, so I figured no harm, no foul. I stood at the rear of the trailer and did my business, looking around for that girl again (also hoping that she wasn't hiding behind something and watching me do this).


I put everything away and walked to the driver's side of my truck toward the cab. I took the last couple of puffs off my cigarette and flung it into the parking lot, used my keys to unlock the truck and popped the door open. Just as I planted my foot on the fairing, I heard a distinct giggle. A girl's giggle. I stepped back down and shined the flashlight around. Nothing.

"This is getting kind of creepy," I said aloud.

"He heard me," a small girl's voice answered back.

I jumped backward away from my truck. The voice had come from inside the cab! Something was wrong. I had the entire truck locked up while I was walking around. There was no way that someone could have gotten in without breaking a window. Steeling myself for what was going to be an uncomfortable encounter at the least, I took a step up on the fairing and leaned my head into the truck.

"Is anyone in here?" I asked. I hit the switch to turn on the sleeper berth light. I climbed in. I put a knee on the seat and peered into the sleeper berth.

"Goodnight," a soft voice said, which seemed to emanate from all around me. I flinched as I heard the word and felt a cold chill run through my body. I slid off the seat and stood up in the cab, bumping my temple off the overhead storage bins. I looked around the sleeper. No one was there.


I turned around and shuffled into the cab to close the door when I saw the young girl standing outside my truck on the pavement, looking up at me with lifeless eyes. Those eyes, you see, weren't meant for a person. They were designed for a predator, and all of a sudden I felt like prey.

I reached forward and slammed the door shut and flicked the lock. I quickly decided that I was not staying here for the rest of the night. I turned the key and heard my truck's motor rumble to life, along with the familiar, annoying buzzing that was my air-pressure gauge telling me that I didn't have enough air to release the brakes. I took a furtive glance out the window, and there she stood - still as a tree, looking up at me and smiling. I didn't want to get any closer to the window until I was ready to get my truck moving. This was wrong, and I didn't want any part of this.

That "girl" wasn't human, at least not anymore she wasn't. It was almost as if she was something so inhuman that it would take the form of a human. It's hard for me to explain and I feel sick just thinking about it. I heard the siren shut off and hit the valves to supply air to my brake system. As the system began to air up, the siren came on again.

Screw this, I thought to myself. I have enough to get out of here. I disengaged the clutch, ground the truck into gear and roared out of the parking lot like the devil himself was behind me... which, for all I knew, he was.

I looked in my side mirror as I was about to start turning right and saw the girl washed in the red and amber glow of my running lights. She was smiling at me and waving. I flew through my gears as quickly as they would let me as I got back onto the interstate.


I drove for about forty-five minutes, repeatedly hitting the switch to turn on my interior lights to look around the cab and the sleeper before finally spotting a larger truck stop at the next exit. After backing into one of the few remaining spots left, I shut off my lights and turned on the sleeper berth light as I walked into the back. Then paused.

At the store, I had bought a souvenir. Nothing fancy, just a postcard with a picture of Arkansas on it. I also had bought a new knife. I had never even taken the knife out of the box and remembered putting the postcard into a drawer for safekeeping. The point of the blade had been driven directly into the spot on I-40 where I had originally stopped for the night! The blade had been driven in deep, pegging the postcard to my nightstand!

It took me several minutes just to work the knife loose enough to withdraw it from the nightstand. Thankfully, when I turned the postcard over, no message had been left for me.

To this day I do not know what I saw. I hear other truckers talk of strange things that they see on the interstates, U.S. highways, and state routes, but I've never mentioned my experience. I've always felt that just by mentioning her, I'd walk back out to my truck and there she would be, sitting on my bunk and waiting for me.

I threw that postcard away and tossed the knife into a dumpster. I got another postcard from Arkansas, just to keep the collection going. I've got 36 so far."

We don't know if this was a true story, but it sure was a good one! We imagine the possibilities for haunted truck stops are numerous being that they are such a transient place and some not-so-nice things can happen at them. The Tri-County Truck Stop sits on a property that had a long and good history, but there are definitely some strange things happening there now. Is the truck stop haunted? That is for you to decide!

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