ERICK, Okla. (KFOR) – Between Chicago and Los Angeles, Route 66 tells the story of an American Century in many forms, but none quite like Sam’s Town.
It’s a new attraction that harkens back to the Dust Bowl ’20s and ’30s, and to a vision of a man raised in its path.
“When I get a vision in my mind,” says builder Sam Hagen. “I can’t help it. I got to see it through. I have to make it come alive.”
His latest vision began over the summer when he, somehow, acquired the highway frontage where the old Dairy Freeze in Erick used to sit.
He took tornado-damaged scrap to build this section of Sam’s Town with his own hands.
Then, he connected that to what he’s constructed already.
“It’s like steppingstones,” he argues. “One thing led to another.”
It’s actually a very Mother Road business idea, to divert drivers’ attentions.
“My motto is, ‘Slow Down America,'” he states. “We’re going too fast, in my opinion.”
Bicyclists are especially welcome.
His single-handed efforts went to building what he calls the Mother Road’s only rest stop just for them.
We first met Sam more than 20 years ago when we featured his photography.
He turned from that to scrapping as he moved a one room schoolhouse to his property.
A few years later, he constructed a log cabin for a total of $7.
“You’ve done this on a budget, and when I say budget, Well, you can explain,” we prompt.
Hagen laughs, “Anything to make a dollar besides the wrong way. It’s got to be legal.”
Sam’s Town is a continuation of those efforts.
Another cabin, ‘7 Ricks’ is so named because that’s how much firewood it took to complete.
Wander his land and you’ll see trailers outfitted for campers, cabins, showers, even a wine bar built from a chicken coop.
His wine cellar consists of a cistern and a hand operated crank to lift the bottles.
“It keeps pretty cool,” he says as he retrieves the bottle. “Feel that.”
Sam’s Town is campground, off the books Air B and just Be.
It’s a throwback to times when folks might just roll up in overloaded Model Ts to rest and let the engine cool.
There is no corporate here, no codes, just a hand-painted shingle, and a vision like no other.
Sam’s Town is located one block west of Sheb Wooley Avenue on Route 66 in Erick.
Great State is sponsored by Oklahoma Proton Center