Just Down the Road - World's Largest Truckstop
Not many can say this, but I proudly lay claim to living just 10 miles from one of the world’s largest attractions.
That’s right, you know it, you love it, if you haven’t visited it, it’s at the top of your list.
It’s the Iowa 80 Truckstop, the world’s largest truck stop.
If you haven’t been there, you should. You’re not gonna believe your eyes.
It’s easy enough to find, just head west on I-80 through Illinois, cross the Mississippi River into Iowa and travel just another 25 miles down the highway.
You can’t miss it. Really, you can’t miss it.
Some of you might think I’m being a bit sarcastic when I say you have to see the place, and maybe I am. But just a little.
If you’re ever in the area, and especially if you’re driving down Interstate 80 in my neck of the woods, take the time to stop.
If I were doing a Johnny Carson monologue, that would be Jimmy Fallon to you youngins’, this is the part where you ask, “How big is it???
Well, let me tell you.
There are 900 truck parking spots. We’re talking about full semi-truck size spots here, not pick-em-up trucks.
42 gas islands and 16 diesel lanes mean you won’t have a problem finding a spot to fill your tank.
In addition to a full 300-seat restaurant and seven fast food options, there’s the gift shop, a barber shop, a chiropractor, a dentist office, movie theater, workout room, laundry facilities, a semi-truck size truck wash, a truck service center, truck scales AND a dogomat pet wash.
5,000 customers roll through daily.
Best fun fact of all, they go through 55 miles of toilet paper each and every day.
It all started simply enough with a small Standard Oil service station back in 1964, before Interstate 80 was even completed. The station was built by Standard Oil and managed by a fella by the name of Bill Moon.
The company decided to part ways with the place in 1984. Moon and his wife put up everything they had, even borrowing money from friends to purchase it.
From there the couple started adding things, and more things, and more things. Through the years the business has expanded 28 times. The family is still involved in it.
Iowa 80 Trucking Museum
One of those expansions was a bit of a lifelong dream for Moon, a museum dedicated to trucking. That dream came to life in 2008 in the form of the Iowa 80 Trucking Museum.
You don’t have to be a trucking enthusiast to enjoy strolling through the massive museum with more than 100 trucks and other related memorabilia on display.
I’ll be the first to admit I’m just not a car guy. I missed that male gene somewhere along the line.
Even so, I spent well over an hour wandering through the place, fascinated by the history these trucks represent, and I will be going back.
Some date back to the turn of the century, that would be the 20th Century, including one of the first electric trucks ever made, ones used in the World Wars, others that set speed records and at least a couple used in Hollywood movies.
The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday and, best of all, it’s entirely free of charge. It also includes a small movie theater featuring short movies about the trucking industry and its history.
Walcott Truckers Jamboree
Ok, I saved the best for last, the annual Walcott Truckers Jamboree usually held the second Thursday through Saturday of July.
In case you’re wondering where that name Walcott comes from, that’s the closest town to the truck stop. It’s about three miles, pretty much straight north of the truck stop.
Sidenote – If you have time for a quick side trip while visiting the truck stop, head on up to Walcott and drive by Castle Hall. It was built in 1905 and intended to resemble Balmoral Castle. I’m not quite sure the builder was entirely successful on that one but it’s a fun roadside attraction.
The Truckers Jamboree is your opportunity to get up close and personal with these huge trucks. The lot will be packed with them.
These are not your ordinary, everyday, semi-trucks. These are decked out works of art and wonder. The owners are even competing for prizes in a Super Trucks Beauty Contest.
Believe it or not, I became fascinated by the number of different and unique hood ornaments on the trucks. Who knew that many even existed?
Of course there’s a lot more than just the trucks, with nightly entertainment, a Trucker Olympics, pork shop cookout, more than 100 vendors and exhibits, pet contest and fireworks. A little tip, go at night and see the trucks all lit up, it’s a pretty amazing site.
Oh and, by the way, the Jamboree is also free of charge to attend.
Here’s video from the 2019 event:
I know some people look down their noses at all this and, well, stop it. Trucking is without a doubt one of the things that has made this country great and continues to make it roll today. Just think of what would happen if the trucking industry ground to a halt.
The Iowa 80 Truck Stop is open 24/7. Even if you can’t make it to the Jamboree you owe it to yourself to check out the truck stop someday.
**I allow use of my photos through Creative Commons License. I'm not looking to make money off this thing. I only ask you provide me with credit for the photo by noting my blog address, alansheaven.com, or a link back to this page.