The place is big — really big.
The main building of the Iowa 80 Truckstop in Walcott, Iowa, encompasses more square footage than a pair of football fields. The complex includes eight restaurants; a convenience store; gift shop; 30,000-square-foot “Super Truck” showroom; 60-seat movie theater; food court; trucker’s TV lounge; two dozen private showers; and a custom embroidery and vinyl shop.
Dentists, chiropractors and barbers ply their respective trades at least six days a week in offices within the main building. A workout room and laundry facilities are also available.
Meals are served around the clock. The Iowa 80 Kitchen, which seats 300 diners, dishes up more than 290 pounds of beef and 318 pounds of pork every day, seven days a week.
Other facilities include a seven-bay truck service center, three-bay truck wash, CAT scale, 10 gas islands, 16 diesel lanes, Dogomat pet wash and the Iowa 80 Trucking Museum.
All told, Iowa 80 Truckstop maintains a workforce of approximately 500 employees to staff all three shifts.
The parking lot itself is bigger than most truck stops. The asphalt expanse can accommodate 900 tractor-trailers, 250 cars and 20 buses. Iowa 80 serves 5,000 visitors a day, 45 percent of whom drive the big rigs.
The “world’s largest and most respected truck stop” sits on 225 acres.
“Approximately 80 acres are developed,” said Heather DeBaillie, marketing manager for Iowa 80 Group Inc., which owns 11 other truck stops in Missouri, North Carolina, Illinois, Arkansas, Indiana, Ohio and Oklahoma. “Iowa 80 Truckstop sits on 225 acres so we have plenty of room to grow.”
The truck stop has undergone 28 expansions since it opened in a small white enamel building in 1964. Th e following year Manager Bill Moon and his wife, Carolyn, purchased the enterprise from Standard Oil, “leveraging everything they had, including borrowing money from friends,” according to www.iowa80truckstop.com.
“Bill just loved everything about trucks and trucking,” said Carolyn.
“He loved to sit at the counter in the restaurant and talk to drivers about what would make their life easier.”
To put it mildly, mission accomplished, including 24-hour accessibility to its customers. “Iowa 80 opened in June 1964 and hasn’t closed its door since. That’s the equivalent of being open more than 473,040 consecutive hours,” said DeBaillie.
The Moon family, now in its second generation of ownership, continues Bill’s legacy of honoring the industry with a museum and two annual events.
The Iowa 80 Trucking Museum houses more than 100 antique trucks, at least one dating to 1910, with 60 on exhibit at any time. Also displayed are 304 original petroliana signs; 24 vintage gas pumps; and hundreds of other original artifacts, miniatures and truck-related toys.
One item, a 1911 all-electric truck, was powered by 10 large wet cell batteries and was capable of traveling 50 miles on a single charge.
The museum’s mission is “the restoration and preservation of antique trucks and trucking artifacts so the history of trucking may be shared with the general public.”
The museum “is a great place for educators to enrich students’ learning,” touts the website, www.iowa80truckingmuseum.com, which includes teaching tools for kindergarten through fifth grade, a trucking vocabulary list and a variety of fun facts about the industry.
The museum’s regular hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Summer hours from Memorial Day to Labor Day are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. The museum is closed Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.
Admission to the museum is free, but donations are accepted.
Every July the truck stop hosts the three-day Walcott Truckers Jamboree, dedicated to “celebrating America’s truckers.”
“Without truck drivers doing the job they do, our economy wouldn’t function,” said Delia Moon Meier, senior vice president of Iowa 80 Truckstop. “We appreciate their hard work, and the Walcott Truckers Jamboree is our way of saying ‘thank you’ to the millions of truck drivers who deliver the goods we consume.”
The free event was launched in 1979 and features a variety of family-friendly events:
- antique truck display
- super trucks beauty contest
- pork chop cookout
- carnival games
- live country music
- trucker olympics
Last year’s event drew a record 44,000 attendees. The 40th annual jamboree will take place July 11-13 2019.
Every August the truck stop sponsors a tournament at nearby Glynn’s Creek Golf Course to benefit the trucking museum. The 16th annual tournament will be held Monday, Aug. 12 2019.
The truck stop is located at 755 W. Iowa 80 Road, Exit 284, Walcott, Iowa. For more information, call (563) 284-6961.
Photos courtesy of Iowa 80 Truckstop