Stepping back in time for an overnight stay, on US 40 in Columbus, Ohio

By the time I reached greater Columbus, I could see that I had left the rugged terrain of eastern Ohio behind. The road tracked straight, and except for a US 40 bypass of tiny Etna, the old and abandoned alignments had all dried up. But what central Ohio lacks in old alignments, it makes up for in roadside sights. I couldn’t believe all the old motels still operating, and still in good exterior condition, along US 40. You’d think it was still the 1950s!

I came upon the Homestead Motel first as I entered Columbus from the east. Its sign is similar to the one for Baker’s Motel on the National Road in Norwich. But this isn’t the Homestead’s first sign; this page shows postcards of two other signs this motel has used, as well as cards of other Columbus motels.

Homestead Motel

The Capital Motel is next.

Capital Motel

Of all the old motels I saw in Columbus, I liked the sign for the Brookside Motel the best. The top once rotated, and the other side of the top is white letters on black. (See it here; see it lit here.) This motel was originally the Brookside Tour-O-Tel and had a different sign saying so.

Brookside Motel

Perhaps the best known of Columbus’s old motels, the 40 Motel is way out on Columbus’s west side. Here’s its sign when lit.

40 Motel

A nice bit of neon identifies the 40 Motel’s office, too.

40 Motel

If you like roadside neon, check out some I found while out and about in Indiana herehere, and here.

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13 responses to “Stepping back in time for an overnight stay, on US 40 in Columbus, Ohio”

  1. Michael Avatar

    It’s surprising they haven’t been run out of biz by the major chains like so many other places that are either now abandoned or turned into apartments.

    1. Jim Avatar

      It is kind of remarkable that these motels appear still to be viable.

  2. Scott Palmer Avatar

    That brings back memories of more personal stopping places along the road.Though less polished than the chain motels that replaced them, and of unpredictable quality, they were still friendlier and more like home.

    If Norman Bates were alive today, he’d be a suit-and-tie-wearing corporate type with a name badge, Janet Leigh would have been perfectly safe, and we would have had no movie. :-)

    Another great blog. Thanks.

    1. Jim Avatar

      It was the “unpredictable quality” part that let the chains take over, I think. But that seems to have eroded over time with the chains. One Days Inn may be extremely nice, the next a dump of the highest order.

  3. Denny Gibson Avatar

    It was the off-page Tour-O-Tel that caught my eye. I’ve only seen that word once; seven years ago in Marion, KY, on the Tobin Tourotel (no hyphens). At that time I claim to have found only German language sites with the word and just now all the top sites I found were European and most were Austrian. Very interesting to learn that there was once a rare and exotic Tour-O-Tel in the middle of Ohio.

    Incidentally, I’ve stayed in both the 40 Motel & Baker’s.

    My own long ago tour-o-encounter is here:

    1. Jim Avatar

      I kind of wish I had called the Columbus hotels to see if any of them were dog-friendly.

      “Tour-o-tel” is just too awkward to say. I gather that a number of terms kind of competed for supremacy and “motel” ultimately won.

      Great sign on the Kansas tourotel.

      1. Denny Gibson Avatar

        Those seem to be “look before you pay” sort of places. Unless you have prior knowledge of a mom & pop motel, making reservations is a little risky. More so, I’d think, if it turns out bad and you have to explain that to your dog.

        I sometimes have reason to stay around Columbus so I may check out the Homestead, Brookside, or Capital some day, although I’ll confess to not taking much notice of any of them before.

        The other toutotel is closer than you think. It’s in Marion, Kentucky. Just a couple hundred crow miles from Indy.

  4. Tori Nelson Avatar

    Cool! I love old motel signs. We stayed at the Thunderbird Inn in Savannah last year just because I thought the sign was awesome!

    1. Jim Avatar

      You’re my kind of gal!

  5. vanilla Avatar

    You and your camera play time-machine. Great memories. (I once stayed in that “dump of the highest order” you referred to in a comment above. Not fun.)

    1. Jim Avatar

      I once stayed at a mom-and-pop motel where I was afraid to use the shower, and I slept in my clothes on top of the made bed. Brr.

  6. Ward Fogelsanger--Gilbert AZ Avatar
    Ward Fogelsanger–Gilbert AZ

    Saw the post card of Emil’s steer Inn–we used to always go there on the way from Casey Il to my grandparents in Zanesville—still can remember hearing Dusty Springfields first hit Wishin and Hopin on reverb in my parents 64 Pontiac Bonneville during a stop you know how you can place a song with a place and time.

    1. Jim Avatar

      Emil’s looks like a pretty modern place, in terms of its design. You can create a soundtrack of your life from the songs you associate with places and times.

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