Oasis Diner

It’s a gleaming stainless-steel 1954 Mountain View diner, shipped by rail from the New Jersey factory and opened for business on US 40, the old National Road, just east of Plainfield, Indiana. It served there for more than 50 years before hard times befell it and it closed. That’s how I found it when I last toured the National Road across western Indiana, in 2009; I hoped to take my breakfast there. See a photo of it that day deep in this post. And then the health department declared an addition behind the diner unsound. As the last diner of its type on the National Road, preservationists swung into action. This year, it moved four miles west into the town of Plainfield, where it was restored and reopened. The Oasis sign is a reproduction from photographs; the original had been removed decades ago. The Diner sign is original but restored.

My sons and I visited for dinner a couple weeks ago with some road-trip-loving friends. My younger son and I had cheeseburgers — they grind bacon into their beef for extra flavor. My other son had the cheesesteak, which he called “amazing.” The company and the setting were pretty darn good, too.


8 responses to “Captured: Oasis Diner”

  1. hmunro Avatar

    I’m so glad the preservationists swung into action on this one. What a classic slice of Americana — and what a beautiful image in its own right! Well done, Jim.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      My Canon S95 was born to take photos like this!

  2. pesoto74 Avatar

    Very nice photo. I too seem to have an easier time getting good results at night from digital than I do with my film cameras. I am glad to hear of a successful preservation story. There was a Mountain View Diner here in Champaign for years that also has managed to survive with its original sign. However the Diner had to move out to New York state to survive. It is an interesting story of how the diner and its sign managed to get back together. http://www.news-gazette.com/news/local/2009-08-09/c-us-chuck-wagon-diner-its-sign-reunited-restored.html

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      What a great story! I’ve seen old photos of the Chuck Wagon before, somewhere. Glad it could be restored and the sign reused with it, but wish it could have happened in Champaign.

  3. david35mm Avatar

    Gorgeous night-time image, Jim. The exposure’s spot-on for the people inside, and that neon and steel outside just pops. Diners like this are such iconic images of the States for us non-Americans!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      The S95 loves scenes like this. I shot this in full-auto-everything mode!

      1. Don Milne - Roadtrip62 Avatar

        Yes, that view of the people inside all cozy in that bright light is a great contrast to the dark outside. And you’ve captured the colors of the signs beckoning the rest of us inside too! Glad someone restored this and glad you shared your photo.

        1. Jim Grey Avatar

          Thanks Don!

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