The Truck Inn, Fernley, Nevada
Leaving San Francisco on I-80 eastbound, you are at sea level. You remain so, or nearly so, as you pass through Sacramento. Thereafter begins the climb across the Sierra Nevadas; the road summits at Donner Pass, more than 7200 feet above the ocean, and 91 miles from Sacramento.
This is the longest single stage climb I know of. (The climb on I-70 from Denver to the Eisenhower Tunnel is less than 6000 feet, for instance.) It is a tiring trip in a big truck and if begun at the end of a workday,the sight of Reno, Nevada, when you finally come upon it, is most welcome.
Beyond Reno, but only weakly distinguishable from it, is Sparks. Continuing east you enter a canyon through which the Truckee River and Canal Flows. At the end of the canyon, about 35 miles from Reno, is Fernely. Fernley is the last town before the high desert begins.
At Fernley there has been, for decades, a truck stop called the Truck Inn. The Truck Inn never tried to soften its image by employing the now ubiquitous euphemism for truck stop: "travel center."
Looking North. Note RV’s lined up along the western edge.
Photo by Google.
In recent years, one would notice its shabbiness. The Inn’s neon signage was half burnt out. A row of RV’s parked along its western edge looked like a semi-permanent gypsy encampment.
The Inn had the extraordinary feature of large animal pens for stock haulers. (I’ve never seen another truck stop with livestock pens.) It had a casino, a motel, a restaurant, a convenience store, fuel pumps, and across the way, truck repair and washing. Plenty of parking. (A place to park for the night is no small thing for a trucker. Sometimes I think the hardest task of my day is finding a place to shut down for the night.)
I showered there several times. The showers were always spotless, though not new. A shower cost $7.
The restaurant had great breakfasts at low prices. If you displayed your CDL (Commercial Drivers License) there was an additional discount and free coffee. My check, after a sit down, fresh cooked, restaurant breakfast was typically less than $6 and that included a $2 tip.
Here is a link to further description and photos:
Late last spring I pulled in in the evening after running all day around the Napa Valley. It was a perfect evening, calm and cool. Most of the truckers had stopped their engines, not needing them that night for climate control in their bunks. Windows were rolled down.
The driver in the truck to my left called across his cab and the space between our trucks to me. "They’re closing tomorrow," he said.
We commiserated. There was deep affection for the Truck Inn.
I don’t know why they gave up. I’m sure the general economic situation is a factor. The Truck Inn was a semi-independent operation, meaning it was not part of a big chain. It is possible that its different businesses had or have different owners. Passing by recently, I noticed a billboard for the Truck Inn’s many services had been modified by someone with a bucket of white paint. Certain offerings had been crossed out, struck through, with the paint and a brush. Other offerings remained: fuel and parking as I recall.
The truck stop business is not an easy one in the best of times. Margins on fuel are small, and inventories are necessarily very large. Flying J, one of the largest chains, is in Chapter 11 bankruptcy. TA/Petro, another very big group, is posting large losses, too.
When it went out of business, I thought that somebody should step in and try to revive it. Because of my interest in Parecon, I wonder if it could be pareconned. This led me to this question: Where would the money come from to purchase and, cringe, capitalize this business while keeping with Parecon objectives and strictures?