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Eric B

Forgotten Transportation hub: Clemente Travel Center

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One piece of transportation history that seems to be in the process of being forgotten is the Clemente Travel Center, also known as "State Road" in New Castle, Delaware.

 

Right in the center of the mid-Atlantic roadway corridor, nestled between the New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore/Washington metropolises and Atlantic City and the coastline (and on the outskirts of Wilmington, DE), this roadway stop billed itself as

"The Place Where the Nation Meets and Eats".

 

It was the major rest stop and transfer point for the interstate bus system (Greyhound and Trailways). Even the express buses to the deep South or cross country (such as the ones we used to take, whose first city after leaving New York was Richmond) pulled off of the 20px-I-95.svg.png, and headed a few miles down 20px-US_13.svg.png, (like they were going down the Delmarva/Eastern Shore Line), to make the stop, and then had to cut across DE Rte. 25px-Elongated_circle_273.svg.png (Frenchtown/Christiana Rd.) several miles to pick up the 20px-I-95.svg.png again in Christiana.

The stop consisted of a really large cafeteria in the front (very big dining area), and likely a gift shop, as well as the ticket counters for the buses. And of course, restrooms.

 

In the back was the door to the long platform running straight ahead, with the bus bays on both sides.

Behind all of this was parking space, and behind that a marshy area with a small road, a pond, a freight track, a park, and the end of a creek eventually leading to the nearby Delaware River. A nice sunshiney place in the morning, and the gateway to the cozy, peaceful looking Eastern Shore.

 

As far as food, what I most remember is the cheesecake, which had a similar creamy texture to NYC's famously unique Junior's, though tasted a bit different, and had some crumbs on top.

 

My first time there may have been in '75 on the return bus trip from my aunt in central Virginia. But I'm not sure. (On the way down, we had met my aunt in the city and she drove us down. First time to the South). I know on my next trip down there, in '80, the bus stopped there both ways. I had liked it so much on the way down, I looked forward to making ths stop on the way back.

 

Four years later, I chose Virginia's then largest city, Norfolk, to attend college. When driving, we usually took the 20px-US_13.svg.png all the way, and I suggested Clemente's as one of the stops, which then we always did.

At first, when coming back home for the holidays or summer, I flew. But then, I became ever so curious about the cities I was flying over (and we had passed by without stopping, whether by bus or car). So I began taking the bus; either the 12 hour trip via the western "Peninsula" and mainland (Richmond, Washington, etc), or if going straight, the more direct 9 hour, but non-interstate (little towns and traffic lights) Delmarva peninsula. Both routes came back together at State Road.

I continued making the trips down there, even after leaving college.

 

Time began running out for the Center, when the Baltimore Travel Plaza opened, which was closer to the 20px-I-95.svg.png, being right near an exit in eastern Baltimore. Service then began moving into the new stop, which was in addition to Baltimore Downtown (the former Trailways station, with the Greyhound station closed after the merger).

The June, 1991 Russell Guide (which I managed to get), still listed some mainline runs, and all the Eastern Shore runs at State Road. That year's trip (to both my aunt, and Norfolk; a huge triangle), was my last time there. My next two trips; my first Florida ("expansion") trip, that summer, and the second one, a year later; the super expresses all stopped at the new Travel Plaza.

 

By the fall '92 Carolina Trailways schedule, State Road was reduced to a flag stop, and the new crossroads between the Eastern Shore and the 20px-I-95.svg.png corridor was nearby Wilmington (which is kind of out of the way for the buses going straight to New York, as it is past the turnoff to 25px-I-295.svg.png, which is the mainline highway heading to the Delaware Memorial Bridge to New Jersey, while 20px-I-95.svg.png goes through Philly). Previously, Wilmington was part of the local route to Philadephia).

All mainline service used Baltimore Travel Plaza instead.

 

Eventually, the super expresses from New York to Richmond and beyond no longer stopped even there, but instead began using the Maryland House, which was a rest stop in the median of the highway (i.e. between northbound and southbound roadways), not too far north or east of Baltimore. Of course, this was faster and more convenient than even the Travel Plaza since it was right in the highway.

 

On my next Norfolk trip, in late '92, Clemente's was but a dark, shuttered derelict we zipped by between Odessa and Wilmington. (The meal stop was now at a lesser fast food chain {Roy Rogers?} in Maryland somewhere).

 

Forward 13 years later, in '05, I got down to Norfolk again, and was surprised with a new expressway in the Delaware portion of the route (DE 20px-Elongated_circle_1.svg.png) bypassing most of 20px-US_13.svg.png. The bus did still use 20px-US_13.svg.png in that highly commercial stretch through New Castle and Wilmington Manor. Trying to remember exactly where the Center was, I looked out for it, and could recognize it, next to the "colonial house" looking office building, and by now I could see it appeared to be turned into a furniture store.

 

More recently, with the wonders of Google Maps, including Street View (expanded into even rural areas), I could see that it was in fact a little shopping strip, anchored by the furniture store in front. The stores are mainly lesser chains, that can be found all over the east, but are unknown in New York. There's even a dance studio, now.

I'm not completely sure whether it's a new building or not, but the way it looks, it looks like it's simply the old one with a new façade, and the platform enclosed into the other stores, with pretty much the same (though newly paved) roadway around the facility the buses used to use. When the buses used it, the north side was inbound, and the south side was outbound. Now, a sidewalk to the stores and grassy strips are where the south bays were, and the north side appears to be the loading area in the back of the stores, and the former bus entrance is now gated off. Also appearing the same, is the big parking lot behind the whole complex.

 

Looking it up online, I could not find ANYTHING about "Clemente's Travel Center" or even "State Road". Even searching the slogan "Where the Nation Meets and Eats", only turned up an old New York Magazine (Mar 3, 1969 "Tracking the Action to Bowie") on Google Books, briefly mentioning it in passing! On the actual site, there is no sign that it was ever there.

 

So I knew I had to write this dedication to it.

I find that the name of the plaza is The Shoppes of New Castle http://www.loopnet.com/Li...Highway-New-Castle-DE/ You would think at least a page like that would mention it was the former Clemente travel center. They should have called it "Clemente Plaza" or at least "The Shoppes at State Road".

 

I don't have pictures of the old Center, but here's another one of the new shopping plaza:

ServeAttachment.ashx?FileGuid=8FBC0D92-163C-4DF1-A6E7-0CD58DAF923D&Extension=JPG&Width=0&Height=0&PadImage=True&DisableVisualWatermark=&ClipImage=False

 

Full version: http://www.erictb.info/interests.html#clementes

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I heard Greyhound had a bunch of those rest places. I remember one of them was in Breezewood, PA.

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Of course. But I think this one shouldn't be forgotten, because it was so prominent in the busy northeast corridor. Probably a holdover from before the Interstate system, where buses were on local roads anyway, so they all stopped there (now, the trend is Interstate rest stops).

 

Should also add, that even the Baltimore Travel Plaza has been dropped by Greyhound and Peter Pan (The China buses use it, though, according to Wikipedia). On the Eastern Shore, a rest stop in Delaware (further down; south of Dover) is now used, and a line that once consisted of dozens of stops between Norfolk and Wilmington now consists of only Exmore, T's corner, Salisbury and Dover in addition to the meal stop.

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Of course. But I think this one shouldn't be forgotten, because it was so prominent in the busy northeast corridor. Probably a holdover from before the Interstate system, where buses were on local roads anyway, so they all stopped there (now, the trend is Interstate rest stops).

 

Should also add, that even the Baltimore Travel Plaza has been dropped by Greyhound and Peter Pan (The China buses use it, though, according to Wikipedia). On the Eastern Shore, a rest stop in Delaware (further down; south of Dover) is now used, and a line that once consisted of dozens of stops between Norfolk and Wilmington now consists of only Exmore, T's corner, Salisbury and Dover in addition to the meal stop.

 

ppl hated the stops and greyhound listened also some western rtes were dropped recently!!!!!!!

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One piece of transportation history that seems to be in the process of being forgotten is the Clemente Travel Center, also known as "State Road" in New Castle, Delaware.

 

Right in the center of the mid-Atlantic roadway corridor, nestled between the New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore/Washington metropolises and Atlantic City and the coastline (and on the outskirts of Wilmington, DE), this roadway stop billed itself as

"The Place Where the Nation Meets and Eats".

 

It was the major rest stop and transfer point for the interstate bus system (Greyhound and Trailways). Even the express buses to the deep South or cross country (such as the ones we used to take, whose first city after leaving New York was Richmond) pulled off of the 20px-I-95.svg.png, and headed a few miles down 20px-US_13.svg.png, (like they were going down the Delmarva/Eastern Shore Line), to make the stop, and then had to cut across DE Rte. 25px-Elongated_circle_273.svg.png (Frenchtown/Christiana Rd.) several miles to pick up the 20px-I-95.svg.png again in Christiana.

The stop consisted of a really large cafeteria in the front (very big dining area), and likely a gift shop, as well as the ticket counters for the buses. And of course, restrooms.

 

In the back was the door to the long platform running straight ahead, with the bus bays on both sides.

Behind all of this was parking space, and behind that a marshy area with a small road, a pond, a freight track, a park, and the end of a creek eventually leading to the nearby Delaware River. A nice sunshiney place in the morning, and the gateway to the cozy, peaceful looking Eastern Shore.

 

As far as food, what I most remember is the cheesecake, which had a similar creamy texture to NYC's famously unique Junior's, though tasted a bit different, and had some crumbs on top.

 

My first time there may have been in '75 on the return bus trip from my aunt in central Virginia. But I'm not sure. (On the way down, we had met my aunt in the city and she drove us down. First time to the South). I know on my next trip down there, in '80, the bus stopped there both ways. I had liked it so much on the way down, I looked forward to making ths stop on the way back.

 

Four years later, I chose Virginia's then largest city, Norfolk, to attend college. When driving, we usually took the 20px-US_13.svg.png all the way, and I suggested Clemente's as one of the stops, which then we always did.

At first, when coming back home for the holidays or summer, I flew. But then, I became ever so curious about the cities I was flying over (and we had passed by without stopping, whether by bus or car). So I began taking the bus; either the 12 hour trip via the western "Peninsula" and mainland (Richmond, Washington, etc), or if going straight, the more direct 9 hour, but non-interstate (little towns and traffic lights) Delmarva peninsula. Both routes came back together at State Road.

I continued making the trips down there, even after leaving college.

 

Time began running out for the Center, when the Baltimore Travel Plaza opened, which was closer to the 20px-I-95.svg.png, being right near an exit in eastern Baltimore. Service then began moving into the new stop, which was in addition to Baltimore Downtown (the former Trailways station, with the Greyhound station closed after the merger).

The June, 1991 Russell Guide (which I managed to get), still listed some mainline runs, and all the Eastern Shore runs at State Road. That year's trip (to both my aunt, and Norfolk; a huge triangle), was my last time there. My next two trips; my first Florida ("expansion") trip, that summer, and the second one, a year later; the super expresses all stopped at the new Travel Plaza.

 

By the fall '92 Carolina Trailways schedule, State Road was reduced to a flag stop, and the new crossroads between the Eastern Shore and the 20px-I-95.svg.png corridor was nearby Wilmington (which is kind of out of the way for the buses going straight to New York, as it is past the turnoff to 25px-I-295.svg.png, which is the mainline highway heading to the Delaware Memorial Bridge to New Jersey, while 20px-I-95.svg.png goes through Philly). Previously, Wilmington was part of the local route to Philadephia).

All mainline service used Baltimore Travel Plaza instead.

 

Eventually, the super expresses from New York to Richmond and beyond no longer stopped even there, but instead began using the Maryland House, which was a rest stop in the median of the highway (i.e. between northbound and southbound roadways), not too far north or east of Baltimore. Of course, this was faster and more convenient than even the Travel Plaza since it was right in the highway.

 

On my next Norfolk trip, in late '92, Clemente's was but a dark, shuttered derelict we zipped by between Odessa and Wilmington. (The meal stop was now at a lesser fast food chain {Roy Rogers?} in Maryland somewhere).

 

Forward 13 years later, in '05, I got down to Norfolk again, and was surprised with a new expressway in the Delaware portion of the route (DE 20px-Elongated_circle_1.svg.png) bypassing most of 20px-US_13.svg.png. The bus did still use 20px-US_13.svg.png in that highly commercial stretch through New Castle and Wilmington Manor. Trying to remember exactly where the Center was, I looked out for it, and could recognize it, next to the "colonial house" looking office building, and by now I could see it appeared to be turned into a furniture store.

 

More recently, with the wonders of Google Maps, including Street View (expanded into even rural areas), I could see that it was in fact a little shopping strip, anchored by the furniture store in front. The stores are mainly lesser chains, that can be found all over the east, but are unknown in New York. There's even a dance studio, now.

I'm not completely sure whether it's a new building or not, but the way it looks, it looks like it's simply the old one with a new façade, and the platform enclosed into the other stores, with pretty much the same (though newly paved) roadway around the facility the buses used to use. When the buses used it, the north side was inbound, and the south side was outbound. Now, a sidewalk to the stores and grassy strips are where the south bays were, and the north side appears to be the loading area in the back of the stores, and the former bus entrance is now gated off. Also appearing the same, is the big parking lot behind the whole complex.

 

Looking it up online, I could not find ANYTHING about "Clemente's Travel Center" or even "State Road". Even searching the slogan "Where the Nation Meets and Eats", only turned up an old New York Magazine (Mar 3, 1969 "Tracking the Action to Bowie") on Google Books, briefly mentioning it in passing! On the actual site, there is no sign that it was ever there.

 

So I knew I had to write this dedication to it.

I find that the name of the plaza is The Shoppes of New Castle http://www.loopnet.com/Li...Highway-New-Castle-DE/ You would think at least a page like that would mention it was the former Clemente travel center. They should have called it "Clemente Plaza" or at least "The Shoppes at State Road".

 

I don't have pictures of the old Center, but here's another one of the new shopping plaza:

ServeAttachment.ashx?FileGuid=8FBC0D92-163C-4DF1-A6E7-0CD58DAF923D&Extension=JPG&Width=0&Height=0&PadImage=True&DisableVisualWatermark=&ClipImage=False

 

Full version: http://www.erictb.info/interests.html#clementes

 

I remember Clemente's. It was one of the busiest bus rest stops anywhere.

It was served by Greyhound Lines (former Eastern Greyhound, and before that Pennsylvania Greyhound); By Continental Trailways (former Safeway Trails); and by Carolina Coach Company (Carolina Trailways, former Red Star).

 

It was at a junction of routes. Buses would come down from Philly and Wilmington on US 13(I-95), and from New York on I-295 (Delaware Memorial Bridge). They would go south on US13 down the Delmarva Peninsula to Norfolk at first on the Virginia Ferries, and later the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. They would also go south ('west') on US 40 (and later I-95) toward Baltimore and beyond.

 

On Trailways trips from New York to Norfolk and beyond, there was always a driver change there as you went from Safeway Trails to Carolina Trailways. There was even an extra board and dispatcher there. During the Vietnam War years, there was tremendous traffic on that route.

Local service on US 40 was diminishing at that time as more and more trips ran express on the toll roads.

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I heard Greyhound had a bunch of those rest places. I remember one of them was in Breezewood, PA.

 

Breezewood was one of Greyhound's owned nationwide chain of Post House Restaurants, that used to operate in every Greyhound owned city terminal, and in addition, in many country highway locations such as Breezewood. The one at Breezewood served buses from New York and Philly, as well as Washington and Baltimore, heading West towards Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Chicago and beyond. It was probably the last 'highway' type Post House built. It featured two cafeteria lines, and a take out counter, a gift shop, travel center, and it even had a small service garage with GL mechanics doing light running repairs. It is now long closed, but I believe still there.

 

Some time in the '70's, Greyhound began to replace the Post House restaurants in their terminals with fast food franchises (mostly Burger King). These were a financial hit as they attracted business from the street, and office workers nearby that would never patronize the old Post Houses. Indeed the Greyhound exec behind this was John Teets, who would eventually become Greyhound CEO, before their downfall.

 

It is interesting that Greyhound is now operating their own chain of food services in their terminals again. Unfortunately, they don't attract any business other than their "captive audience" of GL passengers that may be too timid to venture out of the terminal in search of something better....

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I remember Clemente's. It was one of the busiest bus rest stops anywhere.

It was served by Greyhound Lines (former Eastern Greyhound, and before that Pennsylvania Greyhound); By Continental Trailways (former Safeway Trails); and by Carolina Coach Company (Carolina Trailways, former Red Star).

 

It was at a junction of routes. Buses would come down from Philly and Wilmington on US 13(I-95), and from New York on I-295 (Delaware Memorial Bridge). They would go south on US13 down the Delmarva Peninsula to Norfolk at first on the Virginia Ferries, and later the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. They would also go south ('west') on US 40 (and later I-95) toward Baltimore and beyond.

 

On Trailways trips from New York to Norfolk and beyond, there was always a driver change there as you went from Safeway Trails to Carolina Trailways. There was even an extra board and dispatcher there. During the Vietnam War years, there was tremendous traffic on that route.

Local service on US 40 was diminishing at that time as more and more trips ran express on the toll roads.

A lot of good information. (Mostly way before my time). Thanks!

 

Amazing if it was that significance, they would let its existence fade into total obscurity now.

 

I also remember on one trip home via Delmarva, it was a "Seashore Trailways" MC-9, instead of the usual Carolina Trailways Eagles.

 

If you click the link to the version of the article on my site, you'll see where I mention the suggestion of building basically a new Clemente's in the median of I295 right where it crosses 13. What do you think of that idea?

 

I also knew there were ferries before the CBBT was built, but didn't know how that worked, or how heavily used that route was. So the buses used to go on the ferry, or people had to get off to catch the boat?

 

Also, in '86, Greyhound had one run (both ways) via Delmarva. It terminated at Clemente's itself, where you had to change. When the merger occurred the following year, this was discontinued in favor of the current Carolina routes.

The '92/93 newly expanded Peter Pan schedules also showed parallel service over both the N/S and E/W Delmarva routes, but this was reportedly killed by Carolina pretty quickly.

 

It is interesting that Greyhound is now operating their own chain of food services in their terminals again. Unfortunately, they don't attract any business other than their "captive audience" of GL passengers that may be too timid to venture out of the terminal in search of something better....

Yeah, I got to use the one at DC last year. Still have the "Greyhound" tape they use for the containers (which I stuck on a metal file cabinet I have). Their cheesecake was similar to Clemente's.

also my first ride on the new Prevosts, with the charger outlets (which came greatly in handy as my phone battery was already shot by then).

 

Also, I've just booked my next trip to Norfolk, for the week after next. This to see the new Tide light rail that just opened. Planning the trip is what got me thinking of Clemente's recently in the first place (just had to make sure I could finance it). Will be going on one of the runs that stops at Chesapeake House (which I've never been to) and Richmond, and coming back via Delmarva.

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The buses went on the Virginia Ferry Corporation vessels for the 85 minute voyage between Kiptopeke Beach and Little Creek. The passengers could remain on the bus or in the passenger seats of the boat.

 

As for a new rest stop at State Road....It is less than two and a half hours from NYC, so probably not an ideal location. The rest stops are now about half way between NYC and Norfolk on those trips, and likewise between NYC and Richmond on those. Trips from NYC to Baltimore or Washington do not need intermediate rest stops.

 

Seashore Transportation Company buses were in the pool with Safeway and Carolina on trips from New York on Safeway, from State Road on Carolina, and south of "little" Washington, N.C. on Seashore to Jacksonville, NC, New Bern, Camp LeJeune, and Wilmington, NC. Seashore buses also went 'the other way' from NYC to DC on Safeway, to Richmond on Virgina Trailways, to Rocky Mount or Raleigh on Carolina, and finally to Beaufort, NC on Seashore.

When I was with Safeway, Seashore Eagles would come up the Eastern Shore, and Seashore PD 4903's would come up through DC.

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I guess they didn't have that "halfway" rule before when Clemente's was there.

 

I imagine the Delaware Travel Center would be just as good, and if the Eastern Shore route is using DE1, I see the center is right near the Christiana interchange.

 

I also looked it up and saw that the new rest stop on the Eastern Shore is the Royal Farms in Bridgeville. That seems to be a growing chain (When I used to pass through there all you saw as Shore Stop). It says it was founded in '59, so I wonder if it was ever connected with the Royal Farms in NY, which became Consumer's Food and eventually Big R, and now seems to have been swallowed up by Bogopa.

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