The Seaba Station Motorcycle Museum
October 8, 2015
Sam's Top 10 Route 66 Towns (Part 1)
By Sam Allen
A couple of weeks ago I was traveling through Oklahoma filming interviews for the Pilot TV show I am producing about riding motorcycles on Route 66 and I stopped by the Seaba Station Motorcycle Museum in Wellston, Oklahoma. I had visited the museum several times, but on this trip I hoped to meet Jerry Ries or Gerald Tims, who are the founders and proprietors. Unfortunately, I was there on a Wednesday, which turned out to be the only day of the week that the museum is closed. But I was able to catch up with Jerry Ries by telephone a few days ago.
John and Alice Seaba built and opened the Seaba Station in 1921, which was five years before Route 66 was commissioned. They originally sold a gasoline called Nevr-Nox, which was produced by the Tulsa-based Mid-Continent Petroleum Corporation. In 1925, Mid-Continent bought six gas stations from Diamond Petroleum Co. Mid-Continent began marketing the DX brand of gasoline in 1933. The "D" stood for Diamond, and the "X" represented a secret anti-knock gasoline additive. DX gas stations were prominent throughout Oklahoma and on Route 66 until they were discontinued in the 1980's by Sunoco, which had become DX's parent corporation.
Eventually, John Seaba turned the gas station into a machine shop that rebuilt automobile engines and produced connecting rods for the government. In 1951, Seaba sold the business to Victor and Sue Briggs. The Briggs' sold the building to Sonny and Sue Preston in 1995, who spent years restoring the facility, and operated it as an antique shop until they sold it to Jerry Reis and Gerald Tims in 2007.
Jerry and Gerald met about 20 years ago when Jerry sold Gerald a motorcycle. They have been riding together ever since. Jerry was a teacher (now retired) and Gerald owns Precision Motorcycles in Oklahoma City. They each had some vintage motorcycles and a vision of putting them on public display. Jerry and Gerald worked on the idea for nearly a decade, and they explored several options on where to establish their museum, including building new space. When they found the Seaba Station they knew they had their venue.
They were not looking for something on Route 66 in particular; it just worked out that way. But once they decided on a Route 66 location, they embraced it. Jerry and Gerald spent two years restoring the building's faÃ§ade to its original state, and opened in 2010. Since opening they have tried to find DX Station and other Route 66 artifacts to display. Thanks to Jerry and Gerald, Route 66 now has a restored building that has been in operation since before Route 66 was commissioned.
Jerry and Gerald own about 90% of the 120 motorcycles on display and the rest are on loan from others. The oldest bikes are a 1909 Triumph and a 1913 Pope Board Trainer. The Pope was designed for racing on board tracks. Pope manufactured bicycles beginning in 1878 and produced motorcycles from 1902 until 1918. They still sell bicycles under the Columbia name.
There are two motorcycles from the movie Captain America. They also have a 1997 Triumph Bonneville and a 1999 Excelsior Henderson, each of which still are in their shipping crates. There are not many Harley-Davidsons, although they have a 1942 Harley Flat Head military bike. There are dozens of classic racing and competition bikes.
One of the unique features of the facility is the stone structure out back. From the road, it looks like a storage building, but it's actually a two-seater outhouse that is original to the Seaba Station when it opened. It is supposed to be one of the first outhouses to have flushing toilets and running water. Today, all that's left is the building and the remnants of the toilets.
The Seaba Station gets visitors from all over the world. It is a stop on a couple of poker runs a month, and they host two swap meets a year. Their only funding is through the sale of t-shirts and Route 66 memorabilia, along with donations from their visitors.
Sam Allen wrote The Motorcycle Party Guide to Route 66. He created and operates www.route66mc.com, which is the most comprehensive single source of information about Route 66 available on the web.