Wednesday, October 23, 2019

History of Big Wheel Truck Stop explored. An Oak Hill Restaurant long forgotten.

Big Wheel Truck Stop was established and built on a large plot of land originally owned by G. H. Beckett, W.E. McCullough, and Josephine McCullough in 1959. Vic’s Restaurant was originally a truck stop called Big Wheel Truck Stop which was located near the intersection of West William Cannon Drive & US 290.
Neon sign for Big Wheel.
W.E. McCullough and Josephine McCullough were the first owners for this property. On the date of August 23 1959, W.E. McCullough and Josephine McCullough sold their property to Capitol City Oil Company. Capitol City Oil Company leased their land to a truck stop called Big Wheel Truck Stop for many years. (Ref: Travis County Public Records, 2003202602)
The original 1959 deed.Sample of Capitol City Oil deed.
Big Wheel Truck Stop predated Vic’s Restaurant as the truck stop was there first preceding the restaurant. Big Wheel Truck Stop opened in 1959 which was operated and owned by Joyce LaNelle Buckelew & her husband. (Ref: https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/statesman/obituary.aspx?n=joyce-lanelle-buckelew&pid=168364218&fhid=4303)


A gas station was installed during the 1970s and contained up to 11 above-ground petroleum storage tanks. Only 5 remained by the end of the decade. At this time 98% of all customers chain smoked.

Big Wheel Truck Stop had one of the chicken fried steak in Texas. Chicken fried steak was one of their popular items from the menu. This was back when it was an active truck stop. Chicken was one of their more popular meats.
Neon sign for Big Wheel.

For entertainment, Big Wheel Truck Stop had a pinball machine and a jukebox which played country music and oldies. The pinball machine kept children entertained. Their jukebox was popular with many patrons. There were little jukeboxes on each booth table as well!

Icon outlaw country musician Jerry Jeff Walker performed at a concert at the Big Wheel Truck Stop in 1975. His appearance made headline news in Austin and San Antonio. San Antonio Express reported Jerry Jeff Walker as being a regular who stopped by all the time in 1975. (Ref: San Antonio Express, Page 146, February 16, 1975)Big Wheel as shown in 1983.

Big Wheel Truck Stop closed in the mid-1980s possibly 1985. The reason why Big Wheel Truck Stop closed is because the restaurant went under.

A very much forgotten part of Big Wheel Truck Stop history is the continued and closing legacy was when it opened up as Vic’s Restaurant. Big Wheel Truck Stop is an icon establishment truly missed by many.

Vic’s Restaurant was the business that took over Big Wheel Truck Stop sometime in 1985. Vic Zuliani owned and operated Vic’s Restaurant. Vic Zuliani was an incredible Italian cook/chef renown for his cooking. Vic was very much a ‘hands on owner’. He was friendly to everyone that walked through his doors.

In 1992 a 2,900 gallon gasoline and diesel release occurred at the former Big Wheel Truck Stop which was located on the highly sensitive Edwards Aquifer near Williamson Creek. The fate and transport of the contaminants in the aquifer was never fully realized in the subsequent site studies required by the State of Texas. (Ref: https://gsa.confex.com/gsa/2014SC/webprogram/Paper235750.html)


In 2003, TXDot had planned to widen US 290 into a 4-lane highway. Oak Hill residents heavily opposed this expansion plan as the highway right-of-way would require the Oak Hill Strip to be torn down. Residents did not want this to happen. Capitol City Oil Company sold their land to DJB Partners LTD in 2003.

The area where the petroleum spill occurred was backfilled and covered with a concrete slab in 2003. All contaminated soil was excavated and removed.

The buildings were demolished in 2004 for expansion of US 290 (Highway 290). However nothing happened for years as other parts of US 290 were expanded instead. Due to the opposition from Oak Hill residents, the lower part of West William Cannon Drive & US 290 was never expanded into a 4 lane highway as TXDot had planned.

DJB Partners LTD sold the land to Willie M LTD, State of Texas, and City of Austin in 2005. Willie M LTD was named as sole proprietor for the lower half of this property. (Ref: Travis County Public Records, 2005212123)

In 2011, the City of Austin made the land where Big Wheel Truck Stop once was into a parking lot for CapMetro.

Today Big Wheel Truck Stop is a now a CapMetro park and ride parking lot now owned by the City of Austin. Today the property is now owned by Willie M LTD, State of Texas, and City of Austin. The asphalt parking lots that are all that remain of Big Wheel Truck Stop. Weeds have overtaken these parking lots. Big Wheel Truck Stop is an icon establishment truly missed by many.

Big Wheel Truck Stop was located at 6517 West US 290, Austin, Texas, US 78736.

2 comments:

  1. Well first of all Joyce did not own the big wheel like it states on here and on that link. It was owned by capital city oil which was owned by my grandfather james olson and john beasley.

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    1. Thank you for pointing out this error. The article will be corrected soon.

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