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Wagon Wheel Motel and Restaurant
Oxnard, CA


Wagon Wheel Motel (Closed)
Oxnard, CA
Photos courtesy Schafphoto

The Wagon Wheel motel and restaurant complex is a familiar sight as you pass Oxnard traveling along the 101 Freeway. The Wagon Wheel Junction complex was built in 1947 by developer Bud Smith. The location was home to a motel, restaurant and office and was a very popular stop for roadside travelers through the early 1980s. Other businesses at Wagon Wheel Junction included the Roller Garden skating rink, the steakhouse, the El Ranchita Mexican Restaurant, Trade Winds Restaurant, and a shopping center. The bowling alley sign called the Wagon Wheel Bowl lasted a little longer through 2015 but was demolished in 2016 as well. The bowling alley sign is supposedly in storage.

According to the VC Star, the iconic sign was first sitting on top of the Tom Tom Club on Oxnard Boulevard. Bud Smith purchased and moved the sign to the Wagon Wheel in the mid-1950s.


See neon photos of the Wagon Wheel Motel and Restaurant here.


Unfortunately, the Wagon Wheel Motel is threatened with demolition after this historic property closed is doors on December 10, 2006 and the last tenant left the premises.

(Far left) Interior of Wagon Wheel Motel
(Near left) The fenced off complex
Photos courtesy Schafphoto


According to the December 21, 2006 issue of the Ventura County Reporter, the Oxnard Village Investments LLC has purchased the Wagon Wheel parcel of land with proposed plans to develop 1,500 residential units and a commercial complex. Possible milestones coming up soon include a draft environmental impact report in February or March of 2007 with demolition starting up in September 2007. 01-07

Many thanks to Jeff Babb for contact regarding motel and restaurant closure.


UPDATE 11/08 : The days are numbered for the Wagon Wheel complex in Oxnard, CA. An appeal by the local Buenaventura Conservancy requesting that the Wagon Wheel be spared from a proposal to construct 1,500 homes and commercial space was rejected by a city officials in a 4-1 vote.

Wagon Wheel Motel and Restaurant
Photo courtesy Schafphoto


According to the Ventura County Reporter article, the Oxnard Village environmental impact report has now been approved, which includes media related ways of remembering the Wagon Wheel to be installed at the site. Thoughts include a oral history display as well as TV specials showcasing the late owner Martin "Bud" Smith's and the Wagon Wheel's legacy in Oxnard. 11-08

UPDATE 02/09 : The Wagon Wheel area located in Oxnard, CA was approved by the Oxnard City Council in late January 2009 for redevelopment adding almost 2,000 homes. Demolition of the old roadside structures at the site, including the historic Wagon Wheel Motel will begin in the next three to six months according to sources. See the Ventura County Star article for more information. 02-09

Wagon Wheel Motel
Photo by RoadsidePeek.com


UPDATE 10/09 : Despite the efforts of the San Buenaventura Conservancy, a Ventura County Superior Court judge ruled against the bid to stop demolition of the Wagon Wheel Restaurant and Motel. More information can be found in this Ventura County Star article. 10-09

A lit up marquee
Photo by RoadsidePeek.com


The motel and restaurant complex was eventually razed over and demolished in 2011. No more exiting off on Oxnard Boulevard and seeing the familiar neon sign. Another landmark was lost to be just a memory.


More photos

Wagon Wheel Motel building Breakfast? Lunch? Dinner? Close up of sign


Google Street View Image



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© Copyright 1998-2021 Syd Nagoshi. All rights reserved. No portion of this document may be reproduced, copied or revised without written permission of the author.