Lincoln Highway: Conoco Motel

The Conoco Motel opened in 1938 next to the home of proprietors, Les and Elsie Bourne, at 527 East Lincoln Way.  It was located next to their Conoco service station at 604 East Lincoln Way.  The motel first was listed in the Ames telephone directory in 1938 and was last seen under that name in 1951.

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In the 1940-41 Polk's Directory, the Conoco Motel was called Motel Auto Camp.  The use of the word motel may well be one of the earliest in Iowa; motels were then known as tourist courts or auto or motor courts and the term motel only became widely used in the early 1950s. (Farwell T. Brown Photographic Archive)

The appearance of motels, in place of hotels, heralded the growing importance of the automobile and the new interstate highway system in American life.  An advertising postcard shows the interior of the Conoco Motel. The Ames Daily Tribune touted it as a modern tourist cabin camp. (Farwell T. Brown Photographic Archive)

Two monkeys and two alligators in cages provided an unusual sight at the Conoco Motel.  They were gifts to the Bourne children from their grandparents.  In the mid 1940s photo above, one of the alligators is seen on the rendering truck with young Ed Sorenson standing by. (Private Collection of Ed Sorenson)

The motel was later called the Colonial Motel and was operated at one time by Mr. and Mrs. Wesley Smith. The buildings still exist. (Private Collection of Margaret Elbert)