WALCOTT, Iowa — The Iowa 80 Truckstop is making 2024 a year of celebration, marking the 60th anniversary of the opening of what is now known as “the world’s largest truckstop.”
Here’s the scoop, according to the folks at the Iowa 80 Group:
It all began in 1964, when the Iowa 80 first opened its doors. Since then, it’s been 21,915 days (or 525, 600 hours, if you’re counting), and the the truck stop has been always open, providing a safe, welcoming place for those needing a break from the road.
Bill Moon, entrepreneur and founder of the Iowa 80, loved to sit at the counter in the restaurant and visit with drivers, asking about their families, their lives and what they needed while on the road. Moon took those suggestions to heart and started adding different amenities to the truck stop to provide for those needs.
The Iowa 80 began as a small building with six diesel pumps and a 50-seat restaurant at what would become Exit 284 on Interstate 80. Moon had located the spot for Standard Oil before the interstate was even complete. The company built and opened the truck stop in 1964, and Moon took over management a year later, in 1965. Years passed, Interstate 80 was completed and hundreds — then thousands — of truck drivers and other travelers stopped by Iowa 80 to fuel up, grab a bite to eat and then head on down the road.
In 1984, the owner of Standard Oil (now Amoco) decided it was time to sell the facility, and Moon jumped at the opportunity. He and his wife, Carolyn, leveraged everything they had to purchase the future “world’s largest truckstop.” A true entrepreneur, Moon went on to found Truckomat Truck Washes and the CAT Scale Co.
Once the Moon Family owned the Iowa 80, they expanded the building and added services as needed. Now, after 32 expansions and remodels, the Iowa 80 is overseen by the second generation of the Moon Family, who have dedicated their entire lives to providing a home-away-from-home for the thousands of travelers who stop by every day.
‘The world’s largest truckstop’
In addition to 42 gas and diesel fueling positions at the main building and 34 high-speed diesel pumps for truckers at the fuel center, today’s Iowa 80 includes a convenience store, a gift shop, a custom embroidery and vinyl shop and the Super Truck Showroom.
Travelers can choose from many restaurant options. Along with the Iowa 80 Kitchen, a full-service dine-in restaurant with an enormous buffet, the truck stop features Wendy’s, Dairy Queen, Orange Julius, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Einstein Bagels and Caribou Coffee, Blimpie and Chester’s Chicken.
Truckers can take advantage of an on-site dentist, a barber shop, a chiropractor, a workout room, laundry facilities, a 60-seat movie theatre, a trucker’s TV lounge, 24 private showers, a seven-bay truck service center, a three-bay Truckomat truck wash, a CAT Scale, a Dogomat Pet Wash and much more.
“It is really amazing to have reached this milestone,” said Delia Moon Meier, daughter of founder Bill moon and the company’s senior vice president. “We are so fortunate to have such wonderful, dedicated employees and loyal customers.”
Visitors can also enjoy a tour, free of charge, of the Iowa 80 Trucking Museum.
An avid collector of antique trucks, Moon bought his first antique truck — a 1919 International — from a scrap yard down by the Mississippi River in the early 1970s after he overheard a driver lamenting that the facility was preparing to crush some old trucks. The driver believed old trucks should be preserved — and so did Moon.
After that initial purchase, Moon made it his mission to purchase a variety of old trucks with the hope that he could someday open an antique truck museum and share the history of trucking in America with the world. While Moon passed away before seeing his mission through, the Iowa 80 Trucking Museum opened in 2008 and was dedicated to his memory. The museum now features more than 100 antique trucks along with vintage signs, gas pumps, antique toy trucks and other trucking memorabilia.
In addition to serving professional drivers and other travelers 24/7/365, the Iowa 80 hosts one of the nation’s largest truck shows. Each July, the Iowa 80 presents the Walcott Truckers Jamboree, a three-day event dedicated to celebrating America’s truckers. Last year, attendance hit a record 56,000 people.
“Without professional truck drivers, trucks stop. Without trucks, America stops. We appreciate their hard work, and the Walcott Truckers Jamboree is our way of saying ‘thank you,’” Meier said.
The Iowa 80 Truckstop currently serves over 5,000 customers per day and offers well-lit parking spaces for 900 tractor-trailers, along with 250 parking spaces for cars and 20 parking spaces for buses.
According to a statement from the Iowa 80, the truck stop is always open. In fact, the statement notes, “there are no keys to the doors, as none have ever been needed.” The Iowa 80 employs more than 500 people in the Walcott area. There are even a few families that have worked, generation after generation, at the truck stop.
Not only has Iowa 80 been a place to refuel, refresh, and relax for the past 60 years, but it has also been an important part of the Walcott community.
“Over 500 people work at the Iowa 80 Truckstop, and many are family; brothers, sisters, fathers, sons, daughters, mothers and cousins are all part of the team. Maybe that’s why Iowa 80 has such a welcoming feel,” according to the press release.
Born and raised in Little Rock, AR, Erica N. Guy decided to stay in her hometown to begin her professional career in journalism. Since obtaining her bachelor’s degree from UAPB, Erica has professionally written for several publications about several topics ranging from lifestyle, tech, culture, and entertainment, just to name a few. Continuing her love for her hometown, she joined our team in June 2023, where she is currently a staff writer. Her career goals include continuing storytelling through her writing by being the best professional writer she can be. In her spare time, Erica enjoys trying new foods, cozying up with a good book, spending time with family and friends, and establishing herself as a future businesswoman.