Located at mile marker 284 on Interstate 80 in Iowa (about 10 miles west of Davenport and the Quad-Cities area) is the Iowa 80 Truckstop. “It’s a place where people want to stop. On the eastern edge of Iowa, not far from the Mississippi River, adjacent to the small town of Walcott, you’ll find a place like no other in the world. Some say Iowa 80 Truckstop is like a small city, others have likened it to a trucker’s Disneyland…” The Iowa 80 Trucking Museum is on the same property.
In 1964, before I-80 was even finished, the Iowa 80 Truckstop began serving truckers and other motorists from a small white enamel building. The Iowa 80 founder was Bill Moon, and he chose the location of the truckstop site on behalf of Standard Oil.
A year later, Moon became the manager of the truckstop. The interstate was finished, and over a period of years, thousands of truckers and travelers have stopped at Iowa 80 to fuel their vehicles and to eat. Twenty years after it opened (1984), Amoco (which had supplanted Standard Oil) decided to sell the truckstop. After nearly 20 years of managing it, Moon “jumped at the chance” to purchase the Iowa 80 Truckstop. As stated on its website, “He and his wife Carolyn leveraged everything they had, including borrowing money from friends, to purchase Iowa 80.”
After the purchase was consummated, the Moon family was able to expand their business, as well as add services. “Bill just loved everything about trucks and trucking,” Carolyn Moon stated. “He loved to sit at the counter in the restaurant and talk to drivers about what would make their life easier if Iowa 80 had it. He truly enjoyed the truckstop business and all of the people he encountered.”
The truckstop’s motto is “Serving the professional driver and traveler since 1964.” There have been 28 expansions and remodels to the facility, and it is now being run by the second generation of the Moon family.
The truckstop includes the Iowa 80 Kitchen (a 300-seat restaurant); a gift store; the Super Truck Showroom;” services provided by a dentist, a barber and a chiropractor; “a workout room; laundry facilities; a 60-seat movie theater; a TV lounge for truckers; 24 private showers; a food court featuring Wendy’s, Dairy Queen, Orange Julius, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and Caribou Coffee; a convenience store; a custom embroidery and vinyl shop; 42 gas islands; 16 diesel lanes; a fuel center; a seven-bay truck service center; a three-bay Truckomat truck wash; a CAT scale; a Dogomat Pet Wash;” and the museum.
The Iowa 80 Truckstop is now affiliated with TravelCenters America (TA), which has about 275 truckstops across the nation. Iowa 80 serves thousands of customers daily and has parking spaces for 900 tractor-trailers, 250 cars and 20 buses.
As most of the population has learned during the pandemic, “Without truck drivers doing the job they do, our economy wouldn’t function. We appreciate their hard work,” said Delia Moon Meier, the senior vice president of the enterprise.
The truckstop is open 24/7/365. In fact, it has not closed its doors since it opened! Moreover, Iowa 80 TA Truckstop is now the largest truckstop in the world. “It is really amazing to have reached this milestone,” Meier said. “We are so fortunate to have such wonderful, dedicated employees and loyal customers. They are such an integral part of our success.”
Iowa 80 Trucking Museum
As mentioned above, the Iowa 80 Trucking Museum, which opened on July 14, 2008, is adjacent to the Iowa 80 Truckstop. It is home to many of the Moon family’s antique trucks and transportation memorabilia.
As one of its reviewers wrote, “There’s a great family tourist destination in eastern Iowa. My wife and I took our grandson and granddaughter, and they both loved the display of old trucks. There’s a theater with continuous videos about trucking, lots of gas station signs and other trucking memorabilia. I particularly liked the collection of restored antique gas pumps.”
The museum’s mission statement begins, “The Iowa 80 Trucking Museum is dedicated to the restoration and preservation of antique trucks and trucking artifacts so that the history of trucking may be shared with the general public.”
The museum was a dream of Iowa 80’s founder Bill Moon. His love for trucks and the trucking industry laid the foundation for this museum, and he began what became the original Iowa 80 Trucking Museum collection. Like most collectors, Moon had a passion to collect (in this case trucks and trucking artifacts). Among his many other activities and accomplishments, Moon served as the president of the American Truck Historical Society (ATHS).
Although he died in 1992, Bill Moon’s dream to create a museum did not; his family made his dream come true. “Bill had a passion for trucks and was always looking for a way to add to his collection and share it with others,” said Carolyn Moon, Bill’s widow. “The museum is the fulfillment of his dream and exists to educate the public about the evolution of the trucking industry.”
Today, the museum’s collection includes more than 100 antique trucks, over 300 petroliana signs, more than 20 vintage gas pumps and other trucking-related artifacts. In addition, the museum houses the REO Theatre, where visitors can watch films about trucks and trucking.
The ATHS added the Iowa 80 Trucking Museum to its Wall of Fame in 2010. More recently, in a testament to the museum’s ability to fascinate its visitors, it was “recognized as a 2021 Travelers’ Choice award winner for Worldwide Attractions by Tripadvisor.” According to Tripadvisor, the “achievement celebrates businesses that consistently deliver fantastic experiences to travelers around the globe, having earned great traveler reviews on Tripadvisor over the last 12 months.” That is quite an achievement.
The museum’s website is www.iowa80truckingmuseum.com. All you need to plan a trip to the museum, as well as photos and other information, can be found on the website. Don’t miss it! (And while you’re there, visit the truckstop, either for a meal – or souvenirs – or both.)
Author’s note: This article would not have been possible without the information and photos found on the Iowa 80 Trucking Museum website. In addition, I want to thank Heather DeBaillie, the Vice President of Marketing for CAT Scale Company/Iowa 80 Group, for her assistance in providing information as well as most of the photos used in the article.