Auto Court

These pages typically are not used to editorialize but what you see on this page is a crime. The large picture here shows before and after pictures of what happened on Monday September 10th. 

 Victor Valley Daily Press reporter, Tatiana Prophet’s, article said Larry Judkins’s (broker and owner of Extreme Team Real Estate and Property Management) “only option ….was to tear them down.” Unfortunately, what Mr. Judkins either did not know, or chose to ignore, was the history of Potapov’s (p’-TOP-off’s).

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The buildings were constructed around 1931 by Spanish-American War veteran, Guy Wadsworth. According to local historian Richard Thompson, Guy was the “chief bootlegger for the Oro Grande/Helendale area.” After spending time in jail for various offenses relating to his illegal alcohol distillation and most likely public drunkenness, Guy decided to direct his energy into more productive areas, such as builder. Even though Guy eventually built most of the stone buildings in the Oro Grande/Helendale area, because it was still Prohibition, he continued to keep his hand in the lucrative, but illegal business of “turtle juice” (moonshine).

Potapov’s Auto Court was a common type of tourist cabin along U.S. roads.  The difference is Potapov’s had a unique style, built out of local rocks by Guy Wadsworth.   Tourist cabins like Potapov’s were basically the forerunners of modern motel chains like Holiday Inn. 


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Richard Thompson’s 2001 booklet, The Story of Sagebrush Annie and The Sagebrush Route, a self-guided tour of Route 66 from Oro Grande to Helendale explains how Bill Potapov and his family came to the area in 1943. Often travelers would come into Bill’s service station for gasoline or vehicle repairs and since this was before credit cards, the traveler would often have no money. In order to keep from being swindled, (as Bill had a big heart) Bill would require collateral until the bill for service or gasoline was paid. As a result, Bill’s service station was decked with an odd assortment of car parts including bumpers, radios, spare tires, etc. Mr. Thompson referred to it as an “automotive pawn shop.”

The Potapov structures consisted of the service station, two auto court building and a water tower.  They were considered some of the most picturesque structures along the 35-mile stretch from Victorville to Barstow on the Route 66-National Old Trails Road.

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Congressional Act 106-45, (Aug 1999) the Route 66 Corridor Act, views Route 66 as historic property and considers it a part of U.S. history. Route 66 has a huge following of “Roadies” and many are visitors from foreign countries.

It would be futile for Mr. Judkins to feign ignorance of the history of the land and buildings, since, as broker and owner of Extreme Team Real Estate and Property Management, the very nature of his business gets him access to property transfer information with the names and dates of previous owners.

There are people in this world who are mindful of history and culture, and there are others who are not. The right thing to do would be to say mea culpa, he was wrong, and incorporate the history of the site into his future plans. Now, the question is will Mr. Judkins do the right thing, or will the ghosts of Guy Wadsworth and Bill Potapov haunt him like the Ghost of Christmas Past haunted Ebenezer Scrooge?

Much of the text on this page comes from a letter to the editor at the Victor Valley Press written by Karen which they chose to not publish. Wonder why??