• by Kirk Gaw

Remembering Welco's Truck Stop

Welco’s Truck Stop has been gone for over a decade now. It was probably the most revered social institution in town outside of the school system? Today, the blank parking lot is a reminder of automobile travel and its impact on rural culture!

Walkerton has always been a crossroads for people traveling between Provincetown, Massachusetts on the east coast to Chicago, Illinois along the "Grand Army of the Republic Highway" aka US 6. It eventually leads to Bishop, California.

Walkertonians know that "Welco’s" was the most popular spot to get gas, eat, and listen to the juke boxes along the 3,198 mile distance of the road! US 6 is the 2nd longest continuous highway in the Nation after US 20.

Many truckers that didn't travel on US 6 detoured if they were driving down US 31, or US 30. They made the diversion to get a fresh plate of steaming Welco’s biscuits & gravy. They liked the chicken fried steak and eggs, over easy, along with a stack of Welco’s pancakes! It was an “Americana” menu at its best. Plus, if you wanted to get a good late night breakfast after midnight? The Welco's staff attended to the late night crowd!

Fill ‘er-up with the best, most knowledgable gas pump attendants! Welco’s offered the best diesel fuel, and premium gases around! Once upon a time, Welco’s in Walkerton even offered sleeping booths that truckers could rent behind the restaurant to get a goodnight sleep! That was way back before the sleeping cabs were innovated on the trucks. Eventually, right after the Vietnam War they were demolished since they became dens for prostitution , and drug dealing.

That didn’t stop the popularity of the 24 hour restaurant from being the predecessor of what became todays convenience store! The community, and travelers could always depend on the Welco’s cashier for basic necessities like personal hygiene supplies, magazines, kid games and toys, novelties, candy, and soft drinks!

Welco’s was the place to go after high school games, acting practice, and civic meetings! People would flock there for Friday night Fish dinners, for Sunday dinner after church, or a work shift meeting with the crew!

Jimmy and Frances Meltino operated Welco’s for a generation beginning in the 1950’s. They came from Pennsylvania bought what was a 1920’s gas station and added the 24 hour restaurant! It was an instant hit for the community and hungry travelers! They also added the cabins, showers with an entrance behind the restaurant, and added the full service gas attendants that checked your windows, oil, tires, and even swept out your floor mats and seats!

They even added a stairway in the back for railroad workers who stopped on their daily routes to eat and take a break! Best of all, it was never closed and it kept the eastside of town alive for as long as it did! We miss the cooks, the gas attendents, the truckers, the waitresses, and the cashiers! We all have our own stories about our Welco’s experience! An American institution in our very own Walkerton! We miss you.

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