Hed: Long-time Lee County nightclub burns

By Eileen Bailey

Daily Journal

SHANNON - A building that housed a long line of Lee County nightclubs for about 30 years got a last call that could be permanent.

The remains of Midnight Rodeo on state Highway 145 continued to smolder Monday after an early morning fire burned the building to the ground. All that remained of the building was the cinder block and stone wall.

Shannon Patrolman Steve Whitehead said he passed the building about 1:45 a.m. and didn't notice anything amiss. He said at 1:58 a.m. he received a call from E-911 saying someone had called from a pay phone to report smoke coming from the nightclub.

Whitehead said he was at the business within seconds and could see smoke coming from the east end of the building. As fire trucks pulled into the parking lot a few minutes later, flames were shooting out the front door.

"It was unbelievable," Whitehead said.

The nightclub was not open Sunday. The owners of the building were out of town and could not be reached for comment.

State Fire Marshal Mike Ivy, along with investigators from several different agencies, were expected to investigate the fire scene today to determine the fire's origin. No cause had been determined as of Monday afternoon, said Shannon Police Chief Gary Hughes.

Midnight Rodeo was a brown bag establishment where customers could bring in alcohol and pay for set-ups. Recently, the business had been issued a beer license, Hughes said.

Aberdeen Police Chief Brent Coleman recalled travels through Lee County in the late 1960s when the nightclub was called the Goldroom. It later became Pirate's Inn.

Tom Lyles, owner of Lyles Exxon located across the street, said the business has had various other names, such as Pootnanny, Sargent Pepper and Bars Ferry.

The business has not been without its fame. Country singer Randy Travis once performed at the establishment. And at one point there was a bear wrestling competition, he said.

Lyles said he has never had a problem at his business because of customers at the bar. He said on occasion customers would park at his business. Business from the bar, he said, helped boost Shannon's economy.

"I thought it was good for the town business-wise," he said.

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