route 66 tour - Northeast New Mexico

nenewmexico.com

route 66 tour - Northeast New Mexico

New

NORTHEAST

Mexico

New Mexico

ROUTE 66 TOUR

Get your kicks on historic Route 66,

America’s Main Street.

Length: 193 miles (311 kilometers)

Duration: 2 Days, 2 Nights

Elevation: 4,093 feet (1,248 meters) to 6,590 feet (2,010 meters)

R

ememem, remem-memember the freedom of the fabulous

Fifties? Those were the delirious rock and roll years that

jumped into Chevy Impalas across the Lower 48, fired up

those V-8 engines, and blasted down the open roads on hot

August nights. Buddy Holly, Little Richard, and the King blasted

from car radios turned up as loud as they could go. With the

windows rolled down and summer winds whipping the tuck and

roll pleats of front seats everywhere, teenaged America cruised

for cheeseburgers, fries, and milkshakes.

The late Bobby Troup understood the rhythm of the road.

Headed for a music career in 1946, the Pennsylvanian left Harrisburg

in his green 1941 Buick convertible. Slipping onto Route 66

in Chicago, he arrived in Los Angeles two weeks later with a song

whose catchy lyrics and jazz riffs Nat King Cole crooned into a hit

that became the anthem of the asphalt. One hundred fifty recording

artists have covered it since.

Those long trips west spawned new catchwords like tourist court,

refrigerated air, motor-hotel, tourist trap, last chance gas, Burma

Shave, and drive-in. Everything roadside worshiped at the altar of

personalized transportation: service stations, motels, and fast foods.

They organized, franchised, and went uptempo. Hot rods and muscle

cars mollified the need for speed. Gas cost just 25 cents a gallon.

As America accelerated into the 1960s, and as Martin Milner

and George Maharis drove Tod and Buz in a beige-colored 1959

Corvette into American living rooms every Friday night on television

in 1960-64, a new Federal interstate highway system was

spreading across the country. When the final segment of Route 66

was decommissioned in 1984, the Mother Road slipped into history.

But in east New Mexico it endures. It still exists as a gravel stretch

of original Route 66 east of Tucumcari that crests endless hills and

crosses countless arroyos, evoking grim memories of the Great

Depression captured in Dorothea Lange’s gut-wrenching photographs,

and the nameless, faceless impoverished and dispossessed who

streamed west, bound for an uncertain future in California in John

Steinbeck’s most popular novel, “The Grapes of Wrath” (1939) and

in John Ford’s searing black-and-white film of the same name (1940).

Squint into the distances on a hot, dusty summer day, and the

Joads’ cut-down Hudson Super-Six rises and shimmers in the heat,

then disappears.

NEnewmexico.com




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102


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54

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278

156


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285

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■●


285

U.S.

66

U.S.

Visitors Center

& Store

Alpaca

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FT. UNION

■Salman Ranch NATIONAL

MONUMENT

Historic

Alternate

Route

n To

Storrie Lake

Santa Fe

State Park

(22 miles

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Montezuma

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Conchas


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Ute Lake

SANTA FE

State Park

NATIONAL

FOREST �

Old Rt. 66

To

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Old

(115 miles

Rt. 66

from

Tucumcari)

Santa Rosa

Lake State

Park

n To

Old

Rt. 66

Albuquerque

(118 miles

from

Santa Rosa)

Sumner

Lake

State Park

20

272

PECOS

Cleveland ■

Roller Mill

Morphy Lake

State Park


W

PECOS

WILDERNESS

Pendaries Lodge

The Wagon ■ Mound

& Golf Club

SANTA FE

NATIONAL

FOREST�


Gallinas CanyonW

W �

Recreation Area

■ LAS VEGAS

NATIONAL

NATIONAL

WILDLIFE

HISTORICAL

REFUGE

PARK

(McALLISTER

LAKE)

H K



SANTA FE

NATIONAL�

Villanueva

State Park ▲ W

FOREST


K

H


� ▲

Park

Lake

■ Blue Hole �

Perch

Lake

Janes- ▲

St. Rose Chapel

Wallace

Original Guadalupe

Memorial � ■ County Courthouse

Park & Dam

■ Site of

Coronado's

Bridge

1541 K

H


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I

M O R A

Cleveland

Mora

La

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WAGON

MOUND

W Mills

La Iglesia

▲ Mills

del Sagrado

Canyon

Corazon


H A R D I N G Bueyeros

Roy


Rincon

Colorado

P L A N S

Overlook

Bravo

Dome

Industrial

■ Site

Amistad

Watrous

El Porvenir

LAS VEGAS

el. 6436 ft.

PECOS

S A N M I G U E L

MOSQUERO


Bell

Ranch

Gallegos

Nara Visa

CONCHAS

LOGAN

San Miguel

K


Mesa

Rica

TUCUMCARI

Glenrio

el. 4087 ft.

Anton Dilia

Glenrio

G U A D A L U P E


Visitor

Chico

Newkirk

Tucumcari

Information

Mountain

Center

Colonias

Q U A Y San Jon

Montoya

Caprock Creek

Cuervo

Ranch

Mesa

Redonda

SANTA ROSA

Quay

Wheatland

Milagro

el. 4599 ft.

Ragland

Forrest

Puerto

Pastura de Luna

McAllister

Vaughn

Fort Sumner �Billy

the Kid

■ Museum

Taiban

FT. SUMNER STATE MONUMENT

■ and Billy the Kid's Gravesite,

and FUTURE HOME OF THE

BOSQUE REDONDO MEMORIAL

S a n g r e d e C r i s t o

A.T. & S.F. RR

Pecos River

G l o r i e t a M e s a

M o u n t a i n s

S a n t a F e M o u n t a i n s

Southern Pacific RR

p

p

j

p

p

B.N. & S.F. RR

Gallinas

Santa Fe Trail

(Wagon Mound Cutoff)

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Southern Pacific RR

River

River

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Santa Fe Trail

j

j

Mora

n

n

River

n

n

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R iver

River

Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific RR

Historic

T h e C a p r o c k

Ute

Creek

CanadianRiver

T h e C a p r o c k

Tucumcari Neon / Johnnie V.

Historic

j

T h e C a p r o c k

Old Rt. 66

N E W M E X I C O


E X A S

n


nta Fe

State Park

2 miles

● ▲

from

Gallinas CanyonW

65 W

ecos) 63 Recreation Area


Montezuma

50

■●

Hotel



K

El Porvenir

PECOS

■ PECOS

NATIONAL

HISTORICAL

PARK

25

To

buquerque

118 miles

from

nta Rosa)

Pecos River

66

U.S.

G l o r i e t a M e s a

285

S a n t a F e M o u n t a i n s

84


p

● San Miguel

3

SANTA FE

NATIONAL Villanueva

FOREST State Park ▲

W

p

j

K

40


Gallinas

Pecos

River

River

Historic

66

U.S.

104

● ●

Anton Dilia

Chico


84

Colonias

● Milagro

B.N.

LAS VEGAS

el. 6436 ft.

LAS VEGAS

NATIONAL

WILDLIFE

REFUGE

(McALLISTER

LAKE)

Historic

U.S. Alternate

SANTA FE 66 Route

NATIONAL

Pre -1938

FOREST � Alignment

219

Southern Pacific RR

54


Pastura

Santa Rosa

Lake State

Park

j

W


� Park

Lake

■●


Perch

LakeW

▲ 91

� ■


Puerto

de Luna

■ Site of

Conchas

Conchas

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W

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104


Begin in the faded hamlet of Glenrio astraddle the

Texas/New Mexico state line. There the deserted Last /First

Motel in Texas, a vestige of the 1940s, ’50s, and ’60s, still

looms, and the pavement turns to sand and gravel. As the

hills rise and fall westward, note the torn-up tracks of the

Tucumcari & Memphis Railroad (operational 1908-86) to

the south, and cross four creosote-filled wooden bridges,

built in the 1920s.

On a slight rise, in about all that’s left of the hamlet of Endee,

are the intriguing ruins of a tourist court from the 1930s.

In the Village of San Jon await the boarded-up Circle M

Motel (from the 1940s), the empty Smith’s Café (1930s),

and onetime Western Motel (1930s). San Jon, which arose

circa 1902-06 as the railroad pushed west, had gradually

extended its Mother Roadside services eastward as postwar

inbound traffic increased, a growth pattern evident in

many of the state’s Route 66 communities.

On a lonely, windswept hill west of San Jon (where New

Mexico’s last stretch of Route 66 was deactivated in 1982),

note the abandoned Cedar Hill Service Station & Motel

(operational in 1940-50). Those aren’t thousands of actual

shingles atop the collapsed canopy and main roof of the

gas station/store; they’re flattened oil cans.

Paradise Motel / Johnnie V.

S A N M I G U E L


n

n

n

n

Pecos

R iv

84

104

River

G U A D A L U P E

K

H

SANTA ROSA

el. 4599 ft.

Janes-

Wallace

Memorial

Park & Dam


Cuervo

Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific RR

Blue Hole

Old

Rt. 66

156

St. Rose Chapel

Original Guadalupe

County Courthouse

419

129

W


La Cita Restaurant / Johnnie V.


Mesa

Rica

Newkirk

● ●

Montoya

NORTHEAST NEW MEXICO’S ROUTE 66

CONCHAS

156

104

Historic

Old

Rt. 66

66

U.S.


Bell

Ranch

40

U

TUCUMCARI

el. 4087 ft.

■●

T h e C a p r o c k

Ragland ●

McAllister


● Gallegos

39

H W●

K LOGAN

CanadianRiver


Tucumcari

Mountain

209


Mesa

Redonda

Quay ●

Ute Lake

▲ State Park


Old Rt. 66

Q U A Y

278

T h e C a p r o c k

209

●Forrest

Historic

j

Caprock Creek

▲ Ranch

54

Old Rt. 66

231 ●Wheatland

● Nara Visa

M E X I C O

66

U.S.


San Jon

Glenrio


To

Glenrio

Visitor Amarillo

Information (115 miles

Center

from

469

Tucumcari)

T h e C a p r o c k


Nighttime neon, the signature signage of 66, still beams

from several Route 66-era businesses flanking the Main

Street of America in cities like Tucumcari and Santa Rosa.

Whether they adorn motels, cafes, or shops doesn’t matter.

That they beam nightly, does.

The architectural styles that once greeted ex-GIs, spent

by World War II, who had taken to the open road to see

what the Southwest was all about, are still there, too.

Among them are the Pueblo Revival and Southwest

Vernacular styles, the familiar Art Deco and Streamlined

Moderne, Spanish Colonial Revival, Ranch, Territorial

Revival, and Neocolonial.

In Tucumcari, where billboards once blared “Tucumcari

Tonight! 2,000 Motel Rooms.” there’s serendipity in motel

names like the Palomino (built in 1953); the legendary and

recently restored Blue Swallow (1942); and the Buckaroo (1952).

It’s hard to believe that the city seemed to sprout

overnight when the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific

Railroad (CRI&PRR) extended its tracks west in 1902.

TeePee Curios began wooing roadies through its

distinctive teepee-shaped entrance since shortly after

it first opened as a grocery store in 1944.

Road food is a blue plate special at places like Del’s

Family Restaurant (1956).

And the La Cita Restaurant (1961).

Blue Hole / Paul Evans

Yes, a Mexican Sombrero adorns the

La Cita. Furthermore the restaurant

not only survived, it’s thriving. Like

Dinosaur Museum / Mesalands Community College

n


TeePee Curios and the Paradise Motel farther west, La

Cita’s eye-catching neon has been restored. Up nearby

South Second Street at night, the classic neon of the Odeon

Theater (1936) beams back.

Be sure to visit the nearby Tucumcari Historical

Museum in the city’s red-brick, former school house

(1904). An adjacent annex houses a permanent Route 66

history exhibit. A block away awaits Mesalands Community

College’s impressive Dinosaur Museum, which opened

in 2000. It’s got the world’s largest collection of fossils

and life size prehistoric bronze skeletons, like the fearsome

Torvosaurus (a cousin of the T-Rex) and carnivorous,

bird-like Struthiomimus.

Other roadside landmarks include the Kiva RV Park

(which began as the Rocking Horse Tourist Camp, pre-

1948); the Cactus Motel-Camp (circa 1940); Ann’s Corner

(the Venetian Courts, 1946); the Economy Inn (Rainbow

End Court, 1955); the Americana Motel (Star Motel, circa

1935); the Westerner Drive-In (1947); Redwood Lodge

(1955); and Paradise Motel (pre-1955).

Customers of the local Lowe’s Supermarket love the

Route 66 imagery on its walls and above its aisles. On West

Tucumcari Boulevard is Arizona sculptor Tom Coffin’s 1997

Cultural Corridors-funded Route 66 art work, a chrome tail

lights-and-fins homage called Roadside Attraction.

West of Tucumcari’s city limits, access vintage 66 at

Interstate 40 Exit 321 (marked Palomas) and continue west.

In the nearly deserted hamlet of Montoya, note Richardson’s

Store; the stone-block, tin-roofed mercantile was

operational from 1925 through 1980.

Farther west is the Village of Newkirk, which sprang

up, like Montoya, in 1901 as the CRI&PRR laid tracks west.

Note the abandoned Save 5 Cents Gas Station (from the

1930s), Wilkerson’s Store, Gas Station & Motel (operational

in 1940-77), and the abandoned hipped roof, stone-block

Gulf Station & Store (1930s).

West of Newkirk is the hamlet of Cuervo, settled in 1901.

Its proximity to Santa Rosa kept its Route 66 services to a

handful of gas stations and cafes. Although ripped in two

by Interstate 40 in the 1960s, it hints at how close-knit it

once was: along its south side, amid several abandoned

homes, are a closed Catholic church and an abandoned

WPA-funded elementary school.

Farther west is the city of Santa Rosa. Access Interstate

40 and pass the faded Frontier Museum complex, a

Western-themed tourist trap (1952-53). Or pass under I-40

and head southwest, for a blissful jaunt along paved, rural

66 to U.S. Highway 84 on the outskirts of Santa Rosa.

The nearby Santa Rosa Municipal Airport’s paved landing

strip sits atop a segment of earliest 66. The east-west runway

overlooks the Santa Rosa Sink, a broad bowl formed by the

subsurface collapse of cavernous Permian rocks.

Santa Rosa owes its many freshwater lakes—hence its

nickname, the City of Lakes—to the sink. Its most famous

lake, famed Blue Hole, is a scuba-diving mecca.

Settled circa 1865 astraddle the Pecos River, Santa Rosa

welcomed the first cattle drive north on the famed Goodnight-Loving

Trail (1867). But its Spanish heart lies four

blocks south of post-1937 Route 66 amid the quiet ruins

and graveyard of Don Celso de Baca’s tiny chapel, La

Capilla de Santa Rosa de Lima (1890), honoring St. Rose

of Lima, the first canonized saint in the New World.

Its four miles of America’s Main Street, once part Wills

Rogers Drive, part Parker Avenue, and part Coronado

Road, was recently unified and modernized into Historic

Route 66. A westward drive encounters the Silver Moon

Budget Motel (which began as the Silver Moon Motel,

built circa 1943-45), tidy La Mesa Motel (1940) across from

the closed Rio Pecos Ranch Truck Terminal (circa 1955),

the Sun & Sand Motel (1965), the Motel La Loma (1950),

and the Tower Motel (1950).

Tucked away near the Pecos River is a treasure, the

once-regal Coronado Courts. Its curvilinear parapet and

California Mission Revival architecture smile at its eight

cozy bungalows and open-bay carports. It was operational

from 1929 through 1972. From its courtyard, gaze north at

the steel-trestle railroad bridge spanning the Pecos; it was

immortalized in Ford’s “Grapes of Wrath” film. Nearby is

Chief Auto Supply (once a Texaco Service Station, 1937).

Santa Rosa is also prominently mentioned in the Joad

family’s cross-country California trek in Steinbeck’s novel.

Road food awaits in the Silver Moon Café (1959),

Joseph’s Bar & Grill (once the La Fiesta Drive-In, 1956),

Sun & Sand Restaurant (1966), and the gloriously neon-lit

Comet II Restaurant (circa 1952). But the landmark Club

Café, famed for its grinning Fat Man billboards, is closed.

It was operational from 1935 to 1992.

Visit the glistening, memorabilia-filled Route 66 Auto

Museum & Malt Shop, too. Amble among 60 carefully

restored cars that underscored the route’s golden era, humming

to the continuous play of late 1950s rock and roll hits.

New Mexico’s earliest alignment (1926-37) was a

Sun & Sand Restaurant / Johnnie V. Route 66 Cafe / Johnnie V. Route 66 Auto Museum / Johnnie V.

LEARN MORE AT: NEnewmexico.com


circuitous, washboard journey. Past Santa Rosa, westbound

motorists turned north and passed the Pecos River Village

of Dilia. In the hamlet of Romeroville (near Las Vegas), they

turned west to the Village of Pecos and the capital city of

Santa Fe. By 1938, the state Highway Department had

trimmed that route. Instead of turning northwest past Santa

Rosa (approximating U.S. Highway 84), the new alignment

let motorists continue west to Albuquerque and beyond.

As these motorists reached the Southwest, they encountered

live rattlesnakes, teepees and turquoise jewelry, sagebrush

and tumbleweeds, hogans and Harvey Houses, real

Indians, blue skies and unending sunshine. Once in New

Mexico, some of them traveled no further. In New Mexico,

many of them realized, they had come home. That’s still

true today, as New Mexico’s long segments of Route 66

lure classic car enthusiasts, hopeless romantics, eager

history buffs, motorcyclists, and motorcoach passengers,

all bound for yesterday.

MESALANDS STATE SCENIC

& HISTORIC BYWAY

Lengths: 14 to 102 miles (23 to 164 kilometers)

Duration: One Hour to a Half-Day

Elevation: 4,093 feet (1,248 meters) to 4,620 feet

(1,409 meters)

Seventeen caliche-capped sandstone and siltstone

mesas punctuate the seven unique segments of this

byway surrounding the Route 66 cities of Tucumcari

and Santa Rosa. Some of this scenery was filmed by

Second-Unit Director Otto Brower for the Joads’ jalopy

trek to California segment in John Ford’s 1940 film,

Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program

505-988-6701

www.cr.nps.gov/rt66

IM_Rt66@nps.gov

Santa Rosa Visitor Information Center

575-472-3404

www.santarosanm.org

rdelgado@srnm.org

Nuestra Senora Refugio Church / Paul Evans Mesalands / Courtesy of the city of Santa Rosa

NORTHEAST NEW MEXICO CONTACTS

“The Grapes of Wrath.”

The first two segments begin in Tucumcari. The

third links Tucumcari and Santa Rosa and the last four

begin in Santa Rosa. Find complete descriptions at

www.NEnewmexico.com. Here are highlights of two

of the seven Mesalands tours.

■ From Tucumcari, drive a clockwise route to Santa

Rosa. En route, pass through the hamlet of Quay,

named for U.S. Senator Matthew S. Quay (R-Penn.), a

Civil War Medal of Honor winner who died in office in

1904. To the west is Saddleback Mesa, a roost of 1890s

train robber Thomas “Black Jack” Ketchum. Atop the

Caprock is the hamlet of Ragland, settled in 1906. En

route to Santa Rosa, traverse the broad, treeless Alamogordo

Valley, which welcomed the Goodnight-Loving

Trail. Passing Luciano Mesa, ascend wide Sunshine

Mesa, a backdrop in Ford’s film. Nearby to the north

are Cuervo Mesa and Mesa Contadero. The final leg

to Santa Rosa is paved, rural 66. (91 miles one way)

■ From Santa Rosa drive ten miles southeast on State

Road 91 to the quiet Spanish Village of Puerta de Luna,

settled in the 1860s. In PDL, visit the 1874 adobe-andstone

home and store of Alexander Grzelachowski. Not

only did the Polish merchant know Billy the Kid, he

hosted Pat Garrett, his posse, and the shackled young

outlaw for an impromptu afternoon dinner on Christmas

Day, 1880, as they were taking him to jail in Las Vegas.

PDL’s most imposing structure is Nuestra Senora de

Refugio Church, built in 1882. Return the way you came

or venture further east and take US Highway 84 back

to historic Route 66. (30 miles round trip)

Text and tour information by Michael E. Pitel.

For group rates, lodging, restaurants and museums, plus annual events and other activities, contact:

Tucumcari / Quay County Chamber of Commerce

575-461-1694

www.tucumcarinm.com

chamber@tucumcarinm.com

NEnewmexico.com

5.2009

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