About New Mexico Route - Info & History
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New Mexico’s Mother Road provides the
enthusiast with a variety of landscapes, from beautiful mountain
ranges, to sandstone mesas, desert sagebrush, ponderosa pines and
ghost towns. Along the vintage pavement in the Land of Enchantment, you will also
see ancient pueblo cities, abandoned motels, neon signs and an
eclectic mix of ancient and contemporary cultures. Dating back
thousands of years, you are sure to enjoy New Mexico's rich history,
beginning with the
Americans, continuing through the
days, into the era of the Mother Road, and beyond.
entire state of New Mexico, Route 66 was created when the
state was only 14 years old, becoming the gateway to the southwest.
New Mexico Governor A.T.
Hannett introduced Route 66 to the state in 1926
and was instrumental in leading the charge for the National Highway
System that was formed in 1927.
Main Street USA
between Santa Rosa and Tucumcari, New Mexico,
beginning, the meandering roadway was little more than 500 miles of
gravel road slicing together many former trails that had been used for
wagon trains and railroads. However, at a time when New
condition was on a downward spiral, the Mother Road put hundreds of
unemployed men to work when the state began to pave the roadway. From 1926 to 1937, historic
meandered north, around the Sandia Mountains to
and then turned south through Sandoval County to
Albuquerque and on into Valencia County and Los Lunas. When the
later fully paved alignment was completed in 1938, 126 miles had been
shaved from the route, by passing
and numerous other small towns.
Today there are
over 260 miles of pre-interstate era Route 66 that remains
drivable. In a few places, the old road is still designated as a
state highway, although none continue to carry the U.S. 66
designation. Other portions have reverted back to county or
tribal maintenance. The remaining miles have long since been
"covered over” with super highway, I-40.
To further the preservation of the Mother Road and the many
historic landmarks along the old sections of the highway, New Mexico established those
original roads still open to traffic as a National
Byway in 1994. Starting at the New Mexico-Texas
State Line, the byway travels more than 300 miles through compelling,
scenic, and dramatic stretches of the famed highway, offering
travelers a quintessential motoring experience.
Another major undertaking in New Mexico, was the Route 66 Neon Sign Restoration project by the
New Mexico Route 66 Association. The Association has
led a tremendous effort along Route 66, restoring vintage neon signs in
Gallup. As a result, business owners, as well as entire communities,
have a renewed pride in their Mother Road
heritage. The project is a partnership of the New Mexico Route 66 Association, the
New Mexico Historic Preservation
Division and the National Park Service Route 66 Corridor Preservation Office.
Your westbound journey through the Land of Enchantment begins at the
straddling the Texas and New Mexico
Glenrio is a twenty mile gravel stretch of the
old highway to San Jon. This was the last remaining segment of Route 66 before it became I-40 in
1982. Along this dusty road, you can get the flavor of early-day travel
on the Mother Road through vast ranch
lands and the tiny long-dead communities of
Bard. The accommodations and services that were once available to those long ago
travelers have all closed until you reach
San Jon. The stretch from
San Jon is
almost all a dirt and gravel and the bridges along this original stretch
have load limits of eight tons.
From San Jon, you can drive an almost entirely intact
24-mile paved chunk of Route 66 all the way to Tucumcari. Cedar Hill, just
west of San Jon, was a major stop for
travelers, particularly those going east, because the steep hill would
cause radiators to boil over. The remains of a small motel and general
store can still be seen. The roof of the store is shingled with flattened
metal oil cans.
Along the stretch to Tucumcari, the early roadbed
paralleled the Tucumcari and Memphis Railroad,
constructed in 1910 and abandoned in 1954. Today, travelers can
still see the old wood and steel bridge supports to the side of the
The famous Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari, New Mexico,
December, 2004, Kathy Weiser.
This image available for photographic prints
Along Tucumcari Boulevard, you will see a long stretch of the authentic
Mother Road, where you can enjoy many vintage
1940's and 50's icons including the Cactus Motor Lodge, Lasso Motel, the
Pine Lodge, the Blue Swallow Motel, Teepee Curios, the Westerner Drive-in,
The Palomino, and Travelodge Motel, and Del's Restaurant. The Tucumcari-Quay County Chamber of
Commerce has a wonderful, four-color brochure on Route 66, so be sure to ask for a copy at either
the museum or at the Chamber's office. The brochure also outlines a
special Route 66 history tour of Tucumcari.
From Tucumcari, travel approximately
10 miles west on I-40 to the Palomas Exit, at which point the drive
returns to Historic Route 66.
This section of the Mother Road travels along the Union Pacific
Railroad tracks through ranch lands surrounded by scenic mesas on each
side of the road. By crossing I-40 at Montoya, you will continue on the
Mother Road into Guadalupe
Diner in Glenrio,
May, 2004, Kathy Weiser.
This image available for photographic prints
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Legends' General Store
66 Postcard Coloring Book - If you love
Route 66, enjoy
coloring, and like to share with others, this book is for you! The Route
66 Postcard Coloring Book contains 20 postcards of various places along
America's Mother Road, each ready for your own artistic touch. Then after
you color, remove each and send as a postcard. Complete with stamp
placement on the back and information on each location. Or, keep your
finished work as a reminder of fun times traveling Route 66.