Route 66 in Tucumcari, NM. Doing It’s Best To Stay on the Road

Posted on October 17, 2014


Route 66 in the 1930’s was a study in contrasts, and that hasn’t changed a bit.dust bowl

During the Great Depression, it was “the migrant’s road” of John Steinbeck fame. It was the path of people in flight – fleeing the dust, the howling wind, the desperation.

Tens of thousands struggled to make their way to what they hoped would be a new start in California. Sadly, more often than not, they found those dreams turned to dust, too, just like back home.


I read somewhere recently there are few gas stations featuring the ’50’s up-swept canopy design left. This one is still in business as a repair shop.

But it was also the road of more economically-stable motorists, who traveled for business or pleasure, who needed places to eat a meal, spend the night, and refill the gas tank.


The Blue Dome, Tulsa, OK

And savvy businessman long the way filled those needs, building some of the most iconic examples of pure American architecture you’ll ever find.

But now, “America’s Main Street” is mostly gone, with only sections here and there still driveable apart from I-40, which now covers most of this once vibrant road.

However, in Tucumcari, New Mexico there’s a long stretch Old Route 66 that takes you back to the 1950’s and 60’s, when a whole new generation of ‘migrants’ were heading to the sunny sands of California.

Along here, once at the edge of the now mostly dead downtown, motels, motor courts, restaurants and gas stations once bloomed brightly.DSCN1094

Today…well, you might say the bloom is off the rose in many places, but they are trying very hard to hang on to a portion of those glory days, and I think they’re making some modest progress.

You can still stay in a 50’s-60’s motor court with brightly painted metal lawn chairs out front, and you can still find a bite to eat in restaurants that have been fueling the public for a long time.  And though you’ll probably gas up at Pilot or Philipps FullSizeRender (1)-00166 out on the interchange, you can still walk into one of the old filling stations and pick up a trinket or a piece of nostalgia.

Now the people who travel the road are well off, at least by 1930’s standards.  Now it’s the signs, buildings and attractions, and sometimes the entire towns, that have a dusty, worn-out look.

But wait until the sun goes down, and the few remaining neon signs flicker on.

download (2) Suddenly you’re back in the day – if you don’t travel beyond a couple blocks.

In other words, you CAN still get your kicks on this part of Route 66.

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