Route 66 in Tucumcari, New Mexico. Trying to Bring It All Back

Posted on October 18, 2014

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As noted in a previous post, Tucumcari is a bit worn around the edges – actually, quite a bit worn around the edges.

But they are trying, in a unique way that impressed me. I think other communities under stress could learn something from Tucumcari.

The Pony Soldier can't offer a comfortable bed anymore, just visual delight.

The Pony Soldier can’t offer a comfortable bed anymore, just visual delight.

You see, they’ve got these marvelous signs left over from the heyday of Route 66 – the 50’s and 60’s, when the romance of  being ‘California bound’ turned from dream to reality for so many.

Although many of the buildings connected with the signs were eventually torn down, the signs were left standing for the continued enjoyment of the traveler as a particularly American art form.

But the city has gone even farther in an effort to keep the spirit of the place alive.

According to the nice lady at the Chamber of Commerce, when a building is vacant along old Route 66 the town and its volunteers try hard to bring it back to life, at least visually.

They paint it up, add appropriate signage, maybe a mural or a painting of someone standing in a doorway – they make it come back alive. They make it more attractive to a potential buyer or renter, too.

In fact, it’s actually sometimes hard to tell if there’s a real, live business there or not. But even though you have to look twice before you pull in, the effect is great.  There’s a lesson here.

The motel is closed, and weed push through the asphalt parking lot, but the sign is too good to lose.

The motel is closed, and weeds push through the asphalt parking lot, but the sign is too good to lose.

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No gas – or anything else – here anymore, but doesn’t this building look great?

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