New Mexico Route 66

Gallup Area

New Mexico Route 66


Thoreau, New Mexico

Thoreau, New Mexico

Thoreau, New Mexico is another small trading outpost located on Route 66. The Interstate runs parallel to Route 66 along this stretch and there is an off ramp for Thoreau which has kept the gas station and trading post store all these years. In 1946 Rittenhouse mentions the population of Thoreau as being 375 which makes it pretty sizable as small outposts go. Thoreau is also the southern gateway to Chaco Canyon National Monument. If you have the time, a detour to see these massive prehistoric pueblo ruins is well worth it.


The Continental Divide

Continental Divide, New Mexico is the backbone point of a nation. Though it is not the highest point on Route 66. That honor goes to Brannigan Park on old Route 66 between Bellemont and Parks, Arizona. The Continental Divide is a popular location and has been the site of numerous trading posts down through the years. In 1946 Rittenhouse says the divide is marked by a large sign and there are several establishments located there including The Top O' The World Hotel and Cafe, Great Divide Trading Company, and the Continental Trading Post and grocery. Today the tradition continues with an abundance of establishments designed to entice money out of the tourist's wallet in exchange for priceless momentos; wonderful souvenirs of the road.

Contenental Divide Trading Post


Gallup ~ Native American Capitol of the Southwest

Gallup, New Mexico is another Route 66 town that caters to the traveler. Its neon lit motel row is very reminiscent of the main drag of Tucumcari located at the eastern end of New Mexico's Route 66. In 1946 it had a population of 7,041 and all the accommodations a tourist could hope for.

Blue Spruce Motel Neon

Lariat Motel Neon

The famous El Rancho Hotel has been serving the traveler since the 1930s and is still going strong today. Once know as the Home of the Movie Stars because so many movies were filmed in the area, the names of famous movie stars grace its historic register. Stars like Humphrey Bogart, Ronald Reagan, Spencer Tracy, Katherine Hepburn and Kirk Douglas to name a few all stayed here. The charm of yesteryear can be found within, and the lobby is a thing of beauty. You can even request to stay in one of the rooms your favorite movie star stayed in!

El Rancho Neon

El Rancho Hotel, Gallup, New Mexico

Route 66 Side Trip to Gallup Neons:


White Cafe 1928

Gallup Downtown

   White Cafe in 1928 along Route 66

   Compare same corner on Route 66 in 2002

Gallup is located in the heart of Indian Country and is another town that got its start through the railroad in 1881. In the southwest towns, the railroad and Route 66 seem to go hand in hand. From its very earliest years Gallup has become known as the Gateway to Indian Country. Some of the finest Native American art can be found along old Route 66 in Gallup. Rittenhouse comments on this in his 1946 guidebook to Route 66. "Gallup is a great Indian trading center, to which they come for supplies and from which Navajo and other Indian wares are shipped. It is also famous for its great Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial held annually just after the middle of August." The vast Navajo Reservation borders Gallup to the north and the Zuni Pueblo is to the south.

A Gallup Institution. James Nechero Sr. bought this Texaco Station across the street from the El Rancho in 1939. The family still owns and operates this Route 66 landmark today.

Gallup Texaco


Family Vacation on Route 66 in 1956

Indian Woman 1956 Gallup, New Mexico

Just outside of Gallup in 1956 my family stopped at an Indian vendor with her pottery wares spread out on the sand. My mom had made some homemade fudge and she used that to barter for a small pottery pot the Indian's daughter had made. The fudge was a delight to the small girl, who I suspect was probably a few years older than me at the time. My mom also purchased a larger pottery dish from the native potter. I'm so glad she did now as I have that pottery dish and it is a treasured piece from my childhood vacation along Route 66. I can only wonder where those artists of Route 66 are today. I hope life has been good to them. As far as that small pottery bowl so carefully made by the little Indian girl that my mom traded homemade fudge for - my brother and I broke it accidentally while having a balloon fight. My mom was not pleased with us at all. I do believe we were pretty well grounded for that misadventure too!

My dad and younger brother somewhere around Gallup, New Mexico in 1956. Little did I know then how much trouble he would get me into a couple of years later when we broke the Indian girl's small pottery bowl!

Dad and Brother in Gallup Area 1956


Photographs Taken November 1956 and September 2002

Click on an area or city of Route 66 on the map below to take a cyber tour of that section of the  Mother Road

Travel Cyber Route 66 in New Mexico

Go West to Arizona Route 66

NAVIGATION NOTE: Buckle up and hold on to your mouse! These pages are arranged like the map above, from the western state border to the eastern state border. I have set up this site as if you were traveling from EAST to WEST, much like the Joad family in The Grapes of Wrath. You can click on the Route 66 shields to "travel" the Mother Road in either direction though. Or you can select any shield below to take you to that specific state.

Go East on New Mexico Route 66

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Route 66

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