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New Mexico Route 66

Newkirk
has seen better times ...

New Mexico Route 66

 

From Montoya old Route 66 parallels the Interstate. You can drive old Route 66 from Montoya for about 12 miles which will bring you to the old Route 66 town of Newkirk, New Mexico.

Old Newkirk Gas Station

Newkirk is another of the many old towns along Route 66 that quickly faded after the Interstate bypassed it. The Interstate runs right by Newkirk and it has two off-ramps into town, but even that wasn't enough to keep many of the businesses open. Folks got in too much of hurry I guess. In 1946 Rittenhouse describes Newkirk as a town of 115 population with 4 gas stations, 2 lunchrooms, few cabins, and De Baca's Trading Post. Newkirk was founded in 1901 when the railroad came through.
       
The original settlement was known as Conant, named after a local rancher but was changed by a local settler in honor of his hometown, Newkirk, Oklahoma. The ruins of a very old Shamrock gas station and Route 66 watering hole once known as Carlo's Place greet the Mother Road traveler upon entering Newkirk from the east.

Carlo's Place - Newkirk Roadhouse

 

Newkirk Post Office

The post office was established in 1910. The old building is still standing, though it is abandoned. Besides being the post office this old establishment was a gas station and store. Take the time to explore Newkirk and this fascinating structure from the days of early automobile travel in the west. Under the canopy you can still see the faded letters proclaiming its function.
       
As I was exploring and taking my pictures a car drove up. "Did you see that old building over there?' the driver asked pointing to the old post office. "You can still see the faded lettering over the door."

Old Post Office Sign

 

Wilkerson's Gas Station

I was particularly interested in another abandoned gas station near the old post office. A faded sign announced that it was know as Wilkerson's. The glass window in front had been shattered and the white plaster was cracked and peeling exposing the native adobe underneath. I explained to the driver that I was exploring Route 66 and as this was my first time in Newkirk I was interested I the town's history. "Hi, I'm Duane Wilkerson," he said. I glanced at the old Wilkerson gas station quizzically. "Yep, that was my dad's place," he said knowingly. "I worked there until we had to close down. It used to be a Gulf Station. When the Interstate opened things slowed down here. We tried to stay open as long as we could but finally closed in 1989. We just didn't have the business."
         
I asked Duane about the broken glass, wondering if they had a problem with vandals in Newkirk. So much of what's left of Route 66 has fallen prey to the destructive forces of vandalism. "No it wasn't vandals," he said. "The old adobe is starting to dissolve and the weight of the building just shattered the glass. We tried to give the glass away before that happened but I guess nobody wanted it." I had never though of an adobe building melting like that before. Duane gave me a brief history lesson on Newkirk then. I learned about the old post office, the new post office; Carlo's Place, and an old Trading Post that had burned a few years before along with all the antiques inside.

Duane Wilkerson

         
What a loss we both agreed. I wonder if that could have been the De Baca place that Rittenhouse mentioned? Once again it was all too soon before we each had to go. Duane now worked at the gas station down the road that services the Interstate travelers and needed to get back. I need to get going too. Santa Rosa was just a few miles away down old Route 66.

 

Cuervo, New Mexico

Cuervo, New Mexico Stores

Cuervo, New Mexico had a population of 128 back in 1946. I'm not sure if it can even make that claim today. The Interstate runs right by this old town also, but the abandoned buildings along Route 66 indicate that hasn't helped the economy of the town any. Cuervo means "small raven" in Spanish and back in Rittenhouse's day it had few tourist accommodations even then. It is an interesting town to explore and photo opportunities do present themselves here. I was delighted to discover that one of the old abandoned gas stations was actually made from an old Santa Fe RR box car; what an interesting find for my camera.
       

Cuervo Gas Station

Cuervo Gas Station is made from RR Boxcar

 

Photographs Taken 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 on New Mexico 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

To Santa Rosa

To Montoya

 

Select the Route 66 State to Visit

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