New Mexico Route 66

Santa Rosa
New Mexico

New Mexico Route 66


Santa Rosa

Just a scant 16 miles down the road I came to Santa Rosa. I'm ashamed to say that on this trip (September 2002) I hopped on the Interstate for this section of my trip to Santa Rosa. There is a passable, albeit deteriorating section of Route 66 that you can drive on into Santa Rosa but I was trying to make up some time. According to Bob Moore and Patrick Grauwels in their book "The Illustrated Guidebook to the Mother Road," this is a scenic trip not to be missed. I know I'll have to return and take that section of old Route 66 someday. As of May 2003 I still haven't made it yet. It is on my to-do list though.


Santa Rosa Motel

Santa Rosa is an old Spanish town on the Pecos River, it began as a large Spanish rancho. It got its name in 1890 from a chapel built by Don Cleso Baca to honor his mother. In the early days of Route 66, 1926 through 1937, the old alignment of Route 66 left Santa Rosa to continue on towards Santa Fe, the capitol of New Mexico then drop back down to Albuquerque and Los Lunas. In late 1937 Route 66 was straightened out to go directly to Albuquerque and by pass Santa Fe completely. The story behind that new, shorter alignment to Albuquerque is as interesting as any you'll find along the Mother Road. Ah those were the days. See the Santa Fe alignment for details…

There's much to see of old Route 66 in Santa Rosa today. Bono's Route 66 Auto Museum, Comet Drive-In, Joseph's Bar and Grill, and the many old historic buildings in the Santa Rosa downtown. Today as in yesteryear much of Santa Rosa's economy remains dependent on the tourist industry. There is a lot left of Route 66 in the small towns it once passed through. I found this classic truck stop sign in Santa Rosa. The truck stop is closed now, evidently the Interstate took its toll on their customers. But other Santa Rosa businesses have managed to survive.

Rio Pecos Truck Stop

Route 66 Auto Museum James "Bozo" Cordova grew up along Route 66 and he has always been interested in cars. Thus began a life long interest in all things that go vroom, vroom. He started out with small model cars and worked his way up to the real thing. Of course in the process he started a Route 66 business, Bozo's Garage, in Santa Rosa. Three years ago Bozo needed a place to put his extensive collection so he started the Route 66 Auto Museum. There's enough hot pink, chrome and fins to satisfy any vintage car buff.
Bozo and his wife Anna welcome all Route 66 travelers to their Santa Rosa museum. And what a museum it is too. Besides automobiles, Bozo has acquired an extensive collection of signs (including the original Fat Man sign from the now defunct Club Cafe painted by Route 66 sign painter Rudolph Gonzales of "Signs by Rudy" in Tucumcari), toys and memorabilia celebrating Route 66. The Route 66 Auto Museum is another must stop in Santa Rosa. For a real road experience drop in, check it out and say hi to the Cordovas. The museum is open seven days a week and also features a snack bar and gift shop.

Bozo and Anna

Auto Museum

Original Club Cafe's Fat Man

Santa Rosa is an old Route 66 town that is still going strong. In 1946 its population was 2,310 making it a prosperous tourist center on Route 66. In fact Jack Rittenhouse warns in his guidebook, "If your car needs attention, better check it at Santa Rosa, because the next major community is Albuquerque, about 122 miles west." A list of some of the businesses in Santa Rosa from the guidebook back in the 1940s shows the Central Motor Co., and the Sterling garages. Santa Rosa had about 12 motor courts too, including the Santa Rosa, and Yucca. Rittenhouse goes on to recommend Jack's Café as a good place to eat too.

Johnson Building in Santa Rosa


Downtown Santa Rosa

Preserving the heritage of Route 66 can only aid in keeping the tourist dollars flowing in the future, especially as the Mother Road gains in popularity in the next few years. More and more the aging baby boomers are looking back to their own childhood, the vacations with their families along Route 66, the magic of the open road, and the nostalgia of family owned and operated businesses. Many parents want to pass this heritage on to their own children. Route 66 is an important part of our uniquely American culture. Santa Rosa realizes this and is preserving its past so others may enjoy it in the future.
In 1935 Phillip Craig and Floyd Shaw probably never dreamed their logo for their new Club Cafe would someday become a world famous Route 66 Icon. Over the years the smiling, satisfied face of the Fat Man invited thousands of hungry Route 66 travelers to stop for a while and enjoy a tasty home cooked meal. The Fat Man became synonymous with Route 66 in Santa Rosa. In 1991 the Club Cafe served its last meal. The end of an era had come. The Club Cafe stood vacant and soon fell into disrepair with the passing of the years. Joseph and Christina Campos purchased the building with plans to reopen the Club Cafe. Unfortunately the building was just too far-gone. The Campos, who own Joseph's Bar and Grill down the road on Route 66, decided to bring the Fat Man home to their restaurant in an attempt to save this famous icon.

Joseph's Fat Man

Joseph's Cafe Joseph and Christina succeeded in saving the Fat Man. Now his smiling face greets hungry tourists at Joseph's Bar and Grill, an icon of the Mother road in its own right. Jose Campos, Sr., founded the restaurant in 1956 as the La Fiesta. In 1985 the restaurant was handed down to his son Joseph and soon became Joseph's Bar and Grill. Joseph's Bar and Grill continues to serve up good food to hungry travelers along Route 66. With the resurgence of interest in the Mother Road it looks like the Fat Man will have a nice new home for some time to come. Joseph and Christina continue to carry on the fine traditions established by Joseph's dad, Jose, and restaurateurs like Phillip Craig and Floyd Shaw.
Club Cafe Sign

The original Club Cafe sign is all that remains of the once famous Route 66 icon in Santa Rosa.


Route 66 Side Trip: The Santa Fe Alignment


Photographs Taken September 2002 & May 2003

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 Clines Corners

To Newkirk


Select the Route 66 State to Visit



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