Texas Route 66

Cowboy Town

Texas Route 66


Amarillo is the largest city between Oklahoma City and Albuquerque, New Mexico, and is the unofficial capitol of the Texas Panhandle. 

Modern 1945 Amarillo

Originally started as a buffalo hunter's camp, the city was laid out in 1887. Amarillo comes from the Spanish word for yellow and it is said that it got its name from the many houses in the area that were painted yellow others claim its name came from the abundant yellow flowers of the area whichever the case may be Amarillo was destined for greatness.
Amarillo became the most prominent Panhandle City as major cattle feeding and shipping center, and capitol of the oil and gas industry in the region. Amarillo is a city where the spirit of the old west still lingers. In 1946 Jack Rittenhouse called Amarillo, then with a population of 70,000, a bustling center of Panhandle activity. It had radio stations, four leading hotels, and 40 smaller hotels, 35 auto courts, many garages and all tourist facilities. The city has been a Route 66 city from the very start and along Amarillo Blvd. through the old city there are pockets of Route 66 to be seen everywhere.

Famous Hotel Herring in the 1940s


The Big Texan

Road Icon - The Big Texan Steak House

This is cowboy country and perhaps the best place to savor the flavor of the old west is at the Big Texan, long advertised up and down Route 66 as the home of the FREE 72-oz steak. But there is a catch; you have to eat the whole steak in an hour. And there's even a catch to the catch! Be sure to read the small print, you have to eat the whole meal consisting of baked potato, salad and roll. Believe it or not there have been a few people that have actually been able to eat the whole meal. As much as I like to eat, and as much as I like steak, I don't think I'll ever try that challenge.
A visit to Amarillo on Route 66 wouldn't be complete without stopping at the Big Texan. The atmosphere is great, and it is a Texas sized experience not to miss. The Big Texan has been a Route 66 icon since 1963. In 1968 when the Interstate opened up the Big Texan moved closer to the super slab to its present location.

Big Texan Motel


Cowboy Motel

The Texas Cowboy is a theme that runs through this Panhandle city. What an incitement for a the kids when they saw this vintage Route 66 sign.

"Mom, Dad, can we stay there?"

An old shopping center next to the Cowboy Motel on Route 66 now stands deserted. There was a time that the traveler could just about find anything he or she wanted along this stretch of old Route 66.

Forgotten Supermarket Chain on Old Route 66


Sixth Street and the San Jacinto Historic District

Art Deco Theater Route 66 through Amarillo was important to the development of the Sixth Street and San Jacinto area. This area is a registered historic district and many of the buildings are listed on the registry. Today there are many antique shops to browse through, so much so, that this area is known as "Antique Row."

Across the street from a little Route 66 Park in the San Jacinto area is this great, historic old Art Deco theater. The San Jacinto area had a few theaters to chose from making it the entertainment district of Amarillo.

The Natorium, an opened air building surrounding a swimming pool opened in 1922. In 1926 the "Nat" was converted to a dance hall with 10,000 feet of Maple hardwood flooring covering the pool area. The Nat also had dining facilities and employed 40 staff people at its peak. Well-known big bands often stopped here to play along old Route 66.

The Nat is one of Amarillo's most endangered historic buildings. Though it is on the Register of Historic Places, that is not a guarantee that it will be around for future generations to enjoy.

Old Nat Theater


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 Texas

Go West on 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 Route 66

To Vega, Texas

To Groom, Texas


Select the Route 66 State to Visit



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