Route 66 Caravan

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Route 66 Caravan Road Log:
May 18, 2003


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La Bajada Hill

1926 -1932 Alignment

La Bajada Hill
Warning
Safe Speed 10 Miles
Watch Sharp Curves
This Road Is Not Fool Proof
But Safe For A Sane Driver
Use Low Gear

~ New Mexico State Highway Sign in the late 1920s ~

  La Bajada Hill 1928 La Bajada Hill, that very name struck terror in the hearts of early Route 66 motorists. It perhaps was one of the most challenging sections of Route 66 to be found. It ranked right along with the old Gold Road and Sitgreaves Pass in Arizona. Travel back in the old days could be quite an ordeal and the La Bajada Hill was at the top of the list.
 

La Bajada Hill in 1928

 
Between the years of 1926 - 1932 this was Route 66. This road goes back a long way in time though, almost 400 years in fact. Originally it had been part of the Camino Real de Tierra Adentro, or Royal Road to the Lands of the Interior, and ranks as the oldest European highway in the U.S. 

La Bajada Hill 18 May 2003

      

La Bajada Hill 2003

During the days of early Route 66 it intimidated motorists by its sudden 500-foot drop along a narrow, talus ridden, switch backed road that was hardly more than a trail blasted from rock. It is even said that enterprising Santa Feans would wait for timid motorists and offer to drive their cars down the grade for compensation. Convicts originally blasted and chiseled the road out of La Bajada Mesa between the years 1923 and 1924. The Fred Harvey company with their Indian Tours was instrumental in having several hairpins curves eliminated and the road widened in places to accommodate their new tour buses in 1925. When Route 66 was certified in 1926, La Bajada hill became part of the US highway system.
         
La Bajada Ruins

La Bajada Rock Retaining Wall

Foundation Ruins at the Top of La Bajada Hill ~ Purpose Unknown.

Rock Retaining Wall on a Switchback at La Bajada Hill

 

1926 - 1932 Route 66 into Santa Fe When the Route 66 Caravan was in Santa Fe for the Oldest House restoration, Michael Romero Taylor of the N.P.S. offered to take Kevin and me out to the infamous La Bajada Hill. It was an offer we couldn't refuse. We hadn't been on this part of old Route 66 and we sure wanted to check it out - of course we said yes.
 

1926 - 1932 alignment of Route 66.
A thousand cars a day once drove this road!

 
       
      

La Bajada Lizard

 


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