Route 66 Caravan

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Route 66 Caravan Road Log:
May 21, 2003


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Route 66 in Eastern New Mexico

Jim, Kevin and I left Albuquerque and headed east on Central into the mountains and the canyon of Tijeras. It was a beautiful morning and we were all excited to be on the road again. Route 66 beckoned to us.

  Old Trading Post near Edgewood Route 66 becomes Hwy 333 out of Tijeras Canyon and continues east through the small towns that once serviced the Mother Road traveler. This abandoned trading post outside of Edgewood attests to busier times a long time ago along the Main Street of America.
        
 

The Last Whiting Brothers Station

Moriarty became a part of Route 66 in 1938 with the re-alignment of Route 66 away from Santa Fe. Moriarty was a small ranching community named after a local rancher who came to the area in the 1880s. By 1902 it was a small town with its own post office.
The last of the still operating Whiting Brothers Gas Stations still stands in Moriarty. It reminds one of the days not to long ago where the familiar WB on the golden shield could be found all through the southwest. Whiting Brothers was originally founded in Saint John, Arizona in 1926 and became a familiar sigh all along Route 66 in the southwest offering inexpensive gas to the traveler.

Old Whiting Brothers Sign

        

Sal and Jim Talk Route 66
Jim and Sal discuss Whiting Brothers and Route 66

In 1990s the gas chain ended, and today all that is left are the fading signs and empty stations that can still be found along the highway. Soon they too will have disappeared and another chapter of Route 66 history will have vanished.
      
Except in Moriarty though, thanks to Sal Lucero, a lifelong employee of Whiting Bros., their legacy will live on. In the 1980s Sal bought the station from them and never changed the name. Now his station stands as a tribute to one of the most fascinating chapters of Mother Road history.
       

Adventures on New Mexico Route 66

Old Rio Pecos Sign in Santa Rosa

There is a lot left of Route 66 in the small towns it once passed through. We found this classic truck stop sign in Santa Rosa.

       
 

Newkirk Has Seen Better Days...

  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 End of the Road in Newkirk
The old Newkirk Post Office now stands silent and neglected. Once it was a gas station, store and auto camp. The faded letters can still be seen under the canopy.

       
  Old Motor Court in Newkirk

Wilkerson's Gas Station

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 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.
    
 

Montoya Was Once a Real Wild West Town

Richardson's Store in Montoya
Richardson's store and gas station closed in the late 1970s.

Montoya got its name in 1902 when the railroad arrived. But there was the cattle town of Rountree here before the railroad. I took some pictures and wandered the quiet site. What stories must lie hidden among the tumbleweeds and discarded tin cans? I enjoy these lonely, silent places. It is a time for reflection and wonder for me. It is sad too.
     
The many ruins both in the old western town across the tracks and along old route 66 indicate that this town was built to go the distance, it was built for permanence. Changes in the economic wind and the coming of the Interstate changed all that though. If you drive Route 66 in this part of New Mexico take the time to stop and remember the people that once called this place home.
Route 66 in Montoya

Old Montoya Residence

Route 66 Caravan RV along old Route 66 at Montoya. Remnants of Route 66 businesses can been seen here. A reminder of the way things used to be.

An abandoned house across the tracks in the old town stands silent now. The laughter has faded over time.

 

And They Said It Couldn't Be Done!

We continued east from Montoya on old Route 66 for a few miles when the old road turned and went under the Interstate through some very narrow and low clearance overpasses. It was a little tight for a moment or two. We made it through ~ we had to tuck in our gut and hold our breath though. I thought you'd like to see the pictures for proof!

  Squeezing through on Route 66

The Emergence of the Route 66 Caravan

 

We cleared the overpass and headed for Tucumcari.

 


West 66
Previous Log
Go West down the Mother Road

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East 66
Tucumcari
Go East on the Mother Road

 

 

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