I have no big story…an abandoned gas station and sign near Conway, Texas along Route 66.

Highway 460, Waverly, Virginia.The abandoned and now destroyed Melody Motel/ Inn. Neighboring Adult Video Store

Its a short story…and in a year since this was taken…It’s gone.

Highway 460, Waverly, Virginia.

The abandoned (and now destroyed) Melody Motel/ Inn.

Neighboring Adult Video Store

What is: the abandoned (and now torn down) Cactus Motel, Route 66, Tucumcari, New mexico

What was: The town of Tucumcari, New Mexico is located approximately forty miles west of the Texas border and was the first substantial town in New Mexico for westbound travelers on Route 66. The arrival of Route 66 in Tucumcari in the late 1920s both improved transportation and economic opportunity in the community. The increased flow of traffic through the area brought automobile tourists and commerce. By the late 1940s motels, restaurants, shops and gas stations dominated the main part of Route 66 running through Tucumcari. At one point the town advertised that it offered travelers over 2,200 rooms for overnight accommodations.

The most common type of lodging facility in Tucumcari along Route 66 was the tourist court. These complexes of individual cottages or rows of connected individual units came into vogue in the late 1920s. The Cactus Motor Lodge is representative of what was an up-scale motel built along Route 66 in the mid 20th century. The motel was the first motel westbound travelers would find as they entered the town.  It was built directly facing U.S. 66, and remained in continuous operation from 1941 until the 1990s.

I.E. and Edna Perry built the Cactus lodge in 1941. The original buildings were constructed in the Pueblo Revival Style and featured tile tub and shower baths, each with individual heating unit Box springs, Sealy mattresses, double insulated walls, carpeted floors, steam heat and Car-by-door garages and free radios. The motel’s western theme played upon the regional culture, which was popular with tourists.  The motel’s modern amenities revealed that it was more than a tourist court, but a motor lodge – a term connoting higher class of lodging. Its advertising noted that it Duncan Hines and AAA Recommended

The motel included three wings of units forming a “U” shape and an office, the latter of which was a dance hall when the motel opened. Local myth says that people gambled in the basement of the Dance Hall and that it had a tunnel with an outside exit in case of a police raid.  Originally the Cactus Motor Lodge featured small landscaped park and children’s playground in the middle of the court.

The Cactus Motor Lodge became member of the Best Western referral chain. The Best Western referral chain began in the 1940s and was one of the most successful of referral systemsMotel referral chains were an effort by groups of small motel owners to maintain standards and create networks.

In 1952, Norm Wegner purchased the motel. Wegner added an artificial stone exterior to the buildings and converted the dance hall to an office. The addition of Perma-Stone, a synthetic siding, was considered a trendy way to update older buildings. He also added a swimming pool just to the west of the office/manger’s residence. Wegner and his wife lived on site and raised five children in their residence at the motel in the 1960s.

After Route 66 was decommissioned, the motel lost much of its business.  It went through several different ownership changes and in the 1990s the motel units were closed. The courtyard was converted into an RV Park for a period of time.

The postcard shown below, had the following text printed the back of the card: “Duncan Hines and AAA Recommended Located at the East Entrance of TUCUMCARI, NEW MEXICO on Hiway 66 Tile tub and shower baths, each with individual heating unit. Double insulated walls. Carpeted floors. Steam heat. Enclosed and locked garages. Free radios, Phone 600 Member Best Western Motels Mrs. I E Perry, Owner“.  The Cactus Motor Lodge on Highway 66 in Tucumcari, NM … “A Western Welcome Awaits You”



What is: the fenced in pool in the middle of the motel parking lot. Vegetation growing through the concrete. Santa Rosa, New Mexico

What was: In the 1930’s, hotels began having pools built as marketing tools. The Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, Florida was one of the first and certainly one of the most historic in the United States to add a pool. As motels emerged to serve the American traveling public after WWII, pools became one of the added bonuses, to lure and attract customers.

By the 1950s and 1960s, the pinnacle of the motel industry in the United States, older mom-and-pop motor hotels added newer amenities such as swimming pools or color TV (a luxury in the 1960s). The main roads into major towns became a sea of orange or red neon proclaiming VACANCY (and later COLOR TV, air conditioning, or a swimming pool) seeking precious visibility on crowded highways.

In 1951, Memphis residential developer Kemmons Wilson, after being disillusioned with the wide variations of quality of motels during a family vacation, built the Holiday Inn chain – based on a standardized experience across the country that would include TV, air conditioning, a restaurant, and a pool.

What is: Family owned, with era restored rooms, 1940s phones that work, a garage attached to your room and amazing neon in the courtyard and signs, the Blue Swallow is a gorgeous and pleasant step back. Guests enjoy a reminder of what it was like to travel across the USA in the “good old days.” Still today, the experience includes sitting out with your neighbors under the warm glow of the neon, or sharing travel stories around a campfire. With hospitality provided by owners (formerly Nancy and Kevin) you will be welcomed like family.

What was: The Blue Swallow has been serving travelers along the Mother Road since 1940. Originally called The Blue Swallow Court it was open and operating with ten rooms. The motel has an L-shaped plan and consists of 12 units with a centrally-located office and manager’s residence. With its pink stucco walls decorated with shell designs and a stepped parapet, the façade reflects a modest use of the Southwest Vernacular style of architecture.

Lillian Redman and her husband bought the Blue Swallow in 1950 and successfully operated it until the 1990s, modernizing it with new, larger neon sign, and using the more up-to-date term, “Motel”. From the start, the Redmans put their customers first. When guests didn’t have enough money for a room, the Redmans accepted personal belongings in trade. She described the special and close connection she had with the Route 66 motorists who came in each night, “I end up traveling the highway in my heart with whoever stops here for the night.”

At the end of the 1960s, Interstate 40, took the place of the old Route 66. When I-40 highway came in, Mrs. Redman said, “I felt just like I had lost an old friend. ” Source and Visit them at #motel #route66 #BlueSwallowmotel #neon #sign #travel #familybusiness