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What is: all that is left were the signs at the side of the road.

What was: Opened in 1935, as the Santa Rosa stretch of Route 66 was completed, The Club Café was a staple of the early Route 66.

It had a blue-tiled frontage and smiling ‘Fat Man’ logo, a happy gent wearing a polka dot tie and looking delighted after, presumably, dining on the Club Café’s home cooking–including the more than two million sourdough biscuits sold as it advertised. In its heyday, the parking lot was filled…with cars and buses.

Along came I-40 and the changing consumer demand for fast foods at big chains. The club closed for good in 1992. New owners thought of bringing it back to life, but the building required $750,000.00 of work so it was demolished. The signs remained until a couple years ago… tattered by wind, sunlight and rust they were removed and sold to a collector.

There is now significant alarm and concern within the Route 66 community over the continued removal of these priceless roadside attractions.

What is: “Self serve Diesel” but no pumps…the lights are still there and so is the sign. The garage remains too…but not the diner.

What was: The truck terminal dated back to the heyday of Route 66 in the early 1960s, maybe as early as 1955. The neon wheels, the cowboy truck driver, and his animated hand waved during its hey day.

It was one of seven truck stops and five cafes originally built and operated by Bessie (Rogers) Boren and husband Ira Lionel Boren of the Fort Sumner-based Rio Pecos Oil Company.“We had it from 1963 to 1969,” Martinez said. “We were doing a hell of a business at that truck stop.”The business declined from other truck-stop competition and the coming of Interstate 40.  It closed by the late 1970s or early 1980s.

Since then, it has become a growing eyesore to the city because it drew vandals and homeless squatters. The city tried to buy the sign…the owner wanted too much for it.

What is: Original Route 66, ghostly and abandoned Route 66 near Hext, OK.

What Was: Route 66 has been the path of migrants, dreamers, desperados, and an entire generation of vacationers discovering the way west. America’s Mother Road originally meandered more than 2,400 miles between Chicago and Los Angeles, including nearly 400 miles across Oklahoma. Route 66 through Oklahoma was also known as the Will Rodgers Highway, a tribute to stage, film and vaudeville actor, cowboy, humorist and social commentator of Cherokee descent.

Originally Hext grew as the railroad passed through on the way to Texas. A ranch and farm community, it only had a post office for a year in the early 1900s. As Route 66 came through it had a smattering of buildings and a gas station. Hext also featured a fairly large brick school that was built by the Work Progress Administration in the 1930’s.

Route 66 was never just one road. It was continually realigned through communities and upgraded from 2 to 4 lanes and from cement to asphalt. Route 66 came through Hext in 1929 after being upgraded in a realignment. This section of Route 66 was paved with asphalt over the original 1929 concrete base. In 1973, Route 66 through Hext became the last section of Route 66 to lose its designation to I-40.


What is: A Ford panel sedan delivery truck, at the side of the road, Route 66

What was: Chevrolet is often credited with offering the first true sedan delivery body style in 1928. However, Ford was a leading purveyor of Sedan Delivery vehicles throughout the 1930s. Much of the sheet metal, including the fenders and front doghouse, is shared with the ’37 Ford passenger car. In the 1940s Ford’s Sedan Deliveries carried the styling of Deluxe-series cars — slated “gills” flanking a horizontal-bar grille. Sedan Deliveries also got a larger cargo body that year.

Inside was a beautiful art-deco dashboard, in contrasting colors. Standard equipment included a column gearshift, dual wipers and visors, ashtrays on both sides, full insulation and interior lining — even a clock. Many connoisseurs of design declare it the best-looking sedan delivery ever. There were about 5300 Ford Sedan Delivery models made in 1940. The 1942 Ford Sedan Delivery is rare, as all civilian vehicle manufacturing was halted shortly after Pearl Harbor. Passenger car-based delivery models would not return at Ford until 1952.

Panel trucks were used by construction and maintenance contractors, by farmers for selling fruits and vegetables, delivery vehicles and configured as ambulances and hearses.

The period of time spanning the late 1940’s to the late 1950’s was the golden age of the Sedan Delivery. While Chevrolet and Ford dominated the Sedan Delivery market, a few other manufacturers (such as Pontiac and Studebaker) got in on the action as well. In 1960, Ford’s Sedan Delivery ambitions were transferred from the full-sized Ford line to the brand-new Falcon platform. The Falcon-based vehicle was offered through 1965.

What is: Broyles Mobil Station, Glenrio, NM, at the front is a drive-thru bay with a wood canopy roof extension. This is supported by two original wood posts. On the far right side is an outbuilding which was built as a restrooms.

What was: John Wesley Ferguson constructed the building in 1925ish and it was later owned by Jim Broyles as a franchise of the Mobil Oil Company. The construction of U.S. 66 through Glenrio in the 1920s brought new businesses and a new commercial area evolved along the highway, as the railroad town of Glenrio had started to wane. By the 1960s, the community boasted two motels, three restaurants, and at least seven gas stations

For the past 100 years gas stations have occupied prime locations along main streets, suburban corners, on small town roads and highway. They are one of America’s most commercial building types and over the years have gone through various architectural design iterations. They represent America’s mobility, car culture, pop culture, corporate standardization/branding and the changes in customer service – from staff to fill the tank and clean your windshield, to full service garages, sale of roadmaps, bathrooms, diners and corner stores.

The advent of the Interstate highway network routed traffic away from the once-thriving often family owned gas stations, now located on secondary roads, many falling into disrepair.

In 1969, there were 236,000 gas stations. By 2016, there were 111,000 retail locations in the U.S. that sell fuel to the public. The number of gas stations has been declining over the past ten years due, in part, to increased competition, stricter environmental regulations, and shrinking gasoline profit margins.

Broyles in 2022

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: A bit of a backroad excursion to a bridge in need of structural repair.

What was: an engineering marvel and key part of the 1930s realignment of Route 66. 3/4 mile Pony bridge uses 38 pony trusses acrosss the South Canadian River. It was a 1930s engineering marvel, on the upgraded alignment of Route 66. It is the longest truss bridge on the mother road. HistoricBridges.org believes it to be the longest simple-span pony truss in the entire country, both in terms of number of pony truss spans (38) and total spanning length (3,800 total spanned feet by pony trusses). With this realignment of Route 66, Bridgeport OK became a ghost town and the private toll bridge in the area was replaced by this modern pony bridge. A scene in the 1940 “Grapes of Wrath” movie was filmed here. Its official name is the William H. Murray Bridge.

What is: A Simple Spot, Phillips 66 in Adrian TX.

What was: This 1920s cottage style Phillips station was originally Knox’s Phillips 66 and located in Vega, Texas. It was moved to the town of Adrian, TX in 2016. Adrian is known as the midpoint of Route 66. It apparently patiently waits its turn at restoration. The owners, who also own the Bent Door Cafe next door, are rumored to be turning this little spot into a souvenir shop.

According to the Phillips Petroleum Company Museum in Bartlesville, the “Phillips 66” name for the gasoline came about by a combination of events. The specific gravity of the gasoline was close to 66; the car testing the fuel did 66 miles per hour; and, the test took place on US Route 66.

The advent of the Interstate highways routed traffic away from the once-thriving, often family owned gas stations, now located on secondary roads, many falling into disrepair.
In 1969, there were 236,000 gas stations. By 2016, there were 111,000 retail locations in the U.S. that sell fuel to the public.

What is: Robinson Grain Co., Conway TX. The Handbook of Texas reports Conway had a population of 175 in 1969 but only 50 people in 1970. In 2016 the population was recorded as three

What was: Grain elevators were invented by Joseph Dart and Robert Dunbar in 1842 in Buffalo, New York. They created the grain elevators to help with the problem of unloading and storing grain that was being transported through the Erie Canal. Grain Elevators in Conway TX date back to about 1914 and these are beside the abandoned railway roadbed of the Chicago, RockIsland and Gulf Railway.

A grain elevator is a facility for agriculture designed to stockpile or store grain. Bucket elevators are used to lift grain to a and then it can fall through spouts and/or conveyors into one or more bins, silos, or tanks in a facility. It can then be emptied from bins, tanks, and silos, and conveyed, blended, and weighted into trucks, railroad cars, or barges for shipment. Concrete silos are better than wood or metal bins because the thick walls insulate the grain from extreme weather

In 1994, this facility was privately owned and was considered a small regional grain elevator. There were 6 locations in the area with a capacity of 4.5 million bushels of storage. It was part of the Texas Grain and Feed Association representing 900 grain, feed and processing firms at that time. Today that organization supports some 400 member companies ranging from sizable producers to medium and small-scale family-owned companies such as feed producers and grain marketing businesses. Ben Boerner, Texas Grian & Feed president noted, “The small-town, family-owned elevators are going the way of the independent grocers,” Boerner says. “The kids aren’t interested in continuing the business, so they’re either selling out or shutting the doors.” (Source: https://www.austinchronicle.com/columns/2008-02-08/589092/)

What is: Abandoned building, Glen Rio, New Mexico

What was: A roadside America story, without a story. Maybe an abandoned part of a gas station, like an bathroom ?