Glenrio… So This Is What Killed Route 66

Glenrio… So This Is What Killed Route 66

We’ve heard of Route 66 and we get asked all the time if we’ve traveled the famed highway…but we never really understood all the hype.  It’s just an old highway…right?

route 66

So, when we noticed that the Route 66 Ghost Town of Glenrio was just a few miles off our route, we decided to find out what all the fuss was about and what killed this Route 66 town.

glenrioNew Mexico ghost town

I mean, looking at what’s left of Glenrio with its busted windows and dilapidated structures it’s hard to believe there were once cars lined up for fuel, families stargazing on the motel stoop and travelers scarfing down burgers at a the diner.

ghost town Texas ghost town

Glenrio straddles the Texas and New Mexico border and even though the permanent population was never over thirty people, the town was a popular stop along the famous Route 66. Now you’re lucky to find any signs of life other than a few barking dogs and West Texas tumble weeds.

So, I quickly looked up the history and here is what I found:

  • In 1901 the Rock Island and Pacific Railroad came through the area and two years later Glenrio was born.
  • Initially the area was populated by large cattle ranches then turned booming agricultural lands.
  • A post office was first established on the New Mexico side of the community.  Mail would be dropped off on the Texas side of the border and then the station master would carry the mailbag to the post office on the New Mexico side for delivery.
  • Glenrio was in the middle of a long battle between both states for tax rights.
  • By 1920, there was a hotel, a hardware store, several grocery stores, service stations, and cafes.
  • During the prosperity of the 1920’s politicians and entrepreneurs decided that America needed a national highway system, and years later Route 66 was born.
  • There were no bars on the Texas side of the community, because Deaf Smith County was dry, and no service stations on the New Mexico side because of the state’s higher gasoline tax.

From all of this I learned that border towns are awesome!  You get the benefit of both states and yet, don’t have to fully commit to either one.

Then, I finally came across the death sentence of Glenrio and probably most of Route 66.  The decision to build Interstates!  That’s right, the interstate killed route 66 (at least that’s what I gathered).

I can imagine it… a room full of men in blue suits… revolutionizing American Travel… why take the smaller highways… hop on an interstate… travel faster… bypass all those small annoying little stops…

Interesting right!?!  All that history scattered around, most likely never to be revived again.


Now the run on question is: on your next trip will you opt for the littered with history small towns, quirky stops and slightly slower highways and byways…or will you go for the straightforward, grey, it all looks the same, you could be anywhere and you never have to stop for anything other than fuel Interstate?

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