Getting Our Kicks: On the Road in New Mexico (Clines Corners & Tucumcari)

June 12, 2018

After we left Santa Fe, we took a shortcut to get back to I-40 – which was also the 1937-1985 Route 66 alignment – on state highway 285. At the intersection of 285 and I-40 is the town of Clines Corners, NM. Well, it’s not a town exactly…

In 1934, Roy Cline built a garage and gas station near that intersection.  When Route 66 was realigned in 1937, it did not go by his gas station. So he tore it down and built a new one at the current intersection of I-40 and 285.  It was bigger and better, including a restaurant and a Conoco station with two modern electric gas pumps!
Clines Corners NM (2)In 1939, Cline sold his business and it has undergone several expansions since then.Clines Corners NM (3)On old postcards, one can see a large TRAVEL CENTER sign which is not there now. It was knocked down by a “bovine projectile” – during a wind storm, a cow was lifted into the air and crashed into the sign!
Clines Corners NM (4)The Travel Center sign at Clines Corners (now cow-proof!) as it looks today:20180612_130644
Old Conoco gas station
Much more interesting is the décor inside the store/restaurant. There’s a Subway, but also a 1950s style diner.

Entrance to the restrooms
In a back hallway, on the way to the restrooms
Route 66 kitsch and a rustic bench

When we left Clines Corners, we pretty much didn’t stop until we got to the eastern New Mexico town of Tucumcari.  We bypassed Santa Rosa, but for those who love old cars, Santa Rosa has a Route 66 Auto Museum, which contains more than 30 vehicles from the 1930s to the 1960s. Displays include extensive auto and Route 66 memorabilia.

Tucumcari is more famous than I expected. A friend of mine back home texted me that she was reading a novel set in Tucumcari and would I please take some photos so she could visualize what it was like. Apparently there are at least two songs written about the town. My son knows one of them, which is why he knew the name Tucumcari. (I had never heard of it before, and wasn’t sure even how to pronounce the name of this town.)

When you enter town from the west, you see this landmark on the right side of the road.
20180612_154832dAlso this kitschy taco place…
Our AAA guide said that the “neon lights still beckon travelers.” That may be true, but it didn’t look as exciting perhaps in the daytime.
We did see some murals on the sides of a few buildings.


The iconic Blue Swallow Motel
Del’s Restaurant, where we stopped for dessert
The waiters all wore cowboy hats.

More motels and gas stations…
20180612_16172120180612_16270120180612_161643 (2)
…and shops


modern sculptures
more murals
and other remnants of a more prosperous past.

For your listening pleasure – not just one, but TWO songs called Tucumcari!


2 thoughts on “Getting Our Kicks: On the Road in New Mexico (Clines Corners & Tucumcari)

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