Tucumcari Might Just Be A Great Route 66 Escape from Amarillo
There's certain towns that driving through them you just seem to get lost in time, If you happen to be heading west towards Albuquerque on Interstate 40, Tucumcari happens to be one of the last reminders of a time not too long ago and a great little secret getaway from the bright lights of Amarillo
History in a Nutshell
The small New Mexico town doesn't exactly blow up the map just shy of 5,000 folks but it happens to be the biggest stop between Amarillo and Albuquerque and it's named after the Tucumcari Mountains nearby. The word Tucumcari itself is derived from the Comanche word for "ambush." The Railroads made their way to the area in the early 1900's as it was a junction for The Rock Island Line and Southern Pacific providing service for cargo and passengers alike making their way to and from the west coast.
The Rise and Fall of Route 66
The Mother Road happens to pass through Tucumcari to this day, No longer badged as Route 66 but the more generic Interstate Business Loop 40. There are plenty of historical markers as you make your way down the main drag and the neon certainly is still just as impressive today as it was back in it's heyday
One of my favorites is the sign welcoming you to the Blue Swallow Motel, Which by day is noted for it's pink stucco exterior. The 14 unit L-Shaped motel had it's share of guests sitting outside enjoying the evening talking among each other. Built in 1939 it has seen it's highs and lows and was fully restored near the turn of the century, If the 100% refrigerated air sign looks familiar, you might have seen it in the movie "Cars" as part of the Cozy Cone Motel Sign.
I couldn't find too much history behind this guy, perhaps the next trip but I wanted to throw this up as more of the cool neon in and around town, Tepee Curios happens to be one of the many gift shops along the main route aptly named for the Tepee structure on the front of the building. It just seems anywhere you turn in the town you'll find something that just catches your eye.
I wish I had stayed the night. Each of the hotels promising Color TV, Air Conditioning among other amenities just seem to draw your attention. If you don't want to get up to change the channel, Perhaps a stay here might be up your alley:
If it wasn't that, maybe the camel in the lobby?
There's plenty of great eats in town and restoration efforts are going on to bring the Princess Theatre downtown back to its former glory, Murals throughout town add a little color and charm worth taking in too.
Make the trip, It's a neat town. Tucumcari Tonite might just be the perfect daytrip escape.
There's plenty more to see on the mother road too