The Route 66 Auto Museum

Front sign - Route 66 Auto MuseumThe Route 66 Auto Museum celebrates the car culture that developed along Route 66. The highway originally ran from Chicago, Illinois, through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona before ending in Los Angeles, California. It ran for 2,448 miles.

Santa Rosa’s stretch of Route 66 is part of film history. When John Steinbeck’s novel, “The Grapes of Wrath,” was made into a movie, director John Ford set a train scene in Santa Rosa. Tom Joad (played by Henry Fonda) watches a freight train steam over the Pecos River railroad bridge, into the sunset.

Route 66 served as a major path for those who migrated west, especially during the Dust Bowl years of the 1930s. People doing business along the route became prosperous due to the growing popularity of the highway, and those same people later fought to keep the highway alive in the face of the growing threat of being bypassed by the new Interstate Highway System.

Route 66 was officially removed from the United States Highway System on June 27, 1985, after it was decided the route was no longer relevant and had been replaced by the Interstate Highway System. Portions of the road that passed through Illinois, Missouri, New Mexico and Arizona have been designated a National Scenic Byway with the name “Historic Route 66.”

At the Santa Rosa Route 66 Auto Museum, you can see more than 30 vintage cars, including shiny classics from the 50s, as well as hot rods and chrome. The Museum museum opened in 1999, is run by James “Bozo” and Anita Cordova. It is attached to Bozo’s Garage where you can have a car restored or just have a car fixed. Route 66 memorabilia and signs cover the walls and the gift shop is a nostalgic treat.

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Address: 2766 Will Rogers Drive (Historic Route 66), Santa Rosa, NM 88435
Hours: April to October: Monday through Saturday, 7:30 a.m to 6 p.m., Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
November to March: Monday through Saturday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.,  Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Website: www.route66automuseum.com
Admission: Adults, $5

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The Museums at Philmont Scout Ranch

Philmont Scout Ranch is located on what once was part of the Maxwell Land Grant. The land was later purchased by Oklahoma oilman Waite Phillips. Phillips named his ranch Philmont, combination of his name and the Spanish word monte, or mountain. In 1938, Phillips made the first of two gifts of his New Mexico ranch to the Boy Scouts of America to establish a national wilderness camping area.

Today, Philmont Scout Ranch is more than just a wilderness camp. It also houses the National Volunteer Training Center for the Boy Scouts and three distinct museums. Continue reading

City of Las Vegas Museum and Rough Riders Memorial Collection

Las Vegas MuseumDid you know that Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders came from New Mexico? Visit the City of Las Vegas Museum and Rough Riders Memorial Collection to find out about New Mexico’s role in the iconic group of fighters from the Spanish American War. Las Vegas hosted the Rough Rider Reunions for many years and much of the memorabilia and artifacts relating to the 1st Volunteer Cavalry Regiment, better known as the Rough Riders is at the museum. Continue reading

Cleveland Roller Mill Museum

Cleveland is a small town located just two miles northwest of Mora in what was once a large wheat farming region in northern New Mexico. In 1910, over 500,000 bushels of wheat were produced in the Mora county and there were a number of mills operating to handle the production of flour. The Cleveland Roller Mill was built and operated by the Cassidy family. It played a prominent role in the area until the middle of the 20th century when wheat farming petered out in the area. Built in the early twentieth century, the mill is a three story, adobe, water powered roller mill. A roller mill uses steel rollers to pound wheat into flour, rather than using a mill stone to grind wheat to flour.

Cleveland Roller MillThe Cleveland  Roller Mill became a museum in 1989 and it is the only flour mill of its size and type that has been restored to operating condition in the southwestern United States. It is now used only for demonstrations. The museum exhibits describe the history of the mill and provide an historical overview of north central New Mexico, emphasizing the wheat farming and milling industry that existed in Mora County until World War II. Continue reading

Raton Museum

Raton Museum

Raton Museum front windowRaton Pass had been used by Spanish explorers and Indians for centuries to cut through the Rocky Mountain. The trail was too rough for wagons on the Santa Fe Trail. The town of Raton (Spanish for “mouse,” but literally meaning “large rat”) was founded at the site of Willow Springs, a stop on the Santa Fe Trail. In 1879, the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway bought a local toll road and established a busy rail line. Other smaller railroad companies also had lines that ran from Raton west and south to carry various resources to market. Raton quickly developed as a railroad, mining and ranching center for the northeast part of the New Mexico territory, as well as the county seat and principal trading center of the area. The Raton area was part of the richest area for coal mining west of the Mississippi. Nearby Dawson, New Mexico was the site of the second worst coal mining disaster in US history. Continue reading