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from the United States Highway System on June 27, 1985, after it was decided the route was no longer relevant and had been replaced by the Interstate Highway System.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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Lewis Antique Auto and Toy Museum

Lewis-Car-MuseumLocated along old Route 66, the Lewis Antique Auto and Toy Museum shows off Archie Lewis’ collection of cars, toys, trains – even old stoves that he has amassed over sixty years of collecting. He moved out to Moriarty from the East Mountains outside of Albuquerque a dozen years ago, so he would have the space to spread out. Inside his warehouse, there are about 30 restored antique cars and a vast array of toy cars, Lionel trains, and other toys. In the yard surrounding the warehouse, there are about 600 more, give or take, unrestored cars. You’ll see lots of Model A and Model T Fords and other old cars and trucks of every make and model. The museum is open most of the time and Archie Lewis is usually there to welcome visitors.

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Address: 905 U.S. Route 66 East, Moriarty, NM 87035
Phone: 505-832-6131
Hours: Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, noon to 3 p.m.
Website: On Facebook
Admission: Donations appreciated.

 

 

Tucumcari Historical Society and Research Center

Tucumcari was originally a railroad construction camp, called Ragtown, for the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad. The town name was changed to Tucumcari in 1908 – taking the name of Tucumcari Mountain, a regional landmark.  It became a ranching center because of the railroad lines coming  into the town. When the famous Route 66 was built, Tucumcari became famous as a stopping point largely because of their billboard advertisements that proclaimed, “Tucumcari Tonight.” The building of the Interstate System and I40 has caused the decline in tourism as it is easy to whiz past Tucumcari on the highway. It is worth a stop.

Tucumcari-MuseumThe Tucumcari Historical Museum and Research Center is housed in a three-story brick building dating from 1903 that originally served as the town’s first public school. The museum and research center occupy an entire city block with several buildings and various vehicles. The grounds are landscaped with native plants, and you will find many vehicles, including a caboose, a F100 Vietnam-era jet, a chuck wagon, a doctor’s buggy, and an adobe horno where bread is baked twice a year.

The museum is chock-a-block with artifacts from all over Quay County, including rocks, fossils, and archaeological finds, ranching and farm items, an old moonshine still, and an iron lung. There is also an exhibit about Route 66 and its Tucumcari/Quay County history.

Address: 416 South Adams Street, Tucumcari, NM 88401
Phone:    575-461-4201
Email:     museum@cityoftucumcari.com
Hours:    Tuesday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Admission: Adults, $2.50; children 6 to 15, $0.75.

New Mexico Route 66 Museum

Tucumcari is also home to an emerging museum devoted to Route 66 and its history and association with Tucumcari and New Mexico. The Museum is located in the back of the parking lot for the Tucumcari Convention Center. The exhibits include vintage cars, gas pumps, neon signs, and photographs.

Address: 1500 Highway 66, Tucumcari, NM 88401
Hours:     9:00 am – 2:00 pm, Monday – Friday
Websitehttp://www.nmrt66museum.org/
Admission: Free, Donations accepted.