Sunday, October 5, 2008

Tucumcari via France

The Route 66 song got its kicks while skipping right by Tucumcari, New Mexico. I guess Bobby Troup couldn’t get every Route 66 city in his song. Even so, Tucumcari, New Mexico was an oasis for US 66 travelers near the Texas-New Mexico border.
In 1901 the railroad came and Tucumcari was born. In 1926 the road in and out of town was numbered US 66.
The city has some of the more famous hotel signs along old 66. The neon 1939 Blue Swallow Motel is a favorite with “refrigerated air.” The artistic rendition of Route 66 and the tailfin-lights of a car is certainly worth seeing as is the historic train station. You can click on the pictures for a bigger view.
Like most old routes cities, they were bypassed by a newer highway. France 24 TV News recently did a story on the downturn of the Tucumcari’s economy and you can see it here. It’s interesting to see the European view on 66’s demise. If you didn’t know better, the story could make you think that 66 was bypassed last month.
Tucumcari was named for Tucumcari Mountain to the southeast of town. This mountain was the inspiration for Radiator Springs Mountain in the movie, “Cars”. You may have seen real life pictures of the area if you watched the TV show, “Rawhide”. The star of Rawhide, Clint Eastwood, returned to film a scene for the movie, “For a Few Dollars More”.
It’s easy to find old 66 here as they have renamed it Route 66 Boulevard.

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City of Tucumcari
Tucumcari in song, movies and TV
Tucumcari Chamber of Commerce site with more visitor information

Friday, October 3, 2008

On the Move should be on your bookshelf

If you removed all the text from On the Move, the photos and illustrations could stand alone to make this an excellent book. The book is a cooperation of National Geographic and the Smithsonian Institution and it shows. The book is filled with clear jump-off-the-page pictures dating back to the late 1800’s. I’m so used to thinking of the past in monochrome black and white or at the best brownish sepia. This makes the color from the past so bright with new photos of old transportation equipment from the Smithsonian’s collection. I never imagined the color of the past in the rich red gas pump, the glorious green locomotive, or the 40’s golden yellow Dodge school bus.

On the Move gives a great overview of not only facts and figures of transportation, but societal changes that were part of it. Thankfully, it’s getting harder to imagine a time when there was a need for “The Negro Motorist Green-Book” to find a place where they could buy gasoline or get a meal or warm bed for the night. Suburbia grew first from mass transit and then from speedy travel on high speed non-stop freeways. A new culture was built around the car, while other urban cultures were split in two by Interstate highways.

For the lover of all roads or the Road Geek like me, the photos of road building, old roads, gas stations and even advertising to take me back to a time. This was a time before I was born, when modern transportation and travel was like an infant with so much to grow and so much to create.

This book is partly based on the Smithsonian’s exhibit “America on the Move” which just reopened in Washington, DC. The History Channel also produced a DVD also called On the Move 1876-2000.

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