We headed further west, driving deeper into New Mexico. After Tucumcari, the landscape gets much more rural and empty. There aren’t very many big towns until you reach Albuquerque. The exits on I-40 will have a small collection of gas stations and hotels clustered around the freeway exits, while Route 66 passes by several old ghost towns.
One of those ghost towns is Newkirk, which sits right off of I-40. Route 66 passes by a solitary gas station that is still open, but several abandoned buildings sit along the road. I visited Newkirk a few years ago, on a trip to Colorado, and got a shot of an old car parked in front of long abandoned building. I had been looking forward to seeing if the car was still there, and what shape it was in.
But when we drove up I was disappointed to see that the car was gone. Wonder who moved it, and why? Where did it go? I still got out to take a few pictures anyways. This building dates back to 1910, and it has housed everything from a gas station to a store to a post office.
Newkirk was founded in 1901, and during the heyday of Route 66 it boasted several gas stations, some tourist cabins, two lunchrooms and a trading post. But all that faded away when I-40 bypassed the town.
Another old gas station in Newkirk is Wilkerson’s, which was closed in 1989 when the traffic through town dried up. The large window in the front has broken, and the roof has collapsed in a few places.
We headed west to another ghost town, Cuervo. There may be one or two people who still live here, but this is a ghost town in a true sense of the word. There are several old and abandoned buildings in Cuervo, including several houses and a few churches.
Like many of the old towns along Route 66 out West, Cuervo was established when the railroad came through in the early 1900s. A little later Route 66 ran through the middle of town, bringing travelers and tourists to the tiny town. And again, like many of the old towns along Route 66, Cuervo also began to decline when the freeway was built.
When I-40 was built, it didn't just bypass Cuervo. The freeway actually sliced right through the middle of the town. It is strange to be standing by all of these old abandoned buildings while listening to the loud hum of the nearby freeway traffic whizzing by.
When I last visited Cuervo, in 2010, I looked inside this old house. The interior was filled with a strange collection of old junk. Some old furniture, an old TV set, and an old hair stylists chair. They seemed to be randomly placed inside, like pieces of flotsam in a stream.
But the inside had been cleared out and was completely empty. The only thing inside was some bizarre and creepy looking graffiti (I didn't get a picture of that). So I headed next door to the old Catholic church. The church was built during WWI, and still looks like it's in fairly good shape.
After taking some more pictures, I headed back into the car and we headed further West towards Albuquerque...