Day Seven on Route 66 — The Cadillac Ranch and a truck stop car collection

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

(June 29, 2016) Truck stops are known for their good — if somewhat greasy — food and for that reason have become popular eating places in communities all over the country. We found the food at the massive Russell's Travel Center at the Texas-New Mexico state line on Interstate 40 and old Route 66 to have excellent all-American eats, but there's more to Russell's than just the food, gas and a big convenience store.

Russell's has a collection of about two dozen cars and thousands of model cars and trucks as well as all types of memorabilia from much of the 20th Century packed into a large room. At first glance, the vast display is a bit mind boggling.

Jerry, who was overseeing the museum on Wednesday, said that owner Emmett Russell was an avid car collector and keeps a warehouse full of vehicles mostly from the 1950s and '60s. They are rotated through the museum from time to time. On display now is a 1955 Chevrolet Corvette, the second one made with a V-8 engine. According to Jerry, it was actually the 15th Corvette to come off the line for the 1955 model year, but the first 13 came with carryover six-cylinder engines.

Don't miss Day Six — Five buried Bugs and a great museum

The diversity of the current collection on display is pointed out by the inclusion of a 50th anniversary edition 2015 Ford Mustang. Jerry said that his boss traded a 2005 50th anniversary edition Thunderbird for the Mustang.

Yoda of Star Wars fame wearing a hat with the Texaco star oversees the museum  — which is free — from his perch near the entrance. If you are headed along Interstate 40 in that area we urge you to stop and check out the car collection. It will be worth your time.

Wednesday marked a full week traveling old Route 66 for the MotorwayAmerica crew of editors Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman and their wives, Luci and Trudye. The crew traveled from Amarillo, Texas, to Tucumcari, N.M. using as much of old 66 as possible, which parallels I40 most of the way as frontage road.

What once was thriving little town on Route 66, Glenrio became a ghost town after Interstate 40 opened

They viewed a ghost town of sorts — Glenrio, that straddles the Texas-New Mexico line — a once prosperous town on Route 66 that was lost to time when Interstate 40 was opened in 1973 rerouting traffic past the town. Once flourishing with several businesses and a post office, the town now consists of deteriorating remains of a courtyard motel and related Texas Longhorn Café and Phillips 66 service station, the post office, and a few other buildings including the diner and adjacent Texaco service station.

The crew made a quick stop at Adrian, Texas, which marks Route 66's geographical mid-point. It consists of the Mid Point C
afe and Gift Shop.

Also on the agenda was a quick visit to the Cadillac Ranch where 10 old Cadillacs are half buried nose first in a field near Amarillo. The sculpture was created in 1974, and moved to its current location in 1997. Visitors, who have to walk about 400 yards from the road to get to the site, are encouraged to use their creativity in spray painting the cars. People are e
ncouraged to pick up their empty cans and other trash, but that request has obviously fallen on deaf ears. The ground in littered with cans and trash.

Tourists spray paint an old Cadillac at the so-called Cadillac Ranch near Amarillo

The day ended at another famous old motel, the Blue Swallow in Tucumcari, that served thousands of motorists during the heyday of Route 66 after opening in 1940. The motel includes guest rooms with attached garages (small by today's standards) and features comfortable rooms in a 1950s motif, but with the modern conveniences of wifi and cable television. It also includes a large amount of neon signage — very impressive at night. Cameron Mueller, one of the current owners, said that business was great. And, in fact, they were booked up the day we arrived. Thank goodness for advance reservations.

Today the crew travels the old road to Albuquerque, N.M., a trek of about 175 miles that should keep the "kicks on Route 66" coming.