Through the panhandle…
…Welcome to Texas – the state of cowboys, ranchers, deserts and the open range. Route 66 runs through only the panhandle, but of the 178 original miles of the Mother Road, about 90% are still in place today. There is plenty to explore, so continue on your journey, remember the Alamo and enjoy the sights in Texas.
Your first stop will likely come in a town called Shamrock. Because of the town’s name, it is tradition for the local men to dye their beards green on March 17th. However, even if you do not arrive here on St. Patrick’s Day, you can still visit the old U-Drop Inn, which is being restored as a museum and visitors center.
As you continue on past the town of Lela, keep your eyes open for the “Rattlesnakes” sign on the right side of the road. This sign survives as a memory of roadside reptile exhibitor Mike Allred, who lived in the area.
Your next stop will undoubtedly be in McLean, the home of the famous Devil’s Rope Museum. Devil’s Rope contains the world’s largest collection of barbed wire, but it also finds room to house the Texas Old Route 66 Museum. This museum contains souvenirs, road signs and a remake of an old “greasy spoon” cafe.
Before you leave McLean, make sure to stop for gas at the first Phillips 66 Service Station in Texas, which was built in the 1920’s.
There are many cool sites to view as you travel west from McLean. Stop at the cemetery in Jericho, the leaning water tower and the cross in Groom, and the Long Star School in Conway. This section of old Route 66 will give you a true sense of the history of the road before you arrive at the next big town – Amarillo.
Amarillo contains the fun-loving Dynamite Museum. The favorite activity of the museum is to sneak diamond shaped road signs into the neighborhoods of Amarillo and allow the citizens to find them. If you’re hungry, stop at the Big Texan Steak Ranch, which began on Old 66 before moving over off I-40. Lastly, make sure to check out the creative Cadillac Ranch, located west of town.
Soon you will arrive in Vega, which has a unique mix of old and new structures due to several devastating fires in the early 1930’s. You can choose to stay the night at the fabulous Vega Motel, or simply stop at Roark, the oldest operating hardware store on Route 66.
Just before you leave Texas, you will pass through the ghost town of Glenario. Glenario serves as a fitting reminder of the boom and bust activity that inspired the settlement of the west and to some respect, the development of Old Route 66. Though the town is no longer alive, it will always remain as a memory, buried deep in the heart of Texas. Now, let’s move on to New Mexico!