Join Fine Art Photographer Keith Dotson on a Visit to Glenrio, a Ghost Town on Old Route 66 on the Texas/New Mexico State Line
”Well if you ever plan to motor west
Travel my way, take the highway that’s the best
Get your kicks on Route 66.”
That famous song was written by Bobby Troup in 1946, and released by Nat King Cole and the King Cole Trio that same year. While the song lyrics list many of the notable stops along the “Mother Road,” one place that didn’t get named is Glenrio.
The ghost town of Glenrio sits in the Texas Panhandle, straddling the New Mexico state line. This was the first planned destination on my big New Mexico road trip. I stopped here to see abandoned places on Old Route 66.
The Texas side of Glenrio
Our first stop is the Texas half of Glenrio. The New Mexico side of town will be discussed farther down the page.
Before I went over to Route 66, I stopped to examine an abandoned modern gas station at the Glenrio exit from I-40.
Glenrio used to be quite a busy town, with businesses all along the roadway. In the 1940s and 1950s, cars would line up 4 or five deep waiting for gas at the Texaco station. And the highway — Route 66 — was very busy with traffic until 1973 when Interstate 40 opened. Even though the Interstate is just a few hundred yards away, traffic in town died off and by 1975, much of Glenrio was already closing down.
Route 66 was called the Mother Road by John Steinbeck.. It was one of the country’s first and most famous highways. It was the path a lot of people took west to California during the dust bowl and the depression. In Steinbeck’s novel The Grapes of Wrath, Route 66 represented both freedom and hope as well as loss and despair.
On the Texas side are two distinctive art moderne style structures — a diner built in 1952, and a gas station built in 1950 by a man named Joe Brownlee. The diner closed in the early 1960s and held a curio shop for a while.
Brownlee lived in the house behind the station. I’ve read that his daughter still lives there.
Old car with a tragic history
Photogenically placed in front of the old gas station is a junked white car. That old car is a 1968 Pontiac Catalina that’s apparently been sitting there since 1976, and it has quite a tragic backstory. I read it on a website called “Tales from Texas” by Kathleen Maca. Here’s a link if you’re curious.
Texas Longhorn Motel and State Line Cafe in Glenrio
Further down the road is the old, abandoned, and heavily vandalized remains of the Texas Longhorn Motel. The sign said “Last Stop in Texas” on one side and on the other side is said “First Stop in Texas.” The New Mexico state line is only yards away.
The building also held the State Line Cafe, and there were gas pumps in front. Looking at the grimy ruins now, it’s hard to imagine people dining there on a rest break from cross country trips in the 1950s. It was built between 1953 and 1955, and closed in 1976.
Scroll all the way down to see my favorite black and white photographs from this day in Glenrio
The New Mexico side of Glenrio
Below are a few behind-the-scenes snapshots of the New Mexico side of Glenrio. Scroll down to see all the finished black and white photographs from this location.
Black and white photographs of Abandoned Buildings on Old Route 66 in Glenrio
Fine art prints are available in a variety of sizes and prices
Thanks for reading