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A Visit to the Glenrio Ghost Town on Old Route 66

A Visit to the Glenrio Ghost Town on Old Route 66

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.
The ghost town of Glenrio sits in the Texas Panhandle, straddling the New Mexico state line.

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.

In this video, join fine art photographer Keith Dotson on a visit to the Texas side of the Glenrio ghost town, which sits on the state line 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.

Abandoned modern gas station on _140 at the Glenrio exit. This was my first stop before driving over to old Route 66 in Glenrio.
Abandoned modern gas station on I-40 at the Glenrio exit. This was my first stop before driving over to old Route 66 in Glenrio.

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.

Behind-the-scenes photographs

Scroll all the way down to see my favorite black and white photographs from this day in Glenrio

Behind-the-scenes image of my camera shooting a chair inside the abandoned Texas Longhorn Motel building on Route 66 in Glenrio, Texas.
Behind-the-scenes image of my camera shooting a chair inside the abandoned Texas Longhorn Motel building on Route 66 in Glenrio, Texas.
A view of the Old Texas Longhorn Motel on Route 66 in Glenrio, Texas
A view of the Old Texas Longhorn Motel on Route 66 in Glenrio, Texas
The ruins of the old Texas Longhorn Motel in Glenrio, Texas.
The ruins of the old Texas Longhorn Motel in Glenrio, Texas.
A peek into the laundry room at the old Texas Longhorn Motel, which closed in 1976. On the floor are a variety of newspapers and a copy of Pro Rodeo News.
A peek into the laundry room at the old Texas Longhorn Motel, which closed in 1976. On the floor are a variety of newspapers and a copy of Pro Rodeo News.
Broken window glass on the sidewalk outside a motel room.
Broken window glass on the sidewalk outside a motel room.
The rooms at the abandoned Texas Longhorn Motel in Glenrio have suffered from vandalism and natural forces.
The rooms at the abandoned Texas Longhorn Motel in Glenrio have suffered from vandalism and natural forces.
Bullet holes in the stucco walls of the Texas Longhorn Motel.
Bullet holes in the stucco walls of the Texas Longhorn Motel.
More bullet holes in the stucco exterior walls of the abandoned Texas Longhorn Motel in Glenrio, Texas
More bullet holes in the stucco exterior walls of the abandoned Texas Longhorn Motel in Glenrio, Texas
A motel room door lying amidst the detritus on the floor of a room in the abandoned Texas Longhorn Motel in the Glenrio ghost town.
A motel room door lying amidst the detritus on the floor of a room in the abandoned Texas Longhorn Motel in the Glenrio ghost town.

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.

The abandoned State Line Motel, built 1930 in Glenrio, New Mexico along old Route 66.
The abandoned State Line Motel, built 1930 in Glenrio, New Mexico along old Route 66.
State Line Bar with a block facade added in the 1960s. It included a gas station and a wooden addition on one side built in the 1940s to house the Glenrio, New Mexico post office.
State Line Bar with a block facade added in the 1960s. It included a gas station and a wooden addition on one side built in the 1940s to house the Glenrio, New Mexico post office.
Wooden addition to the State Line Bar, built in the 1940s to house the Glenrio, New Mexico post office.
Wooden addition to the State Line Bar, built in the 1940s to house the Glenrio, New Mexico post office.
A view of Route 66 as it rolls west out of Glenrio. The Broyles Mobil Station can be seen on the right.
A view of Route 66 as it rolls west out of Glenrio. The Broyles Mobil Station can be seen on the right.
The old Broyles gas station on Route 66 in  Glenrio, New Mexico. The small building in back was one of two restrooms.
The old Broyles gas station on Route 66 in Glenrio, New Mexico. The small building in back was one of two restrooms.

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

Black and white photograph of a modern gas station in ruins on the Glenrio exit of Interstate 40. Buy a fine art print.
Black and white photograph of a modern gas station in ruins on the Glenrio exit of Interstate 40. Buy a fine art print.
Abandoned and vandalized gas station on the I-40 exit to Glenrio, Texas. Buy a print.
Abandoned and vandalized gas station on the I-40 exit to Glenrio, Texas. Buy a print.
Black and white photograph of the Brownlee Diner in Glenrio, Texas. The Art Moderne style diner was built in 1952 to serve travelers on old Route 66. It closed in the early 1960s and operated as a curio shop for a while.
Black and white photograph of the Brownlee Diner in Glenrio, Texas. The Art Moderne style diner was built in 1952 to serve travelers on old Route 66. It closed in the early 1960s and operated as a curio shop for a while. Buy a fine art print.
Black and white photograph of the vacant Brownlee Texaco Station, built in 1950, with a Pontiac Catalina parked in front. Accounts claim that in the heyday of Route 66, cars would wait in line for gasoline here. The station closed in the mod-70s after Interstate 40 opened, killing traffic on old Route 66 through town. Buy a print here.
Black and white photograph of the vacant Brownlee Texaco Station, built in 1950, with a Pontiac Catalina parked in front. Accounts claim that in the heyday of Route 66, cars would wait in line for gasoline here. The station closed in the mid-70s after Interstate 40 opened, killing traffic on old Route 66 through town. Buy a print here.
Black and white photograph of a door fallen onto the floor of a motel room in the abandoned Texas Longhorn Motel in the ghost town of Glenrio, on the Texas / New Mexico state line.
Black and white photograph of a door fallen onto the floor of a motel room in the abandoned Texas Longhorn Motel in the ghost town of Glenrio, on the Texas / New Mexico state line.
Inside the abandoned Texas Longhorn Motel along old Route 66 in Glenrio, Texas. Black and white photograph by Keith Dotson.
Inside the abandoned Texas Longhorn Motel along old Route 66 in Glenrio, Texas. Black and white photograph by Keith Dotson.
Black and white photograph of a chair beneath a hand-painted Route 66 sign, inside the abandoned Texas Longhorn Motel on Route 66 in Glenrio ghost town, Texas.
Black and white photograph of a chair beneath a hand-painted Route 66 sign, inside the abandoned Texas Longhorn Motel on Route 66 in Glenrio ghost town, Texas.
Black and white photograph of a stucco motel wall with bullet holes, by Keith Dotson.
Black and white photograph of a stucco motel wall with bullet holes, by Keith Dotson.
Front of the abandoned State Line Motel on the New Mexico side of Glenrio, built 1930.
Front of the abandoned State Line Motel on the New Mexico side of Glenrio, built 1930.
Open door and window of a room in the abandoned State Line Motel on the New Mexico side of Glenrio, built 1930.
Open door and window of a room in the abandoned State Line Motel on the New Mexico side of Glenrio, built 1930.
Room with a view -- the New Mexico landscape seen through a broken window in one of the rooms in the collapsing State Line Motel in Glenrio.
Room with a view — the New Mexico landscape seen through a broken window in one of the rooms in the collapsing State Line Motel in Glenrio. Buy a fine art print.
The New Mexico landscape seen through a broken window of a room in the collapsing State Line Motel built 1930 in Glenrio.
The New Mexico landscape seen through a broken window of a room in the collapsing State Line Motel built 1930 in Glenrio. Buy a fine art print.

Thanks for reading

Be sure to visit me on FacebookInstagram or Pinterest, or on my website at keithdotson.com.

~ Keith

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