Echoes from a 20th Century ghost town – Glenrio, NM/TX

Art deco designed diner

One typically thinks of ghost towns being worn relics from the 19th Century or of earlier time periods. However, in the case of Glenrio, New Mexico/Texas, the town was founded, prospered, and died during a narrow time span within the 20th Century.

Abandoned mid-century design service station located just off the Interstate

As the images within this post depict, all that remains of this one-time Rock Island railroad stop and Route 66 venue are decaying buildings, dusty streets, and echoes of the past. The final deathblow to the border-straddling town of Glenrio came when Interstate 40 bypassed it in 1975.

Another abandoned service station

Despite the town’s forlorn legacy, history buffs, Route 66 travelers, and the curious still exit the highway and stop here for a brief glimpse back in time to see the abandoned remains of Glenrio and perhaps reminisce about days gone by. Glenrio is of particular interest to me because I passed through here on a cross-country road trip to Disneyland with my parents and brother several years prior to the Interstate bypassing the town.

Motel office and cafe

Visitors may also be treated to faint echoes of the Dust Bowl era, of America’s western migration, of mid-century Route 66 roadside businesses serving locals and travelers alike, and other unique aspects of life in a dusty small town situated on the rugged High Plains.

Decaying small roadside motel

An important historical and archeological aspect about Glenrio is how it contains a nicely concentrated collection of mid-century travel-related buildings (a diner, cafe, motel, and several former service stations). As a child of the mid-20th Century, I would like to see more of this era being preserved for posterity by local, state, federal, and charitable entities.

Remains of Historic Route 66 in Glenrio

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the states of New Mexico and Texas, the various Route 66 preservation groups, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and the National Park Service could work in unison to preserve and protect Glenrio? Otherwise, the ravages of time, weather, and circumstance will eventually obliterate a great opportunity to tell a uniquely 20th Century story of American settlement, travel, and change. Peace!


If you find these aspects of American history to be interesting, here are a couple of books available through* that may be of interest.

*A small commission is earned from purchases that are made using these links to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


This entry was posted in Advocacy, archaeology, architecture, Cars, Cities, commerce, culture, fun, geography, Highway displacement, highways, historic preservation, history, infrastructure, land use, pictures, place names, Railroads, Small business, spatial design, topography, tourism, Transportation, Travel, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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