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Albuquerque's Route 66 Attractions Page 4

Last Updated: . By Austin Whittall

written by human, not by AI

Page 4: Old Town and Western Albuquerque

Painted carved wood effigy of an Indian Chief

Indian Chief, Old Town Albuquerque. A. Whittall

This is our fourth page out of six describing Route 66 Attractions in Albuquerque (Old Spanish Town and Western Albuquerque).
It is a detailed itinerary including all the classic motels, neon signs, diners, and gas stations along U.S. 66 (Central Avenue) from East to West through Albuquerque.
In this page we cover Old Spanish Town and Nine Mile Hill ABQ, the other six pages describe eastern Albuquerque, Nob Hill, Downtown Albuquerque, 4th St. Route 66, and an overview of the city with its Top 5 attractions.

Index to our five pages on Albuquerque & Route 66

  1. Eastern Albuquerque
  2. Nob Hill
  3. Downtown
  4. Old Town & Western Albuquerque (this page)
  5. 4th St. Route 66 - 1926-37 Sights
  6. Albuquerque Top 5 Things to See and Do & city overview

There is plenty to see and do in Albuquerque New Mexico. Get your Kicks on your Route 66 Road Trip in ABQ!

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Route 66 in Old Town and Western Albuquerque NM

Albuquerque's Attractions along US 66

A List of Stops and Landmarks

We will use the ❌ symbol to mark those that have been torn down. advertisement

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Some exciting Tours

Old Spanish Town and Western Albuquerque attractions

Along Route 66 into the Old Town ABQ

In this page we describe the classic Route 66 sights from east to west, starting at the intersection of 8th Street and Central Avenue on the 800 block, leaving the Downtown to head into the original settlement of Albuquerque, cross it, head across the Rio Grande and climb the Nine-Mile Hill through western Albuquerque...

We will use the ❌ symbol to mark those that have been torn down.

Chevron ❌

black and white picture Chevron gas station cars, signs, cafe in the 1950s

1950s Chevron Service Station, Park and Central ABQ
Click image to enlarge

To your right at 8th, is Robinson Park, which has been there since Route 66 was aligned along Central. To your left, on the triangle formed by the eastbound lanes of Central and Park Ave. there was a Chevron Filling Station according to the 1942 Sanborn Insurance map (802-810 Central SW). The picture looks towards the northwest from Park that runs in the foreground. Notice the Cafe beyond the gas station (900 Central SW) also gone. See the view of this same spot nowadays.

Desert Inn ❌

c.1960 postcard 2 story gable roof motel, cars and pool -top. And bottom view same bldg. 2007

Desert Inn, in 1960 and 2007. St. view. Source
Click image to enlarge

Adjacent to the Chevron, at 918 Central, this motel was built in the 1950s and torn down recently. It's owners were Clyde and Goldie Tyler. It had "Sixty-one Deluxe units" and a pool. The image shows its postcard from around 1960 and a last view before it was razed in 2011.

Ahead, to your right, on the NE corner with 10th St. (1001 Central NW) was another Filling Station (1942 map); later it became the Cafe Oaxaca and has been torn down.

Sleepy Hollow Court

The 1942 insurance map shows Tourist Cabins with twelve units in a U-shaped layout on the rear side of the property, with a corner office on Central and 11th (1021 Central NW). Later under the management of Mr. and Mrs. Louis T. Higgins, it grew to 22 units. Now it is an apartment complex that has kept the original layout.

color postcard of a motel and map showing whre it was located

Sleepy Hollow Court 1950s. Source. Click image to enlarge

apartment complex seen from Route 66, units in a line corner office

Former Sleepy Hollow Court now. Click for St. View

Lorlodge West

Across, to your left at 1020 Central SW is a motel built in the 1960s, now an apartment complex (Millennium Flats), is the former Lorlodge West; there was another Lorlodge on the eastern side, by the freeway, on Central: Lorlodge Motel East; it had "Pool - Phones - TV Refrigerated Air - Central Heat Free coffee in Room."

color postcard of a motel parking lot, u-shaped layout, neon sign and 1960s cars

Lorlodge Motel 1960s. Source. Click image to enlarge

apartment complex former motel, 2 floors, blue and white seen from Route 66

Millennium Flats (Lorlodge Motel). Click for St. View

Across from the Lorlodge, on the triangle to your right, at Central, 12th and Kent (1110) there was another classic gas station that has been there since the 1940s and the building is still there, though slightly altered as a hair stylist shop. (map and St. view.)

Capri Motor Hotel

On the NW corner of Central and 12th St. at 1213 Central Ave NW, this motel dates back to the late 1950s when it was the Capri Motor Hotel. In the 1970s it was the Limelite. Now it is the Downtown Inn.

Capri City Center Motor Hotel in a vintage 1950s postcard

Vintage 1950s color postcard of an L-layout motel, two stories, gable roof with colorful googie style neon light to the left
A 1950s postcard of the Capri City Center Motor Hotel
Albuquerque, NM. Source

Now it is almost unchanged, but it is a pity it lost its lovely 60's Googie style neon sign:

The Capri City Center Motor Hotel - now Downtown Inn as it looks today

two story, L-shaped layout gable roof corner motel with neon sign
The Capri City Center Motor Hotel now, as the Downtown Inn. Click for street view

Old Filling Station

map from 1948 showing a gas station, and current view of a grey building on a corner flat roof

Old 1940s gas station. St. view. Click image to enlarge

Adjacent to the Capri, on the NE corner with 13th (1221). is a former gas station. With a low long building and an angled office and a short canopy. Still standing. It appears in the 1942 Map.

Bell Indian Trading Post

image combining: left: portrait of Jack Michelson and his wife Mildred, top: black and white 1948 view of Pueblo style building with tower. Bottom: same building nowadays, painted ochre

Bell Trading Post and the Michelsons. By A. Whittall. St. view, Source.
Click image to enlarge

The next stop is Bell Indian Trading Post Co. at 1503 Central NW, to your right. Jack Michelson opened his Native American Indian jewelry trading post in Albuquerque in 1932. He ran it with his wife Mildred, whose maiden name, Bell was chosen for the business. Both appear in the picture with the "Then and Now" views of their store. In 1935, they merged with their main competitor, Maisel. (Read about Maisel's Indian Trading Post in the Downtown district). During WWII they made insignias for the Army and after the war, in 1948, they opened their "Million Dollar Investment" a Pueblo style building that is still standing on Central (1).

Horn Oil Co. and Motor Lodge

1946 Horn gas station with pumps, signs and office black and white photo

1946 view of Horn Oil gas station. Source. Click image to enlarge

Listed in the National and State Register of Historic Places

Drive west to the next stop at 1720 Central Ave SW. The Historic Horn Oil Co. and Motor Lodge was built in 1946. Calvin Horn (1918-1996) and his brother H.B., founded Horn Oil Co. in 1939 and built it up to a business with 26 gas stations and this motel in Albuquerque.

The 1942 Sanborn map shows two parallel sets of units perpendicular to Route 66. In the front there was a filling station on the eastern side and a restaurant on the western side. The spot has been redeveloped by Jay Rembe, and the motel was modified, but the gas station and cafe are intact. Now it is the "Country Club Plaza". Below are some "Then and Now" views Notice the symmetry in the left and right wings (gas station store and cafe).
The postcard reads "Beautyrest Mattresses... Complete Automotive Service Correspondence Carefully Handled until your Arrival..."

Horn Motor Lodge

Vintage 1950s postcard linnen postcard of a motel, gas station left, coffee shop right, pumps left
A 1950s postcard of the Horn Oil Co. and Motor Lodge. Albuquerque, NM. Source

The former Horn Oil Co. and Motor Lodge as it looks today:

offices with curve shape left and cafe right, former gas station (middle) and behind a 2 floor building where motel units used to be
Present view of Horn Oil Co. and Motor Lodge. Click for street view

World Court ❌

Across from Horn's motel, at 1729 Central, where the Manzano Day School is now located, was the site of the the World Court. It had "30 Modern Cabins - Innerspring Mattresses. RATES $1 and UP. O. K. Campbell, Mgr." Later as the numbers changed along Central, its postcard placed it at 1717 N.W Central: "Located in the Heart of Albuquerque." Originally it had a Standard Station, Hoefgen and Branson's in the 1930s, and later it was a Sinclair station and a Conoco. The station's building had a tower topping its office and a "W" at its tip. It survived into the 1990s. Below are some pictures, click on them to enlarge them.

1930s black and white postcard gas station with tower over office and cars, trees seen from Rte 66

World Court (gone) c.1930s. Source
Click to enlarge

1940s black and white postcard gas station with tower over office and cars, trees seen from Rte 66

World Court (gone) c.1940s. Source
Click to enlarge

Vintage 1950s color postcard of a gas station right, tower on top of bldg., Conoco sign, motel and office-cafe to the left
1960s postcard, World Court and Conoco. Source
1940s movie theater facing Route 66

Sandia Theatre. Click for St. view

Sandia Theatre

Just west of the old Horn complex, to your left, at 1816 Central Ave SW. Built in 1946 with 746 seats, it was acquired by Albuquerque Exhibitors Inc in 1952; they also owned the El Rey Theater, and used them to host Spanish language films. It closed in 1956 when the TV usage grew and demographic shifts moved the viewers into new neighborhoods.

There was a filling station (1815) across Central from the theater and a Restaurant on the corner of Rancho Seco (both gone).

Will Rogers Highway Court

The 1942 Sanborn map shows a "Tourist Cabins" with a U-shaped layout and 20 units at 1842 West Central. It was the Will Rogers Highway Court, mentioned in 1946 by Rittenhouse andtorn down in the early 1970s.

Historic Old Spanish Colonial Town

1883 plat map of Albuquerque

1883 plat of Albuquerque. Source
Click map to enlarge

Listed in the National and State Register of Historic Places

Here where Las Lomas Blvd. meets Route 66 you are just 200 yards away from the center of the the old Colonial Town, there is a public parking space by San Felipe and Central. Park and take a short walk to visit the the historic Plaza.

The Old Town of Albuquerque is the original site where the Spaniards founded the town in 1706.
The Governor of New Mexico, Francisco Cuervo y Valdés based in Santa Fe decided that another settlement was necessary along the Camino Real. He chose a spot close to the Sandia Mountains known as Bosque Grande de San Francisco Xavier (St. Francis Xavier's Large Forest) it had pastures, timber and was close to the river to provide water for irrigation. The town was named Villa Real de San Francisco Javier de Alburquerque (notice the "R" in Alburquerque, which was the correct way to spell the surname of the Viceroy of Mexico after which it was named). In 1776 it was renamed Villa de San Felipe Neri de Alburquerque. The extra "R" was dropped when it became part of the U.S. Territory following the war with Mexico in 1848.

Late 1800s store at the old Downtonw square, flat roof, whitewashed, two large windows on each side of main entrance
Old store at the Old Town square in Albuquerque NM. Austin Whittall

Town layout

The town followed Spanish Colonial platting rules that can be found across the Americas (Mexico City, 1520. Lima, Peru, 1535. Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1580). It consists of a central rectangular public sqare, the Old Plaza, which was the heart of the Spanish colonial town. The main church, often a Cathedral located off-center on one of the sides of the Plaza, and the main government buildings such as Customs House, the Cabildo or municipal council. The wealthy people lived close to the Plaza. The town consisted of a grid of square blocks 100 varas (rods) long approximately 100 yards. With narrow streets 30 feet wide.

The old map (click on it to enlarge it) shows the Rio Grande to the west (left), the old town roughly 5 blocks wide by 5 blocks long, on the upper left, the Camino Real running north to south and, on the lower right side, the New Albuquerque by the railroad (the trakcs run top to bottom to the right).

Historic Old Town Plaza

At the Plaza you will see the San Felipe de Neri historic church built in 1793 is located on its northern side.

store on the corner of ABQ old plaza sells handicrafts, single floor, adobe bldg.

Shop by the Old Plaza. Perla Eichenblat . Click image to enlarge

This part of the city still looks like it did in the 1700s, with Pueblo-Spanish styled adobe buildings that have been converted into souvenir shops and restaurants. Enjoy its brick paths, hidden patios and adobe benches ("bancos").

On the east side of the Plaza is the Portal Market an open air venue where the local artisans sell their handmade authentic Southwest jewelry.

More information at the You can by some souvenirs or enjoy the scene and return to your car and continue your Road Trip.

San Felipe de Neri Church

Listed in the National Register of Historic Places

2005 N Plaza St NW, Albuquerque, NM.

Built in 1793, it is one of the oldest surviving buildings in the city. It replaced the original 1706 mission church, completed in 1719, whose original name was San Francisco Xavier, but the Duke of Albuquerque renamed it after King Phillip of Spain ("Felipe").
Below is the photograph I took in Sept. 2016:

two steeples crown the atrium of a church painted adobe-brown, two cypress trees flank the building
Historic San Felipe de Neri Church, Albuquerque NM. Austin Whittall

The original building collapsed in 1792 due to heavy rain and the current church was erected the following year. Towers were built in 1861 and the school and convent were added between 1878 and 1881.

Indian Pueblo Cultural Center

three traditional indian dancers performing in an open air venue in native attaire

Indian dancers at Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. Credits

2401 12th St. N.W. Albuquerque. This Map shows where it is located.

Discover the Pueblo Indian culture. See the traditional native dances, buy handicrafts and turquoise jewels at the arts store, visit the museum and taste the local food at the café.
More information at the official website: and (505) 843-7270

From the Old town to the Rio Grande along Route 66

Westwards along Route 66 advertisement

Shamrock Station

The Nov. 1939 issue of the Albuquerque Progress magazine showed a Shamrock gas station at 1924 West Central managed by E.C. London. The building has survived relatively unscathed! Below is a "Then and Now" set of photos. Click to enlarge:

Shamrock station Pueblo style building,in the 1930s

Shamrock Station in 1939. Source. Click to enlarge

former Shamrock station Pueblo style building, a trading Post with cars parked and verandah

Shamrock Station nowadays. Click for St. view

Arrowhead Lodge ❌

Across San Pasquale on its SW corner at 2000 Central, where the a manor-like building is now located there was a filling station in the 1940s and, next to it where the Post Office is, at 2016 Central, was the Arrowhead Lodge which at one time was also known as the Wigwam Court with a wigwam in its courtyard. By 1980 it had been razed.

1940s black and white postcard units lined up in an L-shaped motel with garages between the units. Wigwam-shaped neon sign in the middle

Wigwam Court (gone) c.1940s. Source
Click to enlarge

1940s color postcard units lined up in an L-shaped motel with garages between the units. Inset with neon sign upper left.

Arrowhead Lodge (gone) c.1940s. Source
Click to enlarge

former gas station block building, L-shaped on a corner

Former San Felipe St. gas station. Click for St. view

Opposite, on the NE corner with San Felipe is a former Filling Station shown in the 1942 map it originally consisted of a building on the right side of the property, later expanded in the 1950s with service bays to the right. Still standing but repurposed as a shop.

Ahead, between Romero and Rio Grande Blvd, to your right (2025) there was another gas station, long gone.

Tower Court

Listed in the National and State Register of Historic Places

2210 Central Ave SW, Albuquerque, to your left after Clayton St. The Tower Court motel was built in 1946, and mentioned in Rittenhouse's Guidbook to Route 66 that same year. It was owned and ran by Al and Elnora Pizzoli; its postcard proclaimed "Modern - In - Every - Detail." Now it is a private apartment complex. It has lost its emblematic "Tower" but retains its original layout and appearance as you can see in the images below (click to enlarge):

color postcard of a motel with a tower above the office in the center of the courtyard

Tower Court motel vintage postcard. Albuquerque NM. Source
Click to enlarge

two sets of units, parallel to each other, central courtyard

Tower Court motel nowadays. Click for St. view

El Don Motel

vintage 1950s neon sign man on horseback with a lassoo, EL DON MOTEL seen from Route 66

Iconic El Don neon sign. Click for St. view

Also to your left, adjacent to Tower court, at 2220 Central Ave SW, Albuquerque is another classic motel with a great neon sign (pictured).
The fifteen-unit El Don Motel proclaimed on its postcard: "Tubs and Showers. Tiled Baths. Free Radios. Air Conditioned. Wall-O-Matic Heat - Restaurants near. Just 3 blocks to the Historic Old Albuquerque Palaza. Less than 5 minutes to Heart of City. AAA Approved. Member of the Best Western Motels." at that time it was ran by Mr. and Mrs. Dan W. Eitzen.

The Spanish word "Don" placed before a man's name shows respect in a conversation, its meaning differs from the Italian Don (the head of a Mafia family), it is simply Esquire; in this case perhaps it refers to the cowboy with the lasso in their neon sign.

Vintage 1940s postcard motel with U-shaped layout, neon sign and car in the courtyard, inset with the neon sign
1940s postcard of the El Don Motel. Source

It's basic "U-shaped" layout has remained unchanged; it has also kept its iconic Route 66 sign of a neon cowboy riding a horse with a lasso in his hand. But a second floor was added to the eastern wing.

The El Don Motel as it looks nowadays

motel, 2 floors to the left, neon sign center, wing to the right
The El Don Motel nowadays, ABQ Route 66. Click for street view

Texas Ann Court ❌

At 2305 W. Central across from El Don, where the McDonald's is now located. Its postcard announced "At the Sign of the Longhorn". This motel was ran by the parents of Vivian Roberta Jones (1909-1979) better known under her artistic name of Vivian Vance, a co-star in the 1950s series "I Love Lucy" as Ethel Mertz. Vance lived in ABQ and began her career here!

black and white photo of four persons, the I LOVE LUCY cast in the 1950s

I Love Lucy cast. Source

Vivian Vance lived in Albuquerque and got her start at the Albuquerque Little Theatre.
The episode 16 of season 4 aired on Jan. 31, 1955 and filmed the day before Thanksgiving on Nov. 25, 1954 shows Lucy and Ethel and their husbands spend the night in a motel in Amarillo Texas before arriving in Ethel's hometown, Albuquerque. The Amarillo motel is actually the Albuquerque Texas Ann Motel (2). The image shows Vance (left) and Lucille Ball (right) above are: William Frawley (Fred Mertz), Desi Arnaz (Ricky Ricardo) Vance's and Ball's husbands in the TV show.

Vintage 1940s postcard motel with U-shaped layout, neon sign inset, with longorn head, and trees in its courtyard
1940s postcard of the Texas Ann motel. Source
color postcard of a motel with a U-shaped layout, a crescent moon appears in the description

Moon motel vintage postcard. Albuquerque NM. SourceClick to enlarge

Moon Motel and Café ❌

Moon Cafe proclaimed in its postcards that "We Never Close... Dinner and short orders 24 hours a day.
It was located to your left, just west of El Don at 2316 West Central. The Moon Motel was part of the complex and it offered "A Bit of Everything."
Rittenhouse mentions it in is 1946 Guidebook.
It was torn down in the mid 1960s and apartment building has been built on the property.

color postcard of a motel with a U-shaped layout, and trees, Route 66 runs in front

Monterey motel vintage postcard. Albuquerque NM. Source. Click to enlarge

two different Monterey Motel neon signs, side by side the 1940s and the 1950s one

Monterey motel neon signs in the 1940s and 50s. Click to enlarge

Monterey Court

night view of Monterey Motel classic 1950s neon sign lit up in red and blue spelling its name and a red arrow

Monterey motel neon sign on Route 66 Source

The Monterey is adjacent to the Moon Court, to your left at 2402 Central Ave SW, Albuquerque

At one time it was owned by H.C. Whitfield, and sold Shell products. Its business card with the old numbering system (address was 2332 West Central) mentions its main features: "On Will Rogers Hwy. U.S. 66. As Good As The best Modern --- Complete with Kithcenettes. Adjoining Golf Course and Bathing Beach. 1 Mile West of Business District and Hwy. U.S. 85"

The Monterey Court or Monterey Motel mentioned by Rittenhouse in his guidebook.

Neon Sign

It changed its original 1940s neon sign in the 1950s for the current one. The original sign had the outline of Monterey's mission but the later one adopted a classic 1950s design, with angled shapes and a neon arrow with triangular shape. This sign has been restored and is still standing. It has undergone some minor changes: The word "Court" was replaced with the word "Motel" and the figure on to its upper part, above the "M" of Monterey has been removed as you can see in the image further up, comparing the 1940s and 1950s neon signs.

You can Book a Room in the Monterey Motel

Monterey Motel in a vintage 1960s postcard

Vintage 1960s postcard of the Monterey Motel, U-shaped layout, office with flat canopy, Route 66 runs in front, neon sign inset in the image
A 1960s postcard of the Monterey MotelAlbuquerque, NM. Source
single story building U-layout, office and neon sign and flat canopy to the right, Route 66 runs in front
Monterey Motel nowadays. Click for street view

White Way Court ❌

Across from the Monterey, to your right, the Econolodge (2321 Central) replaced a classic motel, the White Way lodge. It had a deep U-shaped layout with trees along the central courtyard and "26 Modern, Comfortable, Shaded... units." The Econolodge was later built over the west wing. Its owners were Mr. and Mrs. J.H. Doake, stated on their postcard "It's Okey Doke to stop with the Doakes".

1940s color postcard units lined up in an L-shaped motel Inset with neon sign upper right.

Arrowhead Lodge (gone) c.1940s. Source
Click to enlarge

1941 black and white photo Texaco gas station, 2 bays right, office and canopy left. pumps and cars

Mandril Texaco in 1941. Source
Click to enlarge

Mandril Texaco

The gas station next to it appears in the Albuquerque Progress edition of June 1941> "Chuck Mandril is lesee of the new Texaco Station at 2323 West Central." This original building was replaced by the current one that was placed further away from the highway. It is a Matawan style Texaco built during the 1960s and its features have a slight Ranch style: Two-part flat roof over service area and office (here a faux-tile roofing was placed over the office). Angled roof sides and fixed transoms above the service bays; Inward sloping pent roof (the black ledge around the building above the doors and windows) and a semi-detached canopy with inward-angled fascia. This is its Street View.

Country Club Court ❌

It was located next to Mandril's Texaco, to your right at 2411 Central Ave NW. The Country Club Court dated back to 1937 and it was one of the original motels on the new alignment west of Albuquerque. It too was mentioned by Rittenhouse in 1946, and it got its name from the Country Club and golf course located just south of Central, now known as West Park. The place later became the the Spanish Gate Motel, Prince Motel, and finally the 21 Motel before it was razed in 2019.

a 1960 picture of motel with a classic neon sign, arrow on it and cars, seen from Route 66

Country Club Court c.1960. Source. Click to enlarge

Motel with a classic neon sign, arrow on it, seen from Route 66

Motel 21 was the Country Club Court (gone). Click for 2017 Street view

blue red and white motel 21 classic neon sign curving arrow on it, seen from Route 66

Motel 21 and Country Club Neon Sign in 2023. Click for street view

Katson's Drive Inn ❌

1940s color postcard carhop to the left, building with sign in the center reading KATSON’s, dusk behind and cars parked

1940s Katson's Drive In. Source
Click to enlarge

At 2425 West Central was Virgil Robert Katson's restaurant with curb service, coffee shop and dining room. It also had a Curio Shop. It opened on May 18, 1940 and closed in September 1942 the Albuquerque Journal reported that it would close for the duration of the war Katson moved his staff to his dowtown Court Cafe. Karson's had a gift, jewelry and appliance store on 418 W Central and another eatery, Katson's Hickory Restaurant at 111 W Central and the Court Cafe on 4th St.
It was razed in around 1960. It was located on the back of the spot where Los Compadres (earlier Village Inn) is now located (street view) as you can see in this 1955 aerial photo

Pueblo Bonito Court ❌

1940s black and white advert top a view of a Pueblo style motel, caption below

1940s Pueblo Bonito advertisement. Source
Click to enlarge

Located at 2424 or 2400 W Central , depending on the postcard (now 2500 Central Ave. SW.) You can see its L-shaped layout in this 1951 aerial photo. Rittenhouse mentions it in 1946. It was torn down in the 1970s and there was a restaurant. Now there is a modern complex (El Vado Palace) on the property.

El Vado Auto Court Motel

Listed in the National Register of Historic Places

2500 Central Ave. SW, Albuquerque, NM, to your left, adjacent to the long gone Pueblo Bonito motel.

This motel opened in 1937 to coincide with the new Laguna cut-off alignment of Route 66 which bypassed the historic Rio Puerco bridge and headed straight out of town along Central Avenue and the new Rio Grande Bridge. It was owned by Daniel Murphy. The name "Vado" is the Spanish word for "ford". Rittenhouse mentioned it in his 1946 Guidebook to U.S. Hwy. 66.

It originally had 32 units and a filling station. It was built in Spanish Pueblo Revival style. Later a pool was added, the gas pumps were removed. Patrick O'Neal and his wife ran it in the 1960s. It ceased operating in 2008. But has been renovated and its neon sign recovered its former beauty and is still operating as a motel. Below are some then and now views.

El Vado Court Motel in a vintage 1950s postcard

Vintage 1950s postcard of a motel, U shaped layout, white Pueblo sytle, treees to the right, US 66 in front, neon sign
A 1940s postcard of the El Vado Court Motel Albuquerque, NM. Source

The El Vado Court Motel as it looks today

white Pueblo style units, U layout, Route 66 in front and classic neon sign
El Vado Court Motel nowadays. Click for street view
neon sign from the 1950s with an Indian woman effigy on it

El Vado neon sign nowadays. Source

Casa Grande Cafe and Chevron station, cars and Rte 66 -right- in a 1960s black and white picture

1960s Casa Grande Chevron and Cafe, looking east along Central. Source

Casa Grande Complex ❌

The Casa Grande (Spanish for "Big House") was a sprawling complex occupying the 2600 and 2700 block on the north side of Route 66 (right) opposite El Vado. It included several businesses on the property: the Casa Grande Motel, Casa Grande Inn and Casa Grande Lounge in the same building; and on the eastern side, the Casa Grande Cafe and the Chevron filling station pictured above (the image looks east along Central, and this is the same view in 2023.)

The Motel had a total of 141 rooms of which 24 were in the main two-story lodge building and 117 were courts. It had a swimming pool, coffee shop, phones in all rooms and television. You can see it in this 1955 aerial photo. It was torn down in the 1980s and now is where the Aquarium and Bugarium (bugs "zoo") are located. Below is a view of the main Lodge building and its neon sign in the 1960s.

night view, across Route 66 a 2 story bldg, with signs, cars parked, units to the left and behind main bldg.
Casa Grande Motel c.1960. Source

Tingley Beach and Beach Motel ❌

Ahead, lying between the Country Club's golf course and Route 66, opposite Casa Grande, to your left on the 2700 block is the Beach Apartments complex. This was where the Beach Motel once stood; Rittenhouse mentions it in 1946.
Named for Tingley Beach, a recreational area on the eastern side of the Rio Grande south of Central Ave. it was a popular bathing spot in the 1930s and 40s. After it closed to swimmers in the 1950s it became a fishing spot. It was named after Clyde Tingley (1881-1960), New Mexico governor from 1935 to 1939.

motel on the south side of Route 66, gate with neon sign, units to the right, trees

Beach Motel 1960s. Source

black and white view of a beach, people sunbathing, parasols and trees, water to the right c.1935

Tingley Beach c.1935. Source

Route 66 Rio Grande Bridge

black and white view of a 2 lane bridge with lights c.1930, river and hills beyond

1931 Central Ave bridge across the Rio Grande. Source

Albuquerqe lies next to the Rio Grande, and there was a ford here used since prehistoric times. The shallow ford was located on the south side of Barelas, where the original Route 66 crossed the river. In 1807 it had been described as being "400 yards wide, but not more than three feet deep and excellent fording". But the first bridge crossed the river from the Old Town to northern Atrisco more or less where Central Ave. crosses the Rio Grande. It was a pontoon structure that opened in 1876.

A permanent timber toll bridge was built next to the pontoon one in 1882, charging a nickel to cross it. Both bridges were washed away by the May 1891 floods.

The Barelas bridge went up in 1910, a steel structure with a wooden deck. After a flood destroyed it in 1912, it was rebuilt and a concrete bridge went up next to it in 1920. This bridge carried the 1926-37 Route 66 through Isleta and Peralta (3)

A new bridge spanned the river at Central Ave. in 1931, it was a 2-lane bridge known as the Old Town Bridge. Jim Ross in his Route 66 database details all the changes on this bridge: the original bridge was replaced by a new one date unknown, the eastbound lanes of Route 66 were aligned along it when a new bridge was built in 1952 to carry the westbound ones. These bridges were replaced by the current four lane bridge in 1983.

The image below looks west along the westbound lanes of Route 66 in the late 1950s. The Sandia Mountains can be seen in the distance.

two bridges each with 2 lanes cross the Rio Grande, Sandia mountains distant to the right, river flows, 1950s cars
1950s four-lane Route 66 crosses the Rio Grande. Source

Beyond the Rio Grande

Nine Mile Hill

The road now crosses the Rio Grande River and heads west. Rittenhouse described it in 1946 as follows: "Many tourist courts line the highway along here. Almost at the edge of town, you begin to climb the long, steep grades out of the Rio Grande valley, and onto the plateau". It was the famous Nine Mile Hill, all the way to the Rio Puerco River.

The topographic benchmark at the river reads 4,962 ft. and nine miles west it reaches 5,776 ft. in fact the climb continues to I-40s milepost 145, with an elevation of 5,894 ft.
This is a volcanic area!

The Volcanoes

The "Three Sisters" or Albuquerque volcanoes, and the West Mesa area formed simultaneously 150,000 years ago when the Earth's crust cracked and allowed magma to rise through it along a 5 mi. (8 km) fissure like a curtain of fire.
The Rio Grande Valley is actually a "rift", where the Earth's crust is thinner allowing lava to flow upwards, the valley to sink and the lateral areas to rise, like the Sandia Mountains to the east/p>.

Getting there and what to do

The volcanos are about 8 mi. northwest of Albuquerque. Access from Exit 154 of I-40, head north along Unser Blvd. for 3 mi. to Western Trail, gateway to the National Monument. Below is a view of one of Albuquerque's volcanoes.

Volcano at dusk above the flat shrubland
Volcano in Albuquerque NM. Credits

There are several trails from 0.8 to 2 miles long, from easy to moderately strenuous, which allow you to view the volcanoes by hiking around the cinder cones. Great views of the Rio Grande Valley and the Sandia Mountains. Take water with you. Parking lot is located at Atrisco Vista Blvd. NW (former Paseo del Volcan), about 4.8 miles north of I-40. (see Street View).

This volcanic area with the black volcanic rocks were sacred for the Pueblo people, who engraved their "petroglyphs" or rock art on them.
The National Monument is a day-use park that closes at 5 PM. Take your time (average hiking time through the park is from 1/2 to 4 hours). Stop at the visitor center is (at Unser Blvd. NW and Western Trail) for current park information, maps and brochures. Open 8 AM - 5 PM.

  • Boca Negra Canyon. See some 100 petroglyphs along a paved trail guided with signs. Paid parking, drinking fountain and restrooms.
  • Rinconada Canyon. A 2.2 mile round trip trail (no water) with 300 petroglyphs; 1.5 to 2 hour trek.
  • Piedras Marcadas Canyon. A 1.5 mile rount trip trail (no water) with 500 petroglyphs; 1.5 hours.

More information at the National Parks website

four images with three showing native rock art on black volcanic stones and lower right one showing the arid scenery, black rocks under brown grass
Rock Art at Petroglyph National Monument, Albuquerque NM. Credits advertisement

Westwards along the Nine Mile Hill

Ruscha's Conoco Station

American pop artist Edward Ruscha lived in Los Angeles and drove frequently along Route 66 (he was captivated by it). His 1963 book Twentysix Gasoline Stations depicts black and white pictures of 26 gasoline stations along Route 66 with the location and gas brand sold. One of them is a Conoco in Albuquerque. No address has been given, but we believe that it is the Ever Ready Conoco Service located at 3900 Central SW. The gas station survived until the mid-late 1970 when the current building was erected on the property.

Edward Ruscha's Albuquerque Conoco, 1963©

black and white view of a Conoco gas station: pumps, sign, logo, office, mountains and clouds in the distance
Ed Ruscha's Albuquerque Conoco, 1963. Edward Ruscha ©
composite image: color 1950s Rio Grande Bridge and Sandia mountains, black and white view of a gas station, pumps, sign and Sandia Mountains 1963, and aerial picture 1955 of that same gas station

Location of Ruscha's Albuquerque Conoco by Austin Whittall
Click image to enlarge

Ruscha's photograph shows a large Conoco sign by a box-shaped office, Route 66 runs to the left. The sandia mountains can be seen in the distance indicating that the picture looks east. Sun is behind the photographer, setting in the west. Two rows of two pumps each can be seen in the image and in the background, a wooden utility pole composed of three wooden poles and two cross-arms. This is identical to the view shown further up in the Rio Grande Bridge picture from 1959 showing Sandia mountains and the pole on the eastern bank of the river (in the distance above the yellow car). This 1955 aerial photo shows the rows of two pumps each and the shade of the Conoco sign, the 1955 shows more rows, but they decreased in 1959 and Ruscha was here in 1963. We combined all these views into a single image (click on it to enlarge it)

Across from it, on the north side at 3901 Central Ave NW was another gas station from the 1950s razed in the early 2000s.

Motel ?

The 1950s aerial photos show buildings on the NW corner of 40th and Central. This is the 4000 block (2800 under the old street number system) it is Rita's Apartments, and could have been a motel in the 1940s. At 4119 Central Ave NW, to your right, was Constancia Court in the 1950s and 60s. The next motels are on the 4500 block.

Duke's Court ❌

Mentioned by Rittenhouse in 1946, on the NW, at 4501 (3301 in the old numbering); you can see it in this 1967 aerial picture, the long thin building to the top of the image. All that remains is the former cafe at 4505 Central Ave NW now Dee's Hair Design. The motel was torn down in the 1970s. And the apartmnent complex was built in 1986.

box shaped building, former cafe now a hair stylist, windows on each side of pale blue door facing Route 66

Dee's, former Duke's Court Cafe. Click for street view

black and white postcard one floor Pueblo style motel with Texaco sign and pumps Route 66

Stop In Court. Source. Click to enlarge

Stop In Court ❌

Offering Modern Cottages at Reasonable Rates and only one-half mile west of the Rio Grande Bridge, this motel was also mentioned by Rittenhouse in 1946. It was adjacent to Duke's, on the right side at 4517 Central Ave. NW. Torn down in the 1980s. It had a Texaco gas station.

Adjacent to the Stop-In, Where the Pep's Boys shop is now located, at 4523, to your right (it used to be the 3323 of West Central) was the White Lodge Cafe and Court, ran by Jas K Shields. It had a U-shaped layout with the Cafe in the middle. On the north side of the highay. You can see it in this 1955 aerial photo.

corner ochre single story Pueblo style motel with blue and white neon sign RAINBOW Apts facing Route 66

Rainbow Court 2023. Click for street view

Rainbow Court

Across the highway, to your left, at 4600 Central Ave SW, on the corner with 46th St., this was 3400 West Central under the old numbering system.
It was mentioned by Rittenhouse in his 1946 Guidebook Nice, and has preserved the original blue neon sign that now reads "Rainbow Apartments - Kitchenettes".
It is a Pueblo style building with two parallel sets of units. In the 1940s it was operated by Juan G. Serna.

The black and white picture below was taken in 1973 by John Schott, and it is a treasure for Route 66 historians, it shows the Rainbow's neon sign at that time where the word Rainbow was placed horizontally (now it is vertical) and Motel stood vertical.

blue L shaped neon sign with white letters spelling RAINBOW Apartments facing Route 66

Rainbow Court neon sign nowadays. Click for street view

black and white photo showing an L shaped neon sign Rainbow motel, facing Route 66

Rainbow Court neon sign (detail) 1973. John Schott ©

El Nido Motel ❌

Nowadays, next to the Rainbow is the two-story Sandia Peak Inn at 4698 Central Ave SW. It was built in the 2000s and is a new addition and not relevant to the Golden Days of Route 66.
When this motel was built, the classic El Nido Motel that occupied the center of the block, and the Sandia Motel on the SE corner of Central and 47th were both torn down.

The El Nido (Spanish for "The Nest") was listed at 4604 Central Ave SW. It had a great neon sign of a sleeping man resting against a cactus, unfortunately lost. In the 1940s phone book it was ran by Loren F. Marquam and it was located at 3410. The Knotty Pine Cafe was on the corner. Below are two different views of the lost neon sign, the black and white one looks east, the color picture looks west:

black and white photo showing a neon sign lit at night El nido motel, Mexican man rests asleep back against a cactus

El Nido Motel neon sign (detail) 1973. John Schott ©

color photo showing a neon sign lit at night El nido motel, Mexican man rests asleep back against a cactus, 1987

El Nido Motel neon sign (detail) 1987. Steve Fitch ©

Both images were taken at different dates, this is the current Street view of the spot the second image was taken.

Adjacent to the El Nido was the Knotty Pine Cafe (3412) and Across Central, on its north side, opposite El Nido, to your right, was the Western Ho Cafe ❌ at 3405.

Sandia Motel ❌

yellow pages advert The Mikado motel 1950s

Yellow pages ad of The Mikado

Adjacent to the Knotty Pine Cafe, on the SE corner with 47th St. was the Sandia Motel ran by Eitzen Danl (modern 4616-18 old 3414-16 Central Av W); Rittenhouse listed it in 1946.
At one time it was "The Mikado" as you can see in the Yellow Pages advertisement.
It was torn down to make space for the 1970s motel that now stands on the property. Below we compare two views of the building, its postcard from the 1960s and Fitch's 1987 photograph.

color picture showing a neon sign and L-shaped motel single floor Pueblos style 1960s

Sandia Motel and neon sign 1960s postcard. Source

color photo showing a neon sign and brown Pueblos style motel with US66 on the right 1987

Sandia Motel and neon sign (detail) 1987. Steve Fitch ©

Auto-Tel Court ❌

The old numbering of Central puts it at 3417. It was located where the gas station is now, on the NE corner of 47th and Central.
The Auto-Tel was run by Mrs. Olive Franklin in the 1940s and later, by Alva Haufman. It was "Half mile West of Rio Grande on W. Central... 12 New Modern Insulated Units... Private Showers Automatic Hot Water" managed by Alva Hufman, it had an L-saped layout and two gas pumps in the courtyard selling Standard Oil products By the 1950s it changed its name to Westerner Motel and John Margolies took a picture of it in 1987 (see below).

1940s color postcad, U-Layout motel, trees, single story block shaped units, Route 66 in front

Auto-Tel Court (Gone). Source
Click to enlarge

color photo of a white bldg, red and white neon sign, adobe Pueblo style

Westerner Motel, 1987. Source
Click to enlarge

Silver King's Auto Court ❌

1940s business card of Silver King Auto Court

Silver King business Card.

The next motel was Silver King's (Rittenhouse listed it), you can see it to the right in the folowing 1967 aerial photo (to the left is Millers, described below). It was located at what was 3515 (now 4711 where the gas station is) it was owned by Chas W. Beydler. Later it became the Hi-Lo Motel.

Miller's Court ❌

This Auto Court was next to the Silver King's at 3525 and owned by William Pinkston. Now it is 4801 Central Ave NW, where the West Central Storage is located.

1940s advertisement of a motel, with a sketch of its appearance

Blue Bell Court advertisement 1940s. Source

Blue Bell Court ❌

It was located in what is now a vacant lot, to your left, at 4706 Central Ave SW. The Blue Bell Court was mentioned by Rittenhouse and its 1940s addresss with the numbering of that time was 3506 West Central. Mary V. Beadle ran it. It had a Pueblo style and offered "Innerspring Mattresses, Free Ice Water, Automatic Hot Water"

Head West. On the next block, to your left, after 48th St. there were three motels. All that remains are some neon signs:

Three Motels all Gone ❌

Relict Motel Signs

Ahead, on the south side of Central on the western tip of the 4800s block there are two neon signs, standing alone, solitary memories of two motels that once stood here between 48th and Cypress Dr., but were razed.

The 1940s phone directory lists several motels in the block that was in those days numbered 4600

faded box shaped red sign twisted metal with white letters spelling SUPER 6 MOTEL seen from Route 66

Super 6 Motel Neon Sign in 2023. Click for street view

faded box shaped green sign with white letters spelling CIBOLA MOTEL seen from Route 66

Cibola Motel Neon Sign in 2023. Click for street view

blue neon sign white letters 66 COURT, Route 66 on the left

66 Court neon sign Source

66 Court ❌

Adjacent to the existing building, an appliance store, was the 66 Court.
It was mentioned by Rittenhouse in 1946, and the 1940 phone book listed it at 3604. It was owned by Stratton Royal.
In the 1970s it became the Wilcox Apts. but was torn down shortly after.
Neon sign, pictured, vanished, maybe some collector has it?

Royal Court (Later Super 6) ❌

Also mentioned by Rittenhouse. It was owned by Wendel Axnix (3606 Central in the 1940s).
It had an L-shaped layout. Below is a street view from 2011 before it was razed.

color street view from 2011 of an L-shaped vacant motel flat roof, single story

Super 6 motel in 2011, vacant. Click for St. view

black and white postcard 1940s, U-layout motel flat roof, single story

Cibola Court c.1930s. Source. Click image to enlarge

The Cibola Court ❌

At 3614 West Central (now this is 4910), it belonged to Donald Ames. This Street View shows it in 2011 before it was torn down.

Opposite the Royal Court, was the El Rancho Court owned by Mrs. Viola L Gerkin at 3605 (1940s address). In the 1970s it became the Suntan Motel & Apartments.

More vanished buildings on the north side of Central Ave

black and white view of two block shaped buildings, a cafe, bar, tavern c1940s, single story

Club Chesterfield.1930s. Source. Click image to enlarge

Next to it, opposite the Cibola Court, was the Cottage Motel at 3607 with a service station. Glenn Isaacson owned it. In the 1970s became an apartments complex. Where Auto Zone is now located was Club Chesterfield (3621-23). Pictured. It was a night club and bar with a Service Station, California Cafe (3625) owned by Chas Stevens. Glenn Campbell played here at the begining of his career in the 1950s in the band of his uncle Dick Bills.

Across 50th, on the NE corner was Joes One Stop Service Station old numbering was 3629. By the late 1950s it had gone. Head west to Yucca and Central

Approaching Yucca and Central

As you can see in this aerial photo from 1955 there were several motels at the intersection of Central Ave and Old Coors Dr SW to the south and Yucca Dr. NW to the north. Some have survived.

On the north side, to your right on the NW corner of 53rd and Central (3901 old numbers, now 5301) was the Skyview Cafe, followed by Victor's Super Service station (3903). Both gone. Ahead, also to your right was a motel:

Dutch Motel ❌

1940s color postcad, U-Layout motel, trees, inset with Dutch windmill and two Dutch boys flanking it, Route 66 in front

Dutch Motel (Gone). Source
Click to enlarge

The Dutch Motel was owned by Otto R. Schmitt it was located at what now is 5401 where the mall is located (3923 old numbering). Exactly opposite the junction of Old Coors Dr. and Central. Rittenhouse mentioned it in 1946.
Later it was managed by H. L. Utz. It had 18 units "18 Units - Showers - Air-Conditioned - Radio - T. V. in Rooms." Later it became the "El Molino" motel (Molino is the Spanish word for mill).
A service station was built next to it, with three service bays and a long flat canopy over two lines of gas pump islands c.1955, it stood on the NE corner of Central Ave and Yucca Dr. NW.

Hill Top Court ❌

On the south side of Central Ave. It had 25 rooms and offered "Hot and ice cold water in abundance... Radios... Tile floors and showers throughout." In the 1940s it was owned by Cecil T. Orton and by 1951 by Mr. and Mrs. C. T. Orton. It was at 4010 (old numbering), current 5410; it had been torn down in 2005 and in 2018 Yucca Dr. SW has been aligned across the property. The images shows a view of the motel in the 1940s and the vacant property with its steel pole for the long gone sign. We marked it with in the image further down.

1940s color postcad, U-Layout motel, trees, single story block shaped units, Route 66 in front

Hill Top Court (Gone). Source
Click to enlarge

empty lot between two buildings, trees and a car parked, steel pole of an empty sign, Route 66 in front

Hill Top Court empty lot in 2015. Click for Street view

The Motels west of Yucca and Central

The following black and white 1940s image (click on it to enlarge it) shows all the motels along Route 66 west of Yucca. It looks estwards along Route 66; the Sandia mountains can be seen in the distance and the numbers refer to different motels described in the text. The color picture shows the same view in 1951.

1940s black and white view of Route 66, Sandia mountains in the distance, motels, gas station, few buildings, cars

Looking East along Route 66 c.1940.Source
Click on image to enlarge

1951 color picture of Route 66, Sandia mountains in the distance, motels, gas station, few buildings, cars

Looking East along Route 66 1951. Source
Click on image to enlarge

Arrow Court and Hill Cafe ❌

To your right, after crossing Yucca, (4500 old numbers, now 5419 Central Ave NW). The Arrow Court and Hill Cafe was owned by Myron Weiser in the 1940s.

The motel has gone, torn down in the 70s and now it is a parking space on the NW corner of Yucca and Central.

color street view of a former 1 story motel flat roof

Former Navajo Court nowadays. Click for St. view

The Navajo Court managed to survive, it was located at 5501 (4015 old number). Mentioned by Rittenhouse, it was owned by Earl Putzier, and the property is still standing, a typical U-shaped layout, with a corner office. Its matchcovers stated "You are a Stranger Here But Once... Reasonable Rates" (4). In 1959 it had 30 rooms and charged $5 and up! We marked it with in the image further up.

California Court ❌

Mentioned by Rittenhouse in 1946,it was ran by Jas Jaynes. To your right, adjacent to the old Navajo at 4025 old numbering (5509 nowadays) where there is a small mall. Street view, We marked it with in the image further up.

Alamo Court and Alamo Court Service Station

two lines of apartments perpendicular to Route 66 seen from the highway

Former Alamo Court nowadays. Click for St. view

Next to the California, at 5631 Central NW (4035 old number) it was owned by Frank Vinke. Originally the units were in a single file on the eastern side, and the Phillips 66 station was on the western side. Rittenhouse noted it in 1946. A second line of units was built along 57th when the filling station was torn down in the late 1970s. The original units are still there, with a single floor, box shaped, Pueblo style look to them. We marked it with in the image further up, notice the Phillips 66 to the left.

Allen's Court ❌

Opposite the California, on the south side of Route 66, to your left at 5500 where Julians Burgers N More is now located was Allen's Court (4110 old numbering), owned by Ms. Isabel Taylor. It had two parallel lines of units and a central office. We marked it with in the image further up. The name was written on its western wall.

Mayflower Motel

To the west, also on the south side of Central Ave at 5602 (4120 old numbering) was the Mayflower Motel owned by Mrs. Angela Henery. We marked it with in the image further up.
It is still standing and in good conditions.

color 1950s motel postcard, neon sign hip roof office, Route 66 runs in front

Mayflower motel c.1950s. Source. Click to enlarge

color street view of a former 1 story motel seen from Rte 66

Former Mayflower Court nowadays. Click for St. view

El Campo - El Compo Tourist Court

sepia image auto court, office on corner, units lined up with an angle facing driveway, Route 66 in front, gas pumps left

April 1939 El Compo Court. Source. Click to enlarge

Listed in the National and State Register of Historic Places

At 5800 Central Ave SW (4200 old numbers), the El Campo Tourist Court (Spanish for "The countryside" or "the field") was also known as El Compo, with a letter "o", which has no meaning in Spanish. It was built and operated by M. H. McGraw in 1939 and at that time was described as "modern tourist apartments, filling station, store and trailer facilities". The April 1939 image (click to enlarge) states "New El Compo Tourist Courts, located 1 3⁄4 miles West of the bridge on Highwat 66. The Court consists of modern torust apartments, filling station, store and trailer facilities. Mr. and Mrs. M. H. Graw are owners of the new court." Rittenhouse mentioned it in 1946 when Milton Mc. Graw kept on running into the 1970s.

El Campo Tourist Court in a vintage 1940s postcard

sepia colored Vintage 1950s postcard adobe Pueblo style building, tree, sign saying it is El Compo tourist court
A 1940s postcard of the El Campo Tourist Court, Albuquerque, NM. Source

It has been restored and is now a private apartment complex; below is a current view of the site:

white stucco building blue door,windows on each side, curved parapet facing Route 66, other units line up behind, painted sign reads EL CAMPO. Cars parked left, driveway center, Route 66 runs in front

El Campo nowadays. Click for street view

white icebox shaped gas station from the 1940s no canopy nor pumps facing Route 66

Hill Crest Gast Station nowadays. Click for street view

Across Route 66 (4209 old numbers) was Don H. Wallert's Restaurant (gone) and Hill Crest Service Station (4225 now 5827) on the NE corner with 58th the building is pictured above, a former icebox station with the service bays walled in.

Alta Vista Motel, later Whiting Bros. Motel - Americana Motel

motel with colorful units and trees, 1940s car in a linnen postcard. Seen from Route 66

1940s Alta Vista Motel. Source Click to enlarge

At 5908 (4210 old numbering) began as the Alta Vista Motel owned by William Vera in the 1950s it had separate units lined up in three rows (1955 aerial photo). By 1967 there was a single L shaped building on the eastern side of the property. By that time it was the Whiting Brothers Motel.

Whiting Brothers was established in 1926 by four brothers and it grew to have more than 100 gas stations from Texas to California as well as Motels, on Route 66 you can still see many of them

The Americana's neon sign is actually the original Whiting Bros. sign with the "WB" shield removed.

Americana motel west of Albuquerque, NM

Americana motel. Click for St. View

single file units left and neon sign right seen from Route 66 Old Whiting Brothers motel west of Albuquerque, NM

Whiting Brothers motel. Source. Click for larger image

Beside the motel, on its western flank, is the old Whiting Gas Station Sign which now is faded with the paint peeling off, with the words"Trailers" and "Gas".

ABQ Whiting Bros. gas station sign

Albuquerque Whiting Bros gas station neon sign
Former Whiting Bros. gas station sign in ABQ. Click for St. View

>> Read more about all the motels and gas stations of Whiting Bros. on Route 66

Hill Crest Motel, later Cactus Motel

Hill Crest Motel ❌

Just ahead (4228 old numbers) to your left, at 5930 Central Ave SW, is a car wash. This is where Bernard Feltman's Hill Crest Motel once stood; then it changed its name and perhaps its ownership to become Cactus Motel in the 1950s.

image combines postcard of a motel with office to the left units to the right and inset of cactus-shaped neon sign c.1950s (top), and current view: a car wash (bottom)

Cactus Motel, then and now. Source and St. View. Click to enlarge

Cactus motel neon sign, Whiting Bros station and motel beyond. Route 66 to the left 1960s photo

Cactus Motel and Whiting Bros c.1960s, Source. Click to enlarge

Cactus Motel ❌

Donald J. Lee (1927-2021) born in Tipton Oklahoma was a WWII veteran who married Alice Crumbley in 1953. They moved to Grants NM in 1961 and bought a trailer park and in 1962 they bought the Cactus Motel. He worked as a truck driver during this period and in 1972 they sold the motel (5).

"The Green Book"

In the days when many businesses were "White Only", "The Green Book" helped black travelers know where they could stop, spend the night or eat safely along the highway. This book, originally called the "The Negro Motorist Green Book" was published from 1936 to 1966 by Victor Hugo Green (hence its name). The 1963 edition lists four stops in ABQ, one of them the e from the 1963 edition showing the Cactus Motel as a friendly stop for African Americans. The Cactus appeared in all editions from 1959 to 1966 (6).

Sky Court ❌

u-shaped motel, central office, sepia postcard; inset with neon sign

Sky Court, gone. Source. Click to enlarge

The Sky Court (4330 old numbers) is where Earl Montgomery and Henry Gardner had the Sky Court. Now it is an empty lot. The place had a U-shaped layout with a central office as you can see in this 1955 aerial photo; it was named for a local airfield in Albuquerque (7) that opened in 1946, "Sky Court Airport" in eastern ABQ, there was another airport "West Mesa" closeby, by the Drive-in theater just west of the motel. Rittenhouse mentioned it in his Guidebook.
It was torn down in the 2000s, and at one time its stunted signpost stood facing Route 66 as you can see in this 2014 Street View.

Mile Hi complex partly gone ❌

sepia postcard 1930s motel seen from US66

Mile Hi Court 1930s. Source. Click to enlarge

This motel belonged to Woodrow W. Brewer, Rittenhouse mentioned it in 1946. The postcard (click to enlarge) placed it at 3850 West Central in the 1930s, but then it seems to have moved further west to this location in the 1940s when the local phone directory included the followint entries: Hi Mile Court (at 4320 old numbering), the Mile Hi Cafe (4324) and Mile Hi Garage auto repairs ran by James Edwards at 4330.

Based on the aerial photographs, and the lack of what is now 61st St. SW, these buildings coincide with the SE corner of 61st and Central for the Court and Cafe, and for the SW corner for the garage, the filling station is still standing, though modified (St. view.)

Siesta Court

Next door to the service station, at 4340 (old numbering) the Phone Directory placed the 1940s Neldoro Courts owned by Miller Nelso.

apartments, single floor, adobe Pueblo style, units lined up, driveway in the middle

Siesta Court motel. Click for street view

This motel is located at 6116 Central Ave SW and was later known as Siesta Court, pictured above. It has a J-shaped Layout and now is the 66-Apartments complex 1959 aerial photo.

La Hacienda Camp

Just west, at 6214 Central Ave SW is the La Hacienda Camp. It dates back to 1947, the boom days for travel after WWII. Its postcard announced that it was "a bit of Old Mexico"; it had 21 rooms and a sunken garden (now gone); Thomas Mc Clelland owned it.

It has dropped the "La" from its name and is now the Hacienda Motel, but the neon sign is almost the same and so are the buildings, with a U-shaped layout around a central courtyard.
"Hacienda" is Spanish for a large estate like a ranch or a plantation. Below is a "Then and Now" view:

La Hacienda Camp in a vintage 1950s postcard

Vintage 1950s linnen color postcard of a motel with red neon sign in the center, by a garden, U-layout of units around driveway
A 1950s postcard of the La Hacienda Camp Albuquerque, NM. Source
motel, neon sign and trees seen from US66
The Hacienda Motel nowadays. Click for street view
motel neon sign

La Hacienda Motel neon sign. Click for street view

restaurant neon sign with a steer on it at Mac’s La Sierra coffee shop, Albuquerque

Kitschy Route 66 sign: Mac’s La Sierra Coffee Shop. Click for street view

Across the street from the La Hacienda, is a kitschy Route 66 sign at Mac’s La Sierra pictured above, but there is an interesting story behind it.

Acoma Lodge - Sierra Motel - Mac's La Sierra Coffee Shop

Acoma Lodge ❌

Originally at 6217 Central Ave NW (4433 old numbering system) was the Acoma Lodge owned in the 1940s by Hubert Still. It survived until the late 1950s, when it is mentioned in the 1958 list of motels for a convention. The postcard (click on it to enlarge) dated 1952 tells us it had "Fireproof construction... Innerspring matresses. Mr. and Mrs. Ed. Russell, Owners-Managers," another mom-and-pop motel typical of that period. The building to the right (red arrow) became the Cafe it was owned by Jasper Wells McCarty (1910-1993) and his wife Alene nee Barton (1914-1972). In 1949 they moved from Clovis NM to Portales where they opened the first Mac's Drive-In. The family sold the restaurant in 1957 and moved to Albuquerque and opened a Mac's on Lomas. They sold the Central Ave. restaurant in 1965. But kept their chain "Mac's Steak in the Rough" for many years.

gable roof motel neon sign, single story, 2 story bld. in the back

Acoma lodge. Source. Click to enlarge

Mac’s La Sierra Coffee Motel and Coffee Shop

Wacky Route 66 neon signs

At 6217 Central Ave NW, Mac's La Sierra Coffee Shop has a great neon sign with a steer on it, a good example of Wacky Route 66 Americana. You can see the steer in the 1960s postcard below, at that time it was placed on top of the roof
Mac's La Sierra Family Restaurant has been family owned in the city of Abq since 1951 with the La Sierra Motel and cafe; see this aerial photo taken in 1951

The postcard below tells us abot the motel in the 1950s: "La Sierra Motel & Coffee Shop... Twelve Modern Units... Paved Parking. Coffe Shop open 5:00 AM - 9:30 PM Daily. Excellent Food . Fine Steaks."
In the 1970s the motel was discontinued, to focus on the Restaurant.

restaurant with 1950s car and neon sign, steer on sign on the right, motel with neon sign on the left

La Sierra restaurant and motel c.1950s. Source. Click to enlarge

restaurant with 1960s car and neon sign, steer on sign on the right, motel with neon sign on the left

La Sierra restaurant and motel c.1960s. Source. Click to enlarge

Across Central, just west of the La Hacienda, at 6304 Central SW, (old number 4430) was Albinus Whitsett's Service Station torn down in the 1970s. The odd shaped building next to it, with a hexagonal hip roof on each of the three buildings facing Route 66. It appears in the 1951 aerial photo of the spot, probably a home or a store at that time (street view.)

Covered Wagon Court

Ahead, to your right at 6401 Central Ave NW. though its business card gave 6407 as its address. On the NW corner with 64th St., by the Albuquerque Gateway arch, is George Ruggles' Covered Wagon Court from the late 1940s. It has a single story with a gable roof and L-shaped layout and a classic neon sign fading among the branches of the tree on the corner. It portrays a prairie schooner.

neon sign, faded with a prairie schooner depicted on it

Covered Wagon neon sign in 1987. Source. Click to enlarge

neon sign, faded with a prairie schooner depicted on it on a corner by a former motel

Covered Wagon neon sign nowadays. Click for St. view

US 66 Gateway Arch

The arch with Navajo decorations and a Route 66 shield in its center spans Central Avenue next to the motel.

detail of a route 66 shield in red and white on an arch, Sandia mountains in the d.istance

Route 66 shield on Gateway Arch. Click for street view

blue with white letters and a yellow arrow, the Neon Sign at Western View Diner, Route 66

Western View neon Sign. Click for street view

Western View Diner & Steak

6411 Central Ave NW (old numbering 4511) on the western side of the gateway. It has been serving meals on Route 66 since 1949. At one time it was Ray Cross' Lavaland Cafe that burned donw in 1947 and was replaced by the Desert-Vue.

single story cafe, cars parked in front, tree and neon sign sepia color image captioned Desert Vue c.1950s

Desert Vue Cafe. Source. St. view. Click to enlarge

red block building, office right, 2 service bays, single story former US66 gas station

H & D station. Click for street view

To your left, on the south side of Central (6420 SW), the H & D Tire Center has been there since the late 1950s, a gas station with a glazed corner office and two service bays, pictured above. The building to its left is more recent (early 1990s).

Hubbell Motel ❌

1940 and 1950s black and white postcards of same motel: one story, gable roof long building

Hubbell Motel c.1940s-50s Source
Click to enlarge

Ahead, to your left, on the now vacant SE corner of Coors Blvd SW and Central Ave was Hubbell Motel. Its address according to postcards and yellow pages changed over the years from 6502 to 6512 Central Ave SW. The motel had nineteen units with 24 rooms and was "A very modern and attractively furnished motel." It was built by Mason Hubbell in 1951. Demolished in the 1980s. Its sign at Coors and Central remained until just recently.

Ahead in the modern 6600 block was (4734 old numbering) Roy Palmer's Crossed Arrows Trading Post

Oasis Lodge ❌

At 6904 Central Ave SW, in what is now the vast parking lot of the former Verizon Call Center, once stood the Oasis Lodge, its postcard had some interesting information "... Tile combination tub and showers. Owned and operated by David & Gladys Brown. On U.S. Highway 66 - Telephone CH 2-1878. Collector of Antique Colt Pistols." Pictured below and you can also see it to the left in the Acoma Phillips 66 gull wing station image.

1960s color view L-shaped motel, Route 66 in front, red neon sign and office on the left, vintage cars

Oasis Lodge c.1960s Source
Click to enlarge

1960s Gull Wing Phillips 66 serv. station, car, motel to the left, Route 66 in front

Acoma Phillips 66, ABQ c.1960s Source
Click to enlarge

Phillips 66 Gull Wing ❌

Located at 6920 Central Ave SW, the old Acoma Gull Wing Phillips 66 gas station was ran by John S. Gadomski and was known as the "Acoma Phillips". It burned and was partly restored. The City of Albuquerque listed it as a historic gas station, later known as J&J Texaco Service. It can be seen in this 1959 aerial photo.

66 Drive In Theater

Ahead was the West Mesa Airport with Airport Drive as its access road. Here was Cutter Carr Flying Service Station (Gone). On the NW corner where Airport Drive and Central meet, at 221 Airport Drive NW was the 66 Drive In theater. It opened in 1949 and could fit 400 cars, later expanded to 557 cars and 40 seats for walk-in customers. It closed in 1956, reopened in 1964 and closed for goood in 1983. You can see it in this 1955 aerial photo.

Adobe Manor

Pueblo style Adobe Manor Motel with its red neon sign with white letters

Adobe Manor motel and neon sign nowadays. Click for St. view

Adobe Manor Motel red neon sign with white letters

Adobe Manor motel and neon sign nowadays. St. view. Click image to enlarge

Drive west for 0.3 miles, and to your left, on the SE corner of Central and 75th St. is the Adobe Manor (7412 Central SW). It was "Johnson's Motel" in the 1950s and by 1959 it was "Rushmore Motel"; now it it the Adobe Manor. Its classic neon sign is the work of the Zeon Sign Company that made it in 1966. You can see the motel in this aerial photo taken in 1951 (to the right; on the left is the Westward Ho Motel).

Westward Ho Motel and Cafe

1950s color view L-shaped motel, Route 66 in front, red neon sign and office on the left

Westward Ho c.1950s Source
Click to enlarge

Also to your left, across 75th St. on the SW corner at 7500 Central Ave SW (5004 old numbering). The motel's name evokes the rallying call to explore and settle the American West.
Its first neon sign was different as you can see in the first postcard when it was owned and managed by Mr. and Mrs. Leo Zimmerman (click on it to enlarge).
The postcard reads "A Modern Court (Completed 1950) with Franciscan Furniture... Sanitized daily for our protection - and all drinking utensils individually sterilized." I wonder why they were so obsessed with cleanliness?

The later postcard pictured further down, posted in 1961 when it was owned and operated by Ed and Coinnie Keeley already includes the saguaro cacuts-shaped neon sign.

The saguaro (Carnegiea gigantea named so in honor of Andrew Carnegie) is a cactus that carn grow to 40 ft (12 m) tall, it is found in Arizona, SW California and Sonora in Mexico. It has branches known as "arms". Surprisingly, none grow in New Mexico. Below is a closeup of this classic neon sign.

1950s neon sign depicting a Saguaro Cactus, words WESTWARD HO! MOTEL written in a green box

Westward Ho! Motel neon sign. St. view

Westward Ho Motel with the saguaro cactus neon sign 1961

Vintage 1950s postcard of a motel, cactus shape neon sign inset, seen from Route 66
1961 postcard of the Westward Ho Motel with the Saguaro neon sign. Source
cactus shaped neon sign to the right, US66 right, motel building left
Westward Ho Motel nowadays. Click for street view

Jerry Unser's Garage and Gas Station

long 1 story, Pueblo style, brown colored garage with 4 service bays and central office windows and door seen from Route 66

Unser's Garage nowadays. Click for St. view

Ahead, to your left, at 7700 Central Ave. SW at 5220 (old numbers), was Jerry Unser's motor rebuilding service and next to it, at 5226 West Central -old numbering- his Jerry's Automotive Service Station; this 1951 aerial photo shows the buildings.

Jerry Unser, Senior opened his gas station in 1935, and when he retired his son Bobby Unser took it ovre. He opened the motor rebuilding plant next to it and specialized in foreign car parts and service place out of it and did pretty well. Boby closed the shop in 1968 as he was too busy racing (he'd won the Indy 500 in May '68). He was a famous American racecar driver, champion of the 1957 USAC Stock Cars his sons were all racecar drivers

1955 black and white picture garage, sign, car, Route 66 to the left, some people and a sports car parked

Unser's Garage in 1955. Source
Click to enlarge

1939 black and white picture gas station and car on Route 66

Jerry Unser's Service Station in 1939. Source
Click to enlarge

The image from 1955 looks eastwards along the south side of Central Ave. the red arrow marks the Westward Ho Motel.
Ahead the highway crosses the aptly named Unser Boulevard.

Drive west for one mile and when you approach 94th Street, to your left is a classic motel and gas station.

French Quarter Motel (former Apache Lodge)

At 9317 Central Ave. NW (old 5945 West Central) is the former the Apache Lodge with "Private Baths Kitchenettes ON U.S. 66 Moderate Rates Innerspring Mattresses - Coronado Furniture." Later it became the "French Quarter", still standing. Below are both Apache and the French Quarter:

1940s black and white picture single story building, a motel, neon sign and pick up truck to the left. Seen from US 66

1940s Apache Lodge. Source
Click to enlarge

color view of a single story building, a motel, neon sign to the left, cars to the right. Seen from US 66

French Quarter nowadays
Click for St. view

Across the highway, on the SW corner of Bridge Blvd. SW and Central are two buildings: to the east at 9200 Central Ave SW, is the Cafe 66 New Mexican Restaurant location of a scene in Breaking Bad it dates back to the early 1960s. The other is Penske Truck rental, to the west, built around 1958, but greatly modified from the 50s.

Old Gas Station M&S

long, single story, multiple service bays, old gas station with corner office

Old Gas Station now M&S. Click for St. View

Across 94th, on the SW corner with Central (9400 Central Ave SW), this gas station appears in the 1959 aerial photo, a gas station with five service bays and no canopy or pump islands; it is listed as a "Historical Auto Station", Safe Lane Auto (8).

Grandview Motel, ABQ's westernmost motel

Head west, just ahead, to your left, at 9700 Central Ave SW is another motel that was built in 1954, with an L-shaped layout, just before you reach 98th St. The Grandview Motel was the first motel that eastbound travelers encountered as they reached Albuquerque. It was first owned by Russell Farber.

Grandview Motel in a vintage 1960s postcard

Vintage 1960s postcard of a motel in a desert setting, car, neon sign and Route 66 running past it
A 1960s postcard of the Grandview Motel, Albuquerque, NM. Source

The motel has survived with the same layout and neon sign (with a different color scheme) and plenty of trees:

motel, vintage neon sign, office and trees
Current view of Grandview Motel US66 ABQ. Click for street view

Route 66 Conoco

flat canopy, box-shaped gas station, glazed corner office, empty pump islands, grafitti covered former Conoco Station

Former Conoco. Click for street view

This area in the 1950s and 60s was open space and there were few buildings and side streets. The next landmark was the Route 66 Conoco, another "Historical Auto Station", at 9722 Central Ave SW. On the SE corner with 98th St.

West of this point there were several gas stations, the last chance before the desert. They are all gone: MAc's Truck Terminal 10600 Central Ave SW, Whiting Bros (now Hererra Coaches) 10605 Central Ave NW, Dick and Paul's Service, 11616 Central Ave SW, Nine Mile Hill Chevron, 12504 Central Ave SW, Hilltop Shamrock at 12605 Central Ave NW.

The Westernmost part of Albuquerque

Leaving Albuquerque

Camino Real Marker

Two miles west of the Conoco, to your left (at the landfill) is a marker (Street view). It reads: "Albuquerque - On the Camino Real - Spanish settlers had lived here before the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, but the area was resettled when the "Villa de Alburquerque" was founded in 1706. In addition to promoting colonization, the new town was intended to provide protection from attacks by Indians in Rio Abajo, or lower Rio Grande Valley." The back of the marker has a map of the area. Just 0.4 miles ahead, the original Route 66 meets I-40 at what is now Exit 149. Here the highway - Central Ave followed the alignment shown with a violet line (0.8 mile gap in the current alignment) which is cut by the freeway; it continues as the North Frontage Rd. The two 1950s eastbound lanes of Route 66 were buried by I-40s WB lanes in 1970. This 1951 aerial photo shows what Exit 149 looked like before I-40 was built.

Towards the top of the Nine-Mile Hill

The Enchanted Trails Trading Post and RV Park dates back to the 1950s, it was originally located in what is now the median of the Freeway and in the mid 1960s moved to its present location at 14305 Central NW.

Hilltop Trading Post ❌

1939 black and white picture gas station and car on Route 66

1940s Hilltop Trading Post. Source
Click to enlarge

Three miles west, at the top of the hill, by milepost 145 was the aptly named Hilltop Trading Post with a cafe and service station; the foundations of the buildings can be seen on the north side of the frontage road (Satellite view) there was another building with poles stuck in the ground like giant arrows, a trading post and gas pumps on the south side of the old four-lane 66 alignment; on its eastbound lanes, but it was torn in 1970 down when the original roadway was replaced by I-40's.

Rio Puerco Bridge

The highway headed west for another 4.5 mi. all the way to the Rio Puerco River (map to Exit 140) where Exit 140 disturbed its alignment; the gap is marked with a green line here.

Located on the north side of I-40, on old US 66 in Suwanee, NM.

Listed in the National Register of Historic Places

Though the Rio Puerco is usually dry, it can flood and carry large volumes of water. For this reason the State Highway engineers chose a Parker through truss bridge to cross it. advertisement

Rio Puerco

The Rio Puerco is a tributary of the Rio Grande. Its sources are on the west slope of the Nacimiento Mountains and it flows 230 mi. (370 km) with a north to south course before meeting the Rio Grande about 50 mi. (80 km) south of Albuquerque.

It is a temporary river, and is dry during part of the year. Its average discharge is about 39.5 cu.ft.⁄s. (1.12 m3⁄s).

The name refers to its muddy and dirty waters (puerco is also "pig" in Spanish).

This kind of bridge does not need a center pier to support it, and therefore eliminates the risk of it being washed away.

The placement of the bridge was strategice: on a narrow location with steep banks it was suitable for the 250 foot long single span bridge.

The bridge was built in 1933 on NM State highway 6, employing federal funds for highway construction. It was part of the plan to shorten the transcontinental route and became part of Route 66 in 1937 when the "Laguna Cut Off" was implemented, bypassing Isleta and Los Lunas.

The bridge's deck is 25 feet wide and was remodeled in 1957. When I-40 absorbed the traffic of Route 66, it became its Frontage Road until 1999 when the NM Transportation Department replaced it. It is open to pedestrian traffic.

Rio Puerco Bridge, historic landmark

steel bridge
Historic Route 66 Rio Puerco Bridge, built in 1933, Suwanees NM., Credits . Click image for Street View

The Rio Puerco Trading Post once stood here, where the 66 Pit Stop is now located. On the south side of the river there was another gas station, also gone (aerial photo).

Route 66 Travel Center

Across the Freeway a modern casino complex, the Route 66 Travel Center offers some interesting retro-styled signage with Indian arrows and a 1950s-look to them!

arrow with signs on it retro look on Route 66

Retro Route 66 Arrow. Click for St. view

orange balloon on roundabout, US 66 shield on it

Balloon with US 66 shield. Click for St. view

Route 66 Visitor's Center in Albuquerque is the home of the Old Carnuel Mountain Lodge neon sign pictured below. It has been repainted and now stands by the new Center:

The old Mountain Lodge neon sign in its new home: West Central Route 66 Visitor Center at Nine Mile Hill

Old Mountain Lodge Hotel sign restored and located beside a building, with a vintage car parked beneath it
The restored neon sign of Mountain Lodge at its new home. Source. Click for St. view

Your Albuquerque Route 66 Road Trip leg ends here

Here, at the Rio Puerco is the endpoint of this leg of your Road Trip across Duke City.

The highway from here all the way to Lupton Arizona is described in our Albuquerque to Lupton segment; it has plenty of maps and information about the original roadway.

You can continue west along Route 66 to visit Suwanee, the next town on this leg of your Road Trip, or head back into Albuquerque and enjoy your stay there.

Continue West into the Old Town and Western Albuquerque

Continue your Road Trip heading west along Route 66 ⁄ Central Avenue into the Old Town and Western Albuquerque.

Read all about the Old Colonial Town and Western Albuquerque's Route 66 attractions in our Next Page.

The Route 66 Attractions in Albuquerque

Albuquerque is, after St. Louis and Oklahoma City, the third largest city between its two endpoint megacities, Chicago and Los Angeles. However, it has preserved far more classic landmarks along Route 66 than any of the other cities.
We have split this segment of your Route 66 road trip across Albuquerque into six separate webpages, to be able to mention all of them. They are, from east to west, the following:

Continue your Road Trip westwards beyond Albuquerque

After covering eacho of our four webpages you will have reached western Albuquerque, the endpoint of your Route 66 acreoss the city. You can continue your Route 66 road trip by heading west into the next town, Suwanee NM on the 1937-85 alignment or Isleta on the 1926-37 alignment. advertisement

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Banner image: Hackberry General Store, Hackberry, Arizona by Perla Eichenblat
Jack DeVere Rittenhouse, (1946). A Guide Book to Highway 66.

Hubbell Motel image sources: Source 1 and Source 2.

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