Historic Route 66 Amarillo - Glenrio
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Amarillo to Glenrio Historic Route 66
Starting point: Amarillo
Road out of Amarillo
Click on the links below to zoom into the different maps of US66 in Amarillo.
Alignments of Route 66 Through Amarillo.
Click links for large size images
Color Key to these maps of Route 66 in Amarillo: Pale Blue: driveable Historic Route 66 alignment; Blue line: older Route 66 alignment now cut by the airport. Black: roadbed now gone or buried under airport.
Route 66 1956 Beltline
At Fillmore and East Amarillo Blvd. the original Route 66 alignment turned south along S Fillmore St. and headed into Downtown Amarillo.
Only in 1956 did Route 66 bypass the city center, as a "Beltline", that curved around the city along W Amarillo Blvd. The older alignment became B.R. 66. See Map of Beltline 66.
We describe the "old" 1926 to 1956 alignment below.
1926 to 1956 Route 66 in Amarillo
From the downtown area (mile zero) on Amarillo Boulevard and Pierce Street, head west (left), the road crosses the railway (1 mi) and after a right turn, you access SE 6th Avenue, which is TX-279.
Keep straight as the road becomes SW 6th Ave. There is an underpass (2.3 mi) and a slight change in the direction of the 6th Ave. (2.9 mi).
Historic Sixth Street District
Route 66 enters the Historic Sixth Street District. With several historic buildings and gas stations.
Keep on 6th Ave westbound, and turn left into Bushland Avenue (3.9 mi).
The road has a southwesterly course and after the underpass at Bell Street (5 mi) turn left onto West Amarillo Blvd. (which is the Business Loop of I-40). The road will take you past the Veteran's Hospital and cross Coulter Street (5.8 mi).
Amarillo's City Limits During Route 66 heyday
Amarillo expanded and engulfed the surrounding communities as it grew in the late 1950s. But originally its incorporated area was much smaller as you can see in the map below, published in 1936. The red arrows mark the alignment of Route 66 through Amarillo (from East, upper right corner) to Soncy in the West (lower left). This is the 1926-56 alignment. Notice how the dashed line (blue arrow) marks the "Corporate Limit" or city limit of Amarillo.
This city limits line crosses US66 at the San Jacinto triangulation station, on what is now SW 9th Ave and Clyde St. To the east of the later Beltline 66.
By 1961 the city had grown and it now included the new Beltline 66 (red arrows in map below), but Soncy was not part of it. The dashed line with cross hatching marks the city limits (it cuts Route 66 at Coulter St. S, east of Soncy) at the point where its curve ends and it assumes an east-west course once again.
Shortly after you must take a right onto the Old alignment of Route 66 (9 mi) along Indian Hill Rd.
Cadillac Ranch detour
If instead you head straight towards I-40, you can visit the Cadillac Ranch, which is on the south of I-40 (10.3 mi). You can only reach it from I-40.
Stay on Indian Hill Road and take a left on Hill Road (12.6 mi), site of the Deadly Underpass (Map to this point), and enter the North Frontage Rd. of I-40. Head west. At Exit 57, (14.7 mi) is the town of Bushland.
The Deadly Underpass of US 66
It is located on Hill Dr. and Indian Hill Rd., 2.1 mi. east of Bushland. You can see it in the map published in 1936 (far left, close to Bushland.)
It was later replaced by the underpass that is close to Exit 62 of I-40, where the W. Amarillo Blvd. merges with the Interstate (see where it is). This later underpass was built to replace the very dangerous underpass whose remains survive until this day, close to Bushland.
The old deadly underpass
Deadly Underpass on 1940s Route 66, Bushland. Austin Whittall
The 1930s and 40s alignment of U.S. hwy 66 did not pass under the tracks by the Helium Plant. Instead the road kept its westerly direction for another 3.5 miles, along what is now Indian Hill Road, on the north side of the railway until it reached what is now Hill Dr., where it took a sharp entry and a sharp exit curve to pass in a very closed "S curve" under the tracks.
Just before its intersection with Hill Drive, the remains of the old 1940s highway paving can be seen on the left side of the road.
It seems that this part of Route 66 was the most dangerous of the whole highway. The unexpected "S curve" caught drivers unaware and speeding drivers crashed there quite often.
Just before the intersection with Hill Dr. you can spot the big chunks of cracked tar road surface curving towards the left between the old railway corridor (the tracks are long gone) and Indian Hill Rd.
The image shows (top) the "S" of the old road in Red, the arrow marks the surviving portion of US Highway 66, and the railway line in yellow (Street View). It also shows (bottom) a 1984 USGS map with contour lines, which explains why the underpass was located here: The drainage is towards the south (bottom) through a culvert on Indian Hill Rd. and under the tracks, which ran on an embankment at that point (brown dashed lines). It is clear that the railway's bridge over this natural drainage was selected for the old U.S. 66 underpass (Red "S" in the bottom part of the image). Modern I-40 is the double red line below the tracks.
The "Death Trap", as it was known, stood there until the early 1950s (a deadly accident was recorded there in 1951) when the road was shifted to the south side of the tracks and the underpass, with a less pronounced "S curve" was built at its current position closer to Amarillo.
Below are two photos of the underpass in the 1940s. You can also see this 1949 newspaper article mentioning the proyect to eliminate the deadly underpass.
The culvert seen in the bottom image partially hidden by the column to the left of the car, is still visible in the satellite image, just before the crossing.
West of Bushland, the original road is buried beneath the freeway. Take I-40 till you reach Wildorado (23 mi), at Exit 49.
The freeway erased Route 66 in Wildorado.
Continue along the I-40 until you reach Exit 37 on the eastern side of Vega. I-40 shifts towards the left to bypass the town. Here you can see several old alignments of Route 66.
The map above, from 1920, predates Route 66 and shows the Ozark Trail which was suitable for cars at that time. This later became the first alignment of Route 66 in the 1920s and early 1930s. It shows us that Route 66 entered Vega along a different alignment than it did later. From the North frontage road by I-40's Exit 37, it did not take a NW tack as it does now. Instead it kept on straight west, and when it reached the town, it became Culberson St.
At S. Main St, it took a right heading due north (along what is now US 385), crossed the railroad and passed through the downtown area by the Courthouse, passing in front of the historic Magnolia Service Station, At W. Main St. it took a left and continued westwards beyond the current end of West Main St., entering the plains and running with an alignment that is more or less parallel to I-40s North frontage road, but about 100 yards to its right, all the way to Adrian. (Map with directions).
In Adrian the highway crossed to the southern side of the railroad.
In the map below, from 1937 you can see the paved road reach Vega, and the unpaved yet "graded road, drained and maintained. Usually bad during wet weather" leave Vega as we described above.
The following map also shows this road on the north side of the tracks (red arrows) and the paved US 66 on the south side. In case you are wondering, we too are surprised that the 1936 map shows a paved US66 and the 1937 one doesn't. Maybe the Standard Oil map used older documents when preparing their map, or the Texas State Hwy. Dept. showed the proposed US66 alignment that was being paved at that time (?).
Post 1936 alignment into Vega
It followed I-40 Business W - US 66, and reached the outskirts of Vega (35.1 mi). But instead of heading north like the 1926-36 alignment, it kept west along Vega Blvd. after passing Main St. (35.7 mi). See this map with directions.
1926-36 Route 66, in Adrian
Route 66 1926-36 into Adrian
Nowadays there is no road on the north side of the former railroad right of way. But there are some concrete culverts located along the old alignment as you can see these satellite views: View #1, View #2, View #3, View #4, and View #5. Just ahead, the 1926-36 Route 66 can be driven into Adrian. See this map with directions, which ends one block short of Route 66 (Google map issues!). It is shown with the red arrow in the 1936 roadmap.
Located before Adrian, you will drive by Landergin a former train depot, it is next to Exit 28, (43 mi), now abandoned.
The later alignment from 1936 survives in Adrian: After Exit 23 - 22, follow I-40 Business, which is US66. It goes into the southern part of Adrian (49.7 mi). The midpoint of Route 66, half way point between Chicago and Los Angeles.
Here the 1920s and later alignments run north of I-40, only when the freeway was built, was the alignment moved south. See this Map through Gruhlkey. It ends in a dead-end west of the town. At Exit 18 on the north side of the road are some foundations and steel poles of a former gas station. And in Ghurlkey itself, an old gas station box sytle built with blocks, and with one of its pumps is still standing. It belonged to Percy Gruhlkey. See picture.
Before its 1936 realignment, the highway ran to the south of the current I-40 alignment, parallel to the railroad tracks and passed by a siding called Boise.
This road has been abandoned, but it can be seen and -with permission- could be driven in part (Pale blue in the map. The Black Line shows the non-driveable alignment).
Click on the image for a large sized map.
Glenrio, the end of the journey
Drive into Glenrio: take Exit 0 (72.5), to reach the ghost town. Cross over I-40 and on the south side. At the exit you will see two abandoned 1980s gas stations, a Chevron and a Texaco.
Just south of the freeway you will meet the old alignment of Route 66 coming from the east, buried beneath the freeway (See map). Turn right to reach Glenrio (73.1) a ghost town on the Texas - New Mexico State Line. End of this segment.
I-40 Welcome Center NM
If you head back to the freeway, there is a very modern Welcome Center on the Interstate 40, just after the Texas - New Mexico state line.
US Highway 66 into New Mexico
Historic Route 66 alignment into New Mexico
The Old highway 66 continues west, from Glenrio, into New Mexico. It is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Quay County removed the paving to cut maintenance costs, so now it is a gravel road all the way into San Jon, except for the first half mile, and the last two miles.
Route 66's alignments from Glenrio to Tucumcari
Route 66's alignments from Texola to Amarillo
Below is a map from 1956 showing that west of Amarillo almost to Wildorado, US 66 was a "Super-highway 4 or more lanes".