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Wallace Gunn, who owned the Villa de Cuebero in New Laguna, said that people came to his motel, because he was in a place they wanted to be. The region between the Laguna and Acoma Indian Reservations is the most interesting place along Route 66. The road went through Laguna. Acoma was a side trip, but a necessary side trip.

Acoma, the sky city: I first came upon Acoma from the west as the sun was setting, and I understood Coronado’s Seven Cities of Gold. 

Acoma Pueblo, 1982

Acoma Pueblo, 1982

I came from the northwest along New Mexico 38, which runs between McCarty’s and Acoma Pueblo. The road comes to the edge of a bluff before dropping down into the valley. Acoma sits 367 feet up on a sandstone mesa above the valley. The setting sun that day turned it gold. I was, of course, stupid and did not make a photograph. Once in the valley the road takes you to the base of the mesa. It is the oldest continuously inhabited village in the United States, dating back to 1150 AD. The Pueblo numbers 4,800 tribal members, who live in 250 houses without water, sewers, or electricity. 

Acoma House at edge of the Mesa

Acoma House at edge of the Mesa

When I first drove to Acoma in 1982, it was possible to drive up to the village without a guide.  I did need a guide and to pay a fee in order to make photographs up on the mesa.


San Esteban del Rey Mission

San Esteban del Rey Mission, 1629

When I returned in 1998, I found times have changed at the Acoma Pueblo. 

Out on I-40 the Pueblo runs the Sky City Casino and Hotel.

The tribe had build a visitors’ center and museum. I could only get up to the mesa if I sign up for a tour. Today, it costs $20 for an adult and $10 for children. Seniors, military, and university students pay $15. It’s worth the cost. Members of the tribe guide the tours. The photographic fee is $10.

In 1995 the Pueblo initiated a hunting program on their 431,664-acre reservation, offering guided hunts for mountain lion and black bear. For information about the casino, the museum, and wildlife and hunting on the reservation go to #mce_temp_url# .

In 2007 the National Trust for Historic Preservation named Acoma Pueblo as a NTHP site, the 28th in the nation and the only Native American site so named. The Trust assists the Pueblo with financial and professional support. Acoma assists the Trust in expanding its mission beyond bricks and mortar to community development.


About the Header Image

I spent several hours yesterday looking for an image to put on the header of this blog. Nothing fit. 

This morning I went through my color images of Route 66 and came across the image of New Mexico Route 6, which carried Route 66 between 1923 and 1937.

From Along Route 66 :

 “In the late teens and early twenties, auto tourists followed circuitous route across northern New Mexico. The Ozark Trail delivered travelers to Santa Rosa. There, they turned north to Las Vegas and Santa Fe where they picked up the National Old Trails Road, which dropped south along the Rio Grande through Albuquerque, through Los Lunas to Socorro, and turned west across the Magdalena Mountains to Springerville, Arizona, and then north through St. Johns to Holbrook. There was a road between Los Lunas and Gallup, but it required the travelers ford many streams, skirt numerous mud holes, and risk tearing up their tires crossing the razor-sharp lava fields just east of Grants. The route through Socorro, while lonely–it was without a railroad, a trading post, or even a ranch for 230 miles–was a good dirt and gravel road.

“By 1923 they had a choice: they could take the Socorro road; or they could by-pass it and take the newly graded and graveled road between Los Lunas and Gallup, which carried them safely across the lava fields. When Cyrus Avery and the American Association of State Highway Officials published their map of the Federal Highway System in November, 1926, U.S. 66  across New Mexico followed the road between Tucumcari and Santa Fe, then traveled south the Los Lunas and west to Gallup. Within weeks A.T. Hannett decided to change all that.

“In December, 1926, A.T.  Hannett, the former mayor of Gallup, was about to become the former governor of New Mexico. He was miffed at the political scene in Santa Fe. He resolved to by-pass Santa Fe, and reroute cross-state highway in a straight line from Santa Rosa through Moriarity and Tijeras Canyon to Albuquerque. He had sixty-nine days to do so before the new governor took office. The state engineer divided the work into two crews. Working west from Santa Rosa and east from Moriarity in the December cold and dark, they surveyed and graded a gravel road. On Inauguration Day the two ends were just short of meeting. The new governor ordered the work halted, but his messenger, held up by a nasty January storm, arrived too late to stop completion of Hannett’s cut-off. It was numbered New Mexico 6 and lopped ninety miles from the trip across New Mexico. New Mexico officially by-passed Santa Fe and moved 66 south to Hannett’s route in 1937.”

New Mexico 6 takes you from Los Lunas across the Laguna Indian Reservation to an exit on I-40, which carries you into New Laguna and the lovely church, which you can see from an overview on I-40. But, go into town and look at the church.

San Jose de Laguna, Laguna Pueblo, New Mexico

San Jose de Laguna, Laguna Pueblo, New Mexico

References for this posting:

Interview with Arthur Whiting, Whiting Gas Stations, Holbrook, Arizona, June 29, 1982.

Automobile Blue Book, 1918, Vol. 7, p. 845, 854, 906.

David Kammer, Historical and Architectural Resources of Route 66 through New Mexico, Multiple Property Documentation Form. Albuquerque, 1993, p. 8.

M.F. Hobbs,  Grade and Surface Guide. Mohawk Rubber Company: Akron, Ohio, 1923, p. 14.

Jill Schneider,   Route 66 Across New Mexico: A Wander’s Guide. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Presss, 1991, p. 204-206.

Works Progress Adminstration. Federal Writers’ Project. New Mexico: The WPA Guide to 1930s New Mexico. 1940. Reprint, Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1989,   p. 149-153.

Text and Images, Copyright, 2008, Quinta Scott, All Rights Reserved



Old Story, New Blog


Good Grief: Not another Route 66 blog. Not another Route 66 site.

I first came to Route 66 in 1978. I was very lucky, because I got there before the people who invented Route 66 were gone from this world.  They were the people who could tell me about the Great Depression and lived The Grapes of Wrath. They were the people who watched the great migration to the west after World War II. They were the people who invented roadside tourism.

I interviewed them and made their portraits and thousands of images of the buildings they built, which was what first attracted me to Route 66. From this research I produced two books: Route 66: The Highway and its People with Susan Croce Kelly, who wrote the text, and Along Route 66: The Architecture of America’s Highway. Both books drew on the oral histories Susan and I took along the roadside.

I told this story several weeks ago on my other blog quintascott.wordpress.com, but I will introduce this blog by telling it again.

Route 66: The Highway and its People was the first book published on the history of U.S. Highway 66.

I finished, my first book, The Eads Bridge, and it went to the publisher. After doing the image for the dust jacket I had an old/new Speed Graphic, I needed to learn how to use.

I loaded the film holders with black and white film, took the camera out onto Watson Road in St. Louis, made photographs of the big screen of a drive-in theatre and a motel, and spent the winter sitting around in a funk, waiting for the book to be published in March. 

Slowly, it came to me that Watson Road was old U.S. 66, Highway 66, Route 66. I knew the song. I knew the Grapes of Wrath. I spent my adolescence mooning over Tod and Buz in the TV show. I knew I had a great idea for a second book, one on the architecture of motels, gas stations, drive-ins, cafes, and souvenir stands along Route 66. I hadn’t a clue how to go about it. 

I began making photographs along Route 66 in Illinois and found enough material, both in the form of old buildings and people, to think a book on the architecture of the roadside was possible. I did the same in Missouri.

The Eads Bridge came out in March and Dick Miller (Howard S. Miller), my co-author and I did a noontime TV interview. While we waited in the Green Room, I babbled on about Route 66: There was nothing outside of the Grapes of Wrath, the song, and Buz and Tod available on the highway.

Dick led me through a careful dialogue, at the end of which I concluded that I would learn about the highway by taking oral histories from the people who lived and worked in the buildings I would photograph. 

Shortly after, at a party at the Tri-County Truck Stop on Route 66 in Villa Ridge, Missouri, I met Susan Croce Kelly. I told her about my idea. She was the first person who got it. I invited her to work with me and write the text that would accompany my photographs.

To build credibility we started the project by doing a series of picture stories for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Midwest Motorist, the monthly magazine of the Missouri AAA.

The National Endowment for the Arts awarded me a Fellowship to do the photographic work and we were off, taking one state at a time, looking for buildings that were built between 1926, the year Congress passed the act that established the road, and 1956, the year Congress passed the Interstate Highway Act, which funded the roads that replaced 66 and many of the other famous federal highways.

Once we found the type of building we were looking for, we knocked on doors or went up to the counterand asked for the person who started the business and built the building. Sometimes it was the person we were talking to, sometimes we were directed to a house nearby. In this way we traveled from Chicago to Los Angeles, playing “who do you know ” to locate our subjects. As we got better and better at doing our interview, people passed us from one person to another up and down the highway. 



Lucille Hamon, Hydro, Oklahoma owned a gas station and motel. Her daughter, Cheryl Nowak wrote one of the earliest Route 66 blogs. The list of her blogs can be found at http://nowka.com/full_copyright.html.

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