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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