Lost Highways, Time Capsules & Ghost Towns

A derelict building near the renovated train depot has been given a new lease on life. It is but one example of a renaissance that is looming in Tucumcari, New Mexico ©Jim Hinckley’s America

Tucumcari, New Mexico is known throughout the world for its neon lit time capsules and renovated Route 66 motels where the line between past and present are blurred. However, few visitors know that a veritable cornucopia of architectural gems, quaint coffee shops, and tangible links to more than a century of New Mexico history are awaiting discovery within blocks of the soft colorful neon glow on Route 66.

The charming Odeon Theatre that opened in 1935 is revered treasure in Tucumcari, as it should be. But how many people known of the stylish H H Theatre with its vintage ticket booth that is located just a few blocks away?

Located between 1st Street and 2nd Street on East Main Street this theatre opened in 1917 as a performing arts center for vaudeville acts. Shortly after opening, a screen and projector were added and in 1921 it was renamed Princess Theatre.

It was given a facelift with a Streamline Moderne facade in 1938. Finished with a cream and chocolate color with deep brown trim and accent lines it was the talk of the county. After being damaged in a 1943, it was remodeled.

The haunting ruins in Nara Vista near the Texas/New Mexico border on U S 54 ©Jim Hinckley’s America

Opportunity often knocks softly. I can imagine it being returned to its former glory and serving the community as a performing arts center. I wonder if there is a benefactor with passion, an ability to build cooperative partnerships, and ambition that can see the theatre as it could be instead of as just a forlorn relic?

The Heartland Tour is winding down. An exploration of historic Tucumcari, and a meeting with passionate and ambitious visionaries that see a bright future for the city at a coffee shop that hints of renaissance, will be counted among the highlights.

But this has been an adventure on lost highways lined with ghost towns. It has been a voyage of discovery as we found not one, but two great places for superb enchiladas. And on our journey through the desolate Panhandle of Oklahoma, we discovered the charming and delightful Vanilla Bean Cafe in Alva.

Dating to 1952, Earl’s Motor Court along Route 66 in Winslow, Arizona is a living time capsule. ©Jim Hinckley’s America

And now, we wrap up our last night on the road at Earl’s Motor Court in Winslow, Arizona. This little gem has stirred childhood memories of family road trip in the early 1960s.

My friends, in coming weeks, in blog posts as well as podcasts, I will be sharing some wonderful road trip inspiring stories. Become a follower or subscriber to ensure you don’t miss an episode or installment.