For an international legion of Route 66 enthusiasts the picturesque ruins of Endee perched on a knoll along a dusty track that was once Route 66 is a destination. A forlorn old building adorned with a sign reading “Modern Restrooms” is a favorite photo op.
But long before Route 66 began funneling a seemingly endless stream of traffic though town, Endee was a small but thriving ranching community within spitting distance of the New Mexico/Texas state line. It was also a rough and tumble town as evidenced by early newspaper accounts.
On The Western Frontier
The Santa Fe New Mexican, May 2, 1906, reported that with the arrest of John Fife and Tom Darlington in Endee by mounted police, a major cattle-rustling ring had been “broken up.” Officers that rode out from Tucumcari didn’t know that they were making history. This was the last use of a horse mounted posse by law enforcement in New Mexico.
In Endee the frontier era lasted well into the 20th century. The Evening Observer, June 30, 1909, reported, “The anti saloon campaign at Endee, N.M. came to a close last night when a band of masked men, mounted and armed, rode their horses through the doors of a saloon and shot up the place until the mirrors and glassware were completely destroyed.”
The Beginning and The End
Established as a supply center for area ranches, including the sprawling ND Ranch established by John and George Day in 1882, a post office opened in 1886. It closed in 1955, just three years after completion of a realignment of Route 66 that bypassed the community.
Ranching, the railroad, and then traffic on Route 66 after 1926, served as the economic underpinnings for the community. The population peaked in about 1940 at 100 and in 1946 services available to the traveler, as noted by Jack Rittenhouse in A Guide Book to Highway 66, consisted of a gas station, garage, grocery store, and a “scant” handful of cabins.
In the late summer of 1947, the state of New Mexico initiated extensive repair and upgrades to the timber bridges on Route 66 immediately west of town. Until recent storms swept the area, these bridges remained as a tangible study in highway construction of the period.
Route 66 is often viewed in the context of neon and tail fins. But the old double six is no mere highway. It is a tangible link America’s rich and colorful history. It is a haunted stage where the ghosts of the past await a visit from a modern audience.
At Jim Hinckley’s America we share America’s story. We also chase the ghosts from the shadows, and shine a light on the forgotten places.