(Amarillo, Texas)—Tucumcari—Santa Rosa—Moriarty—Albuquerque
—Grants—Gallup—(Holbrook, Arizona) ; US 66.
Texas Line to Arizona Line, 376.3 m.
Bituminous-paved, two-lane road throughout.
Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railway parallels route between Glenrio and
Tucumcari; Southern Pacific Railroad between Tucumcari and Santa Rosa;
Atchison, Topeka, & Santa Fe Railway between junction with NM 14 and the
Hotels chiefly in cities; tourist camps and gas stations at short intervals.
Over US 66, one of the main transcontinental highways, went many
of the farmers who fled from the dust bowl and became migratory
workers in the fruit valleys of California. It is the route described
in John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath. Because US 66 crosses
the section of Oklahoma in which Will Rogers was born, some of his
admirers met in Albuquerque in 1939 and gave this road his name,
though all US highways are officially designated by numbers.
The two sections of this route are as different as the opposite ends
of a cow. At the eastern end, the land is as flat as a cowboy's purse
the morning after pay day and so level that in the old days the pioneers
had to drive stakes across it to find their way. It is a continuation of
the Texas Panhandle terrain and the western terminus of the Llano
Estacado (staked plains). There is a gradual rise to the western
section, where the hills and mountains predominate. Agricultural
areas are passed at different points, mostly irrigated, although there is
some dry farming in the eastern and central sections. Cattle are
numerous in the eastern part, but there are more sheep in the western
part. Because of migrations from Texas and Oklahoma into the east-
ern half, the linguistic stock is largely English, and this is especially
true in the larger towns; but farther west, and in the remote villages
throughout, both customs and language are Spanish.
Section a. TEXAS LINE to ALBUQUERQUE, 217.3 m.
Between the Texas Line and the Pecos River lies the western section
of the staked plains; home of the buffalo, hunting ground of the
Comanche, then the Spaniard, and later the Americans; repository for
the bleached bones of those who were either killed in battle or who
failed to find the water holes. Among the many accounts of the name
is the Indian legend that stakes were driven in the plains to guide the
Great Chief who was to come from the east and deliver the Indians