Route 66 in the News

Route 66 Getting Re-Branded

2013-02-21 10:51:10

ALBUQUERQUE, N. Mex. - When Gov. A. T. Hannett lost his bid for re-election to the New Mexico Statehouse in November 1926, he was furious, so much so (or so the story goes), that he immediately set out to seek revenge.

At the time, Route 66 had not been built in central New Mexico, but plans called for an alignment that followed the Old Pecos Trail north from Santa Rosa to Santa Fe, then looped south over La Bajada and down into Albuquerque. The governor, to get back at Santa Fe politicians who he felt had betrayed him, reportedly drew a straight line on the map from Santa Rosa to Albuquerque and decreed that that was where and how the road would be built. Not only would the new path cut 90 miles off the east-west drive, it would free motorists from the perils of the notoriously dangerous La Bajada. But perhaps more importantly, it would also deprive the Santa Fe business allies of those damnable state politicians of any and all money travelers might spend.

That winter, in the two months between the election and the swearing-in of the new governor, Hannett managed to build an entire new stretch of Route 66 between Santa Rosa and Albuquerque, leaving Santa Fe and its politicians high and dry.

In some slightly different versions of "Hannett's Joke," the fabled highway wouldn't be built for another 10 years. But it really doesn't matter; the governor got his revenge. And this week, "Retribution Road" became the official brand of Old Route 66.

On Tuesday, a dozen or so members of the committee working to revitalize the 57-mile stretch of Route 66 between Moriarty and the Rio Puerco, west of Albuquerque, learned of the new designation, Retribution Road. They liked it. The moniker likely will be used more and more.

"It's such a great story," said committee co-chair Debbie Pogue. "It sets us apart from the rest of Route 66."

The committee, "Retro Relive the Route," meeting at the Moriarty Civic Center and led by co-chair Roger Holden, also discussed ways to increase commerce, attract more visitors and revive many of the historical and nostalgic treasures of Old Route 66.

It's obviously no easy task, but the dedication of the group was palpable. Some committee members talked about procuring equipment used in the actual construction, others hoped to add more neon signs along the route. The Whiting Bros. gas station in Moriarty was held up as an example. There was also discussion of heightening legislative interest in Santa Fe, involving Moriarty High School students in art projects, adding Route 66 to official maps and websites, and promoting the highway at the state fair, the Balloon Fiesta and other public events.

Everyone seemed to like the idea of planting a midway point marker somewhere between Edgewood and Moriarty on Retribution Road. And plans are in the works for foot races between towns, old-car shows, new signs, historical markers, and, hopefully, changing the formal designation of N.M. 333 to U.S. Hwy 66.

Pogue, who with her husband owns the Sunset Motel, announced that the state's Historic Preservation Division on Tuesday had just decided that the highway is eligible for a berth on the National Register of Historic Places. Everyone agreed that was good news, the best.

~Mike Bush,


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