Route 66 in the News

Exit Here for Route 66

2013-04-11 11:35:18

A group of East Mountains and Estancia Valley business owners and individuals want to turn Hannett's Joke into economic opportunity.

And more than 100 people showed up to a town hall meeting in Edgwood on April 6 to climb on board the effort.

"This is only the beginning," said state Sen. Sue Wilson Beffort at the meeting. "People need to be able to see the signs and get off the freeway and have things to see and places to visit."

Beffort led an effort in the state Legislature to obtain money for the state's MainStreet Program through the Economic Development Department, as well as going for money to help small communities improve infrastructure.

Hannett's Joke refers to the construction of Route 66 from Santa Rosa to Albuquerque.

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 was where and how the road would be built.

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

Roger Holden, chairman of the RETRO-Relive the Route committee, said not many New Mexicans remember Hannett's Joke, but that it is a popular tale among Route 66 enthusiasts. As such, the committee is working on branding the stretch of the road from Moriarty to Albuquerque as Retribution Road.

"This section of the road is very unique and it's something we need to use to promote economic development in this area," Holden said.

After presentations from several speakers that included government officials and Route 66 experts, the more than 100 attendees were asked to write down their ideas or volunteer to help in the effort. The committee identified eight areas to target arts and crafts, oral and photo history, publicity and public relations, social media, infrastructure, recreation, physical action and performing arts.

Those interested in volunteering with the committee can contact members by email at

~Rory McClannahan,


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