Friday, July 27, 2018

Travels on the Mother Road, Route 66: Part 12, Las Vegas, New Mexico

Santa Fe was very interesting. But it is time to continue our trip on Route 66. Press the clutch, put the gear in first, and head southeast.
Bridge Street, Las Vegas, New Mexico
Las Vegas (the town in New Mexico, not the gambling mecca of Nevada) is east of Santa Fe and was not directly on the 1920s version of Route 66. But a short side trip is rewarding because of its amazing western architecture. The town of Las Vegas was founded in 1835, but the area had been inhabited for four centuries by native Americans, Anglos, Spanish conquistadores, robber barons, and gangsters. The town is an architectural treasure, and boasts more than 900 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places.
Prosperity came to Las Vegas in the late 1800s via the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad, which built significant rail infrastructure in town. This included a handsome mission-style depot. This now serves as the Las Vegas-San Miguel Chamber of Commerce.
The now-closed La Castaneda is a former Harvey House (hotel). This is described as early mission revival style. The Harvey Houses were a well-respected institution along the rail lines in the US southwest. According to Wikipedia,

Before the inclusion of dining cars in passenger trains became common practice, a rail passenger's only option for meal service in transit was to patronize one of the roadhouses often located near the railroad's water stops. Fare typically consisted of nothing more than rancid meat, cold beans, and week-old coffee. Such poor conditions understandably discouraged many Americans from making the journey westward.
The subsequent growth and development of the Fred Harvey Company was closely related to that of AT&SF. Under the terms of an oral agreement, Harvey opened his first depot restaurant in Topeka, Kansas in January 1876. Railroad officials and passengers alike were impressed with Fred Harvey's strict standards for high quality food and first class service. As a result, AT&SF entered into subsequent contracts with Harvey wherein he was given unlimited funds to set up a series of what were dubbed "eating houses" along most of the route. At more prominent locations, these eating houses evolved into hotels, many of which survive today. By the late 1880s, there was a Fred Harvey dining facility located every 100 miles along the AT&SF.

Manu of the Harvey Houses featured spectacular architecture. The El Rancho in Gallup, where I stayed on my 2016 Route 66 trip, was not a Harvey House.
Many of the old stores on Bridge Street have been repainted, but I am not sure how many are occupied. 
In the southeast part of town, off US 85, also known as the CanAm Highway, I found an intact roundhouse. Many of these around the country have been town down, so it is rewarding to see an intact example. The turntable was gone. I think a trucking company used the roundhouse for truck storage.

Las Vegas was a decent overnight stop. From here, we proceeded south and then east on Route 66.

Photographs are from an Fujifilm X-E1 digital camera with various Fuji lenses.

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