Life & Times on Route 66

The Center for Southwest Research and Special Collections in Zimmerman Library has opened a new exhibit, “Life and Times Along Route 66.” The exhibit is located in the Frank Waters Room 105 in Zimmerman Library and will be up through Dec. 2016. 

A 10-part lecture series, begins Sept. 14 with Lecture: Prismacolor and Neon: The Craftwork of Mid-Century Route 66 Signs by Mark Childs, College of Architecture and Planning at UNM and Ellen Babcock, College of Fine Arts at UNM. The lecture is from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. with a reception to follow in the Willard Room in Zmmerman Library.

This year is the 90th anniversary of Route 66 (1926-2016). For decades, it was the major highway across the United States, as well as through the heart of New Mexico and Albuquerque—ushering travelers to The University of New Mexico.

Thunderbird Motel
Neon sign drawings from the Zeon Sign Company for Gallup’s Thunderbird Lodge.

The Center for Southwest Research and Special Collections is a member of the National Park Service Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program and the national repository for New Mexico’s Route 66 history.  The group’s mission is to make materials accessible to researchers and the public for the purpose of education, preservation and management of the historic Route 66 corridor.

Curator Nancy Brown-Martinez and Assistant Curator Jennifer Dawn Eggleston made selections from the archives illustrating life and travel along Route 66 in New Mexico with twenty-five different collections represented in the show.

A variety of photographs, postcards and pamphlets present views of local people, businesses and scenes along the way. A highlight of the exhibit, are the neon sign drawings and work-orders from the Zeon Sign Company (Electrical Products Co, Albuquerque) for the Liberty Café on Central and Gallup’s Thunderbird Lodge. Also included are 1946 remodeling plans by Gordon Ferguson (SMPC Architects, Albuquerque) for the Court Café on North Fourth St.

Also displayed are old menus from area restaurants, when a hearty meal cost .50 cents and bus tokens were .10 cents. Maps and brochures from the 1930s show the twists and turns of the highway, while oral histories and songs reveal thoughts and memories about the old route.

For more information on the exhibit and the Route 66 collections in the CSWR, contact Nancy Brown-Martinez at or visit the CSWR online.

R&H Super Service Garage
R&H Super Service Garage on Route 66 in 1940.