Route 66, the iconic “Mother Road,” winds its way from Chicago, Illinois to Santa Monica, California. If you don’t have the time to drive the entire route, why not take on this icon of American transportation history in bite-sized pieces? We’re going to help you do just that with a series called Get Your Pics on Route 66 in hopes that you’ll capture some great memories and images as you explore this little slice of Americana. Here’s the Texas installment:
Route 66 runs through the panhandle of Texas, which in Texas-sized measurements, isn’t much mileage. But even a shorter roadway has a few eye-opening surprises for Mother Road enthusiasts!
From the border of Oklahoma, old Route 66 follows Interstate 40 about 15 miles to Shamrock, Texas. Exit the highway at Main Street and turn south. In two blocks you’ll see one of the most memorable buildings along the entire stretch of the Route—the U Drop Inn and Tower Station. The art deco architecture made it irresistible to the creator of the animated movies series, “Cars,” as it inspired Ramone’s House of Body Art.
After renovation, the building was given to the city of Shamrock, and today it acts as Chamber of Commerce, visitors’ center, gift shop, and museum for the area.
Just down the road a piece (as they say in Texas) is a historical Phillips gas station in the town of McLean. This wonderful building was restored in 1992 to original cottage architecture, with authentic pumps and a vehicle platform. It was touted as the first restored filling station on The Route and is well-maintained to this day.
Back on I-40 heading west, you will wonder if a tornado has blown through the Texas Panhandle as you approach the small town of Groom. Added after Route 66 was decommissioned, the Leaning Tower of Texas (or Britten Water Tower) was a marketing ploy to bring travelers in from the interstate to Ralph Britten’s truck stop and restaurant. It worked, too, until both buildings burned down. Sort of ironic that they burned in the shadow of a water tower, isn’t it?
On the east side of Amarillo lies a real relic from the Mother Road’s era—the Triangle Motel. Exit Interstate 40 heading north on Lakeside Drive (Highway 355). Turn west on Amarillo Blvd (old Route 66) and immediately turn left onto a little strip of land called Triangle Drive. On your left is a liquor store and next to it, buried in shrubs and trees, are the remnants of the Triangle Motel. The sign alone is worth a photograph or two!
Back on I-40 headed west is another addition to Route 66 as its popularity waned. The Cadillac Ranch is located about five miles west of Amarillo and can easily be seen from the interstate. Take Exit 60, then cross over the highway and turn left on the South Frontage Road. There is a gate to enter the field, but all are welcome.
The Ant Farm II buried 10 Cadillacs here in the 1970’s as a tribute to the birth and death of Cadillac fins. It is considered an art installation and visitors are encouraged to paint their own masterpieces on the retired automobiles. Every once in a while the cars are repainted white, and the artistic process starts over again!
Our last stop in Texas is the halfway point of Route 66. In fact, it’s called the Midpoint Café in Adrian. The original owner was rumored to be the inspiration for the character “Flo” in the movie, “Cars.” Under new ownership since March of 2018, the restaurant is famous for its ugly crust pie.
On The Road
Believe it or not, you’ve taken on Route 66 in the state of Texas and won! I hope you’ll join us next time as we cover another state along the Mother Road. In the meantime, why not find your own adventure along the Mother Road in a motorhome or travel trailer from Camping World?
You can drive the rest of Route 66 with our other “Get Your Pics on Route 66” articles. Read the entire series.