"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Sons of the Pioneers theme for TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon artist's musings melding metaphors and journalism, for readers in more than 150 countries.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Route 66 memories--San Jon

When you get off I-40, you discover real travel--slowing down, looking, thinking. First town in New Mexico after you leave The Republic is San Jon. It's not a ghost town yet, with a school and truckstops and homes, but the memories of US 66 are fading, like the signs on the buildings and the paint on the old cars and trucks.
How many flats were fixed here?

Though I don't remember, I traveled through this town many times as a kid on the way from Albuquerque to Oklahoma and Texas, and then driving all day in an old  Studebaker from Albuquerque as a freshman-to-be at Oklahoma Christian College. A fellow graduate of Highland High School was also going there, and we drove in her car, which wouldn't go more than 55 miles per hour.  I doubt we stopped in San Jon…most business was in Tucumcari, 24 miles away, and while that Quay county seat has changed with the decline of the railroad and US66 it is still  growing.   

Not San Jon.  Founded in 1902, it grew after the arrival of the railroad in 1904 and was once  local commercial center and stop on US 66 until Interstate 40 bypassed it on the north in 1981 leading most of those businesses to shut down. Today, only one motel is still in operation and all of the gas stations and dining establishments are centered around the I-40 interchange on the north side of town. 

Plenty of Vacancy, and a Dodge Dart

In the 2000 census, there were 306 people, 118 households, and 82 families residing in the village. There were 118 households out of which 37.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.8%  were married  living together, 12.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.7% were non-families. 28.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. Population was spread out with 30.7% under age 18, 5.9% from 18 to 24, 24.5% from 25 to 44, 21.9% from 45 to 64, and 17.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median income for a household in the village was $22,917, and the median income for a family was $27,000. Males had a median income of $30,000 versus $16,607 for females Per capita income was $11,592.
Windows on the past

You could restore this

I stopped in July to drive up the cap rock escarpment to the south of town to view the wind  farm—because I never had taken that road before. Those are more photos later.
Even the flag is drooping

And then I had to drive down this forlorn stretch of America’s memories. In the words of Simon and Garfunkel, “Slip, sliding away… .
West edge of San Jon, Tucumcari mountain visible 24 miles away.

Yes, click on any photo to supersize it--no charge!

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