Western Trips

Western Trips

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Amarillo Texas Route 66



route 66 amarillo
Route 66 was a major highway through Amarillo Texas just like it was for many other towns and cities during the Mother Road's golden years. Stretching from Chicago Illinois to Santa Monica California, Route 66 was the spark that brought commercial growth to many small towns.

In a very real way Route 66 is a part of America's identity. Route 66 also represents America's first highway infrastructure. This was the time that roads went from dirt to paved. 

Today, to see some of the remnants of this historic highway in Amarillo Texas, you'll want to make a fun visit to Amarillo's Sixth Street Historic District. This is a thirteen block area west of downtown Amarillo in the San Jacinto Heights Addition. Amarillo is the largest city in Texas that the old Route 66 passed through. The good thing is that it still indeed does pass through.

amarillo route 66 historic district
Cowboy Gelato
This historic district is a collection of commercial buildings that are associated with the famed highway. Shopping, restaurants and unique shops are what is now part of this area of Amarillo's nightlife scene. For anyone out there who might remember the days of the old Route 66 this is definitely a must stop.

Many eclectic shops line this old part of the famous road  and the district was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1994.





Route 66 and the Interstate Highway

Interstate 40 runs east-west though Amarillo and as many people who are familiar with Route 66 know the Interstate replaced a good amount of the old highway. Route 66 today still passes directly though Amarillo.The state with the longest continuous stretch of old Route 66 is Arizona between Seligman and Kingman. Both of those towns are also connected by Interstate 40.


route 66 golden light cafe
Historic Golden Light Cafe
Route 66 followed Amarillo Boulevard through Amarillo, but an older alignment turned south on Pierce, then west on Sixth. Today, the follow Route 66 through town you'll be making several turns. The good part is that the signage will direct you pretty well. When you drive west from the Route 66 Sixth Street Historic District you'll also make a few turns mostly to the south where Route 66 becomes the frontage road on Interstate 40.
At this point you're not far from the old Cadillac Ranch along the Interstate which features buried Cadillac automobiles which you can spray paint.

In both directions out of Amarillo on Interstate 40 you'll see signage where original stretches of the old road are still intact. In fact, many of the towns you'll drive past on Interstate 40 on either side of Amarillo have the old Route 66 as their main road through town. Tucumcari New Mexico, Santa Rosa New Mexico, Shamrock Texas, Erick Oklahoma are towns along Interstate 40 that were quite busy during the heydays of Route 66.

Route 66 went through realignments in several areas. The most noted one occurred in the late 1930's when the Mother Road bypassed Santa Fe New Mexico in the quest for a shorter and lower elevation route to Albuquerque.

Links to more Western Trips articles you'll enjoy include: 

Route 66 / Texas Panhandle

Route 66 and Shamrock Texas


amarillo texas sixth street
Sixth Street Antique Mall
Amarillo's Sixth Street Historic District

The Golden Light Cafe shown in the above photo was established in 1946. This was the busy Route 66 era prior to the Interstates and the cafe is still going quite strong. A vintage 1946 hamburger stand on old Route 66, the Golden Light serves a great Frito pie. It's a great place to have lunch and dinner. This is one of the oldest still operating cafes found on Route 66.

The Sixth Street Antique Mall is located in one of the oldest buildings along Sixth Street. Here you'll find true vintage and antique items. You'll also find some of the best original postcards available. If you're traveling Route 66 through Amarillo this is a must stop.

Another stop in the Amarillo Route 66 Historic District we made was at Cowboy Gelato. Located directly on Sixth Street, Cowboy Gelato offers a wide variety of gelato plus stuffed hamburgers and great barbecue. This is a must stop for some great food. Weather permitting there's also an outside patio available. 

(Photos from author's collection)


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