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Shamrock to Groom

Tower Station U-Drop Inn Cafe, Shamrock, Texas in USA

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Jericho Gap, Texas Route 66

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Groom, Texas in USA

Rattle Snake Ranch and Bug Ranch, Conway, Texas

On the Road

Prior to 1973 many rural highways had speed limits set a lot higher than they are today. It was not uncommon to see a 75 mph limit along Route 66 or in other parts of the country. In many rural areas there were no speed limits set at all.

In November of 1973 Texas Governor Dolph Briscoe recommended Texas adopt a 55 mph statewide limit. On December 4th the Texas Highway Commission adopted the 55 mph speed limit. However this ruling was overturned within two days by Texas Attorney General John Hill claiming the commission had overstepped its boundaries.


In October 1973, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) embargoed oil shipments to the United States.

A year later President Nixon proposed lower speed limits to save oil.

Gas prices based on 1997 Dollars

Eventually the Emergency Highway Energy Conservation Act was passed that created a National Maximum Speed Law and signed into law on January 2, 1974. Each state had to agree to the new limits to receive federal funding for highway repair.



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Route 66

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Day 19: Texola to Amarillo, Texas

Joplin Globe Feb 4 1927A lot of the people in the state of Texas weren't exactly pleased when they found out Route 66 wasn't going through any of their major cities. They were also a little discouraged that this new route had diverted most of the traffic from the old Oil Belt road. The Oil Belt road was a costly Texas highway project of 230 miles from Brownwood to Wichita Falls that brought traffic deep into the heart of Texas.

With that said, three representatives from Texas attending the February 4, 1927, organizational meeting of the Route 66 Association were still more than supportive. Percy W. Bones, newspaper editor of Shamrock; Guy Hill of the Shamrock chamber of commerce, and MD Bentley of McClean all felt that Route 66 was the shortest all-weather highway that could be contrived. It also didn't hurt their feelings that Route 66 was passing through Shamrock and McClean.


Just a Welcome to Shamrockhalf mile east of Texola is the border of Texas and the next town in sight is Shamrock. Local legend has it that Shamrock's Irishness goes back to the late 1890's when the town was called Exum. Irish postmaster George Nickle was homesick for the Land of Blarney so he selected Galveston Daily News March 17 1984the name of Shamrock. Shamrock's economy has always relied on transportation as its backbone. In the early 1900's the Rock Island System was promoting Shamrock for its outstanding farming capabilites as seen by this advertisement from the July 2, 1903 edition Homestead, July 2, 1903of the Homestead out of Des Moines, Iowa. By 1904 the First National Bank of Shamrock was approved by the comptroller of currency to become a bank. Shamrock has been celebrating St. Patrick's Day since 1938 when high school bandmaster Glenn Truax saw visions of lephrechauns dancing through the city's future.

The Shamrock Conoco Tower and U-Drop Inn is another of those architectural wonders built during the Route 66 era that is featured in the movie "Cars." Waitresses still working in the restaurant in 1994 remember the day when "Shamrock became a ghost town in one day when Interstate 40 bypassed Route 66."

The owner of that Art Deco style building designed it to entice Route 66 travelers to stop by for a home-cooked meal. One of the more popular meals was meatloaf and french fries. Story has it that the building's design was created by a friend who stuck a nail in the Texas soil.

Amarillo Globe Times February 23, 1961The bypass around Shamrock didn't come easy as the community put up a fight. Land owners north of Shamrock weren't going to offer to sell their land. Shamrock didn't want to be the first town along Route 66 in that area to be bypassed. The State Highway Commission could take the land through eminent domain but that would take about five years of legal battles. Land prices were rising.

Mayor Sol Blonstein and four other Shamrock community members finally traveled to Austin in 1961 for a meeting with the commission and the situation was resolved. The Texas State Highway Commission guaranteed that no new buildings were to be constructed on the proposed new route totaling 3 to 4 miles around Shamrock's tourist section. Similar agreements were later reached with Vega and Adrian further west of Amarillo. Over 60 years later, a few businesses have popped up along the bypass including a hotel and a fastfood chain.


LeLa was one of the later towns to start up along this stretch of Route 66. Just like McClean, LeLa was built over a good underground water supply. LeLa never reached more than 150 citizens. Maybe it was the fact that the postmaster of 1903 changed the name of the town which had formerly been known as "Story" to LeLa in the name of his wife's sister. Eventually most of the businesses left LeLa and headed seven miles east for Shamrock.

H. Allen Anderson, "LELA, TX," Handbook of Texas Online(http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hll3), accessed February 14, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.Lela School

The brick school still stands in LeLa. It replaced the original building burned to the ground by fire in 1927. This building was built large enough to teach the children of families moving into the community during the oil boom. Within a few years the top two grades were sent to Shamrock. By 1992 the entire school building was closed.

McLeanMcClean Gas Station

Further down the road is another old cattle town called McLean. McClean Rowegot its start in 1901 when English rancher Alfred Rowe donated land near a railroad cattle loading dock to get the town started.The Rock Island railroad needed a watering hole and a switch was made on Rowe's land. Soon after a new town formed along the tracks and was named in honor of Rail Road Commission Secretary Ed R. McLean. Evening Chronicle April 16 1912Businesses popped up quickly. "Hog" Smith moved to town and started the first general merchandise store. A hotel was opened by Silas Campbell. The first saloon followed but was short lived not even lasting a year. W. T. Wilson bought the last whiskey barrel rolled out of the saloon and used it for a water barrell.

Rowe often traveled back and forth between England and the United States to check on his ranch. His last trip to the United States was on April 10, 1912. The ship was the Titanic. As the ship sank, Rowe refused to enter a lifeboat until others were saved. There were 868 survivors. He was not one of them.

Rowe's frozen body was found on a nearby ice float the day after the Titanic sank. He was one of 1,242 people that lost their lives. Today the part of Rowe's ranch makes up the Lewis Ranch, named for W.J. Lewis, who bought the ranch from Rowe's widow.

McLean's Route 66 attractions remain fairly large with an abundance of attractions, murals, and buildings still standing from the Route 66 era. A poem describing McClean was written and published not long after Route 66 traffic started passing through town.

AlanreedAlanreed Gas Station

Eight miles west of McClean is the unincorporated town of Alanreed. Alanreed got its start as a stop on a stage coach line. Eventually the area was was laid out by surveyors for the Choctaw, Oklahoma and Texas Railroad. It was estimated that over 500 people lived in Alanreed at its peak in 1927. Watermelon was the major crop with an average of 500 cars shipped by rail yearly.

In 1956 a deadly antifreeze poisoning took place at a tourist court used by Route 66 travelers in Alanreed. Four travelers left the dry county of Randall and headed to Alanreed to party. On the way out they hocked a car for $40 and purchased four gallons of anti-freeze. Inside the tourist court the group created a still to boil down the antifreeze. They added some bayrum and hair tonic to the concoction and partied until becoming ill. Miss Betty Eunice, 24, Jacksonville Beach, Florida, died in the motor court. Miss Mary Gallagher of Gainesville and Charles Eugene Gary, 29, of Bowling Green, Kentucky, died the next day in the Groom hospital. Only a 38 year old man from Arizona survived with no apparent ill effects from the beverage.

That tourist court was probably just one of "Route 66's many redlight districts and overnight or hourly passion pits" (the motor court was a Route 66 invention).

Alanreed's population base fluctuated greatly with the discovery of oil and the opening and then Alanreed Baptist Churchdeclassifying of Route 66. In 2001 the number of inhabitants was well under 100 however a Baptist church, gas station, motel and gift shop, and a post office were open. There are also a few Route 66 remnants still around.

Jericho (Jericho Gap)

Jericho GapBetween Alanreed and Groom sits the ruins of Jericho. This stretch of Route 66 was known as the Jericho Gap. The Jericho gap sat on State 75 and Route 66. It was a break in the pavement for about sixteen miles nearly 50 miles east of Amarillo.

Many a traveler got stuck in that mucky dirt road. Rain would often tie up traffic for days. Nearby farmers made a good living with their teams of work horses pulling the travelers from the mud holes. Maybe that was why the main reason for the delay in road improvements was failure to obtain right-of-way. Paving of the strip on Route 66 in Northern Donley County was finally awarded to a Lubbock business for about $100,000 in 1935. The new hard surface road finally opened to traffic on September 15, 1936 after about seven years of discussion and much "cussing."

With the railroad, Route 66, and well-traveled Highway 70 going through their town, citizens of Jericho believed their fair town was destined for greatness. Too bad that new route from Groom to McLean was moved north of the railroad tracks thus eliminating the mud of Jericho Gap and Jericho.

As traffic zipped a mile north on Route 66 and throughout the rest of the country, Route 66 was eventually labeled "Bloody Highway" as numerous deadly traffic accidents occurred. Many states back then had no speed limits. There were so many accidents east of Amarillo that eventually new hospitals were built in Groom and McLean.

The city of McLean was so thrilled when the Jericho Gap was paved that they had a huge celebration inviting all comers. It began with an address and welcome by First Presbyterian pastor, Reverend W. A. Erwin at the Lone Star theater along Route 66. After the program there was a parade, a motorcade over the Jerico Gap, and a barbeque. There was also a free polo game staged between the Pampa Rough Riders and the McClean Mounted Tigers. In the evening there was a football game between conference rivals McLean and Memphis at 8 PM. With the paving of the Jericho Gap, the only state that still did not have hard surface roads on Route 66 in 1935 was New Mexico.

Jerico Ruins

Today, Jericho is a ghost town, with one home surrounded by scattered ruins, cement foundations and piles of junk. You won't find it identified in Google Earth but you can find it by punching in these coordinates. 35°10'9.01"N, 100°54'31.28"W

Groom Groom Water Tower

Down the road a bit is the old railroad town of Groom. Groom was named after cattle rancher Colonel B. B. Groom. The Rock Island Lines actually promoted Groom nationally as great farm land when Groom first became incorporated in 1911. In the ad below (as seen in the November 8, 1915 edition of the Steven Point, Wisconsin Daily Journal) JC Esle of Groom, Texas, had 600 acres in wheat in 1915 averaging 25 bushesl per acre. Wheat was paying $1 per bushel.

Findlay Republican Courier, February 15, 1964Travelers along Route 66 always had to be on the look out for bad weather. Over 600 cars were stranded during a Feburary blizzard in 1964. The stranded motorists were rescued by the Rock Island Special train which traveled on rails paralleling the highway. The storm stranded some vehicles on Route 66 for up to four days.

Today Groom is known for two things, the second largest cross in the Northern Hemisphere and its leaning water tower intentionally built on a short leg to attract tourists.


A little closer to Amarillo sits the cities of Conway and Washburn. Conway actually got it start before Conway Gas Stationthe railroad passed through. A group of ranchers formed the Lone Star school in 1892 for their children. Eventually the railroad laid out the town and the school was moved to Conway.

The Lone Star school is said to be the first in the Texas Panhandle. Bug RanchConway features the Bug Ranch along route 66. If you are traveling on Route 66, just head south at the "Y" in Conway. Its found north on Texas Route 207. (35° 12.930'N, 101° 23.019'W)


Homestead June 11 1908Washburn is the final town along Route 66 before Amarillo. The location where the town sits was actually part of a ranch until the ranch was split up in 1887. The photo to the right shows one of the first gasoline powered tractors being used near Washburn in 1908. Washburn was only on Route 66 for a brief time in the 1920s. It became a boom town after the railroad was laid. However, after losing a bid to become the county seat the town no longer could sustain much of a population. Today's population is about 120. Washburn


Amarillo is the largest city in the Texas Panhandle. Since its inception it has always been the commercial center in that region. The city was actually laid out by J. T. Berry from Abilene and a group of Colorado City entrepreneurs who chose this site specifically for its location along a future railroad line being built by the Fort Worth and Denver City Railway.

One of the more interesting attractions in Amarillo isn't on Route 66. Its the Cadillac Ranch. The Cadillac Ranch consists of a long row of Cadillac automobiles from 1949 to 1963 buried in the ground. Visitors can spray paint anything they want on the vehicles.Reetz Amarillo Cadillac Ranch

Cadillac Ranch is currently located at 35°11′14″N 101°59′13.4″W. In 1997 the entire ranch was moved secretly by a contractor about two miles further west to keep it from the city limits of Amarillo.



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