“When Route 66 was closed to the majority of traffic and the other highway came in, I felt just like I had lost an old friend. But some of us stuck it out and are still here on Route 66.”
–Lillian Redman, former owner, Blue Swallow Motel, Tucumcari, New Mexico
This is the last in a series of four posts about our recent trip to Tucumcari, New Mexico. If you’re just now tuning in, the previous three posts are here:
With this post, I’ve saved the best for last: the finer details and wonderment of the Blue Swallow Motel. Here’s a quick rundown of some interesting facts:
- The motel was built in 1939 and opened for business in 1942.
- It was originally owned by a New Mexico rancher, but was purchased in 1958 by Floyd Redman. It was an engagement gift for his fiance, Lillian.
- Lillian was a former Harvey Girl. She owned the motel until 1998. She died in 1999 at the age of 89.
- The motel is now owned by Kevin and Nancy, a couple in their early 50s who are from Michigan! They work hard to maintain the historical integrity of the property.
- The Blue Swallow has 14 units with garages between them. Most of them are available as spaces where motorists can park their cars.
- The motel was part of the inspiration for the fictional Cozy Cone Motel in Pixar’s movie, Cars.
Some of my favorite things were the rotary-dial phones, the gravel parking lot, the vintage cars on the property, the friendly dogs, the fabulous neon sign, the umbrella clothes line and the hula hoops.
If you ever get a chance to head down Route 66 and into Tucumcari, the Blue Swallow Motel will not disappoint. Like the swallows of sailor lore that return to San Juan Capistrano every year, I hope we can return to this slice of Americana at least once a year.