Monday Escape: Phillips 66 Restoration

The Shadows Climb

This perfectly restored Phillips 66 station stands in Red Oak II, Missouri—a town transported and re-built not too far from the Mother Road. Gary at Gay Parita insisted we stop, and I’m so glad we did; it’s well worth the short detour. One of these days I’ll have to write a post specifically about Red Oak II; I don’t use the word “magical” very often, but it applies to Lowell Davis’ rebuilt boyhood hometown.

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Church in a ghost town

Old red stone church in Cuervo, NM, USA. Route 66. Copyright Jen Baker/Liberty Images; all rights reserved.

Standing beside Old Route 66 in New Mexico is this simple but pleasant-looking old Catholic church, built in 1915. It is one of two churches in the fascinating little ghost town of Cuervo, one that grew up with the railroads and all but died when I-40 literally split the town in half during the mid-50s.

Little seems to be known about Cuervo’s history. It likely sprang up as a cattle center for operations like the Bond & Weist ranch thanks to the arrival of the Southern Pacific railroad in 1901; by 1902, Cuervo had a Post Office which was destroyed by a fire last March. When Route 66 joined the railroad in bringing traffic to town, Cuervo saw its population jump to a peak of about 300 (though in a moment you’ll see why I find this a bit hard to believe), and was able to support this Catholic church as well as a Baptist one. Even so, Cuervo wasn’t like its sister Route 66 towns of Tucumcari or Santa Rosa; Jack Rittenhouse noted in his A Guide Book to Highway 66, Cuervo offered but “few gas stations; groceries; no café, garage, or other tourist accommodations.” He noted that there were only about a dozen homes in Cuervo—perhaps area ranchers, in addition to travellers, helped fill the pews of the town’s two houses of worship while adding to that triple-digit population count.

Today, there are roughly a dozen residents of Cuervo; when I visited (and managed to get a sunburn in 15 minutes, a record even for my fair skin; this resulted in a very abbreviated shoot, alas) to photograph the town, a couple of them were sitting on their porch in the “living” side of town. Continue reading


Last night I released my 1,200th finished photo from my Route 66 photography project—fittingly enough, it is one from the hotel we’ve stayed at more than any other during the journeying back and forth: the Munger Moss Motel.

Munger Moss Motel Neon, Route 66, USA. Copyright Jen Baker/Liberty Images; all rights reserved.


It’s a nice round number, 1,200, but there are a few left from my last trip along the Mother Road, and God willing, more to come. My hope is to make it all the way to California within the next two years, thus wrapping up this particular undertaking—though no doubt I’ll hit Route 66 again and again. It’s such a great journey; I don’t think you could exhaust its wonders, joys, and laughs in a lifetime. Not even close.


If you’d like, enjoy this slideshow of all 1,200 Route 66 photographs (above and at the link) from my journeys.


Monday Escape

Let’s just say that craziness around here this morning—it’s only just after 9AM—is topping off the previous five days of incredible busy-ness. On this Monday I can already use an escape! 😉 Anyone want to join me on the open road?

Tree alongside Route 66 in western Oklahoma.

Though the skies were still stormy at this point in my Route 66 trip, one marked benefit of the otherwise disappointing weather was the stiff breeze tossing the branches of this tree about. No doubt when Route 66 was young, this tree sprang up alongside, just a sapling—but now it is a graceful specimen. The cars and people may be fewer in number, but even when those few are long gone, I imagine this beauty will remain.

Have a great Monday, dear reader.