Day Trips: Glenrio, Texas

West Texas ghost town was once a popular stop on Route 66

Day Trips: Glenrio, Texas
photos by Gerald E. McLeod
Day Trips: Glenrio, Texas

The State Line Motel in Glenrio, on the Texas side of the border with New Mexico, proclaimed it was the first or last motel in Texas, depending on which direction you were traveling on Route 66.

Day Trips: Glenrio, Texas

Glenrio's dot on the Texas map marks a ghost town. The skeletons of once-bustling hotels, gas stations, and stores stare blankly at an empty remnant of "The Mother Road."

Day Trips: Glenrio, Texas

Once-prosperous small towns began to fade when Interstate 40 replaced Route 66. Less than a mile off the interstate, by 1976 Glenrio couldn't attract enough motorists to survive. A diamond-shaped concrete post surrounded by weeds and empty buildings marks the state boundary.

At its peak, Route 66 snaked 2,451 miles from downtown Chicago to the Santa Monica beach. Remarkably, motorists can still drive on 90% of the 178 miles of the romantic highway across the Texas Panhandle. The once mighty two-lane road is reduced to serving as frontage road to the interstate or the main bypass through dusty small towns.

Never very large, Glenrio was founded in 1903 as a water stop for the railroad. The first hotelkeeper arrived in 1917, but the real growth began in 1927 with Route 66. The liquor stores were on the New Mexico side and the gas stations were on the Texas side. Curio shops were on either side of the border. It all began to unravel when I-40 opened. The ghost town became a National Historic Place in 2007.

1,249th in a series. Collect them all. Day Trips, Vol. 2, a book of "Day Trips," is available for $8.95, plus $3.05 for shipping, handling, and tax. Mail to: Day Trips, PO Box 33284, South Austin, TX 78704.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Day Trips
Day Trips: Mother Neff State Park, Moody
Day Trips: Mother Neff State Park, Moody
Texas’ first state park is still going strong after nearly 90 years

Gerald E. McLeod, Feb. 23, 2024

Day Trips: Bluebird Fish Camp, Orange
Day Trips: Bluebird Fish Camp, Orange
Good food down on the bayou on the way to Louisiana

Gerald E. McLeod, Feb. 16, 2024


State Line Motel, Glenrio, Route 66

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle