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A Trio of Ghosts

Along New Mexico’s Ghost Highway




Gary B. Speck



Interstate 40 (I-40) is a concrete ribbon wiggling 373 miles across the Land of Enchantment.  Another road, long deceased and playing peek-a-boo with I-40, actually attracts our attention.  Broken, battered and missing many segments, Route 66, the “Mother Road”, is now a ghost highway leading to ghost towns, and filled with memories enough to fill hundreds of books.


Located along old Route 66/I-40 is a trio of fascinating little ghost towns well worth a visit.


MONTOYA  (Quay Co.) is located along the north side of I-40 at EXIT 311, 18 miles southwest of Tucumcari.  This class C – railroad shipping center was founded in 1902, and now consists of two crumbling brick and rock stores, a two story cut rock building that looks like it may have been a hotel and a cluster of structures straddling the Southern Pacific Railroad.  That cluster includes an old combination store/gas station and another roofless building advertising "Cold Beer".  In 1990 the census counted 15 folks, but I have no idea where they live unless it is at the nearby ranch.  PHOTO!


At EXIT 300, is NEWKIRK, a badly faded has-been with its remaining structures and 60 or so (1990) people strung along between Old Route 66 and the north side of I-40.  An active, combination Phillips 66 Gas Station/food market/post office, and a badly cracked stucco covered adobe church greet travelers at the freeway exit.  Residential remains of this tiny town include mobile homes, cabins and shacks in all states of repair, some occupied homes and a single-story, white-washed stucco, adobe motel now used as an apartment building.  Some of the commercial building remains include what appear to have been a gas station, store, and a combination gas station/store.  Across the freeway, there are also a number of abandoned adobe structures.


In the early 1950s, the town experienced a small boom when construction work began on the nearby Conchas Dam.  In 1950, 190 folks lived here. 



CUERVO is located at EXIT 291, and like Montoya and Newkirk is another sadly neglected road-town filled with empty buildings and anchored by a tiny (75-1990) but watchful population.  Cuervo straddles I-40 at EXIT 291, 18 miles east of Santa Rosa and 41 miles west of Tucumcari.


With 25-30 abandoned buildings mixed in with a dozen occupied structures, Cuervo is a ghost town worth visiting.  The town was established around 1902 as a railroad town, and when old US 66 came through, became a major stopping point along that highway.  Today, the old highway has been relegated to a frontage road partially covered by I-40, which bisects the decrepit business district of mostly unused structures.  Some of its more interesting buildings include the rock-walled WWI-era Catholic church, and a 1930-1958 era school.



This was our GHOST TOWN OF THE MONTH for July 2003.




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FIRST POSTED:  July 01, 2003

LAST UPDATED: March 20, 2005





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