Part of the fun of traveling on Route 66 was staying at one of the hundreds of interesting motels, rental cabins or campgrounds along the way. The good news is that a few remain in operation.
The Blue Swallow Motel can be found in Tucumcari, New Mexico. This motel is easily recognizable by its neon sign, which includes a blue swallow. It also has a unique shell design on the exterior.
The Blue Swallow was built in 1939 by W.A. Huggins. It was sold in 1958 to Lillian Redman, who operated it for 40 years, through the difficult times of the Rt. 66 decommissioning and new bypass. In 2004, it was sold again, to people who are determined to keep it as it was throughout the heyday of the route.
Another hotel in New Mexico is the El Rancho, in Gallup. This was built in 1937, and for twenty years was visited and occupied by numerous Hollywood stars. Today, it is preserved as it once was, with its rustic look, Navajo rugs and photos of the stars on the walls.
Two very unique and fun motels along Rt. 66 were the brain child of a man named Frank A. Redford. Redford applied for a patent for his wigwam design in 1935. The idea was to form a Wigwam Village for tourists to stay in on their way west. In all, seven Wigwam Villages were built around the country. Each village contains wigwam accommodations for its guests.
The Wigwam Village in San Bernardino, Ca., was built by Redford between 1947 and 1949, and is still in operation.
The Wigwam Motel Village in Holbrook, Arizona was built in 1950 by Chester E. Lewis, who based his idea on Redford’s plans. He purchased the rights to the design and the right to use the name. Lewis operated the motel unto 1974, when it closed. However, after his death, in 1986, his children reopened the famous stopover in 1988.
The Munger Moss Motel, in Lebanon, Missouri, was built in 1946. At that time, there were 14 cabins with garages. It was a motor court in the true sense of the word. This has been a landmark for decades along Rt. 66, and still is. It offers the atmosphere and décor of the earlier years of motel travel.
There are many motels and stops along the route now that are determined to restore the old businesses and bring back the past glory or traveling Route 66.