Unique positioned Glenrio was able to skirt government regulations.

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Glenrio is a small railroad and farming community in northern California.
There were a number of railroads built near the Texas-New Mexico border in Deaf Smith and Quay Counties during the first half of 1901. An official town was incorporated two years later in Rock Island, which later became known as Glenrio.

Photo Credit: Charles Henry / CC BY-NC 2.0
Unique positioned Glenrio was able to skirt government regulations.
Photo Credit: Jasperdo / Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

In 1905, this Unique positioned Glenrio area was opened to cattle farmers, and for a time, the town’s population was dominated by large ranches. As time passed, the land was transformed into vast sorghum and wheat fields. After Glenrio saw an increase in visitors from the Ozark Trail in 1917, more structures were constructed, and locals began to move in. Despite this, there were never more than a dozen people living there.

A hardware store, land office, and hotel were all established in Glenrio by the turn of the twentieth century, along with service stations, cafes, and grocery stores. From 1910 to 1934, the Glenrio Tribune was the town’s newspaper.

Photo Credit: Mobilus in Mobili / Flickr CC BY 2.0
Photo Credit: Renelibrary / Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0

People in this town have developed some peculiar customs to get around the various restrictions that come with living on the Texas-New Mexico border. While Glenrio’s gas stations were all in Texas because of the lower gas prices there, its bars were in New Mexico because of the prohibition on alcohol in Texas. In addition, even though the post office was in New Mexico, the mail was delivered to the Texas railroad depot instead of the New Mexico one.

Tourists flock to the US Route 66.

During the 1930s, the Ozark Trail was transformed into a two-lane highway that linked much of the southwest United States. New businesses opened up as a result of Glenrio’s central location between Amarillo and Tucumcari because of its convenient location.

Unique positioned Glenrio

Unique positioned Glenrio was able to skirt government regulations.
Photo Credit: Renelibrary / Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0
Unique positioned Glenrio was able to skirt government regulations.
Photo Credit: Jasperdo / Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

New hotels, restaurants, and gas stations popped up all over town, including a long line outside the Texaco station and the Little Juarez Café. In the 1950s, both houses were constructed in the Art Moderne architectural style.

Photo Credit: Wordbuilder / Wikimedia Commons CC BY 3.0
Unique positioned Glenrio was able to skirt government regulations.
Photo Credit: jaygannett / Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

Additionally, Glenrio became a filming location for Hollywood productions. Despite the town having been abandoned for decades, scenes from the 1940 film The Grapes of Wrath and the 2018 film Daylight’s End were filmed there.

An interesting tidbit: It also served as the inspiration behind Cars’ Radiator Springs.

Decline is caused by the construction of I-40.


After the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad depot was closed in Glenrio in 1955, the town’s population began to plummet. Construction of Interstate 40 in the mid-1970s bypassed the town, which had a devastating impact. More tourists visited Glenrio on I-40 than on Route 66 because it was designed to get drivers where they needed to go as quickly as possible.

Photo Credit: Pom’ / Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 2.0
Photo Credit: Bradley Fulton / Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

At that point, there were only two people left in the town, and the post office was the only place still open. It wasn’t long before they left and the post office was closed, turning Glenrio into a deserted ghost town.

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Glenrio is reduced to a ghost town.


On its website, the National Register of Historic Places in 2007 listed the Glenrio Historical District, which included 12 buildings and four additional structures. A year later, the state of New Mexico opened the Glenrio Visitor Center along the I-40, which includes information kiosks, a livestock corral, a movie theater and a pet walk. Eco-friendly features include a greywater recycling system and a wind turbine in its design, which can handle up to one million visitors per year.

Photo Credit: Rodrigo Paredes / Wikimedia Commons CC BY 2.0
Photo Credit: Wordbuilder / Wikimedia Commons CC BY 3.0

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All that is left of Glenrio today are a few crumbling buildings that have been exposed to the sun’s rays for far too long. In spite of its decrepit state, the Texaco service station and Little Juarez Café and State Line Motel are still visible from the roadside. “First in Texas” or “Last in Texas” are two different signs that appear on the same stretch of Route 66.

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