Winner of the Southwest Book Award
Tucumcari, New Mexico, was founded in 1901 by the Rock Island Railroad and soon had major railroad lines converging there from Chicago, Los Angeles, and Memphis as well as a northern branch line from the Dawson coalfields. The federal highway system established Route 66, the "Main Street of America," through the middle of town in 1926. Tucumcari flourished as a tourist mecca, welcoming travelers with its blazing displays of neon lights. But mergers, reorganizations, and financial problems of the railroads, as well as the creation of the interstate highway system that bypassed small places, brought a sharp decline to the once-prosperous town.
Tucumcari Tonite! blends in-depth research and personal and family experiences to re-create a "memoir" of Tucumcari. Drawing on newspapers and government documents as well as business records, personal interviews, and archival holdings, Stratton weaves a poignant tale of a western town's rise and decline--providing a prime example of the destructive forces that have been inflicted on small towns in the West and all across America.
"A rewarding moveable feast. . . . Well-researched and smoothly written, Stratton's appealing account provides an invaluable story of an intriguing, small western town."--Richard W. Etulain, author of Beyond the Missouri: The Story of the American West
"Anyone wanting to get their kicks on old Route 66 will want this delightful and exceptionally well-researched book by David H. Stratton on the history of Tucumcari. Stratton will keep you turning the pages."--Jerry D. Thompson, author of A Civil War History of the New Mexico Volunteers and Militia
Chapter One. The Jewish Founding Fathers
Chapter Two. Railroad Town
Chapter Three. Highways and Byways
Chapter Four. A Big Dam in the Middle of Nowhere
Chapter Five. The Hometown of Billy Walters
Chapter Six. The Townless Highway
Chapter Seven. Railroad Blues
Chapter Eight. Living with the Bypass
Chapter Nine. Down the Slippery Slope
Chapter Ten. Some Went Running
Chapter Eleven. The Other Side: Conclusion