Traveling Route 66 from Chicago to Los Angeles is an immensely popular pastime for both foreign tourists and locals, but it’s not always easy to follow the original route, despite guidebook claims to the contrary.
And one of the hardest places to follow the historic road’s original path is where it travels through Tijeras Canyon.
Willie Lambert, a Santa Fean who has mapped nearly every foot of the route in New Mexico (and beyond) says Route 66 is a “puzzle” he’s still trying to understand. After years of researching, traveling and amassing a collection of 900 related historic postcards, he says, “It’s come to the point where I want to share what I’ve found and hear from others what they know.”
So on April 30, beginning at 2 p.m., Lambert and fellow Route 66 aficionado Rick Holben will conduct a bit of a “show and tell” about Route 66 and its route through New Mexico, particularly with regard to Tijeras Canyon.
Sponsored by the East Mountain Historical Society, the event will be held in the historic church next to the library in Tijeras. It is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.
Over the years, Route 66 has changed and even disappeared in places, along with many of the souvenir shops, motels and diners that sprung up on it. The only thing that hasn’t changed, Lambert says, is the original alignment of the Mother Road, and that’s what he’s attempted to document, breaking each segment of the route down to the tenth of a mile.
Lambert’s personal Route 66 adventure began when he and his sister traveled the road from Oklahoma City to Santa Fe in honor of her 66th birthday. During that trip, Lambert met a couple from England whose guide book said Route 66 would be easy to follow, but in frustration, they almost gave up their quest while still in Illinois. “It’s not easy to follow the route,” Lambert says. “You need to do your homework.”
Lambert has done much of the homework, and will share it at the event. The bulk of his work consists of meticulously kept notebooks he’s created documenting the Mother Road, illustrated with vintage motel postcards and other memorabilia from each spot along the route. His talk will focus especially on Tijeras Canyon and New Mexico. He asks that members of the public bring photos, matchbooks and other things related to Route 66 to share at the event.
For more information about the all-volunteer East Mountain Historical Society and its other events and projects, visit eastmountainhistory.org.