Texas Route 66 Museum
Only 178 miles of the 2,000-mile-long Mother Road is in Texas. Nevertheless, "the first Route 66 museum ever," is in the Texas panhandle, according to Delbert Trew, its curator. It opened in 1991, which gives some sense of when the Route 66 nostalgia movement really began.
The museum stands between the east- and west-bound lanes of the old highway, and holds a modest collection of artifacts. Because it was the first Route 66 museum, Delbert noted with pride that everything in it is authentic; there are no replicas. Most of the collection was donated by former Texas Route 66 businesses, while the rest was "rescued" by Delbert on his own initiative. "I know it's authentic because I stole it myself," he cracked.
The expected old road signs and souvenirs and faded photos are present, but the museum also displays the original, life-size steer that stood outside Amarillo's Big Texan Steak Ranch (which now owns a much larger steer). A recreated Route 66 cafe encourages visitors to pose for snapshots with a dummy waitress and soft-sewn dummy cook. Our favorite exhibit was the huge, yellow cobra that once stood outside the Regal Reptile Ranch in nearby Alanreed. "You paid a quarter and could see rattlesnakes and coons and possums," Delbert recalled. "The lady that ran it, if you gave her an extra quarter, she'd feed the rattlesnakes baby chickens."
The museum gift shop sells nugget-sized "chunks of the Mother Road" for a couple of bucks. Its packaging reassures purchasers that, despite their souvenir, in Texas, "90 percent of the old road is still in use."