Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Sniffing Around the Horn Motor Lodge

WEST CENTRAL--The history of Route 66 is told best in the linen postcards of that era. And at the rate we are tearing down some of these artifacts of The Road, one could knit them together into a veritable "Shroud of Tourin'." But before the rented chain-link fence keeps us all away from this part of 20th century romanticism, I thought I'd go down to the Horn Motor Lodge complex and take a peek around.As has already been described, the former gas station and restaurant are in front of the motor lodge...a moderne front to a pueblo-style motel. The Route 66 Malt Shop, subject of a post about a year ago, occupied the gas station half of the front structures. It is closed now, but was famous for its home-made root beer (recently rated #5 in the U.S.). You could also get a vanilla or chocolate "phos" at the place. A "phosphate" is a hand mixed combination of flavoring and soda water.

The original restaurant was across from the gas station. It was a station for a Mexican bus line
for several years. Both are empty and show the disregard the wet summer has had for unused buildings but seem in fine shape otherwise.

The motor lodge itself looks to be in excellent condition, if the outside is any indication. The buildings have been restuccoed in a brown color, the neatly trimmed shrubs are bigger, and small tile-covered porches have been added to shelter the doors to the rooms. Otherwise, it looks remarkably the same as the 1947 postcard.

Except for the sign, that is. The motor lodge has been used as an "apartment" building and has a fading sign announcing "Plaza Lindo Mexico Apartments Weekly and Montly Rates." A closer look at the sign, however, reveals that the can for the original motor lodge sign is still there...merely covered by the plywood...and is perfectly restorable. We need to take note of these ghosts because they are so easily discarded or destroyed by contractors working on the property.

The Horns

Oilman H.B. Horn lived in the Ridgecrest area. He had several stations and when
I moved to ABQ in 1971 I frequently used the Horn Oil station on Coal Ave. just west of I-25. His brother, Calvin Horn, was a politician and amateur historian. I say "amateur" but he wrote several books and published several more.

H.B. Horn's house is still an icon of the Ridgecrest area. It is the big white one south of that park on Ridgecrest...the one with the big wrought-iron "H" on the chimney.


NewMexiKen said...

Great story and photos.

But I've been meaning to ask: Why is the photo of you in the sidebar one taken in front of an open refrigerator?

johnny_mango said...

Good question. I'll blog an answer shortly.

Anonymous said...

hello, just so you know the house with the white H on it is actually Calvni's house, his wife Ruth still lives there. H.B. Horn is my grandfather! thought you might appreciate the correction. tiffany horn-polli