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Route 66 News

What I did on my vacation

Emily, Blue Swallow garage

The answer is: not much. It is supposed to be R&R time, after all.

However, my ever-creative companion Emily (aka Redforkhippie) was busy at the historic Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari, New Mexico, painting images of extinct neon signs that once graced Route 66 in Tucumcari, plus one in nearby San Jon, in one of the motel’s garages.

Blue Swallow Garage 1

Emily figured out a technique where she could roughly replicate a neon sign’s glow. The neon signs were at long-gone businesses in the region. Most of the neon colors were verified, but a few relied on educated guesses and old-fashioned field work.

Blue Swallow garage 2

In an example of the latter, a few pieces of neon tubing survive on the weather-beaten and long-closed Western Motel sign in San Jon. Emily was able to see whether the tubing contained traces of mercury — a common ingredient in neon — and surmised the neon glowed a reddish orange.

Blue Swallow Garage 3

The images give a glimpse of what stood along Route 66 in Tucumcari before the interstate era.

Blue Swallow garage 4

If you get the notion to stay at the Blue Swallow (which I recommend), you can check the work in the garage next to Room 15.

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