Signs taken away from long-closed Sahara Lounge in Santa Rosa

The neon signs for the long-closed Sahara Lounge on the west side of Santa Rosa, New Mexico, were hauled away Thursday morning by an Albuquerque company.

Richard Delgado, who lives in Santa Rosa, sent along this image of workers from SignArt taking down the last of the the signs.

Here is a Facebook post from another local, with video clips:

Aubrey Moreno of SignArt stated in an email Thursday the neon signs at the Sahara were purchased by a private collector and would not end up in the proposed “neon graveyard” at the soon-to-come Route 66 Visitors Center on Albuquerque’s west side.

One of the lots where the Sahara Lounge stands was listed on the Commercial Association of Realtors New Mexico. The two lots at 801-979 Will Rogers Drive (aka Route 66) were listed for $125,000.

Delgado said he wasn’t sure how long the business had been closed, although “best guess” was in 1983. The consensus is it’s been shuttered for many years, perhaps decades. The Sahara is estimated to have originated in the 1950s.

Here’s a vintage image of the Sahara:

Joe Sonderman in his “Route 66 in New Mexico” book wrote about the Sahara:

Leo and Violet McCowan had lived in Saudi Arabia, keeping their marriage a secret so Violet would be allowed to work for the government railroad. They bought the Sahara Lounge from L.G. Smith in 1957. The McCowans would run the Sahara for more than 20 years. The building was still standing but boarded up in 2010.

(Image of the Sahara Lounge in 2012 in Santa Rosa, New Mexico, by Stu Rapley via Flickr; vintage image of the Sahara via

One thought on “Signs taken away from long-closed Sahara Lounge in Santa Rosa

  1. What a greedy shame. People like the garcias take their wealth to remove an icon in a community without the funds to save a Route 66 attraction and haul it off to Albuquerque. The right thing to do is restore it and bring it back to Santa Rosa as a gift to the city.

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