Couple buys Jericho, plans to beautify and stabilize motor-court ruins

Jericho Texas

A couple from Amarillo has purchased the remnants of the deserted old Route 66 village of Jericho, Texas. They plan to clean up and beautify the motor-court site and want to eventually build new motor courts for overnight travelers at a nearby tract.

Blair and Blanca Schaffer recently announced the purchase with posts a new Instagram account, jerichoon66, that included this informative video:

In the video, Blair says he wants to clean up and stabilize the long-abandoned motor-court property. He also wants to trim the trees there and add flowers to beautify the property in time for the 100th anniversary of Route 66 in 2026.

“We want to make it picture-worthy again,” he said.

Long term, Blair said he wants to build simple but modern motor courts closer to Highway 70 that Route 66 travelers can stay in overnight. He also wants to establish a 10-unit RV park that caters to travelers hauling their horses cross-country.

Blair said a nearby farmhouse would requires minimal work for habitation, and they plan to plant a one- to two-acre garden there.

Blair is an Amarillo firefighter and personal trainer, and he and his wife distribute Herbalife Nutrition products. Wary of the congestion of Amarillo during the COVID-19 pandemic, they said they began looking for land in the country.

The 72 acres offered at the old Jericho townsite not only fit the bill, but Blair said he has a family link to the town. His great-great-grandfather Alexander settled there after the Civil War, and the second-earliest burial at the nearby Jericho Cemetery is a Schaffer.

Delbert Trew, a longtime rancher in the region who wrote history columns for newspapers, reported Jericho was established in the late 1880s as a mail coach stop. Jericho Cemetery was founded in 1894 after a local malaria outbreak killed several residents.

The Texas State Historical Association said Jericho was founded in 1902 as a station on the Chicago, Rock Island and Gulf Railway and established a post office the same year.

But the town never amounted to a lot:

At its height in the 1930s, Jericho had three stores, a grain elevator, a tourist court, and a garage and filling station. Jericho’s population was estimated to be 100 in 1933 and fifty by 1939. Its post office was discontinued in 1955, and by the 1980s little remained at the townsite.

But Jericho earned infamy in Route 66 lore because of its “Jericho Gap.” Trew wrote:

The main reason for fame came from the stretch of highway between Alanreed and Groom which went through Jericho. Called “Jericho Gap” any rains caused the dirt roads to turn into black-gumbo-mud becoming almost impassible to the vehicles of the time. Nearby farmers made a good living with their teams of work horses pulling the travellers from the mud holes. Legend has it that the enterprising farmers hauled water at night to dump in the mud holes to prolong their source of income.

According to Route 66 Atlas, that dirt-road stretch of Route 66 lasted only until 1932, when U.S. 66 was re-routed to the north.

(Images of Blair and Blanca Schaffer and the tourist-court ruins in Jericho, Texas, via the Schaffers’ Instagram account)

8 thoughts on “Couple buys Jericho, plans to beautify and stabilize motor-court ruins

  1. On my westward trip on 66 I stopped on the dirt road just south of the Jericho site and just stood there and tried to imagine the place in it’s glory days. For some reason the place ranks pretty high on my list of real representative places along 66. There is no merchandising going on. No fake 66 trinkets. This is just hard core ruins of a place that once thrived but now presents itself as a lost moment in time. I have mixed feelings about ‘revitalizing’ the place but I understand. I’d seriously consider staying there for a while if the place is actually brought back to life. I know it’s a contradiction but it’s the way I feel. Time marches on and we can’t live in the past. We can remember the past but we can never go there. God bless you guys for your enthusiasm.

  2. “Legend has it that the enterprising farmers hauled water at night to dump in the mud holes to prolong their source of income.”

    If that counts as “enterprising”, then it is no wonder the United States of America have the history they have. Perhaps that is why crime flourishes as it does.

  3. language consists of more than just words. Nuance plays a large part. It appears the word ‘enterprising’ is not being used in/by its strict definition. Here’s my guess about you based on nuance. You are not a Trump supporter maybe a non citizen but for sure a Progressive. I used the nuance of your statement referencing the USA. It’s okay if you reply truthfully. No one knows who you are…I assume no one wants to know who you are.

  4. I was just there last week. What a memorable experience. I like that they want to stabilize what is there, and create something new close by that will draw people to experience Jericho. Visiting the cemetery also, there are indeed many Shaffer’s buried there. It was noted at the cemetery that any descendants of the families already buried there may be buried there.

  5. I passed through Jericho in July of 2018, while tracing the remains of the Rock Island Railroad in that area. If one knows where to look and what to look for, he can just barely discern where the railroad crossed the highway, but it’s a faint land-scar now. I made sure to pay my respects at the cemetery.

    People who say “There’s nothing there” aren’t looking hard enough.

    I’m not sure how I feel about the Blairs’ plan for the modern motor court. I’m not interested in car-side camping myself, but I might be interested in a cabin, if it was sufficiently far from Interstate 40 so that the highway noise could not be heard. If I have to listen to the round-the-clock scream of motor-trucking, then I’m definitely NOT interested.

    Who knows? Some good may yet come from it.

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