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)