Newkirk, New Mexico on Historic Route 66
In Part 1 of this two part series about the Route 66 ghost town of Newkirk, New Mexico we explored the abandoned structures on the south side of I-40 on Pajarito Rd. In Part 2 we will visit the remaining structures that line historic Route 66 on the north side of I-40.
Map of Newkirk, New Mexico
The Route 66 ghost town of Newkirk, New Mexico is located off I-40, about 143 miles east of Albuquerque. On the way to Newkirk, be sure to stop off in the ghost town of Cuervo as well. Cuervo is located off I-40, about 10 miles west of Newkirk.
Abandoned Route 66 Church in Newkirk, New Mexico
I remember stopping to photograph to this church meany years ago. It is next door to the only functional gas station in Newkirk. I think it would’ve been around 2005. It was long enough ago that the steeple was still up top and the windows had curtains. So when would that have been?
At the time, I had no idea that right around the corner from the church was a proverbial ghost town alley with many decaying structures lining that stretch of historic Route 66. Unfortunately, the photos from that trip have all disappeared.
I have not been able to find a name to go with this church but it was apparently a Catholic church because there are confessionals up front in the foyer. In the photo below you can see what’s left of the privacy screen hanging from the window of the confessional on the right.
Somewhere in the lost archives I have this exact same photo but with curtains on the window.
From what I can tell, this is what remains of the elusive Carlos’s Place. I have seen other bloggers make reference to looking for, but not being able to locate, this structure. Full disclosure, I was not specifically looking for Carlos’s Place. I found it by accident but, judging from the name painted on the wall, this must be it. According to TheRoadWanderer.net Carlos’s Place was once a Shamrock gas station and Route 66 watering hole.
The old Newkirk Post Office
The old post office in Newkirk was built in 1910 and, even though it is abandoned today, the building is still in better shape than most of the structures on this stretch of The Mother Road. In addition to being the post office this building was also a gas station and grocery store. If you scroll down, you can still see the writing on the front of the building under the car port.
Another interesting thing about the old post office is that there is a house built on the back side of the building. I didn’t even see it from the street but, being the professional nosey person that I am, I went exploring and it paid off!
Wilkerson’s Gas Station
Wilkerson’s was definitely my favorite place in Newkirk. Though you wouldn’t know it today, Wilkerson’s was once a Gulf gas station and diner. This business survived for many years after I-40 came along in the 1960’s but the Wilkerson family did eventually have to close up shop in 1989. According to TheRoadWanderer.net, a son of the original owners named Duane Wilkerson still lives in the area and works at the functional gas station that is next door to the abandoned church.
FYI, Master Charge existed from 1969 to 1979. In 1979 Master Charge was renamed MasterCard.
The interior of Wilkerson’s is just amazing! You can still see the remains of the diner area and a refrigerated glass display case (below) that may have once housed ice cream or pre-made sandwiches. Imagine being a hungry traveler on Route 66 and stopping here for a burger and shake!
The Broken Heart Bandit
I mentioned in Part 1 about the recurring heart shaped graffiti. Clearly, the Broken Heart Bandit has been busy at Wilkerson’s. I’m not sure why this sad valentine graffiti bothers me more than “regular” graffiti but it just does. I mean, vandalism is vandalism, right? Nonetheless, no one likes a self pitying emo graffiti artist.
This is the backroom and/or apartment built onto the east side of Wilkerson’s. There was another adjoining room that has since completely collapsed but this room had a nice fireplace and I found quite a few decaying old books.
Most of the books were religious texts like Bibles and hymnals but I did also find a book about beekeeping.
This little building is next door to Wilkerson’s but I have no idea what it was, probably another gas station. Or maybe the honey store?
Route 66, affectionately known as “The Mother Road”, stretches 2,448 miles from Chicago, IL to Los Angeles, CA. U.S. Route 66 or U.S. Highway 66 was one of the original highways in the United States numbered highway system. U.S. 66 was established on November 11, 1926 and road signs were erected the following year.
Route 66 was officially removed from the United States Highway System in 1985 after being replaced in its entirety by the Interstate Highway System.
These photos were shot on May 28, 2022 and originally published to the old Dry Heat Blog on June 22, 2022.