May 272023

Every time we passed Russell’s Travel Center on Interstate 40 in eastern New Mexico, I have joked that we needed to stop at the “family business,” but until a trip out West last year, we never got around to it. When we finally did, I was amazed at how much we had missed! You can bet we won’t pass it up again!

As most road warriors know, much of Interstate 40 follows the original route of US Highway 66, the Mother Road, and Russell’s Travel Center pays homage to that Great American Highway with an authentic Route 66 Diner, a free classic car and memorabilia museum that brought back more memories than I could believe, a full-service store, and more.

The facility is just one of many businesses that a couple named Emory and Barbara Russell (no relation to me) have created through the years with hard work and dedication and a lot of faith. A logger by trade, Emory and his family left Montana in 1964 and moved to Cimarron, New Mexico so Emory could find work in logging. However, they arrived to find that the area had been hit by the worst rain and flood conditions in over 60 years and there were few jobs to be found. There were also no homes to be found, so the Russells, with their four children, lived in a tent for the first summer they were there.

If that wasn’t hardship enough, Emory was injured on the job and laid up for quite some time. Meanwhile, Barbara had started a hamburger business, which earned them enough money to scrape by, and Emory helped her with it and became very popular with their customers as the business grew. At that time the small town of Cimarron did not have a grocery store. Always one to recognize an opportunity, Emory decided to build one, which opened in 1971. Over the years the business became successful and expanded many times. Eventually the Russells owned several grocery stores, along with a drive-in restaurant, laundromat, car wash, and residential properties. They opened their first truck stop in Springer, New Mexico, in 1995, and continue to grow their business with new and larger facilities, now with the help of their adult children.

Being both old car aficionados and history nuts, Terry and I loved every inch of the free museum and spent quite a bit of time browsing through the displays. They have all kinds of vintage automobiles on display from the 40s, 50s, 60s, and even earlier. There were several I wanted to take home with me, but none of them were for sale. That’s probably just as well because my budget never does meet my list of wants.

I love old Mustangs, and this convertible would have looked very nice sitting in my garage.

But if you prefer old pickup trucks (and who doesn’t?), there were quite a few nice ones to choose from.

And if you like old cars, you have to like old gas pumps, too, right? They had some nice ones on display.

But there’s more than one kind of horsepower.

Of course, if your tastes are more whimsical, how about a giant M&M, or some Betty Boop characters?

Elvis? He’s right around the corner!

From old jukeboxes to Coca-Cola memorabilia, early transistor radios, and every kind of advertising sign you could imagine, they are all right here for you to see at Russell’s Travel Center.

Just be careful when you open doors because you never know who’s going to be sitting behind one. This old geezer had a lot to say!

Along with the museum, store, and diner, there is also a chapel that is open 24 hours for silent meditation, with Sunday services at 11 AM. And don’t worry about getting in and out, there is room for any size eighteen wheeler, RV, or car at Russells. I can’t wait to get back there again! Russell’s Travel Center is located at Exit 369 from Interstate 40 and never closes. For more information, call (575) 576-8700 or visit their website at

Be sure to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of Crazy Days In Big Lake, the third book in my Big Lake mystery series. Everybody seems to have gone crazy in the little mountain community. Neighbors are threatening violence, eco-protestors are on the march, flower children are camping in the nearby forest, two of Sheriff Jim Weber’s deputies have gotten into a fistfight in the ButterCup Café, the grocery store manager has locked himself in his office and won’t come out, bears are chasing dogs into houses, and somebody has stolen the town’s mascot. As if that isn’t enough to deal with, a mild-mannered retired couple have shot an intruder during a home invasion. By the time this wild tale is finished, more blood will be shed and the good people of Big Lake will be left wondering just how well they really know their neighbors.

To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening. Note: Due to the high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books and audiobooks to foreign countries, only entries with US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.

 And finally, here’s a chuckle to start your day from the collection of funny signs we see in our travels and that our readers share with us.

Thought For The Day Happiness is where you are now or it is nowhere at all.

Nick Russell

World-Famous, New York Times Best Selling Author, and All-Around Nice Guy!

  One Response to “Russell’s Travel Center”

  1. Nick, I was stationed at Cannon AFB, just outside Clovis, NM, and I traveled I40 going west right by Russell’s Travel Center but for some reason it never got on my radar. I am sorry I missed it, thanks for sharing that, it looks like a great place to spend a little time reminiscing among the old cars and other memorable items.
    If I ever get out that way again I will definitely stop there.


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