Author set to talk about railroads, Route 66 in Tucumcari

Author, historian David H. Stratton, Ph.D., will be the featured speaker on Monday at this year’s annual meeting of the Tucumcari Historical Research Institute.

“Railroads and Route 66 in the Life of a Western Town,” will be the topic of his presentation. It’s a subject he’s familiar with and the working title of a book in progress.

“Tucumcari is key,” said Stratton, because the town is used as a model of how railroads affect western towns.

For his research, Stratton said he’s read 100 years of history about Tucumcari.

Why Tucumcari?

“I grew up two blocks from Route 66, the Main Street of America,” he said.

“You never forget your hometown, it’s like your first love. There’s a sentimental attraction.”

Stratton is a 1945 graduate of Tucumcari High School, who left about five weeks before his senior year ended.

“I was really disappointed,” Stratton said, recalling that he and classmate Howard “Harve” Abercrombie, were called up to serve in WWII and sent to California for training.

For a time, he served in the U.S. Merchant Marine and the U.S. Army, serving in occupied Japan for a year.

Now, a retired professor of history from Washington State University, Stratton said he is still teaching some classes.

He has written several books and edited many more, he said.

The work that stands out is the “Tempest over Teapot Dome: The story of Albert B. Fall,” which was published in 1998.

Fall, who was the interior secretary in the Harding administration, was the first American Cabinet member to go to prison for a crime committed in office. Fall also was a New Mexico politico.

“The Teapot Dome was the worst political scandal until Watergate,” Stratton said.

A fan of the movie, “There Will Be Blood,” Stratton said its script is vaguely drawn from Fall’s era.

Stratton will make his presentation at the annual dinner meeting of the Tucumcari Historical Research Institute at 6 p.m. on Monday at the Elks Lodge. Dinner is $10. If you are unable to purchase your tickets at the museum, call 461-4201 to make your reservations by Friday.