Resident hopes for successful tour


April 1, 2020

A new resident says she hopes the Tucumcari Talking Tour she expects to launch in May eventually leads to a secondary benefit — restoring neon lighting to historic signs along Route 66.

Tucumcari Talking Tour will set up AM radio transmitters at up to 14 sites to broadcast short messages about the site’s history in a one-block radius. Small signs will be placed at each site that gives the broadcast frequency for each.

“The talking tour would give travelers something else to do,” creator Tracy Johnson said. “They’ll spend a little more time here. The hope is to bring awareness to travelers what we have to offer here.”

Johnson said the recorded message also would contain a short pitch, asking listeners to make a donation to Tucumcari MainStreet to help restore the city’s Route 66 neon signs. Tucumcari MainStreet is Tucumcari Talking Tour’s fiscal agent.

The sites where the AM transmitters will be placed are:

• Motel Safari

• Roadrunner Lodge Motel

• Blue Swallow Motel

• New Mexico Route 66 Museum

• Tucumcari Railroad Museum

• Tucumcari Historical Museum

• Pow Wow Restaurant and Lizard Lounge

• La Cita

• Del’s Restaurant

• “The Legendary Road” mural at Lowe’s Market

• TeePee Curios

• Quay County Courthouse

• Odeon Theatre

• Tucumcari/Quay County Chamber of Commerce

Equipment for initiative comes from a $5,000 grant from the city’s Lodgers Tax Advisory Board. Owners of the sites approve each script, and KTNM/KQAY radio in Tucumcari is donating its services to record the messages professionally. Tucumcari Talking Tour also has a committee that reviews applications.

Connie Loveland, executive director of Tucumcari MainStreet, said completion of the Tucumcari Talking Tour might be delayed because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, but it would get done.

“Like everyone else, we’re going day by day with what we’re working on,” she said.

One of the transmitters was tested at the railroad museum during a New Mexico MainStreet conference in October. Johnson said it worked well, giving her confidence the project could work citywide.

Johnson, previously a Truth or Consequences resident, said she and her husband were looking for a small town in New Mexico to move to. They chose Tucumcari.

“I just had this immediate feeling of home,” she said. “I was the people that made the difference when we moved.”

Johnson said she helped organize classic-car shows in that benefited a food bank and a senior center meal program. The former raised enough money for 4,000 meals and collected 500 pounds of nonperishable food.

Acknowledging her love of marketing, Johnson said she always tries to publicize Tucumcari on the “dozens” of Facebook pages she follows.

“I’m always tagging out local businesses whenever possible,” she said. “To me, it’s my job as a member of the community to help support the community.”

She said the Tucumcari Talking Tour’s creation sprang from an online conversation.

“I was sitting up late at night, scrolling through Facebook,” she recalled. “I had seen a post where somebody said, ‘I’ve lived here all my life; I don’t see what the big deal is here about Route 66.’

“My jaw dropped. ‘It’s not a big deal? It’s definitely a big deal.’”

Johnson said she hopes Tucumcari Talking Tour raises enough funds, along with landing grants, to help restore some of the city’s Route 66 neon.

She said her husband and parents hold memories of what Tucumcari’s Route 66 corridor looked like decades ago before Interstate 40 decimated the corridor.

“Wouldn’t it be cool if we could get the lights back on?” she said.


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