Tour raising money to buy historic neon sign
October 14, 2020
The Tucumcari Talking Tour is approaching its fundraising goal to buy a historic neon sign that once graced the Trav-O-Tel Motel along U.S. 54 in town.
The 10-foot-tall "MOTEL" sign once hung on the ornamental stone chimney of the motel that now is the K9 Design Dog Grooming business at 1001 E. Main St. It also hung for years on the Historic Route 66 Motel on the city's Route 66 corridor.
The sign had been listed on eBay last month for almost $3,000 until locals, including Karen Alarcon at KTNM-KQAY, persuaded the Maryland seller to remove the listing so they could raise money to buy it and bring it back to Tucumcari.
Clarke Ingram, a contributor to the Tucumcari and Quay County Then and Now Photo Memories Group on Facebook, had alerted readers to the online auction listing.
Connie Loveland, executive director for Tucumcari MainStreet that is the financial agent for Tucumcari Talking Tour, told the city's Lodgers Tax Advisory Board last week it had received multiple donations for the effort. Donations may be made through https://www.tucumcaritalkingtour.com/donate.
Loveland said they were "very close" to having enough money to cover the sign's purchase price and shipping.
During a telephone interview Friday, Loveland said it had received a total of $1,200 in donations, $300 in pledges and $1,000 from in an anonymous match.
The purchase price for the sign is $2,500. Loveland said the sign also would have to be restored. Several letters on the sign still light, which indicates restoration costs won't be prohibitive because its transformer still works.
She said she eventually wants the neon sign lighted and on display at an undisclosed location in Tucumcari's downtown district.
She told the board the sign's roots are on U.S. 54, and it would further Tucumcari MainStreet's efforts to unite the Route 66 and Main Street corridors.
Tucumcari Talking Tour's long-term goal is to raise money to restore the city's classic neon signs, spruce up facades and other beautification projects along Route 66.
Tucumcari Talking Tour also shepherded an initiative this summer where low-power AM radio transmitters were set up at 16 historic sites around the city to give information to tourists about them.