Ranchotel Amarillo, Texas, USA
Amarillo is the only major city traversed by Texas’s 177-mile section of Route 66 through seven long, flat, Panhandle counties. The city evolved into an oasis along the highway. From the 1920s to the 1950s, local entrepreneurs opened gas stations, cafes, and tourist courts to serve travelers along Route 66, including the Ranchotel in 1940. The Ranchotel is among the best preserved of Amarillo’s Route 66 tourist facilities.
When Americans first began long-distance automotive travel, they typically stayed in hotels or camped beside the road. Partly out of civic pride and partly from a sense of self protection, towns began furnishing free campgrounds with water, cooking, and bathing facilities. In response to Amarillo’s popularity with travelers, the city constructed the Amarillo City Tourist Camp in June of 1924. Located on Fifth Avenue, between Travis and Bowie Streets, the publicly supported camp was about nine blocks from the later Ranchotel.
During the mid-1920s, privately owned tourist courts began replacing publicly supported camps as an alternative to downtown hotels. Amarillo had a profusion of courts. Many owners built on the city’s edge where land was cheaper and building and operating costs lower. This enabled proprietors to keep room rates low and intercept travelers before they reached the downtown hotels.
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