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The Quiet Texan Town

By Greg Disch

Texas’ section of Route 66 is at times described as pancake-flat and featureless, but nothing could be further from the truth. There are 179 beautiful miles of the Mother Road that run across the Texas panhandle, offering road trippers moody ghost towns, vintage cafes and fuel stations and a myriad of amazing places to eat, stop and take in a deep breath of Route 66 history. And with all on offer, few towns along the route can compete with McLean, Texas, for its surreal, lonely atmosphere and ‘town lost in time’ vibe. For ROUTE, this is a positive attribute that reflects some of the best that Texas has to offer. Located in southeastern Gray County, the town is 74 miles from big city Amarillo, but a world away from the hustle and bustle of 2018.

Mainstreet in McLean, Texas, is a mostly abandoned time capsule of better days on Route 66. The Avalon Theater Façade was restored about 15 years ago by the Old Texas Route 66 Association, however, the effort was not enough as the theater was demolished last year due to safety concerns.

One of many of the "doors to the past" in the Route 66 town of McLean, TX, a once popular stopover for tourists, now a living Ghost Town.

There are still several hundred residents, but only a shadow of the former population, leaving most of the town abandoned.

One of more than 15 abandoned service stations in the Route 66 town. Businesses could not survive and closed after McLean become the last town in Texas to be bypassed by Intestate 40.

McLean was the location of the first Phillips 66 Gas Station in Texas in 1929, with this cottage style intended to blend in with the neighborhood. This restored gas station is one of the best preserved Route 66 businesses in town, after operating for over 5 decades. It is a beautiful example of the vintage atmosphere of the town.

The Devil's Rope Museum in McLean, Texas. Devil's rope was the name given to barb wire by the open range ranchers who were at odds with farmers, resulting in range wars and conflicts between farmers and ranchers. The museum is a unique and unusual stop along the Mother Road. But it is a surprisingly informative and entertaining place to visit.

This Rattlesnake sign used to be near the exit on I-40 and belonged to reptile exhibitor E. Mike Allred. The sign advertised the Regal Reptile Ranch, which has been in ruins for many years now. All that remains is the sign itself. The rattlesnakes are all gone, and the sign blew down some years ago, but has been repaired and moved to the east side of McLean, Texas on Route 66.

Replica of Burma Shave style signs as you enter McLean, Texas, from the east on Route 66. Burma Shave signs were once found all across the route and are fun, catchy campaigns.

For more wonderful images of McLean, Texas, and other great Route 66 towns and attractions, visit


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