Making memories on Route 66 for more than 58 years!
The Motel Safari opened in 1959, designed and built by Chester Dohrer, an independent motel developer using an architectural style known today as "Googie or Doo Wop". You'll notice many of the retro design elements from the quirky sign to oozing brick mortar, counter stacked bricks in the facade, square holes in cinder blocks, boomerangs and metal cylinders with perforations that light up at night.
The Motel Safari gets its name from the words Motel, meaning "motor hotel", and Safari, meaning "a long journey". In other words a motor hotel where you can park your vehicle near your room after a long journey on the road.
Clyde the camel sits atop the main sign, paying tribute to Edward Fitzgerald Beale's Camel Expedition, which once traveled through the surrounding areas. In 1857 surveying efforts were made to find the best routes through the west to form a national road system (what would become part of Route 66), camels were used as pack animals to traverse the harsh terrain. The Army acquired about 70 camels, brought over from Tunisia, Malta, Greece, Turkey and Egypt. When the Civil War began, the camel's duty was abruptly ended and most were sold off for use as pachyderms or circus oddities, but a few were released into the wild and left to roam. The last known feral camel sighting was reported in 1941 near Douglas, Texas.
Artwork of original photo archives from Tucumcari's Route 66 heyday are in each of the guestrooms, as well as old linen postcard prints of motels that no longer exist in Tucumcari today. Most of the furniture in each guestroom, are original Mid-century modern pieces from the day the motel was built and were custom made on site during construction. In the Rockabilly Suite there's also a variety of memorabilia on display from many music related celebrities that have stayed at the motel over the years including: Wanda Jackson "The Queen of Rockabilly", Lee Rocker "Stray Cats", Wayne "The Train" Hancock, Lance Lipinsky, Justin Shandor, Eddie Clendening, Rick Trevino, Jess McEntire, Fred Eaglesmith, Chad Prather, Joanna Wlodawer, Brave Combo, Mad Max & The Wild Ones, The Gretsch Brothers, Joel Clemons & The Lemons, Rhythms of the Road and more.
The motel continues to be renovated and restored today, providing top of the line modern amenities integrated into the room's original dècor without sacrificing its historic appearance. Several wall murals have been added by local artists, including "Elvis" arriving to check-in with his 1959 Cadillac on the outside wall of the front drive through. Another one behind the Front Office, is a 1950's Flxible Clipper, Santa Fe Trailways tour bus with "Tucumcari Tonite" as it's destination. More art continues to be added, like our vintage billboard ads at the patio, as well as our latest mural paying tribute to the "Mother Road" and Tucumcari, New Mexico.
So sit back and enjoy a true Historic Route 66 Icon and Legend of the Road or stop by, visit and take photos of one of Tucumcari's original Route 66 motels. We're merely humble stewards of this piece of history along the Mother Road and hope you'll come to enjoy and appreciate her as much as we do.
"Don't just dream about legends of the road - Stay In One!!!"