abandoned route 66 trading post

Bowlin's Old Crater Trading Post

It’s blowing my mind that I still have photos from June’s roadtrip that I haven’t sorted or edited yet. We stopped so many places and saw so many things that trying to tackle the photos in one chunk, or even a couple, was just too overwhelming. Admittedly, five months is a really long time for me to sit on photos no matter how many there were. The upside is that its been a really fun way to relive the post and it satisfies a little bit of my travel urge. Jeff and I are currently trying to save for a house so I’m not quite sure when the next time we’ll be doing something like this will be. I mean, I never quite know since we’ve been known to plan trips like this in less than a week soooo…

We spotted this abandoned structure from the freeway not too long after getting into New Mexico. If you recall, we were driving from Phoenix, Arizona back home to Cleveland, OH. A thirty-hour drive – not including any stops! New Mexico and Arizona are neighboring states which means we had not been on the road too long at all. Although we were both excited to check out all sorts of things on the drive home, I guess I had thought maybe those stops would happen a little bit further into the thirty-hour drive to break up the time.

BUT the building looked too good to pass up even from a distance. We hopped off the freeway and went to go check it out. It was well worth the stop! Although fairly small, it had lots of different things that grabbed my attention. The safari wallpaper, the nearly completely collapsed ceiling, the murals on the exterior! It was fantastic.

Be sure to check out the video near the end of the post for a tour!

Bowlin's Old Crater Trading Post
Bowlin's Old Crater Trading Post

Perhaps just as exciting as stumbling upon this excellent stop by accident was realizing that it actually has some pretty cool history. The building that is standing here today was finished in the spring of 1954. Claude Bowlin, who owned and operated Bowlin’s Old Crater Trading Post, was not only a well-respected merchant but operated such a successful business that he expanded, opening five more stores along Route 66. Although he catered to a lot of tourists, he made it his mission to educate those passing through about local tribal cultures.

In 1973, the trading post suffered the same fate as many other buildings along Route 66 and was closed shortly after the interstate opened. The owner enjoyed a few years of retirement before passing away. His widow sold the property with a stipulation in the deed stating it only be used for religious purposes. That’s how in the 1980s & 90s this building was used as a bible school and church. In 2006 it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Bowlin's Old Crater Trading Post
abandoned trading post in New Mexico
abandoned trading post in New Mexico

Spots like this are my absolute favorite. I don’t know why or what the big draw is for me but waking up early in the morning, grabbing a coffee and stumbling upon gems like this with my favorite person in the world is my perfect day!

More posts from this trip;

Check out even more road trip posts under the ‘travel‘ tag.

Author: Kaylah Stroup

A collector of weird things. Plant Enthusiast. Wanderer. Beachcomber. Forever longing for the desert.

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