Herman’s Garage on Route 66
Thoreau, New Mexico

Without looking at the above caption, could you tell if this Route 66 gas station is located in New Mexico or West Texas?


Herman's Garage on Route 66 in Thoreau, New Mexico
Herman’s Garage on Route 66 in Thoreau, New Mexico

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A Lesson From a Friend on Google+

When I posted the above photograph of Herman’s Garage on my Google+ page, an astute observer said he identified the location before reading the description. This fascinated me, as I think the photo looks similar to countless gas stations across the southernmost stretch of Route 66.

Curious for more information, I asked Christian if he could explain how he knew Herman’s Garage was in New Mexico. This was his detailed response…

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Hidden clues in the photograph of Herman’s Garage on Route 66

“That is hard to explain. I guess it takes a kind of familiarity and recognition of detail. This part of New Mexico is similar to West Texas, but there is a different “feeling” about this environment. Some of those details that create the New Mexico Route 66 scenario (when all taken together) would be the old pickup truck, the stucco sort of concrete wall in the background, the dried brown grass and bush.

A closeup of the gas pump at Herman’s Garage in Thoreau, New Mexico

Of course, the old throw-back shape of the gas pumps that totally scream Route 66, the design of the sign on the top of the building, old coke bottle directly painted on the building itself as an advert, and the color of the sky itself. Suggested by the leaves, the dryness of the air and general environment.

You can find similar environments in West Texas though its more dusty and often less “western.” Also, it seems that someone has repainted the old pumps white in the Herman’s Garage photograph. In Texas I’d expect to still see the original old pumps largely rusting, or repainted anything other than straight white.

[the photograph to the right is a closeup of the white-painted gas pump at Herman’s Garage]

Nevada is also similar in that area, as is California. But the ground would likely be different in both Nevada and in California. Parts of Colorado are also similar but would lack many of the small details I mentioned here, and would likely have a mountain range visible in the background.

I know this route very, very well. Again, you captured all the right things to express a quintessential spirit of that area. This image does suggest Route 66 even more than New Mexico, but I see Route 66 in New Mexico being represented specifically.”

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So there you have it!

A huge thank you to Christian for providing such a detailed answer. Be sure to check out his beautiful photography on My Adventurous Life and on his flickr page.

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What do you think?
Could you tell the difference between New Mexico and West Texas in a blind taste test?

Have you ever driven the Mother Road? If so, what was your favorite part? Perhaps a stop at Herman’s Garage to take a similar photograph?