McLean, Texas: Rattlesnakes & Barbed Wire

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As you drive into McLean, you’re first greeted by a giant sign for RATTLESNAKESI’m fairly certain this roadside enterprise is no longer rattling, but the former stars of the business (and their slithery descendants) are likely still around, somewhere nearby.  Drive on into downtown…

… for the chance to behold a couple of big balls of barbed wire.  The balls are on display outside of the Devil’s Rope Museum, which also houses a Route 66 museum.

The Devil’s Rope Museum keeps very limited hours (as of this writing: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday).  I had arrived after five, which means I could only admire the outdoor “Tribute to Barbed Wire”, and save the rest for another visit.

The rest of McLean feels a lot like a ghost town, except there are still some people around.  Some of buildings are crumbling…

… but McLean’s Phillips 66 station is in fantastic condition, thanks to a restoration in the early 1990’s (and certainly, some extra touch-ups since then).

The tiny cottage-style station was the first Phillips 66 outlet in Texas.  It was built around 1928 — give or take a year, depending on what source you believe.  Some of those sources also say it’s the most photographed property along all of Route 66.  Really?  More than the Tower Station, and more thanRoy’s?  It’s a cute little gas station, but I doubt it.

Other businesses in town appear to be somewhere in between open and closed.

The Cactus Inn is still in business, complete with the Saguaro sign (not neon — I imagine that mercury-vapor light has to do the job at night).  The motel appeared decent from the outside, and appears to be family-owned (see the motel’s website) so it might be a good choice for a night’s stay.

Through McLean and on to Alanreed, there are a couple of alignments of Old Route 66 which you can follow.  The easier route follows the business loop through McLean, then the south frontage lane of I-40 all the way to Alanreed.  For a more complicated challenge (one that I missed, somehow), in the middle of McLean, turn south, then pick up a dirt road (County Road BB) that follows an old section of railroad tracks.  This road should take you all the way to Alanreed.

Note: This trip was first published in 2008.

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