Vega, Texas


The first thing I had to endure, early in the morning on Day 5, was the awful and smelly cattle yards that surround Wildorado, Texas along Interstate 40.  Rolling up the windows and turning off the A/C won’t help–the only option is holding your breath until you pass out, and that’s only an option for passengers in your car.

Thankfully, the stank of future steaks is long behind you, as you arrive in Vega, Texas.

Route 66 follows the I-40 Business Loop through Vega, but the town itself is a few blocks to the north.  An old alignment (mostly now dirt, and parts privately owned) came through downtown Vega, then headed west.  You can still see its remnants, north of the frontage road west of Vega, but you can’t drive it.

Vega is everything you’d expect a small Texas town to be.  There’s a grain elevator on the horizon, of course…

… and at least one business named “longhorn” — I think that’s mandatory in the Lone Star State.

You will want to stop for a few pictures at the nicely restored 2-story Hi-Way Magnolia Service Station.  An old glass-globe gas pump stands out front, and you can peer through the windows at the mini-museum inside.  I’ve read that the museum is open during daylight hours, but it was closed when I visited.

The Hi-Way Magnolia Station was built in 1924 along the Ozark Trail, one of the un-numbered routes that pre-dated Route 66 and the rest of the federal highway system.

Most of Vega’s downtown seemed quiet, but it was still early in the day.  Or, maybe everyone has been scared off by the ugly water tower, which I’m willing to bet was built in the 1970’s — all it needs is a big smiley face.

The Roadrunner Drive-In’s sign is fading fast, but the building’s salmon-colored paint is as bold as ever.

Watch for the Vega Motel, a 1940’s motor court that’s still open for business.  Vince Gill shot his video for I Never Knew Lonely here.

Note: This trip was first published in 2008.

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