What once provided many New Mexicans and their ancestors with their first glimpse of the Land of Enchantment is now honored with its own symbol of those grand adventures.
“For more than 50 years, travelers got their first real look at New Mexico while traveling Route 66,” said Michael Cerletti, Secretary of the New Mexico Tourism Department. “Even while New Mexicans look to the future, they keep their history alive and kicking with remembrances of old Route 66. This new New Mexico license plate celebrates these remembrances. We are happy to have played a role in its creation.”
The plate was established by a bill introduced by Representative Joseph Campos, also Mayor of Santa Rosa. Rep. Campos has an added special interest in Route 66, since he owns a popular Santa Rosa restaurant on the route.
A contest conducted by the New Mexico Route 66 Association resulted in the chosen design, a reproduction of a Route 66 highway sign. The plates are $37 annually, which is in addition to the regular motor vehicle fees. The owner applies and pays the fee each year to retain and renew the special Route 66 commemorative plate.
Laurie Frantz, director of New Mexico Scenic Byways, a program of the Tourism Department, said $25 of this annual fee goes into a special fund the program will use to provide grants for preservation and restoration projects along Route 66 in New Mexico.
While legislation for public highways first appeared in 1916, with revisions in 1921, it was not until Congress enacted an even more comprehensive version of the act in 1925 that the government executed its plan for national highway construction, giving birth to the curio shops, truck stops, last-chance gas, tourist courts and Burma Shave signs. Officially, the numerical designation 66 was assigned to the Chicago- Los Angeles route in the summer of 1926.
The plates can be ordered on line at http://www.tax.state.nm.us/pubs/specplat.htm. To download the application form visit http://www.tax.state.nm.us/forms/mvd/Mvd11259.pdf