Yucca Hotel, New Mexico

Yucca Hotel, New Mexico

The Yucca Hotel has an interesting history. It opened in June 1929 as the Hotel Swastika—yes, Swastika. The hotel chose Swastika because it was a symbol commonly used in the area by many of the local Native American Indian tribes. There were many businesses in the Raton area that also used the Swastika symbol and name in their corporate logo and masthead. The hotel operated for ten years as the Hotel Swastika until it changed its name to Hotel Yucca in 1939.

Raton was then a major crossroads with three major U.S. highways bisecting the city and was on the main route of the Santa Fe Railroad. When the hotel opened it had six floors and 80 guest rooms. The ground floor held several businesses that paid rent to the hotel. One Raton resident described the building as “very elegant” and the best hotel between Santa Fe and Colorado Springs. An article in the Raton Range newspaper noted that Taos artists consigned some of their artwork in the hotel. Interested patrons could purchase the paintings and this kept a steady supply of nice artwork on exhibit in the hotel.

By 1938 the actions of Adolf Hitler had alarmed enough people that the Swastika symbol took on a whole new meaning. The hotel manager at the time Ainslee Embree said that potential guests refused to stay at the hotel because of the negative connotations associated with the Swastika. A contest was held and the new name chosen was the Yucca, in honor of the New Mexico state flower.

Thirty years later with the influx of motels, motor hotels and inns serving the interstate highway travelers the Hotel Yucca closed its doors in 1969. In 1971 the building was converted to a bank. The building still looks very nice and has been kept up nicely as a bank.

For more information see:

Windows On The Past: Historic lodgings of New Mexico, By Sandra Lynn, 1999.

Raton Range, November 27, 2007

Hotel Monthly, May 1939

Texas Hotel Review, September 1938 and November 1940.


Hotel Yucca Letterhead,1941





Hotel Swastika

Hotel Yucca, Raton, N.M.

El Portal Inn, Raton New Mexico

El Portal Inn, Raton New Mexico

Originally know as the Seaberg European Hotel named for Swedish immigrant and founder Hugo Seaberg.  The Seaberg originally had 12 rooms and by 1911 it held 24 rooms.  A news blurb from the Hotel Monthly for November 1911 reported that an addition would increase the number of rooms to 100.  Eventually, the hotel had eight expansions and renovations between 1905 and 1928. 

In the early twentieth century Hugo Seaberg found it difficult to establish a statewide hotel association in sparsely populated New Mexico. In a news account from 1922 he stated that he was going to create a New Mexico hotel association based not on an annual convention but by circular correspondence.  The hotel operators who joined would pass news by a circular letter to all members.

The growth and success of the Seaberg Hotel is easy to understand with Raton being a railroad center.  Eventually the hotel took up an entire city block.  However, the Great Depression took its toll on Raton and Hugo Seaberg’s financial health. In 1937 he lost ownership of the hotel in a foreclosure.

The new owners of the hotel renamed it the El Portal.  Since 1937 the hotel has been under several different owners. In the 1990s the hotel was refurbished and WPA era murals were rediscovered in the lobby and hallways.  A fire sometime after 2004 closed the hotel.   As of the summer of 2011 the hotel was still idle.




The El Portal Hotel: History, Fact, and Fiction

Welcome to the Historic El Portal Hotel

Raton, New Mexico, and the Historic El Portal Hotel

“Unknown name” Motel, Grenville New Mexico

“Unknown name” Motel, Grenville New Mexico

There was no evidence of a name that I could find in a quick 5-minute stop to take pictures.  The town of Grenville is about 27 miles out of Clayton on US 87 on the way to Raton New Mexico.  Searching the travel books in the archive I did not find a listing for this motel.






Hotel Eklund, Clayton New Mexico

Hotel Eklund, Clayton New Mexico

A beautifully restored hotel in this crossroads town in the Northeast part of New Mexico.  Prior to the development of the interstate highway system, Clayton was a crossroads for several U.S. highways. As the pictures attest it was built in three stages: 1892 , 1898, and 1905.  It is named for Carl Eklund who converted the structure into a saloon and hotel.  In the lobby they have retained two old safes as tables and there is also the old telephone switchboard for the hotel. There is a beautiful wood carved bar in the saloon with many historical items.  The first appearance of the Hotel Eklund in the Hotel Red Book was in 1918.  The building is also a New Mexico registered Cultural Property.  











The Hotel Eklund

Clayton, New Mexico Chamber of Commerce

The Collaborative Inc.

The Motel Rita Blanca, Dalhart Texas

The Motel Rita Blanca, Dalhart Texas

The sign is what caught my eye it is in the 1950s modern style.  It also appears to have weathered well and the entire property looked very tidy and clean.  While taking pictures I talked to some people who told me they were managers or owners.  They told me the property served as an apartment operation and not for over night transient business.  They were giving serious consideration to changing the sign since travelers often stopped in the middle of the night trying to rent a room.  Searching the travel books in the archive I did not find a listing for this motel.


Caprock Hotel, Claude Texas

Caprock Hotel, Claude Texas —

On a drive home from New Mexico we stopped in Claude to see if we could find any old hotels and came across this old gem. Unfortunately, I can find very little about this hotel. There is no entry for the Caprock Hotel in the Hotel Red Books, and so far nothing in the old Texas Hotel Review publications. The Hotel Monthly for September 1931 notes that H.J. Smith is the proprietor of the hotel. The Sanborn Insurance maps show the hotel was not open in 1921. However, sometime between 1921 and 1934 the hotel opened according to a later Sanborn Insurance map.




The Herring Hotel, Amarillo Texas

The Herring Hotel, Amarillo Texas –Here is another one of those grand old hotels that is now sitting idle on the edge north of downtown Amarillo.  The Herring at one time was tied as the fourth largest hotel in Texas behind Houston’s Rice Hotel, Dallas’ Adolphus and Baker hotels and tied with the Texas, in Fort Worth.  The hotel had 600 rooms with 600 baths. It was built by C.T. Herring and opened in 1927.  Ernest Thompson who managed the hotel took control the following year.  Thompson trained as an attorney became a hotelier and operated a chain of hotels in the Texas panhandle.  Most people recognize Thompson as a longtime commissioner of the Texas Railroad Commission.  The oddly named commission is most famous for regulating the Texas oil and gas industry.

 Notice the marble facade that was added to the ground floor entryway in later years of operation. I guess this newer facade was an attempt to update the hotel to travelers. I suspect with the completion of Interstate 40 to the south of downtown business migrated to the then newer motels along the highway.



An advertisement of the Herring and Amarillo Hotels from the 1930 Hotel Red Book highlights that room rates were $2.00 and nothing above $2.50.


This image of the Herring Hotel is from an advertisement in the October 1942 Texas Hotel Review. Notice the original front entry compared to the renovation of the 1960s seen in my images.  The Hotel Herring sign is also on the hotel roof.

Below is a postcard of the hotel from the early 1940s. The reverse side of the postcard lists the population of Amarillo at 55,000 and an altitude of 3,676 feet.


The Texas Escapes on-line magazine of the Herring Hotel is here.

The Airport Motel, Plainview Texas

The Airport Motel, Plainview Texas–On the old highway US 87, driving into Plainview from the South the following sign was spotted for the Airport Motel.  The sign is a true gem and I took several pictures of it.  In the summer of 2011, the motel looked to be operated as an apartment complex.  The holes in the sign are from the old neon tubes used in the sign’s heyday.  One writer noted that the neon tubes used for the propeller plane would rotate to give the illusion of propeller blades in motion.  Like downtown Plainview, the businesses on this highway probably began to fold once the interstate highway was built to the west of town. The Plainview airport is just across the highway from the motel.






Here are some other links to the sign. 

Airport Motel Apartments

This link has an image of the sign in better shape:

Airport Motel Plainview, Texas

 Another blog post about the hotel.

The Old Plainview Hilton, Plainview Texas

The Old Plainview Hilton, Plainview Texas –A true grand hotel whose time has long passed.  It is always hard to look at these old hotels that stand empty and yet at one time they held the pulse of the local community.

The Plainview Hilton opened in 1929 and contained 125 rooms, all with baths.   The total cost of construction was $400,000.  A few months later the Great Depression began.  Eventually Conrad N. Hilton lost ownership of the Plainview Hilton to one of his financial backers.  However, the Plainview remained a part of the Hilton Hotel chain and under Conrad’s management.

In 1944, Hilton regained control of the Plainview Hilton from the Great Southern Life Insurance Company of Dallas, Texas.  He sold the hotel management lease to Porter Morgan a veteran of other Hilton properties.  The Hilton employee magazine, Minimaxims reported in September 1944 that Porter Morgan was the new manager.  The hotel remained a part of the Hilton Hotels until 1946 when the hotel was dropped from the Hilton family of hotels; there was not a listing of the hotel with other Hilton hotels after April 1946.  Locally, the hotel was still referred to as the Hilton and the Hilton Hotel sign on the roof remained atop for several years.

In 1975, Morgan sold the building and it has had numerous owners since then.  Most of these owners have had one plan or another with hope of revitalization but all have been met with failure.  The building has sat empty since 1983. 

I suspect the old hotel building is still structurally sound or the large communications antennae would not be on top of the building.  While not part of the original hotel, notice the empty art deco café next door to the hotel.  There used to be a very interesting website from the Texas Tech Architecture college that contained a lot of interesting images of the Plainview Hilton.

Archive to other images of the Plainview Hilton:




The Plainview Hilton listed with other Hilton Hotels from a 1930s postcard.


Other links on the Plainview Hilton:

Room 311 Hilton Hotel

A Good Image from the Street

Travelers Motel, Seymour Texas

Travelers Motel, Seymour Texas

The sign looks relatively new but the property appears much older.  The faux pueblo style announced that I left the eastern half of Texas and entered west Texas.  Broken and chipped glazed Spanish tile on the roof along with huge weeds and bushes growing in the parking lot revealed this motel has been vacant for some time.  Besides the tile roof, the Travelers Motel also used stucco and turquoise paint on the wood trim.  Notice the use of three green tiles placed along the upper fascia.  Searching the travel books in the archive I did not find a listing for this motel.




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