Whenever you're traveling the highways and byways of this great country, it's simply a must to stop and check out the auto museums scattered here and there - some just off the interstate. On a road trip through the Southwest early this April, HotrodHotline's Jack Lawford did just that. Jack spotted the Russell Truck and Travel Auto Museum located on I-40's exit 369 in New Mexico. The Truck and Travel Center that houses the Museum is situated on historic West Rte. 66.
Faith in God and perseverance are what has brought Emory & Barbara Russell to where they are today. Emory was a logger. He, his wife, Barbara, and their four children moved to Cimarron, NM in 1964 from Montana so that Emory could find work in logging. What the family found, however, was the worst rain and flood conditions since 1902. The family lived in a tent that first summer because there were no living facilities in the town at the time.
While driving a lumber truck for the logging camp, Emory twisted his foot and broke it. During his convalescence, he began to take an interest in the hamburger business his wife was running. It was apparent that Emory enjoyed because when the local grocer closed his store to retire, Emory decided to build one as Cimarron did not have a grocery store.
In 1971, Emory opened a new 2,400 square foot store to the Cimarron community which he built himself. The initial inventory for the store was $4,000. Emory and his family believe that they owe a great debt to the banker who took a chance in lending the money for the business, and felt obligated to make it a success. And they have.
But grocery stores are not the only businesses Emory and his family own. When a business in Cimarron would close, the Russell’s would open it again. The family owned a gas station combined with the grocery store, drive-in restaurant, Laundromat, car wash and game room in Cimarron as well as two subdivisions. “If it’s something that Cimarron needs and we can afford it, then we go for it,” said Emory. “It’s a nice vacation area and we we’re just trying to help the town grow a little bit.”
But Emory admits that there were days when it was so hard, and the family became so discouraged, that he came close to selling just to get out from under it. For years, every cent went back into the business and the work week was seven days and seven nights. Both Emory and his wife gave up a lot for the business, including precious time with their children. They knew it would have to pay off someday.
“When my sons started to leave home, they said that they would never work in another grocery store again,” Emory said. “But I wanted them to so they wouldn't have to do what I did,” Starting out in a business today, he adds, is extremely difficult.
Emory attributes his success to a lot of hard work and trial and error. He adds that this is how he received much of his knowledge about the grocery business, making mistakes and learning from them. “I enjoy the grocery business and meeting lots of people.” He said. And he enjoys servicing them, as well.
Emory's latest venture is a new Truckstop Travel Center complete with a chapel, restaurant, Subway, Tire Shop and an intriguing car museum; their family stands by them ready to take on more challenges. Without the hard work, loyalty, and unity from their family, they don’t feel they would have been as successful.
The Museum has an astounding array of classic and contemporary automobiles. Among them are a 1958 Chevy Converitble Impala, a 1954 Chevy Belair 2-Door Hardtop, a 1957 Pontiac Super chief, a 1957 Pink Thunderbird Convertible, a 1956 Mercury Montclair Phaeton 4-Door, a 2002 Roush 360 HP 4.6, a 1955 Crown Victoria, a 1929 Model A Pick-up, a 1948 Willys Jeep CJ2A...the list goes on. All these lovingly maintained vehicles are displayed with a rich multitude of memorabilia. You can check out Marilyn, Elvis and John Wayne items as well as numerous cool Coca-Cola collectibles. Enjoy the photos of this uniquely outfitted Museum.