Summer Road Trip: Albuquerque to Las Vegas

Entering: Albuquerque, New Mexico

This post was co-written by Kevin Quinn and Caitlin Hucik

As we leave Texas and the Boll Weevils in our rear-view, we continue our journey through the Southwest with a stop in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

We enter Albuquerque through Record Groups 18-AA: “Airscapes” of American and Foreign Areas, 1917 – 1964; 30-N: Historical Photograph Files, 1896 – 1963; and 75-AO: Photographs Of Indian Life Submitted by Area BIA Offices, 1950 – 1976.

In 18-AA and 30-N, we were able to use aerial shots and a relief map coordinate our journey into and out of Albuquerque.

[National Archives Local Identifier: 30-N-39-2504] This is a photograph of the relief map of New Mexico.  The map was prepared by the State-wide Highway Planning Survey.  Lighter areas are Indian Reservations and are yellow in color on the map.  The map is basically brown in color.  National Forest Boundaries are showing on the map in green but are not visible in the picture.  Paved or oiled roads show as black lines; graded roads as white lines; county lines show as broken black lines.  In some cases the names of counties are visible as well as the names of more important towns.  The Rio Grande and Pecos Rivers are easily traced.

[National Archives Local Identifier: 18-AA-7] AIRSCAPES – New Mexico.  Albuquerque, New Mexico.

[National Archives Local Identifier: 18-AA-83] Albuquerque, New Mexico.
18-AA is a great resource for aerial shots of Albuquerque, as well as other locations in New Mexico (not to mention the other 49 states!).  Subjects in the Albuquerque folder range from the Railroad Yards, to the U.S. Veteran’s Hospital.

In 30-N, we found a variety of great shots including images of various highways, buildings, and maps, but this unique looking gas station, found along the famous U.S. Route 66, was too good to pass up…look at those prices!

[National Archives Local Identifier: 30-N-48-1521] Gasoline Station on U.S. Route 66, Albuquerque, New Mexico.  Photo by T.W. Kines, Sept. 1, 1948.
Rounding out our visit to Albuquerque, we discovered some beautiful cultural and environmental photographs within the 75-AO series.  75-AO is a deep resource for images documenting Native American Life, including this Ceremonial ‘Deer Dance’ at Tesuque Pueblo,

[National Archives Local Identifier: 75-AO-7-44] Deer Dance – Tesuque Pueblo
and physical landmarks like this buttressed rock, known as ‘white butte’, located west of Jemez Pueblo.

[National Archives Local Identifier: 75-AO-7-20] White butte west of Jemez Village, Jemez Reservation.
Alongside the Record Groups mentioned above, records relating to ‘Albuquerque’ can be found in the National Archives Catalog  within: 513-AP, 75-PU, 409-KN, 435-DA, 207-DP, and 48-DPA.  For more information about honoring Native American Cultures and Traditions as a visitor, please see:

Approaching the Albuquerque city limits, we have our sights set on Las Vegas, Nevada, no left turn required!

Viva Las Vegas!

A road trip through America’s southwest would not be complete without a stop in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Clip from 342-USAF-28787 reel 3 [silent]

Clip from 346-USAF-46406 reel 1 [silent]

Our first stop in the entertainment capital of the world is the original gambling district, old downtown Las Vegas and Fremont Street. Home to iconic casinos like the Golden Nugget and the Golden Gate, Fremont Street is what often comes to mind when thinking of Las Vegas. This area is featured in footage from record group 342: Records of U.S. Air Force Commands, Activities, and Organizations, 1900-2003. The first clip, captured in 1960, is from reel 3 of 342-USAF-28787 and the second clip is from reel 1 of 342-USAF-46406 shot 10 years later in 1970. The bright lights of Las Vegas and its high energy are on full display.

A city known for entertainment, gambling, a vibrant nightlife and bright neon lights, Vegas is also home of the U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron, the Thunderbirds. Founded in 1953, the Thunderbirds are assigned to the 57th Wing based at Nellis Air Force Base near Las Vegas. Footage from the group’s early days can be found in NARA’s motion picture holdings in record group 342: Records of U.S. Air Force Commands, Activities, and Organizations, 1900-2003. The clips featured here are from record 342-USAF-28787 and were captured in 1960 at a Thunderbird reunion of former aerobatic team members.

Clip from 342-USAF-28787 reel 1 [silent]

Clip from 342-USAF-28787 reel 2 [silent]

Clip from 342-USAF-28787 reel 2 [silent]

Clip from 342-USAF-28787 reel 3 [silent]

When in Las Vegas, a stop at nearby Hoover Dam and Boulder City is well worth the time. Known originally as Boulder Dam, the man-made wonder impounds Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the United States by volume when it is full. At 726 feet in height, Hoover Dam is a jaw-dropping feat. Footage held by NARA in Record Group  342: Records of U.S. Air Force Commands, Activities, and Organizations, 1900-2003 documents a stop at the major tourist attraction by US Air Force personnel in 1970 when U.S. Route 93 still ran along the dam’s crest.

Clip from 342-USAF-46406 reel 4 [silent]

There are many more stops to come on our 2019 virtual summer road trip! Follow along here: Summer Road Trip 2019