Weary travelers passing through Southwestern New Mexico can no longer find respite in the tiny community of Road Forks. An oasis once stood at the intersection of I-10 and Highway 80, where you could pull off the freeway for fuel, lodging, and a hearty meal. The structures remain, but people no longer stop there, except to marvel at what has been left behind.
I happened upon a fantastic cluster of abandoned businesses purely by accident. Five miles after crossing into New Mexico from Arizona, I exited the freeway, and there they were in all their abandoned glory: a massive USA Gas Station, Road Forks Mini Mart, Shady Grove Restaurant, and Desert West Motel. I’d hit the jackpot.
The only business in the vicinity that was still open was a little fireworks shop. A thick chain held the mini-mart doors closed, so I pressed my camera against the glass and captured a few pictures.
The fueling area was quite large with plenty of gas pumps in various states of disrepair. I imagine it was bustling with traffic in its heyday.
Shady Grove Restaurant was also sealed up tight. The windows were filthy, but I managed to get a few shots of the inside.
In the back of the property a little car sat rusting.
I can’t say for certain when the USA Gas station / Road Forks Mini Mart / Shady Grove Restaurant closed, but one blogger mentions stopping at the mini-mart for a cappuccino in November of 2010.
Directly across the street sits the abandoned Desert West Motel. The front door was wide open and nothing was locked, so I walked right in.
The main building was a lot of fun to explore. The reception desk still had quite a few artifacts.
Furniture remained in the dining area.
The syrup for the soda fountain hadn’t even been removed.
The back office still contained security equipment and files.
There was also a large suite, where I assume the manager stayed.
Out back is a lovely courtyard featuring a pool collecting tumbleweed.
The other buildings were mostly guest rooms, which were fairly trashed. It looked like some effort had been made to clean things up, or at least consolidate items in the unused guest rooms.
The business license hanging in the lobby was valid through 2013, but I can’t say for sure whether or not they stayed open until the end of the year.
They must not have updated their reading material very often because the magazine rack in the lobby contained an issue of El Paso Magazine dated fall/winter 2011.
Oddly enough, the website for Desert West Motel is still up. According to the “About us” section:
The Desert West Motel and Starvin Marvin’s Restaurant and Grill was open in March 2009 under new management. We have newly remodeled rooms with amenities to include free high-speed internet, microwave, fridge, and a beautiful outdoor swimming pool.
The few reviews I found online were mostly negative, and the most recent was from 2013. Several guests said there were no other visitors at the time of their stay. Some also reported that the above mentioned Starvin Marvin’s Restaurant was closed. With so few guests it must have been difficult for management to justify the cost of keeping the restaurant open. It is sad to think about the shattered hopes the new management had for the place.
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