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On the Red River Highway


The 22nd Red River Classic Car Show is set for June 2-3, in downtown Brandenburg Park. The weekend includes live music with Kerry Pastine & the Crime Scene, hula hoop contests, bubble gum-blowing contests, a Glow Ride Showcase around the park and the centerpiece of the event, the all-day Show & Shine on Saturday!

The first Red River Car show was on Father’s Day in early June of 1996, just a few weeks after the Hondo Fire that saw the town evacuated on Cinco de Mayo, May 5. In addition to being a great idea, the show helped return the unsettled townfolk to normal.

Organizers of that first Red River Chamber of Commerce event were Gene and Christy Hunt, Ron and Paula Compton, and Keith and LaNell Hall. Expecting 30 cars, the event drew 60 vehicles and was a rousing success. It was Hunt, a former California policeman who asked Hall and Compton why there was no car show in a town where the automobile played such a big role in the development of the valley.

The event has become an annual hoot and celebrates its 22nd year of entertaining automobilia enthusiasts and lovers of the classic art form of the 20 century that motor cars have become.

It’s unclear as to the date when the first “newfangled” form of transportation known as the automobile made the initial trek to the Red River Valley. On foot, on horseback or in a wagon was previously the only transport into Red River City. While the promise of a train to the mining district was a much-talked about rumor in the area newspapers of the times, it never happened.

The Red River Good Roads Association, however, was founded in the spring of 1914 so it was obvious that better access to the valley was seen as a necessary step in the interest of a small community that needed to grow to survive.

There are several photos in the files of the Red River Historical Society dated around 1915 that show autos parked in front of stores on the Main Street, possibly during the 4th of July celebration. The street had grass growing in the dirt.

Oral tradition insists that in 1916 the Studebaker Corporation brought a vehicle to town, giving a demonstration of horsepower on the original Bobcat Pass road a year before the Red River Hill opened for traffic in 1917. The car was said to have climbed the steep wagon road hill without hesitation, an engineering feat of no small measure for the times.

There is also a photo of a car parked in front of the post office and the Victoria Hotel that is dated 1920.

Highway 38 was built in the mid-1960s to accommodate more powerful modern vehicles.  Chances are 38 is the road that brought you to the valley.