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At the Truck Stop
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ZipUSA: Jamestown, New Mexico 87347

By Michael E. Long Photographs by Cary Wolinsky

Pull the rig into this mammoth truck stop and get a meal, a shower, and some spiritual renewal.

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How hard is it to handle a big rig? Pat Yoder, a slim grandmother from Pennsylvania, takes me east a few miles. It seems we’re moving slowly. “We’re doing 65 (105 kilometers per hour),” says Darwin Yoder, co-driver and husband, “but a big truck makes it seem slower.” He prefers less-than-top speed to conserve fuel, tires, and engine, from which he expects a million miles of humming. Tons of rebuilt humvee engines for marines at Camp Pendleton are lashed to a flatbed behind Pat, but her grip on the 21-inch-wide steering wheel, which has the same power steering as a car, is relaxed.

Darwin shows off an interior taut and sparkling as an Amish kitchen—refrigerator, microwave, dining table, pantry with hard Pennsylvania pretzels, closets, drawers, shower, toilet, and built-in vacuum. In slumber drill he folds the dining table into the wall, then folds down the wall, which reveals a mattress. He smooths the quilt. All in 27 seconds.

In the 1800s stagecoaches rattled in the vicinity. Now we pass armies of junipers camped on soft hills near sagebrush scratching out a living in olive and brown grass. From distant sandstone cliffs, erosion has calved rock bergs that look bigger than the Pentagon, flaming red in the low sun.

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In More to Explore the National Geographic magazine team shares some of its best sources and other information. Special thanks to the Research Division.

When was the first truck invented? With the invention of the steam engine in the 18th century, American and European engineers began working on motorized transportation. Steam engines were used not only for railroads but also for smaller passenger vehicles. By the mid-1800s the smaller steam vehicles began to give way to ones that used petroleum powered, internal combustion engines. Engineers around the world worked feverishly to develop motorized vehicles with this kind of engine, and many inventors deserve credit for devising and refining the automobile, a breakthrough in personal transportation. A motorized vehicle for hauling goods—a truck—soon followed. In 1896 Gottlieb Daimler of Germany built the first; it had a four-horsepower engine and a belt drive with two speeds in forward and one in reverse. In 1898 the Winton Company became the first American firm to produce a truck; it was a gasoline-powered delivery wagon with a single-cylinder, six-horsepower engine.

—Suparna Banerjee

Giant Travel Center
Tour through the Giant Industries’ website to learn more about the Giant Travel Center.

U.S. Postal Service
Look up zip codes for your favorite towns in the U.S. at this website run by the postal service.

American Trucking Associations
This site is a terrific resource to learn more about the trucking industry.

Mack Trucks, Inc.
Learn more about trucks at Mack Trucks’ website.


Fugate, Francis and Roberta Fugate. Roadside History of New Mexico. Mountain Press Publishing, 1998.

Harbert, Nancy. New Mexico. Fodor’s Travel Publications, 1998.

Metzger, Stephen. New Mexico Handbook. Avalon Travel Publishing, 2000.


Kadushin, Raphael. “The High Style of Santa Fe,” National Geographic Traveler (April 2000), 48-51.

Miller, Tom. Jack Ruby’s Kitchen Sink: Offbeat Travels Through America’s Southwest. National Geographic Books, 2000.

Tarpy, Cliff. “Pueblo Ancestors Return Home,” National Geographic (November 2000), 118-125.

Bruchac, Joseph. Trails of Tears, Paths of Beauty. National Geographic Books, 2000.

Preet, Edythe. “Come to the Corn Dance Café,” National Geographic Traveler (November/May, 2001), 46, 51-53.

Page, Jake. The American Southwest: Land of Challenge and Promise. National Geographic Books, 1998.

Miller, Mark. “High, Wide, and Handsome,” National Geographic Traveler (May/June 1997), 40, 45-47.

Miller, Mark. “Riding in Red Rock Country,” National Geographic Traveler (September/October 1994), 80-89.


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