Above/featured: Welcome to Pie Town. The 2018 Pie Festival was held on 8 September.
The two words reach your eyes and enter your brain.
The questions are immediate.
What? Who? Why? How do I get there? Is there really pie?
A sense of calm eventually prevails, and that’s when planning begins. Because there’s firm promise: “oh there will be pie.”
Fast forward to our drive through the American Southwest over three weeks in October 2018, and our adventure is drawing to a close.
With morning sun and excellent conditions, we’ve departed Tucson for a long drive for which there are three goals. One, we must arrive in Santa Fe by tonight to catch our flights out the next day. Two, we have to stop in Albuquerque for a return visit and chomp on a spicy stuffed sopapilla at Mary & Tito’s Cafe before they close at 8pm. Three, we’re desperate to visit Pie Town which by design is on the way to Santa Fe. We’re on the road for over 300 miles (480 kilometres) through Arizona, into New Mexico, and to Pie Town, and that’ll be followed by another 220 miles (350 kilometres) to Santa Fe.
The car continues to roll along the paved undivided two-lane highway on a stretch of lonesome landscape with short stubby hills and tall grassy fields for company. US-60 is nowhere as famous as its northerly US-66 counterpart; both are historic national highways. As some have noted, driving present-day US-60 comes very close to similar conditions on US-66 in the latter’s bygone heyday.
The miles add up, and the hours tick by. Isolation is punctuated by farms, ranches, and small towns. We’ve made notes about the towns, because there’s always a need for fuel: gas for the car, snacks and drinks for the occupants. Small towns may not look like much on first approach, but I know the welcome greeting and warm atmosphere are in store as soon as we step inside a shop or restaurant.
Our destination in New Mexico isn’t “nowhere.”
Because there, pie awaits.
Pie Town & Pie-O-Neer
After hours of driving through Arizona, we’re well within New Mexico, and continuing east beyond Quemado, we see with great excitement one of the first distance signs to Pie Town. It’s not a bustling metropolis, and if you’re driving too quick, you might pass through without noticing the buildings along the side of the highway. But we’ve seen the signs next to the highway, and we’ve already slowed down in time to see the sign for Pie-O-Neer Pies.
At 350pm, we’re the final customers of the day, a mere 10 minutes before closing. There’s no fuss at all: we’re curious visitors, and we’d love to have whatever pie is left. We grab a couple slices of pie, and we strike up a conversation with Stan King about the history of the town, café, and how they’ve come to run the place today. He invites us to come back into the kitchen where Kathy Knapp is busy preparing to make more pies. We are delighted to spend time “behind the scenes” in the kitchen and chatting about different pies and favorite pies, and about visitors who arrive from all corners of the planet. There was even talk of a “peach and hatch chile” version which made me drool for more pie. We’re very grateful to Kathy and Stan for their time and kind generous hospitality; for allowing us to stay after closing; and for allowing us into their kitchen for a glimpse of the magic.
If opening day for a brand new pie-season occurs Pi(e)-Day (March 14 or 3.14), that’s the best reason for a second pilgrimage in time for my birthday. So, it’s no surprise I’m feeling that urge to fly back to the American Southwest, getting into a car, and driving the Pieway to Pie Town for a ☮ of π. And if 3.14 doesn’t work out, there’s always room for summertime appreciation of Pie Town on Pi Approximation Day, which is July 22 because 22 divided by 7 is 3.14 to two decimal places.
Pie Town is situated within Catron County in west-central New Mexico and is listed with population 186 according to the 2010 census. Situated near the continental divide, the town began life as a community called Norman’s Place after Clyde Norman who in 1922 filed a mining claim but didn’t find much gold or silver. Instead, he stayed put to create a camp for other miners passing through and began operating a gas station and café where he also began selling doughnuts and pies made by Helen McLaughlin from nearby Datil. She convinced him to begin making pies on his own. With its growing reputation, the town eventually had its name changed to Pie Town.
The town is located near mile marker 56 on highway US-60 between Quemado and Datil. Pie-O-Neer Pies is open daily in “pie season” from 1130am to 4pm or until their daily pies are gone. There’s more pie in town at The Gatherin’ Place and Pie Town Cafe. The folks who started up The Pie Source closed their Pie Town location and moved to Bandera, Texas. The Pie Festival takes place in town every year on the second Saturday in September.
I made all photos above on 19 October 2018, and I used SciWeavers iTeX2img to generate LaTeX code to the “i-8-sum-pi” image. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotografie at fotoeins DOT com as https://wp.me/p1BIdT-cyU.
This town gets a lotta love online, including: