East of Albuquerque, along Interstate 40 near Sedillo Hill, the New Mexico Highway Department placed a directional sign at an exit showing a town named “Albuqueque” was thataway.
Clearly, when the signmaker produced the sign, he or she didn’t notice that the letter “R” had been dropped from the name of the state’s largest city. And whoever was responsible for proof reading didn’t catch the error either. Or maybe spell check wasn’t working that day.
A public information officer from the New Mexico Transportation Department, said it was an honest mistake and the sign was being replaced with the correct spelling. But, she added, “I honestly think it’s funny.”
Albuquerque’s name — how to spell it and pronounce it — has been befuddling people for years. Originally the town’s name, honoring a Duke in Spain, had an additional “R” and was spelled “Alburquerque.” Over the centuries, the extra “R” was dropped. Noted New Mexico author Rudolfo Anaya even wrote a novel entitled “Alburquerque.”
It’s not the first time the Highway Department has embarrassed itself with a misspelling on a sign.
Between Socorro and Truth or Consequences, there is a deep canyon with a major bridge on Interstate 25 spanning it. Because of the steep decline entering the canyon, the highway department needed to warn truckers to slow down.
The sign posted at the lip of the canyon was “Vehicles With Trailors Must Reduce Speed” (or something to that effect.)
My good friend Joel, a college professor at the time, was so incensed by the misspelling that he contacted the highway department, saying that the mangling of the word “trailer” left visitors thinking New Mexico was illiterate.
His rant to the highway department was taken seriously, and the sign was corrected soon thereafter.
Maybe there is a conspiracy underway to remove all consonants in the city’s name. In which case Albuquerque might someday be known as “Uueue” — pronounced “You-Youee-Youee.” Maybe some rock band could put the new name to the tune of “Louie, Louie.”