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There are multiple reasons to exit I-25 in Socorro and head west on U.S. Highway 60: to hike or bike from the highest point on the Continental Divide Trail, ponder the vastness of the universe at the Very Large Array (VLA) observatory, or simply enjoy a less-hurried alternative to Highway 40.
Ask any pie lover, though, and they will tell you that “PieWay 60” is the road to Pie Town, a must-visit destination in the quest for America’s beloved dessert.
Settled by Dust Bowlers in the ‘20s and ‘30s, Pie Town legendarily owes its name to Norman Smith, an enterprising miner and general store owner who baked pies for westbound travelers. Were it not for “Pie Lady” Kathy Knapp, however, Pie Town might have been left in the dust.
Kathy first visited Pie Town in 1995 on vacation from Dallas with her mother, Mary Munden. After making the three-hour drive from Albuquerque to taste its namesake treat, they were met with disappointment. The entire town consisted of a post office, a tax office, and the decrepit Thunderbird Trading Post. A sign on its frontier-style porch said it all: "There used to be pie in Pie Town, but there ain't no more — FOR SALE."
“My mom felt it was just wrong to have a place called Pie Town without pies,” says Kathy. And so they moved to Pie Town to rectify the situation, turning the trading post into the Pie-O-Neer. It didn’t take long for Mary’s traditional, home-style cooking and delicious pies to gain a loyal following. But, just three years after opening, Mary became ill and Kathy was faced with the daunting task of running the Pie-O-Neer alone.
“I knew I couldn’t do what she did,” recalls Kathy, whose dream was to be a photographer and open her own gallery. She left Pie Town for a few months of soul-searching, but soon realized she had already found her true destiny. “I missed the Pie-O-Neer so much,” she says. “But I knew I had to make some changes in order to make it work.”
Today, the Pie-O-Neer is under new ownership and is open Thursday - Sunday 10am - 6pm from Pi Day (3/14) through Thanksgiving. Before making the trip, be sure to check their calendar for seasonal hours. Pies are the only thing you'll find on the menu, so if you're wanting lunch beforehand, make sure you eat before you go!