In the foothills of the Cerbat Mountains, north of Kingman, the maze of canyons are fast becoming exclusive suburbs. Providing stark contrast between the past and present are the vestiges of lost and forgotten highways.
Long before there was a Route 66, a National Old Trails Highway, or even automobiles these roads were arteries of commerce on the western frontier. The Beale Wagon Road was one of the first even though large portions follow native trade routes. Traces of this road are difficult to find but for those who know where to look ghostly remnants can still be walked.
The road pictured here was a portion of a supply route that connected the mines of the eastern Cerbat foothills with the rail head in Kingman.
The scene presents the illusion of wilderness. In actuality the golf course is less than a half mile to the north, a new subdivision even closer, and historic Kingman a half mile to the south.
I have acquired a copy of Popular Monthly from January of 1904, a special addition that profiles “88 new automobiles including illustrations, descriptions, and prices”. I have yet to really have time to study the little pamphlet but couldn’t wait to share some of the tid bits.
The closing pages of this delightful little publication is filled with an array of advertisements, each a veritable time capsule.
“The Luxury of living finds fullest expression in the perfect appointments and absolute safety of Peerless Direct Drive Touring Cars”.
“Motor – The National Magazine of Motoring.”
“The St. Louis – Use the Famous Rigs that Run”.
“Northern Automobiles are rational, trustworthy, roadworthy machines that accomplish their journeys in good shape, good time, to the perfect comfort of their occupants”.
The first pages of the publication are filled with fascinating articles – “Automobile Possibilities”, Ballade of the Automobile”, “What Not To Buy When You Buy An Automobile”, “The Horse And The Automobile”, “A Short Explanation Of Technical Terms For The Uninitiated”.
The heart of this issue is thumbnail illustrations and short descriptions of 88 automobiles manufactured in the United States. A few names are quite familiar – Pierce Arrow, Packard, Apperson and Peerless. Others such as Crest-Mobile, Elmore, The Robinson, Fredonia, Berg and Santos-Dumont are new discoveries.
The short descriptions are true gems. “The Yale – double cylinder, 16 h.p., water cooled, horizontal opposed motor mounted amidships; 2 speeds and reverse; artillery wheels and 4 inch tires; wheelbase, 88 inches; tread, 54 inches; gasoline capacity, 10 gallons; water, six gallons; weight, 1,800 pounds; seats five persons; price $1,500. Thirty h.p. model, with vertical motor in front and 104 inch wheelbase, sells for $2,500 – The Kirk MFG. Co., Toldeo, Ohio. “
Stay tuned for more nuggets from the new car review of 1904.
While most kids dreamed of being a fireman or something equally as glorious I thought of writing books. My near constant immersion in books fueled those dreams.
Fast forward to 1989. I was only thirty one but allot of life and stupid adventures had been crowded into those years. At the center of all of it were books and old trucks as well as a few old cars.
My loving wife jokingly suggested that since I could talk old cars for hours and enjoy myself even when alone perhaps it was time these stories be written.
A dream was rekindled. I dug out a rusty, trusty, 1948 vintage typewriter and an equally battered camera, made a call to the editor of Special Interest Autos published by Hemmings Motor News, and sold my first feature. With visions of quiting the day job and a dream reborn I sent the completed feature with photos.
Fast forward to the late spring of 2008. Now I am fifty. The hair is a touch grey and the ghosts of past adventurers have begun to haunt me in the form of stiff joints, and a couple of missing teeth.
The features and books are written on a computer. The photos are taken with a digital camera. The head is filled with a near constant need to learn new technology that in turn encourages a bit of frustration and challenges me to refrain from digging up words I used to use.
I still have the day job, praise the Lord. The dream of being a writer unshackled from the bonds of a time clock ebb and flow with each success and each disappointment. However, like the prospector of old I just know there is a big strike out there somewhere so just keep plugging along.
To date I have written sections for two books, written three books, coauthored another, and am deep in to the writing of another. I wrote two columns for the local paper for more than a dozen years. Feature articles have been published in Special Interest Autos, Old Cars Weekly, Route 66, American Road, The Laughlin Nevada Times Weekender, Texas Car News, and Hemmings Classic Car. Now I am an associate editor with Cars & Parts and write a regular column for those fine folks as well as a feature once and awhile as well as the book reviews.
One lesson learned is that name recognition and self promotion is key. This led to the creation of this blog. Now the tread mill has me learning to promote the blog to promote the writing that is done when I am not working to support the promotion of the blog and the writing.
The moral of the story is this – don’t quit the day job and don’t give up the dreams. One is important to keep the other alive and the other is important to keep you alive. Without dreams to chase we become as the ruins of Rhyolite.
The title for this mornings post was derived as a testimony to my optimistic nature. I recently turned fifty so you do the math.
The first indication I had reached this milestone came with the mail last Friday. That was when I received my application for AARP benefits that included a membership card, a token I gleefully refereed to as my “old fart card”.
In celebration my dear wife made me a wonderful Mexican dinner and the kids, my son, his wife, their daughter, and my sons adopted BIG brother, “Big Louie”, stopped by. As always my wife had more than enough to feed anyone who stops at the house.
The weekend, as always seems to be the case, was a busy one. Saturday was a half day at the office followed with several hours working on photos and attempting to resolve issues with Filezilla. This has become my latest technological nightmare as it is the required manner for submission for material to the publisher.
The day was rounded out by helping David, my son, pick up some furniture for the new house they will be moving into this weekend. Again, Barney was brought out of retirement for a little light work.
The original plans for Sunday called for me to fill in for Pastor Harlan Dennis in Peach Springs. Public speaking is not my strong point but as I intimately know most everyone at the church there, it is more like a friendly gathering at the house.
Instead we, my son and I, spent the morning recovering an abandoned Penske truck in Lake Havasu City. This desert community occupies the top four places on my list of least desirable places to visit, live in, or talk fondly of.
We were quite blessed as we were able to hit the road early and beat the record setting heat of the afternoon. As a result it was a mere ninety degrees by the time we hit town.
The landlord had neglected to prepare the cooler at the kids house so we had them over Sunday afternoon. With temperatures pushing 105 degrees the last place to be hanging out is an old trailer.
Monday, my official day off from the office, was spent running errands for mother, helping my wife with a couple of projects, a stop at Mr. D’z, and a half dozen hours working on the next book, Ghost Towns of the Southwest. With a fast approaching deadline of September 1, there is a sense of urgency to get a rhythm going on this project.
So far the first stop towards the golden years seems to be business as usual. There is, however, a sense of excitement and anticipation. After all the first half of this life has been a wild ride and there is no indication the second half will be any different.