As the release date for the highly anticipated Route 66 Backroads fast approaches it seemed a good idea to provide a sneak peak, a preview of forthcoming attractions if you will. Courtesy of Voyageur Press here is the introduction to the Route 66 guide with a twist.
INTRODUCTION Route 66 is a fascinating enigma. For those fleeing the dust bowl it was a road of desperation. In the era before the interstate large portions of the iconic highway were white-knuckle drives with larger than life reputations for death and destruction, the result of narrow bridges, minuscule shoulders, heavy traffic, and all manner of highway hazard. From Chicago to Santa Monica the roadside gave the illusion PT Barnum had established the world’s biggest sideshow promoted with colorful billboards encouraging you to stop and see a live Indian or albino buffalo. Today the old double six, segmented and broken, is an American legend that lures travelers from throughout the world who come to drive what remains, to experience life at a slower pace, to rediscover that quintessential American experience that is the road trip. Mini vans may have replaced station wagons and sanitized politically correct roadside attractions where the Green Book for the Negro Motorist is no longer a necessity for many travelers may dot the roadsides but the essence of Route 66 is alive and well. However, for those who truly seek this essence, those places where the past and present flow together seamlessly Route 66 is merely a portal. With just a short detour north or south of the iconoclastic highway there is coffee shops where the locals gather as they have since 1950 and the gas station attendant will still check your oil. Route 66 enthusiasts tend to be myopic in their quest for America before the generic age. Sadly, in so doing some of the best attractions, historic, natural, and those designed to part one from their money are missed, and overlooked. In Arizona, a journey of less than one hundred miles separates Route 66 from the Garden of Eden and a village so remote mule trains still deliver the mail. In Missouri, a similarly short drive can transport you to the family vacation paradise of Branson or a pristine wood unchanged from the time of Daniel Boone where the silence is broken only by a trickling brook, the sounds of a songbird and the wind whispering through the trees. One of the most beautiful drives in America begins less than an hour from where Route 66 ends in California. In New Mexico, you can visit a wonderful little village that has been perched on a towering monolith of stone for almost a thousand years in the morning and be back on Route 66 in time for lunch. The homes of Presidents Grant, Lincoln, and Reagan are just north of the highway in Illinois and to drive along the banks of the mighty Mississippi is to experience the world of Mark Twain, French pioneers, American explorers such as Lewis and Clark, and lost Native American civilizations. It would be a safe assumption that Route 66 has inspired more ink to cover paper with its praises than asphalt to pave it. Yet little about the wonders awaiting discovery with short detours on the roads less traveled is written or published. It is my hope that you find the drives in this book enhances your adventure on Route 66. Additionally, as you travel I pray that you have the time for a side trip or two, to take a journey on the back roads of Route 66 and rediscover the Main Streets of America.
After years of hit and miss attempts that resulted in the demise of numerous historic buildings and countless lost opportunities it looks as though there will now be positive developments in the the promotion of Kingman via Route 66. The seed for this grand endeavor are the fine folks in the photo(I am the grumpy looking little fellow on the left end).
The initial project will be four fold in nature; the development of an interactive website, a clean up project for the Route 66 corridor and historic district, a mural program, and the coordinating of events such as the Route 66 Fun Run as well as development of events for the historic district.
I speak for myself, not the association, from this point forward. With that in mind your thoughts and opinions would be most appreciated.
For more than ten years I dulled my frustration with the disjointed, half hearted efforts to make Kingman a destination rather than a quick stop on the trip to somewhere else with dreaming. Perhaps now some of these will be made manifest.
First, let me briefly detail what gives Kingman unequalled status in regards to potential. We are at the center of one of the longest uninterrupted stretches of Route 66. The skyline that dominates the western horizon in Kingman is a quintessential western landscape (please note the opening photo for this blog. We have a lengthy railroad history. Kingman has an association with a multitude of historic figures including Louis Chevrolet, Barney Oldfield, Charles Lindbergh, Andy Devine, Amelia Earhart, and Clark Gable. Kingman was the site of one of the largest flexible training schools in the nation during World II.
Together these present a nearly unlimited list of potential topics for a mural project. The Mohave Museum of History and Arts has a beautiful mural on one wall and will soon have a Harley Davidson themed mural on the wall facing Route 66. We will begin our “imagination” tour from west to east.
On the west facing wall of the body shop behind Mr. D’s we have a 1930s style automobile flying down Route 66. As a background we have the buttes and mesas that dominate the historic district and looming above that are dark, towering thunderheads. Inspired by the song Ghost Riders in the Sky, closer examination reveals a shadowy wagon train in the cloud formation.
As continuity is a problem along the Route 66 corridor in Kingman the traffic flow has been altered with Beale Street from the intersection with Route 66 on El Travotore Hill to First Street made a one way, west bound street and Andy Devine from the Power House to the Beale intersection being a one way, east bound street. The traffic signal on First and Beale is now reactivated.
An ornate fence runs from the Power House to the depot ensuring folks don’t step into the path of a train. Linking the two buildings is a meandering path shadowed by palo verde, mesquite and ironwood and bordered by a desert botanical garden. Windmills along the way hearken back to when Kingman was known as the city of windmills. Evening walks are encouraged with the use of vintage lighting similar to that found at Mr. D’z.
The depot is now a railroad themed restaurant. It is also a small railroad museum and gift shop with scale model trains rolling through a recreated Kingman circa 1940.
On the other side of the street we have Mr. D’z, the Dream Machine Auto Museum, the car wash refurbished to look like a circa 1930 service station, a small cafe in the rock building, a small park with kiosk that contains a map of historic structures int he downtown area, the post office with a facade that presents the illusion it is circa 1890 in the Arizona Territory.
The west wall of the Old Trails Garage is faced with corrugated tin that presents the illusion of age. The windows and doors in that wall are no longer mere outlines in concrete, they are windows into a shop busily readying the racers cars for the next grueling leg of the 1914 Cactus Derby. If you look closely there in the corner is Louis Chevrolet discussing repairs with a mechanic.
In front it appears as though the garage door is open as the theme from the side is continued here. Out front stands a visible register gas pump just as it was in 1920. A gleaming Packard Sales & Service sign hangs over the door.
The Brunswick Hotel is now longer a diamond in the rough. The whimsical murals of the Sportsman Bar are refurbished in garish color. As the remainder of the buildings on the block are a long ways from a completed restoration photo murals dominate the windows.
A peak into the windows of the store next to the Sportsman reveals a busy saddle shop. The wooden doors that bar entrance to the Sump are now painted to portray the entrance to a crowded, noisy pool hall filled with soldiers from the Kingman Army Airfield. The Nighthawk Saloon is filled with dusty cowboys. The lobby of the Beale is a busy place and in the cafe passengers await the next bus.
On the wall facing Fourth Street a colorful billboard proclaims the wonders awaiting discovery on a trip with Trailways Bus Lines. A bench under shaded trees provides an opportunity for rest before we begin the rest of our tour.
Now we have a choice – south on Fourth Street along old Route 66 to the Hubbs House park or toward the court house and the treasures of Beale Street that include restaurants, antique stores, the coffee shop, an underground miniature golf course/arcade, and more colorful murals.
What other attractions encourage the visitor to make Kingman their base camp for a weekend or week of adventures?
Well there is the scenic overlook park at the crest of El Travatore Hill that provides breathtaking views of the Kingman historic district and the refurbished White Cliffs historic park. There are also the trails at Camp Beale Springs and the Indian themed murals.
Of course where better to stay than Kingman if seeking the wonders found along Route 66 to the east or west, Chloride, or Grand Canyon West? Moreover, didn’t there used to be a banner over the streets that proclaimed Kingman to be the “Gateway to Boulder Dam”?
Could this be the dawn of a new era? Will Kingman become the jewel of Route 66? Stay tuned ….
Route 66 Backroads, off the beaten path adventures along America’s Main Street Just how popular is iconic Route 66? In Illinois, it is consistently the third largest tourist attraction in the state. A travel agent in London, England, now offers a Route 66 package tour. There are Route 66 associations in more than twenty countries. Books, such as the recently released Legendary Route 66 by Michael and Gyvel Young-Witzel, fuel this international passion for the most famous highway in America. Ironically, many who seek the wonders, the treasures, and the dusty time capsules portrayed in this and dozens of related works miss delightful gems only discovered with short detours from the Main Street of America. In 1950, a billboard on the border of Arizona and New Mexico proclaimed the wonders awaiting discovery along Route 66 on the journey west. It also teased the traveler with hints of the many attractions found just north or south of that highway. It was a well worn photograph of that billboard that inspired award winning author Jim Hinckley to write Route 66 Backroads: Your Guide to Backroad Adventures from the Mother Road. More than a simple travel guide, in addition to presenting Route 66 as a bridge to the past and a living time capsule, it also uses it as a portal to a wide array of oft-overlooked attractions, historic sites, and scenic wonders. About the Author and Photographers Jim Hinckley (Kingman, AZ) has a passion for the open road that has translated into regular contributions to a wide variety of periodicals, including Route 66, American Road, and others. He is the author of The Big Book of American Car Culture and Backroads of Arizona. Kerrick James (Mesa, AZ) has been a professional photographer for more than twenty years. His images have appeared in such publications as Arizona Highways, Sunset, and National Geographic Adventure. He provided the photography for Backroads of Arizona and is the author of Our Arizona. Rick and Nora Bowers are professional travel and nature photographers with more than forty years of photography experience between them. Their work has been featured in numerous books and magazines. The Bowers are on the road often, but make their home in Tucson, Arizona.
Route 66 Backroads: Your Guide to Backroad Adventures from the Mother Road Author: Jim Hinckley; Photographers: Kerrick James, Rick Bowers & Nora Bowers ISBN: 978-0-7603-2817-0 Retail: $24.99US – $27.50CAN – £15.99 Pub Date: November 2008 Paperback / 8.5 x 11 / 208 pages / 165 color & 35 b/w photos, 8 maps Imprint: Voyageur Press About Voyageur Press Voyageur Press, a member of the Quayside Publishing Group, features books about nature and the environment, American heritage, country life, crafts, trains, boats, sports, collectibles and travel. FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Maurrie Salenger 612-344-8154 – Phone 612-344-869 – Fax firstname.lastname@example.org Q & A with author Jim Hinckley
What is your favorite Route 66 “detour”? Highway 18 from Route 66 north to Hualapai Hilltop and then the hike to Supai. Within a mere sixty miles, you travel from the era of the tail fin and the Edsel to the 1890s where mules still deliver the mail and the Garden of Eden is just around the corner. Who should buy this book? Any Route 66 enthusiast who wants to enhance an adventure on America’s most famous highway, who appreciates the artistry of photographers such as Shellee Graham, Jim Ross, or Kerrick James or anyone who has traveled that historic highway and wondered what they were missing by not talking the turn off to Acoma. Do you have a favorite Route 66 eatery? I have several including the Cozy Dog in Springfield, Illinois, the Pine Country Restaurant in Williams, Arizona, and the Café on the Route in Baxter Springs, Kansas. What sections of Route 66 do you find the most scenic? I’m a desert rat so from west to east the section between Victorville and Goffs in California, the section from Topock to Kingman in Arizona, Santa Rosa to Tucumcari in New Mexico, from Tulsa in Oklahoma to Baxter Springs in Kansas, from Springfield to Rolla in Missouri, and from Springfield to Joliet in Illinois. Is there one Route 66 themed event that encapsulates everything the highway has come to represent? The Route 66 Fun Run, a three day, 180 mile block party in some of the most beautiful country in the southwest.
Reviews of previous books by Jim Hinckley The Big Book of Car Culture: The Armchair guide to Automotive Americana Texas Driver, November-December 2005″…an old-fashioned family vacation…kitschy, informative…a whole lot of fun. Well-written, entertaining…can keep you browsing for hours.” Road & Track, May 2006 “Satisfyingly more than a pictorial pot-boiler, these 320 oversized pages show signs of thoughtful research on everything from the Lincoln Highway (Route 66 for an earlier generation) to Earl Scheib (‘I’ll paint any car any color for only $29.95’).” Hemmings Classic Car, June 2006 (circ.: 36,000) “More than a few books chronicling the American road have passed through our inbox and been reviewed in these pages. When this one arrived, we groaned reflexively, figuring we’d found yet another volume joyously recounting the kitschy glories of Route 66. We were pleased, however, to learn that in this large- format paperback … the authors fire a quick-shot series of features at literally all things automotive, or at least auto-related…The brisk writing and reader-friendly style make this a good one-shot volume of what our hobby’s all about.” Auto Aficionado, March/ April 2007 “The Big Book of Car Culture: The Armchair Guide to Automotive America turned out to be thoroughly engrossing and entertaining. It is well researched, unearthing some information that is usually not found in print, and delightfully illustrated.” Classic American (UK), Winter 2006“If you’re looking for a good all-around book about American car culture, then this is it! Beautifully illustrated with period color (where possible) pictures.” Scotland Daily Record, November 2, 2005″It’s a power-packed paperback on the weirdest and wackiest wheels ever seen in the U.S.”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Maurrie Salenger 612-344-8154 – Phone 612-344-869 – Fax email@example.com Backroads of Arizona: Your Guide to Arizona’s Most Scenic Backroad Adventures Phoenix Magazine, January 2007“Backroads is chock-full of vivid images by Kerrick James … James’ artwork almost makes Backroads a better picture book than travel guide. Almost. With plenty of maps, directions and little-known facts about each region, Hinckley proves himself to be an excellent travel guide. In addition, the drives are designed for all types of sightseer – from leisurely tourist to the adventuresome off-roader.”Arizona Republic, Dec. 1, 2006 “An unqualified joy, whether you intend to use it for practical route planning or simply for armchair exploration.” Phoenix, January 2007 “From budding poppy fields in Bisbee to salmon-colored sunsets in Sedona and historic buildings across the state, James’ artwork almost makes Backroads a better picture book than travel guide. Almost. With plenty of maps, directions and little-known facts about each region, Hinckley proves himself to be an excellent travel guide.”Kingman Daily Minor, Feb. 18, 2007 “The book is broken into regions with easy-to-follow directions accompanying fascinating stories on what to look for as you cruise across God’s country. Add in the vivid photography of Arizona’s natural and man-made treasures, and you’ve got a wonderful treat to thumb through on a Sunday afternoon, then to use as a guide as you enjoy the state’s many backroads.” Tucson Lifestyle, February 2007 “Hinckley, an auto enthusiast, knows the pleasures of the open road and proves that he’s an excellent source of info on everything from the topography to the history to the attractions of the state, giving a strong overview of the character of each region.” Valley Guide Magazine, Spring 2007“Perfect for the casual traveler and the experienced adventurer alike.”
Talking Points Five little known Route 66 facts from Route 66 Backroads – The path Route 66 would follow in 1926 through western California and northwestern Arizona was the course for the last of the Desert Classic Cactus Derby races in 1914 that featured Barney Oldfield and Louis Chevrolet. Illinois and Kansas were the first states to pave their portions of the highway. The iconic teepee shaped motel in Holbrook, Arizona, that is now a Route 66 landmark, was copied from the original built at Cave City, Kentucky. Route 66 was initially designated U.S. 60. Production of maple syrup for profit at Funks Grove, Illinois, began in 1891. Five famous people associated with Route 66: Mickey Mantle grew up in Commerce, Oklahoma, and played ball for a Baxter Springs team Carthage, Missouri was home to Myra Belle Shirley, the infamous Confederate spy and outlaw known to history as Belle Star. Charles Lindbergh stayed at the Hotel Beale in Kingman, Arizona, during construction of an airport there. Louis Chevrolet was a driver in the 1914 Desert Classic Cactus Derby that followed the future path of Route 66 across California and northwestern Arizona. Cecil B. DeMille evaluated Flagstaff as a possible relocation site for his New York City based motion picture company before choosing Hollywood. Fifteen most exciting sites found with detours from Route 66 Fort de Chatres state historic site – Illinois Lincoln’s New Salem state historic site – Illinois Lake of the Ozarks – Missouri Branson – Missouri Coffeyville – Kansas Lawton – Oklahoma Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge – Oklahoma Palo Duro Canyon – Texas Old Town Albuquerque – New Mexico Acoma – New Mexico Grand Canyon – Arizona Oak Creek Canyon – Arizona Supai – Arizona Death Valley – California Catalina Island – California BIO Jim Hinckley currently resides in Kingman, Arizona, the proclaimed “Heart of Historic Route 66, with his wife of twenty-five years, Judy, two ancient cats, and Barney the wonder truck, a well worn 1968 Dodge Adventurer. He is the manager of Penske Truck Leasing, an associate editor and feature columnist for Cars & Parts, and an award-winning author. The books and features authored by Jim reflect a passion for vintage cars, trucks, and the open road that has spanned almost a half century. They also draw heavily from his colorful adventures that include work as a cowboy in southern New Mexico, as an underground miner in the ghost town of Stockton Hill, Arizona, a dredge operator, the recovery of repossessed automobiles from throughout the country, and collection agent on Indian reservations in Arizona. Books by Jim, The Big Book of Car Culture, bronze medal winner at the 2006 International Automotive Media Awards, Backroads of Arizona, and Checker Cab Photo History, and Ghost Towns of the Southwest scheduled for a summer 2009 release, exemplify his diverse interests. Likewise the titles of publications in which his work has appeared; Route 66, Classic Auto Restorer, Old Cars Weekly, the Kingman Daily Miner, Hemmings Classic Car, American Road, and Special Interest Autos.
In recent weeks I have noticed a dramatic change in traffic along old Route 66, a veritable river of motorcycles and most have mufflers! Okay, in all seriousness though this iconic highway has long been a magnet for motorcyclists the recent increase is noticeable.
I suppose this shouldn’t be a real surprise. Route 66 and Harley Davidson’s are both American icons with almost cult like international followings. Factor in the high price of fuel and I suppose we will see an even larger increase in this traffic next year.
The excitement and fun made manifest in the big smiles of the riders I met in the past few months have almost, and I repeat in big letters, A-LM-O-S-T, convinced me that the time has come to discover the joy of the open road with the wind in my face and bugs in my teeth.
I am a little small for a full dress Harley and far to eccentric to drive something so common. If I were to loose my mind and take to motorcycles at this late stage in life it would probably be a Harley from World War II, a classic Indian, a Norton or perhaps a vintage Honda Dream.
In the past few weeks Kingman has been a stop for folks from Norway, Germany, France, New Zealand, England, and Australia – all on motorcycles the majority of which were built by Harley Davidson. It is almost as though I have a front row seat to an international parade!
There is a tangible excitement among many of these travelers that is almost contagious. It gives one a great feeling to see folks from every corner of the globe discovering what I did more than forty years ago – the desert southwest is a wonderland.
In talking with a few of these folks about their adventures I was lead to an interesting train of thought. Americans love the open road and their road trips. Europeans are fascinated with America and are familiar with motorcycles. Fuel prices will be higher next summer than they are now.
Will motorcycle travel become even more popular along Route 66 and other historic American byways? Will this new generation of motorcyclists be able to overcome the stigma created by an irresponsible few who insist on embracing the stereotypical “outlaw” biker racing down the highways with a deafening roar?
On to new business. The Route 66 Association will be meeting this Thursday evening at the historic Brunswick Hotel in downtown Kingman. I hope to have positive and exciting news to report this coming weekend.
The response to the forthcoming release of Route 66 Backroads is rather exhilarating. It is also a clear indication that the mystique and fascination with Route 66 is alive and well.
Well, the sun sets on another week and the time has come to listen to the coyotes howl under the starlit sky.
I was out playing with the camera this weekend and thought it might be nice to illustrate why my love for the deserts and wild country of the southwest is so deep.
The sunset photo was shot on a hill above Route 66 overlooking downtown Kingman as well as the buttes and mesas that dominate the western skyline. The second photo is of a rocky outcropping along the old wagon road that leads to the mines above the ghost town of Stockton Hill.