NEW DAWN ON ROUTE 66

Williams, Arizona, was the last community on Route 66 to be bypassed by I40. As with Seligman, Arizona, Afton, Oklahoma, and countless other communities that suffered similar fates, Williams quickly spiraled toward becoming a ghost town.
Williams, however, had an ace in the hole. It was less than seventy miles from the Grand Canyon and as a result a small core of motels, restaurants, and service stations survived.
Like the legendary Phoenix rising from the flames the town of Williams was reborn as the world rediscovered the kitchey glories of Route 66 and the once legendary Grand Canyon railway was revitalized.
Now, the entire town exudes vitality and excitement reminiscent of when Route 66 was literally the main street here. As a result Williams has become a role model for communities that suffered similar fates.
I often visit Williams when discouraged about loosing another historic structure in Kingman. It gives hope for the future.

I wasn’t surprised by a recent evaluation of Kingman motels and hotels. It found we have some of the highest room occupancy rates in the nation. It also reflected the average check in time as 8:00 PM and the average check out time as 7:30 AM.
Kingman just doesn’t show well, at least not yet. Still, this reinforces my belief that Kingman just may be the last remaining, undiscovered treasure on Route 66.
With Grand Canyon West and the Skywalk to the north we are closer to the Grand Canyon than Williams. The paving of Stockton Hill Road shortened the drive and improved the scenic quality of that drive.
We have a skyline unequaled anywhere along Route 66. At every turn the horizon is dominated by snow covered peaks, breathtaking buttes, mesas and whimsical knobs of rock.
Forty five miles to the east, in Peach Springs, is the only road where it is possible to drive to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Continue east about eighty miles and you have Supai with its towering waterfalls.
I suppose the only thing we don’t have is the polish, the shine that is transforming Williams. That is about to change.
The first mural program initiated by the Route 66 Association of Kingman met some obstacles that prompted a delay. So, its on to project two – the refurbishment of the Old Trails Garage a few doors down from the historic Brunswick Hotel on Route 66.
This garage dates to 1910 and has played a an important supporting role to history. As an example, in 1914 Louis Chevrolet and Barney Oldfield had their vehicles serviced here during the last of the epic Desert Classic Cactus Derby races.
The first steps to adding some flavor to this garage and this corner is the refurbishment and hanging of a circa 1940 Packard sales and service sign that once hung over the front doors. Next is a mural for the west side and last will be the placement of a visible register gasoline pump on the sidewalk out front.
Stay tuned for further updates and as you motor west, or east, on the old double six take the time to see what Kingman, a diamond in the rough, has to offer.
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