The Old Trails Garage on Route 66 in Kingman, Arizona, has housed a number of automotive franchises including Packard, Jeep, and Cadillac-Lasalle.
The recent demolition of the Desert Drug, the Frontier Bar, and Frontier cafe exposed an original exterior wall of the Old Trails Garage that was built in 1910. Plans are underway to seal this wall and paint murals that will present the illusion you are looking into a vintage auto repair facility on the now sealed doors and windows.
The front of the Old Trails garage faces Andy devine Avenue, the post 1938 alignment of Route 66. In 1914, when Louis Chevrolet and Barney Oldfield stopped for repairs here during the Desert Classic Cactus Derby the garage was just a half block from the National Old Trails Highway. Plans are underway to refurbish and rehang the vintage Packard sales and service that hung over this door during the 1940s.
The Imperial Motel has cast its shadow onto Route 66 since the mid 1960s. In March the motel will be but a distant memory as a new Walgreen’s will be built on this site. The sign will be preserved as part of the forthcoming project to line the south side of Route 66 through the historic in Kingman with vintage signs.
This vintage Route 66 gas station is also scheduled for demolition as part of the Walgreen’s project. In the late 1950s this was a Texaco station.
This building is also scheduled for demolition. Over the years it has served a variety of purposes, most recently as a discount furniture store.
The Hot Rod Cafe was a short lived incarnation of the City Cafe, a route 66 and Kingman landmark for more than a half century. As with the Imperial Motel sign this one will be restored as the City Cafe advertisement.
Quiet. The type of quiet where you can hear the gentle trickle of a small stream on the far side of a canyon. The rare silence that allows you to hear the ticking of your pocket watch and the scratching of a rock squirrels nails.
Quiet. The deep kind that allows you to think, to sense the rhythm of the world around you. The refreshing kind where you can hear the beating of your friends heart as you share a rocky seat under skies of washed out grey. When my wife and I were dating more than a quarter of a century ago I was to broke to pay attention. If steam boats were being sold for a dime a piece there was little I could do but run up and down the river yelling about how cheap they were.
So, our dates often consisted of long walks under western skies. We savored the quiet, each others company and the front seat to some of God’s finest handiwork.
As the years rolled by a family and all that that entails pushed our treasured walks to the back burner. We enjoyed sharing the wonders of the desert wilderness with our son but the simple pleasure of savoring the quiet in the company of my dearest friend became a fond memory of days gone by.
After my son left home to start his own family we slowly picked up where we left off. Now, every weekend, weather permitting, we saddle up and eagerly set out on a quest to find a place where we can find that solitude, that delightful, restorative quiet.
This weekend we drove north towards the old town of Stockton Hill, found a good spot to park Barney, and followed a rocky, twisted mining road high into the Cerbat Mountains. It was like old times.
It was almost as though the clock had been rolled back. My wife’s hair sparkled in the muted light of a sun masked by grey skies. Her laughter mingled with that of the small stream as it rolled across the rocks and into the canyon far below. With each ticking of the watch the cares and worries of the previous week became quickly fading memories.
In this part of the Cerbat Mountains faded memories abound as indicated by a broken head frame casting long shadows over a deep canyon, a weathered ore chute as gnarled as the tress that grow on the rocky slopes, the scar of a collapsed shaft or a washed out road on the colorful hillsides, or an occasional shack momentarily suspended in its slow motion collapse. Gold and silver, not quiet or scenic vistas, drew a hardy lot into this forbidding mountains as early as the 1860s.
Today these faded, broken remnants seem a part of the land itself. Weathered wood and rusty tin blend almost seamlessly with twisted scrub oak, slabs of stone tortured into contorted flows of color, and frame stunning vistas.
Each of our adventurers ends to quickly. Each journey of discovery fuels an eager hunger for the next and each expedition leaves us refreshed and ready to face another week of challenges.