Ghost towns, those forlorn, empty, picturesque places, continue with a place of prominence in our lives. First, there is the completion of Ghost Towns of the Southwest. Now its research for Ghost Towns of Route 66.
In retrospect I see both books as simply the latest manifestation of my fascination with these forgotten places and the enjoyment derived from sharing their stories. Attesting to this even more than the books is the fact that on our honeymoon I introduced my dearest friend, also a fan of the quiet places, to the haunting beauty of Mogollon, New Mexico.
For us ghost towns are those delightful places where solitude reigns supreme. To celebrate our 25TH anniversary we chose a weekend in Bisbee
and an evening at the historic Copper Queen
. The next anniversary we chose the Hassayampa Inn
in Prescott with the destination being Crown King deep in the Bradshaw Mountains.
One year in celebration of my dearest friends birthday we cruised the stunning beauty of the Death Valley wastelands and explored the stunning ruins of Rhyolite in Nevada. Another celebration involved a trip to the ghost city of Jerome.
Oddly enough the acquisition of a Jeep is a relatively new phenomena in our home. Previously our adventures were often at the helm of an old pick up truck, many of which were built before we were born.
Even though the Jeep has only been a part of the Hinckley stable for a few months we have already discovered that with this vehicle a wide array of new adventure possibilities are unfolding. This and the arrival of the cooler temperatures that make desert adventures a pleasure have filled us with eager anticipation.
All things have a season. For Ghost Towns of the Southwest the season for research, writing, and editing is over. Now, is the season to introduce it and let those interested know it will be available in early spring, 2010.
Then, as is the case with each book, will come the time of eager anticipation to see how well it will be received. Why this aspect is the most unnerving is a mystery.
Here is the preliminary prerelease cover. There may be a bit of tweaking before final publication but if so, I will post the changes as soon as they become available.
The latest instalment of Route 66 Chronicles, a monthly feature that links the past with the future in the automotive industry, for the on line edition of the Kingman Daily Miner
was posted today. As always I would be most appreciative for shared comments.
This morning I had a detailed conversation with Kerrick James about our current partnership, a book profiling the ghost towns of Route 66. He recently completed a drive from Chicago to Albuquerque photographing sites for inclusion and the excitement was palpable in our discussions.
I look forward to seeing this book in print. I am quite confident it will enhance any adventure on Route 66 as well as inspire the armchair traveler to take to the road.
This award winning documentary by Route 66 icons Jim Ross and Jerry McClanahan is but part of the lure. Additionally there is the opportunity to immerse myself for an evening with fans of this legendary highway in a beautifully restored historic theater that has piqued my interest for a very long time.
News pertaining to another legendary Route 66 figure, Bob Waldmire
, is not good. Bob has been diagnosed with terminal cancer.
Bob and his amazing art work are Route 66 fixtures recognized by fans of the old double six throughout the world. His VW bus was the inspiration behind the Fillmore character in the animated film, Cars.
My association with Bob dates to his acquisition and refurbishment of the old general store in Hackberry, Arizona, on Route 66. His philosophy and lifestyle were far removed from mine but his easy, friendly manner, sharp intelligence, and passion for the simple things in life bridged all gaps.
After selling the store our visits were not as frequent but I could count on him stopping by at least once a year as he made his pilgrimages along Route 66. Few things attest to his honest love for people more than the fact that on each trip he always had something for my son.
There is little doubt that Route 66 will be a much poorer place without Bob on the road. He exemplifies all that this road was and is.
Here is a quick shot of yours truly in his native and preferred habitat. This was taken in the Hualapai Mountains on Sunday.
As the northern half of the world spins towards winter here in western Arizona it is the wind season. This is a bit different from the spring breezy season and the summer monsoon gust season.
Yesterday winds were pretty steady at 25 miles per hour and gusts topped 35. The forecast for today is more of the same but with much lower temperatures.
So, bicycle riding to work is on temporary hold. When weather necessitates driving I see it as an opportunity to exercise the vehicles on a rotating schedule.
Yesterday I drove the Jeep. Sunday, on the way down from the Hualapai Mountains, the check engine light popped on so I dropped it at Taflan’s garage. One MAP sensor and $275.00 later and all was well.
Today, I will most likely dig out Barney the wonder truck. Saturday, I gave the old truck a bit of a work out with drive east on old Route 66 to the airport, formerly the Kingman Army Airfield, to pick up a few dozen gallons of paint from True Value donated for historic district projects.
The Olds will be next. This tried and true war horse never disappoints but is always amazes. This old thing may be the most dependable and reliable vehicle we have ever owned. The paint and interior may be gone but the mechanics are still storing.
We have toyed with selling the old thing but to be honest don’t know if anyone would buy it. Its not really a collector car and as noted the body as well as interior are pretty rough.
Times have changed. There just aren’t a lot of folks who would pay a couple hundred dollars for dependable transportation.
The early winter storms have led to resignation in regards to our Route 66 adventure. I suppose we will have to wait for next spring.
Undaunted, we will turn our attention westward. Chronicling the ghost towns of Route 66 in the deserts of California will provide ample excuse for an excursion or two and is an ideal winter activity.
Meanwhile on Route 66 its off to work with dreams of grand adventures dancing in my head.
If this past weekend were to have a theme it would be Route 66 detour. I started with the office on Saturday morning which was a non stop flow of folks moving out, folks moving in, and folks enjoying Route 66.
The latter always makes my day as it enables me to experience the excitement of Route 66 for the first time, vicariously, through their travels. It also gives me a chance to introduce them to a wide array of wonders found with short detours from Route 66.
That was the theme behind my first Route 66 book, Route 66 Backroads.
I have long been of the opinion Route 66 adventurers often miss some of the best the highway has to offer by being myopic in their travels.
Then I found an old photo postcard, circa 1950, of a billboard on the Arizona/New Mexico state line that promoted the wonders of Route 66 as well as attractions such as the Grand Canyon and Sedona that are only experienced with short detours. The rest, as they say, is history.
On numerous occasions, when I present Route 66 as an adventure as well as a portal, the Hualapai Mountains are used as an example. This forested oasis is a mere dozen miles south of Kingman and the deserts of western Arizona.
In addition to the beautiful drive with its stunning views, and excellent opportunities to test the brakes, there is a wonderful lodge, miles of hiking trails, camp sites, cabin rentals, and a county park with picnic sites.
Saturday morning at the office marked the culmination of a long and tiring week. Adding to the stress is the ticking of the clock that serves as a constant reminder the dead line for Ghost Towns of Route 66 is fast approaching and the research is moving at a glacial pace.
My plans were to spend the afternoon on working to speed this up. First, however, was the need to complete three book reviews for Cars & Parts magazine. Then I ended up with another Route 66 detour.
This time it was Facebook. I have been seeking Route 66 information through this social interactive site and corresponding with experts on this topic such as Jim Ross.
However, I have a weakness and passion for informed, intellectual debate on current events that leads to growth and positive societal evolution. Intelligent discourse without name calling and character assassination is fast becoming an endangered past time so when the opportunity to engage presented itself I jumped in with both feet.
Long story short, discussions on Route 66 related topics soon became a lengthy and invigorating discourse on taxation, gay marriage, and all manner of current events. I enjoyed myself immensely and even relaxed, at least until I noticed the time and realized it was going to be a long evening.
Sunday morning became another opportunity for a Route 66 detour This time it was to spend a morning with my dearest friend and savor an Arizona sunrise among the towering pines and fall colors of the Hualapai Mountains. Enhancing the delightful morning were the brisk temperatures that hovered around forty degrees.
I suppose if there is a moral to this story it would be don’t be afraid of detours. It might even be a good idea to seek them on occasion as long as you don’t loose site of the goal.
Highways and roads evolve as the needs of the society that spawned them change. Route 66 is no exception.
However, it is the popularity of Route 66 that makes its history of particular and relevant interest. Still, unraveling the twisted history of Route 66 and seeking the oasis of civilization that once lined this highway is no easy task.
More often than not the history is conflicted or even erroneous. Short lived detours, alternate routes, and urban corridors in a state of flux all contribute to the difficulty of sorting out fact from fiction.
It is for that reason I was overwhelmed with the amount of research that went into this site, Route 66 Atlas
. Needless to say this website, as well as correspondence with its creator, have become indispensable tools in my endeavor to ensure accuracy as I chronicle the history of Route 66 ghost towns.
The folks who seek this history and those forgotten places are a unique breed that thrill at opportunities to experience tangible links to history. As I am one of those quirky people you can imagine my delight at finding this railroad bridge in a photo in Michael Witzel’s Legendary Route 66
with a circa 1920 automobile traversing the sand wash below with a caption indicating this was the National Old Trails Highway, predecessor to Route 66.
Enhancing the value of the special places that survive are the ones erased for various reasons with the passing of time. I learned today that some of the remaining structures in Nelson, a small ghost town on the National Old Trails Highway
, are about to be removed by the mining company that operates there. Tragically, I was also denied access to photograph the ruins and surviving structures before their removal.
This has sparked a strong urge to photograph as much of vintage Route 66 as possible. In a hit or miss fashion we have been doing this for several years but research for ghost towns of Route 66 will provide opportunities to become more serious and focused on this task.
This as well as a desperate need to get out, to explore, to savor the company of best friend, and to find a bit of solitude where one can actually think has given me an idea for this weekend – to photograph some of the old bridges between Kingman and Seligman.
To that end I left a message for John McNulty, owner of the Grand Canyon Caverns. As I recall from my days as a cowboy there is a circa 1920s bridge above the caverns that is only accessed through crossing private property. Lets see what kind of adventure this turns out to be.