The last leg of Route 66 in western Arizona, the portion that runs from Kingman to Topock through the Black Mountains and Oatman, is almost a shrine for fans of the double six. To a large degree it is is a near perfect time capsule representing Route 66 as it was in the beginning.
Is it, however, the original alignment through the Black Mountains? On the western slope, east of the town site of Goldroad and below Route 66, are remnants of a very substantial roadway. Portions of this road are also found on the east side of the pass.Could this be the route of The National Old Trails Highway? Could this be the road that Louis Chevrolet and Barney Oldfield drove in the epic 1914 Desert Classic Cactus Derby Race? Could this be the first alignment of Route 66?In this photo the old roadway appears as a trail on the hill side below Route 66. Closer examination reveals this was more than a trail.Stone bridge supports and extensive cable guard rails hint this was a major roadway. Even though there are no indications of it ever being paved from below the ridge into Goldroad, at the top of the canyon where this road connects with Route 66 there are traces of asphalt pavement.
In this photo you can see the “modern” alignment of Route 66 at the sharpest curve just above Goldroad.This well constructed support for a heavy wooden bridge is another indication that this was an important roadway. The remaining beams are substantial as is the broken planking found below as well as down stream. Similar rock work supports large sections of the road bed providing banked curves.This is a view of this bridge from above. This photo also gives a better perspective about how steep this road was.
After walking this road bed my perspective of Route 66 through the Black Mountains was forever changed. As steep and narrow as it is, as sharp as the curves are, it is still a vast improvement!Some of the guard rails on this older road were actually better than the ones on Route 66. For location perspective note that the slash on the hill in the background is Route 66.
Here is a view as this road nears the summit. The grade is not an illusion, this section of the road is very steep and even increases near the summit.
It would seem Route 66 has always been a highway for the adventuresome.