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.
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