I spent a large part of Sunday polishing the text for Ghost Towns of Route 66 as the publisher had requested a completed segment, with photographs and captions, to initiate promotion. I chose the California section as that was the most complete.
Goffs on the often overlooked pre 1931 alignment of the highway had such a fascinating history it was the topic for the first part of this section. The towns modern history spans the period from Spanish colonial exploration to a role in World War II.
Railroading was the cornerstone. First, as the high point for trains climbing from the Colorado River Valley or from the depths of the Mojave Desert to the west. Adding to this important role came the construction of a spur line to the mines at Searchlight shortly after the turn of the century.
During the teens Goffs was also at the junction of the National Old Trails Highway and the Arrowhead Highway, the primary automotive road connecting Los Angeles with Salt Lake City.
By 1932, the town was sliding fast towards becoming an isolated ranching community. Ten years previously the railroad had abandoned the Searchlight, Nevada, line, and relocated the primary switching yards to Needles and Barstow. In 1931, Route 66 was realigned.
The excellent museum in Goffs preserves a wide array of remnants from this long and colorful history. I can’t say enough about this section of old 66 or Goffs.
I lumped everything between Essex and Ludlow into the next piece. Each of these communities has an interesting history but not really enough to stand alone.
As an example Chambless started on the National Old Trails Highway sometime around 1919 as Chambless Camp but was relocated to its current location with the establishment of Route 66 and then …. Essex faired better than most communities along Route 66 during the war with its gas rationing as a result of an army airfield and POW camp nearby.
Bagdad is almost wholly gone. At one time this was a booming little place and even had a Harvey House restaurant in its business district. Sparse foundations, a railroad siding sign, a forlorn tree, and an old cemetery are about all that remain.
Ludlow is really an interesting story. Most fans of Route 66 cruise past the burned out cafe, the closed gas station, and the old garage on the east of town and never guess these are merely remnants of a later incarnation of the town.
This post card is from the extensive collection of Joe Sonderman. For more snapshots of Route 66 when it truly was the Main Street of America check out his website or one of his excellent books.
Daggett, like Goffs, has a very long and colorful history that warranted its own section. You have the old Stone Hotel, originally a two story show piece with second floor balconies and a glass dome over the lobby and association with Tom Mix and John Muir to name but a couple of interesting tid bits.
As a sidebar I had to include Oro Grande and Helendale, both very interesting and historic places. Likewise with Newberry Springs.
Sunday evening was time for a much needed break in the form of coffee with Dale Butel of Route 66 Tours. We truly enjoyed getting an Australian perspective on the highway and are looking forward to our next visit with eager anticipation.
Monday was spent hunting for historic images. To that end Jerry McClanahan gave me a lead that led to an amazing photo collection featuring pictures taken during the 1930s and 1940s for a post card company. As an example of the treasures awaiting discovery type “Oatman” in the search box under Frasher collection.
As is often the case in writing a book, I was torn about what to include and what not to include. Additionally, editorial constraints limited the word count and as a result was forced to be more concise than I would have liked in a few instances.
As an example I included Afton in Oklahoma but lumped Baxter Springs, Galena, and Riverton into an in depth sidebar. I realize Afton as a ghost town, or the towns in Kansas, is stretching the point unless the town is viewed in the context of what once was here. With Afton the list of what once was includes a railroad round house, hotels, banks, a wagon building company and numerous other businesses.
For those familiar with Afton, Oklahoma, take a look at these photos supplied by Laurel Kane of Afton Station. One is from shortly after the turn of the century and the second is from the 1950s.
As I finalize this project and search for another there is the need to promote the recent release, Ghost Towns of the Southwest. To that end I have a book signing in Kingman on the 17TH of April and another in Burbank, California, on the 1ST of May. Details on both are found on the link “Jim Hinckley’s Schedule” at the top of the page.
A much needed vacation will be greatly appreciated come the last week in May, the week we are planning for our Route 66 adventure. Schedule details will be posted in a few weeks.
In the mean time don’t forget that on the first of May there will be a drawing from fans of this page on Facebook for a signed copy of Ghost Towns of the Southwest. I also have free tickets to the Kingman museums at the office for those who stop by and say they say this offer on the blog or on the Facebook page.
Here is to happyhttp://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=1968adventurer&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=0760332215&fc1=000000&IS2=1<1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr motoring on the old double six and the road less traveled!