In the writing of Ghost Towns of Route 66 I have learned a number of lessons as well as found a wide array of gems and treasures. As is often the case in such endeavors, I have also filled a notebook with questions that hang like unfinished chapters in a book.
Who were Marion Tenney and Bessie Hood? The sepia toned photographs from their 1925 adventure along a dusty, rocky track that would become Route 66 in California and Arizona the following year are merely the preface for a story currently filled with blank pages.
Was the photo of their car in deep snow near Williams on the road to the Grand Canyon taken before or after the accident in Goldroad? How long did it take the mechanics at the Goldroad garage to repair the twisted front axle and what other repairs were needed? What was their destination and where were they from?
In searching the photo archives at the Palace of Governors in New Mexico, I found a photo of a bus on La Bajada Hill. What pioneering bus company was bold enough to take on this challenge? What manufacturer built equipment capable of handling such a daunting task? Who was crazy enough to simply enjoy the ride?
Chasing the various incarnations of Route 66 also left many questions unanswered. This photo was taken above the old townsite of Goldroad in the Black Mountains on the west side of Sitgreaves Pass.
If you look through the cables in between the posts you can see the pre 1952 alignment of Route 66 as it twists its way into Goldroad. What road is this? When was it abandoned? What role did it play in the evolution of Route 66?
Spencer in Missouri is a favortite for those in search of the ghosts of Route 66. How many are aware that this town has the unique distinction of having hand trowled concrete portions of the highway?
Jack Rittenhouse noted in 1946 that there was little of note in Lawndale, Illinois. Today it is less than the proverbial wide spot in the road. Imagine my surprise when I learned the business district here once was numbered in blocks!
As with each project, lessons have also been learned on this one. Perhaps the most important one was this – always be prepared to have the facts you know proven wrong.
One aspect of writing books like these is that it enhances my adventures along familiar roads by adding depth to the perspective of what I see. Sharing this with others is at the heart of what I try to convey and share in my writings.
With that said, I hope Ghost Towns of Route 66 will encourage those who have never sailed forth on a grand adventure on the double six to do so soon. For those who are as familiar with the iconic highway as an old friend, I hope it adds new zest to your travels.