For those who follow the blog on a regular basis or that read the books I write, it will come as no surprise to learn that we like the the big empty, those special places where only the wind remembers the dreams that inspired the creation of a trading post, a road, or bridge. It would seem others share that affection even though few will go to the lengths we do to find them, to discover their secrets.
What was the reward for the climb up these steps in Stockton Hill?
This afternoon was spent preparing a series of photos for the KNAU website that will be used as a slide show promotion for a forthcoming series on ghost towns. With each photo selected I was instantly transported back to the moment this special place was first discovered and in my mind the smells, the sounds, and initial sense of wonder were renewed. The old town of Stockton Hill and I have a very long history. It was here that I made my first journey underground as a miner. The empty streets that provide stunning views were among the first places my dearest friend and I took long walks. It was on a journey to this forgotten town that my wife first drove Barney the wonder truck.
Endee survived the closure of the railroad, drought, the Great Depression, and the closure of the railroad but not the by pass of Route 66.
It was a cold January day when this photo was taken. The breeze was slight but brisk as it rolled down the snow covered flanks of the Cerbat Mountains. My dearest friend and I paused on these steps to savor the silence, each others company, and reflect on what once was the reward for climbing them. This photo from Endee was taken this past May on our excursion to chronicle the ghost towns of Route 66 for a forthcoming book. It was our first trip to Endee, a town often overlooked by even the most ardent fan of the double six. Our plan was for a quiet picnic under the trees. The near gale force winds negated that idea and so our explorations were brief. The balm for our disappointment was a piece of peanut butter/chocolate pie at the Midpoint Cafe in Adrian, Texas.
It was this scene and the forthcomig release of our book, Ghost Towns of the Southwest, that inspired a series of ghost town prints that are sold through the Lile Fine Art Gallery in Amarillo.
This was my wife’s first road trip east of Albuquerque. To celebrate she piloted the Jeep across the old wooden bridge with a ground school making a valiant effort to pace us, through Endee, and into Glenrio, Texas. On of our favorite haunts is the mining town of Chloride. My wife’s family has a long association with this quaint old town and for more than a few it is their final resting place. This photo was taken on another of our winter excursions. Initially we had planned a drive to Windy Point and then lunch in Chloride. As the road to that hidden gem was in the snow line we decided to forgo that and just walk the streets of Chloride to work up an appetite for lunch at Yesterday’s.
At sunrise Bisbee seems to be a town suspended in time.
Bisbee is a bit big to be considered a ghost town. Still, when you consider the population is less than half of what it once was or that this street was once filled with traffic as well as a trolley car line the descriptor fits. My father in law worked a construction project here for awhile and as a result my dearest friend lived here as a baby. Our first trip to Bisbee as husband and wife was to celebrate an anniversary, number 25, with a weekend at the historic Copper Queen, a hotel that has been in continuous operation since 1902.
Two Guns – land of broken dreams.
Two Guns is one of those places that leaves me wondering what the fascination is. It is in a scenic and historic location but there is something lacking, at least for us. Perhaps it is its proximity to I-40 that prevents the silence from enveloping us. As I perused more than a dozen years of photographs this afternoon a realization came to me, the writing of books about ghost towns and the quiet places is something that has been almost a half century in the making. I suppose you might say sharing these places with those who also find solace where the winds whisper the secrets of the past is my calling.
Our monsoon season this year has been a bust and to say it is dry would be akin to saying Duluth is chilly in the winter. It is so dry we are hunting jerky instead of deer, we picked dried apples right from the tree, and the cactus need to be watered.
Thunderheads build over the Hualapai Mountains before a summer storm.
Then, yesterday afternoon, it was like old times. Towering thunderheads began dominating the eastern horizon over the Hualapai Mountains with flashes of lightning illuminating the dark towers. There was a tantalizing hint of rain in the dry, dusty air. Then the winds began to blow, in an instant the temperatures dropped twenty degrees, the skies opened, and the rain began to pour from the sky in buckets. After fording a couple of small rivers that were streets on the way to work, I arrived home to find that Fed Ex had delivered my advance copy of Greetings from Route 66http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=1968adventurer&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=076033885X&fc1=000000&IS2=1<1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr. It was propped inside the screen door. Initially my heart sank when I picked up the soaked cardboard box and water poured from the bottom. Fortunately the book was carefully wrapped in bubble wrap! After a delightful dinner and even more delightful walk through the neighborhood with my dearest friend, I eagerly opened the cover and set out on a literary adventure. With the contributions of Russell Olsen, Kathy Weiser of Legends of America, Michael Karl Witzel, I expected the book to be wonderful. In an instant all expectations were exceeded. This is a stunning, colorful, 240 page post card and time capsule sandwiched between two hard bound covers. Recipes, displays of vintage post cards, profiles of the people that made Route 66 the Main Street of America such as Al Bell, and the amazing photography of Russell Olsen that provide then and now glimpses of our favorite Route 66 stops was just the frosting on the cake. For hours I poured over the pages drinking in the color, the stories, and the haunting images of attractions and businesses now vanished. Here was the Painted Desert Trading Post during its glory days in the 1940s, Eds Camp from the 1930s, and Two Guns as a thriving tourist destination. In my minds eye I saw them as they were on our visit last May, empty ruins embraced by a vast landscape of rock and sand under skies of stunning blue with a ribbon of broken asphalt that vanished in the brush. Then a thought entered my head – the bar has been set very high. It will be very difficult indeed for the Route 66 encyclopedia to top this. However, you can rest assured that every effort will be made to create a work worthy of this amazing foundation.
Chillin on Beale Street is truly a mixed bag of automotive treasures.
Any time the vintage car crowd gathers in Kingman, I am left in amazement by the amazing diversity of vehicles found in such a small town and this past Saturdays evening of topless fun on Route 66 was no exception. With the setting sun casting deep shadows and glinting on the chrome of beautiful hand crafted street rods, meticulously restored antiques, rough around the edges daily drivers, rat rods, and chrome bedecked Harley Davidson motorcycles old Beale Street was transformed into an automotive treasure chest. The festivities proved an excellent way to end a day and a weekend. The frosting on the cake was the opportunity to again visit with Dale Butel from Australia and his latest tour group, and another car buff from down under that has been in Kingman for a week or so.
This photo, courtesy of the Mohave Museum of History & Arts, is of Fig Springs station on Route 66 between Kingman and Cool Springs.
Sunday was a day of discovery as I spent much of the afternoon digging deep into the history of Route 66. My portals to that lost world for this journey were AAA directories from 1927, 1940, and 1953, motel guides from the 1940s and 1950s, and service station guide books from the 1930s and 1940s. I diligently tried to focus on the task at hand which was gathering material for the Route 66 encyclopedia. However, on more than one occasion I allowed myself to be led along an unrelated path with notes on drivers license requirements. Imagine a time when a drivers license was only required for those who drove commercial vehicles and those drivers had to be at least 15 years of age! One state required the use of a horn before passing and another set limits in residential areas at forty miles per hour, forty five on rural highways. These adventures into another time are but one aspect of writing that I find enjoyable. Consider this, in 1927 the AAA did not list one approved service facility and only two hotels in Albuquerque. One of these hotels was the one recommended by Emily Post after her 1916 automotive odyssey.
The forlorn Beale Hotel still stands but for how long is anyones guess.
The Beale and Brunswick Hotels in Kingman were the recommended lodging choices. The cost was $1.00 and $1.50 for singles. Recommended travel times were also interesting. For 1927, eight hours from Ludlow to Needles dependant on road conditions. Albuqurque to Winslow, “…can be driven in one day provided road conditions allow for faster speeds but our suggestion is to overnight in Gallup or camp for the evening.” Also in 1927, there was only one approved service facility bewteen Barstow and Needles, Beaman Garage in Amboy. As late as the early 1930s most of the southwest between Oklahoma City and Los Angeles was still very much a frontier. Garages were also blacksmith shops, at some hotels phone service was not available, and the last section of Route 66 to be paved was near Hackberry, Arizona in 1936. A large chunk of Monday morning was spent weaving the previous days notes into the text of the encyclopedia. Then it was lunch and off to the dentist, again. This visit was the last of the minor ones as in October we begin the adventure of dental surgery. My schedule for the next thirty days, rather than fear or the thought of initiating a monthly series of payments that will stretch far into the future, is the primary reason for the delay. I am giving the summer a real send off! Next Monday from 11:00 to noon I have an interview with KNTR radio in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. Then we have Labor Day, followed by the celebration of 27 years shared with my dearest friend, a trip to Burbank, the next edition of Chillin on Beale Street which will also be the world debut of Greetings from Route 66http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=1968adventurer&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=076033885X&fc1=000000&IS2=1<1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr, and an interview with AM Arizona in Prescott coupled to the long awaited, numerous times postponed trip to Crown King. Whee!
The August edition of Chillin’ on Beale Street with its theme of Topless Fun on Route 66 may be history but for those fortunate enough to attend, it will not soon be forgotten. From the crowds and music to the eclectic display of vehicles it was an amazing night under a clear desert sky.
As always the event was open to anything with wheels, which again meant an evening full of automotive surprises. As a bonus, the topless theme and the warm summer evening were just enough incentive to encourage owners of convertibles and t-top cars to dust them off, to cruise the streets, and to join in the fun.
The sun sinking into the west cast a Ford restractable hardtop and Harley davidson into shadows.
The listing of open topped vehicles on display ran the gamut from A to Z. At one end of this alphabet soup of automotive history was a delightful Ford Model A roadster and an Alpha Romeo. The other end was represented by a rough but complete 1984 Nissan “Z” car with t-tops. In between were a rare Ford retractable hardtop, a Singer roadster, a 1922 Ford “T”, a late model Thunderbird with custom paint that included a ghostly, metallic eagle on the trunk, an early Nova, and a small herd of garishly painted T-bucket roadsters. The array of fixed top cars was as equally diverse.
It was an evening made for top down fun.
An unrestored 1949 Chevy truck sporting well earned, desert baked patina sat nestled between a chrome bedecked Harley Davidson and an early Ranchero. Woody wagons and vintage buses, motorcycles and rat rods, full blown street machines and impeccably restored muscle cars lined Beale Street for blocks. (for more photos of the August Chillin on Beale Street check out the album on Destination Kingman page on Facebook).
How many sunsets have been seen through the windshield of this Model A Ford?
As amazing as the automotive carnival was, it was the atmosphere that compelled you to linger, to savor, to leisurely stroll the street, and to take time to talk with friends and strangers alike. Folks by the hundreds brought chairs and coolers, filled the sidewalks, and simply chatted the evening away. It was simple, old fashioned small town fun at its absolute finest. For me it was also an evening of surprises. See, there is still a disconnect in my mind between the Jim Hinckley that writes books and takes photographs and the Jim Hinckley that lives a simple life of anonymity in a small town in the midst of a vast desert in western Arizona.
The diversity of vehicles on display was astounding.
So, when someone stops by the office and asks that I sign a book or t-shirt, asks for directions, or asks when when my next book will be released, it is always a, “Who, Me?” sort of moment. With that in mind you can imagine my surprise when a tourist from Australia stops me on the street in Kingman, presents a limited edition print of the Hilltop Motel dusted in snow purchased in Amarillo, Texas at the Lile Fine Art Gallery, the distributor for our prints, and asks that I add a signature to the print itself, in addition to the one on the matting.
Twilight on Beale Street muted the colors of the vintage cars and hot rods but not the fun.
I would think this edition of Chillin’ on Beale Street would be a very tough act to follow. Of course, I thought the July version, a salute to automotive orphans with Indian motorcycles, Hudson pick up trucks, and a show quality 1949 De Soto on display was pretty amazing. However, indications are the September version will be even bigger.
When was the last time you saw one of these at a small town show?
Even though many details are still sketchy it has been confirmed this event will be the venue for the official launching of a new book, Greetings from Route 66, a fascinating compilation that manages to capture the very essence of the highway in a manner that is almost like the blending of a time capsule and post card from the road to those back home.
Today we have a short post but a very long plea. One half of the latter is a pug being circulated by the publisher. In my effort to solicit information for projects this work well in regards to the establishment of legitimacy. Please feel free to print and circulate, or drop a note in regards to specific need for an interview or appearance. We also have a plea for information that is relatively self explanatory. If you can lend assistance, have ideas, or would like to help write history please drop a note. Thank you.
ROUTE 66 ENCYCLOPEDIA & ATLAS
Voyageur Press/Quayside Publishing – publisher
Text and photography by Jim Hinckley, author of Ghost Towns of the Southwest, Backroads of Arizona, Route 66 Backroads, The Big Book of Car Culture, Ghost Towns of Route 66 (fall 2010), and contributor for the compilation Greetings from Route 66 (fall 2010). To ensure this work is historically correct, provides a comprehensive overview of Route 66, and is as current as possible, I am petitioning historic societies, museums, businesses, and Route 66 organizations for assistance in the form of suggestions for material to be included, contact information, historic information, and information pertaining to the acquisition of material to be used as illustrations.
General topics for inclusion:
1) Community profile – a profile of each community on all alignments of Route 66.
2) Biographies – concise biographical sketches of individuals that have played key roles in the roads history. Examples; Bob Waldmire, Cyrus Avery, Micahel Wallis, etc.
3) Notable events that are directly associated with Route 66 or its predecessor auto trails such as the National Old Trails Highway or Ozark Trail. Examples; the Desert Classic automobile races 1908 – 1914, the Bunion Derby, etc.
4) Predecessor highway history – the National Old Trails Highway, Ozark Trail, etc.
5) Current businesses and their history – this category would be historic or new businesses such as Pops in Arcadia and Afton Station in Afton.
6) Historic businesses now closed – examples for this category would include the Painted Desert Trading Post and Coral Court Motel.
7) Route 66 entertainment – television shows and movies filmed on Route 66 or locations that were used in these films.
8) Personal stories – short stories of personal experiences on Route 66 that will serve to illustrate its evolution.
My goal with this project is to chronicle the first 85 years of Route 66 history, to preserve it for future generations, and to further fuel the resurgent interest in the highway. Thank you for the assistance – Jim Hinckley
Jim Hinckley, author, Route 66 Backroads, Backroads of Arizona, The Big Book of Car Culture, Ghost Towns of the Southwest, Greetings from Route 66 (October, 2010) update
For more than twenty years Jim Hinckley, award winning author and associate editor for Cars & Parts magazine, has served as America’s travel guide to the wonders only found on the back roads and lost highways. On June 1, 2011, Jim will take readers on an amazing and unique tour of legendary Route 66 in Ghost Towns of Route 66.
In Backroads of Route 66 iconic Route 66 was portrayed as a portal to a wide array of adventures, historic sites, and scenic wonders only found with short detours north as well as south of that world famous highway. Photographs by Kerrick James, Shellee Graham, Jim Ross, and Rick and Nora Bowers, as well as historic photos from the author’s collection, enliven the concise, informative text with colorful vibrancy.
A previous book in the back roads series, Backroads of Arizona, introduced readers to singularly unique and often missed Arizona attractions such as Crown King, the Senator Highway, and Hualapai Mountain Park.
The Big Book of Car Culture is an award winning, fun filled, illustrated encyclopedic work on all things automotive from the evolution of crash test dummies and tow trucks to the development of the Ford Mustang and the history of road striping. The theme of bringing obscurity in from the shadows is also manifest in his monthly column, The Independent Thinker, published by Cars & Parts magazine.
Greetings from Route 66, a compilation for which Jim wrote the chapter introductions, is a time capsule and post card chronicling almost 85 years of memories on America’s most famous highway.
In Ghost Towns of the Southwest, Jim took readers along for a ride to some of the most fascinating and colorful ghost towns in the southwest from Native American metropolises and Spanish colonial outposts to legendary Tombstone and historic Hillsboro. With Ghost Towns of Route 66 the reader will ride along on an odyssey of discovery to places where the neon hasn’t cast a glow in more than a half century and only the wind stirs the dust on Route 66.
Filled with the colorful prose expected of Jim, and stunning photography by Kerrick James and Jim Hinckley, Ghost Towns of Route 66 will be a delight for armchair travelers. With its detailed maps and snap shot quality text it will also be an invaluable travel guide.