On the map, regardless of year, Route 66 appears as a thin line. In some places such as in Illinois where it served as the ghost of Christmas future in the post war years with its transformation into an imitation of the modern super slab the line may be a bit wider but its still a rather thin line.
After untold hours of research for the new project, a Route 66 encyclopedia and atlas, I can with all honesty tell you this is a very deceptive presentation. Route 66 is not a thin line, it is a very tangled web with some threads having no end and others providing a clearly distinct link from the past to the present.
This weekend was rather productive, 4,600 words, in spite of a wide array of situations ranging from the hospitalization of mother to the countdown until the arrival of the grandson and a visit to the dentist. In between I dug deep, very deep, into the history of legendary Route 66.
I unraveled the confusing seven hundred year history of Laguna Pueblo, Laguna, formerly known as Cuba, and New Laguna. In the process, I discovered and was led astray by the expeditions of Coronado in 1540 and Escalante in 1776.
I learned that in 1916, La Bajada Hill and the road between Santa Fe and Albuquerque was the best section of the National Old Trails Highway in New Mexico. That is if Emily Post can be believed as she made the trip that year and wrote a book about the adventure.
Then I stumbled through hundreds of pages of minutes and notes pertaining to the development and designation of the National Old Trails Highway. Did you know that for a time the road was actually designated the National Old Trails Road Ocean-to-Ocean Highway? Did you know the first incarnation of this road, what might have become Route 66, dropped from Albuquerque through Springerville to Phoenix before crossing the Colorado River at Yuma?
Here is an interesting tidbit. When the National Old Trails Road became the National Old Trails Highway across northern Arizona it was routed from Kingman through Yucca, the path Route 66 followed after the realignment of 1952 that bypassed the Black Mountains and Oatman.
Romeroville in New Mexico along the section of Route 66 bypassed in 1937, did you know that the towns namesake hosted presidents in his home? Did you know that Don Trinidad Romero also played a role in the creation of the territory of New Mexico?
I have been filling my head with all manner of sordid tales of murder and divorce, success based on creative thinking and poorly planned escape routes. Any one care to guess how many tales of stolen and hidden treasure are associated with Route 66? Who said reading or research was boring?
I have often quipped that Route 66 long ago transcended its original purpose to become an icon, a tangible link that bridges the past and hundreds of years of history. I now have to change that line of thinking as the highway began life as bridge spanning centuries and cultures.
No wonder the old highway remains an amazing cornucopia of kitchey roadside Americana, somber memorials, neon lit Disneyland, and fascinating people. Is it any wonder that people come from throughout the world to experience it or that those who drive it are often transformed with an epiphany of deeper understanding?

Vestiges of the past in Rhyolite

An additional project that I found time for this weekend, my first full two day weekend in three weeks, was the initial work on a photo series to accompany the debut of the book Ghost Towns of Route 66 next June at the international Route 66 festival in Amarillo. One sample of the new tact I am taking is at the head of the blog. Here is another.
What I am seeking is a series of photos that conveys vitality and life masked behind ruins and abandonment. I have yet to be able to convey that sense, that feeling but have more ideas.
In my spare time I have started reading another book, Ask the Man Who Owns One. http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=1968adventurer&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=B00440CXZ2&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifrWhat a fascinating look into the societal evolution of the early 20th century spawned by the rise of the American auto industry.
In answer to your question about having time for these projects let me first say I never really developed an addiction to television. When I took on this massive new project we decided to 86 the television and it is one of the best decisions ever made.
On the horizon: the third incarnation of the companion website, Route 66 Info center, further development of Destination Kingman, a project to transform my adopted hometown into a destination rather than a stop, a possible road trip or two to California, and plans for the big adventure to Amarillo in June. Boredom is not in my vocabulary!

Written by jimhinckleysamerica

Jim Hinckley's America is a grand adventure on the back roads and two lane highways. It is an odyssey seasoned with fascinating people, and memory making discoveries. As made evident by the publication of fourteen books on subjects as diverse as diverse as Ghost Towns of the Southwest, The Illustrated History of the Checker Cab Manufacturing Company, Travel Route 66, Backroads of Arizona, and The Route 66 Encyclopedia, I enjoy sharing adventures and helping people plan for their own memory making journeys.

Leave a Reply