Fans and enthusiasts of Route 66 drive through the weathered and forlorn old desert town but few stop for there is little to see, the heat is often unbearable, and available services are almost nonexistent. If they do, only two landmarks warrant their attention for photographs, the odd shaped “Keebler Elf House”, a former cafe, and the non descript but ancient market that dates to 1908.

A former roadside oasis in Daggett, California

There were a few more services available sixty years ago but even in 1946 when Jack Rittenhouse rolled through town taking notes for his now famous A Guide Book to Highway 66, it was just a wide, dusty spot in the road. Rittenhouse gave the town and its history but the briefest mention before moving on to describe the services available in Barstow.
He and countless travelers since missed a real diamond in the rough, a true treasure hidden in plain sight the Stone Hotel. Since at least 1884 this venerable old building with walls of stone and adobe two feet thick has cast a shadow across the road that would later be signed with two sixes.

Stone Hotel, Daggett, California

The earliest historic record for the property, according to a fascinating thesis written by Teresa J. Jerry and lent to me for research on the Route 66 encyclopedia project, is a recording in the San Bernardino County Deed Book for the Railroad Hotel dated 1884. Unconfirmed reports place its founding to the year previous, which is one year after the Southern Pacific Railroad laid tracks to the town site of Calico Junction, Daggett, established in 1882.
The old hotel has played host to a wide array of historic figures including John Muir (his daughter lived in Daggett), Walter Scott, better known as“Death Valley Scotty”, who used room number seven as his offices in the early twentieth century, Lt. Governor of California John Daggett, the town’s namesake, and Bill Curry. Legend has it that Wyatt Earp was also a regular but this has never been confirmed even though the Earp family did have land holdings in the area.
The old hotel survived two fires, the bane of most mining camps, but was not unscathed. The single story structure that casts its shadow across Route 66 today, and the market to the west, is the Phoenix that rose from the devastating fire of 1908.
Before this date the hotel, fronting the railroad station, was a “luxurious” two story structure with glass and iron dome over the lobby. There were even balconies.
The Stone Hotel is but one of many dusty gems awaiting discovery in Daggett and Daggett is but one of many tattered tapestries found between Chicago and Santa Monica on a magic carpet of asphalt labeled Route 66. For many of these weathered and worn old towns even the resurgent passion for that legendary highway has failed to lift the veil of obscurity.
When my publisher, Voyageur Press, asked if there was a chapter in Route 66 history yet to be written, I thought of Daggett and the Stone Hotel, the tarnished glory of Afton, the remnants of Spencer, Lawndale, and forgotten Romeroville in New Mexico. And so it was an opportunity to give these forgotten places their moment in the sun that became the catalyst for my next book, Ghost Towns of Route 66
I hope this book enhances your next adventure on Route 66. Moreover, I hope you find it as exciting to read as I found it to write.

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