The attractions and sites to see on the road between Seligman and Kingman are many. If you enjoy the photographic possibilities of empty places keep a sharp open for the Hyde Park turn off and the ruins of a resort complex once promoted with signs that read, Park You Hide Tonight at Hyde Park.”
These ruins are found west of Seligman just before topping the grade above the turn to Grand Canyon Caverns, a roadside attraction of time capsule proportions. This attraction perfectly captures the very essence of attractions found along Route 66 during the era of the Edsel and the tail fin.
Don’t rush the descent into Peach Springs. In fact take the first opportunity to pull over and gaze toward the north. Those deep purple canyons on the horizon are a part of the Grand Canyon system.
If you are a bit adventuresome, and have a vehicle with a some ground clearance and the roads are dry, you can obtain a permit, and directions, from the lodge in Peach Springs for a one of a kind adventure. This would be to drive the only road, Diamond Creek Road, that leads to the Colorado River at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.
Peach Springs has a long and colorful history that predates Route 66 by more than a century. Tangible links to that history are slim but there is the tribal offices on the north side of the road housed in a pre 1926 trading post and, directly across the street from the market, Osterman’s service station that dates to 1927.
Truxton is a surprisingly recent manifestation along the highway and the Frontier cafe is a great opportunity for a lunch break. The towns origins date to the establishment of a garage and land speculation at the site during the very early 1950s.
Slow the pace as you drop through the canyon west of Truxton. Crozier Canyon, and the ranch of the same name on the south side of the road towards the bottom are quite historic and have an association with the highway that spans more than seventy years.
The Beale Wagon Road traversed this canyon as did the National Old Trails Highway. The ranch is one of the oldest in northern Arizona dating to the 1870s.
For a time there was a resort here that included cabins, a service station and cafe complex that served as a bus station, and the spring fed pool. Andy Devine worked the bath house here as a kid.
A flood in the late 1930s decimated the resort section of the property and only part of the stone station and the cabins remain. The flood necessitated the realignment of Route 66 to its current path.
Valentine is a place you will zip through and never notice. There are actually two distinctly different portions of Valentine, nestled among the rocks are the offices of the Truxton Canyon Agency of the BIA, and the towering brick edifice that is the last remnant of the Hualapai Indian School complex that dates tot eh early twentieth century.
The second portion is marked by a bar, currently closed, an empty station signed as a post office, the post master was killed and the facility never reopened, and an old, overgrown motel. There are some great photo opportunities.
The Hackberry General Store is now an icon of the highway and is considered a must stop attraction. However, lost in the shadows of that fame is the old town of Hackberry, dating to the 1870s, south of the tracks.
Next up is Antares Point with its towering “A” frame building and giant Easter Island styled head. Some years ago I worked ranches in the area and loved to stop here for excellent chili served in a room with million dollar views.
Between here and the Kingman Airport complex, the Kingman Army Airfield during World War II, there is little to see in the way of Route 66 attractions. However, the astute observer will find a vintage Stuckey’s, now a residence.
I time allows take a bit of time to explore the Kingman Airport and industrial park. You will find numerous remnants from the war, including one of the last control towers from that era that casts its shadow over an interesting memorial, a distillery that offers tours, a museum under construction but open on weekends, and Import Corner, an interesting store that is somewhere between an authentic Turkish market and Pier One Imports.
The drive through Kingman seems to have be chronologically choreographed. It begins with the modern generic age nestled around every interstate highway interchange in America, is followed by time capsules from the 1950s and 1960s, gives way to a wide array of motels and other roadside business structures from the 1920 to 1950 period, then an historic district predating statehood, and finally, the modern era of resurgent interest in Route 66.
Even if your time is short there are a couple of attractions that should not be overlooked. These include the Locomotive Park, the Power House Visitor Center and Route 66 Museum, and the Mohave Museum of History and Arts.
For those really in search of the Route 66 experience there is a neat little detour of several miles that dead end at the far end of Kingman Canyon. Cross the tracks at Fourth Street in front of the depot, follow this for several blocks and follow the right hand curve across a narrow bridge. Follow this to its end.
This is the original alignment of Route 66 that was bypassed in the late 1930s. It was also the path of the National Old Trails Highway.
Back on the main track of Route 66, curving to the left past the Mohave Museum of History and Arts, you will have two options at the junction with I-40. Follow the modern highway, which is the path of the post 1952 alignment of Route 66 through Yucca, or the pre 1952 alignment of the highway, and the National Old Trails Highway over the Black Mountains, past Cool Springs and Eds Camp, over the summit of Sitgreaves Pass, and through the old mining towns of Oatman and Goldroad.
|Sitgreaves Pass on the pre 1952 alignment of Route 66|
Here you will find the steepest grades and sharpest curves to be found anywhere on Route 66 today. The rewards in making this drive are many including stunning scenery, Cool Springs, and the fun of a “ghost town” where burros roam free in the streets.
As the road drops to the Colorado River, often the hottest place in the nation during the summer, it passes more than a few excellent spots to stop and wet the toes. Next is Topock, rejoining the interstate highway, and then crossing the Colorado River into California in sight of the 1916 bridge that was featured in the movie Grapes of Wrath.
Needles is well worth exploring. Here you will find a wide array of interesting places with a long association with Route 66.
Just west of Needles turn north on US 95 and drive to the intersection with Goffs Roda, now turn west. This is the pre 1931 alignment of Route 66. The destination is Goffs with its fascinating Schoolhouse Museum.
|Route 66 in the Mojave Desert|
Then the highway loops past Fenner and again crosses I-40, passes through the forlorn remnants of Essex, Cadiz Summit, and Chambless before coming to world famous Amboy. Dusty remnants that make for wonderful photo opportunities, an opportunity to hike to the top of a volcano, and a multitude of plans for resurrecting this diamond in the rough, are all that remain here.
On my last drive west this past fall, I found the road between Amboy and Ludlow, past the site of Bagdad to be getting a bit rough. From Ludlow to Newberry Springs even rougher. Still, it is worth the effort to make this hhistoric and scenic drive.
Ludlow has a cafe, station, and motel. It also has a wide array of ruins, some of which predate Route 66 by a half century. Long before that highway became Main Street this was a booming railroad town with a business district of substantial two story concrete structures.
Newberry Springs is littered with remnants from the glory days of Route 66 but few that hint of its importance almost a century before. To see vestiges from that era you will need to cruise Daggett.
|Stone Hotel, Dagget, California.|
Daggett is almost the flip side of Newberry Springs. The remnants from the glory days of Route 66 are few but those from the era preceding the automobile are many. Of particular note are the Desert Market in continuous operation since 1908, the Stone Hotel dating to the 1970s, and Alf’s Garage that dates to at least 1890.
Books are an important tool for the planning of your trip and adding depth of understanding to the adventure. Of course the Jerry McClanahan EZ 66 noted yesterday is an absolute must but at the end of this post are three more suggestions.
Stay tuned for the conclusion of our adventure on legendary 66 this Monday. Tomorrow we will post part three of the Kingman Army Airfield story.
Travel book suggestionshttp://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=ifrhttp://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=1968adventurer&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=0738579424&fc1=000000&IS2=1<1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifrhttp://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=1968adventurer&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=0760334927&fc1=000000&IS2=1<1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr: