With most writing projects the research leaves me with the sense of having accepted the task of making sense out of a puzzle where two or three boxes are mixed together and a few pieces are missing. In gathering material for the current project, a Route 66 encyclopedia, it is almost as though a couple of additional boxes, with even more pieces missing, have been added to the mix.
Deer Lodge, near Hyde Park west of Seligman is but one of many examples. I have been given two different locations for the property, and at both, there are foundational elements.
On Beale Street, one block north of Route 66 in Kingman there is a quaint little business park. The buildings pictured to the left are a part of this complex.
These little cabins were relocated to this site when construction of the Holiday Inn Express necessitated their move. Legend has it that these cabins originated at Hyde Park but they do not look anything like the ones in historic photos taken at that location. However, they perfectly fit the description of cabins from Deer Lodge, or at least the description given by a lady whose aunt owned that property.
Clues to another Kingman mystery are found in the decorative trim work around the windows of the 1929 section of the Siesta Motel across from Walgreens, the site of the former City Cafe. Who was the stone mason? Was he an independent or did he work for a contractor?
Scattered throughout Kingman are other buildings with identical work. One of these is the last vestige of Richards Court just to the west of the body shop on the corner of Topeka Street and Fourth Street, the pre 1937 alignment of Route 66.
One block down, and a couple blocks east is an old stone church. It has the same type of decorative work.
During World War II, Kingman was home to the Kingman Army Airfield, one of the largest flexible gunnery schools in the nation. After cessation of hostilities the base became a storage depot where countless war birds were transformed into scrap metal.
One of the big bombers, a B-17, received the designation City of Kingman. It saw service in the war, was returned to the states, and was to be donated to the city of Kingman. Then it seems to vanish from the historical record.
Before 1952, the road we know as Oatman Road was signed as U.S. 66. The first building on this road, on the south side of the highway, is a residence where an old water tank with faded letters spelling O-A-S-I-S casts its shadow when the sun sinks into the west.
At some point in the distant past, it was a roadhouse and service station. When was it built? When was it transformed from roadside oasis into a home?
I have always asked why and still do. Mysteries without any clues, these are the things that add zest to my paper adventures.