The well laid plans for the weekend went south on Friday as my son had the flu which negated the Saturday drive to Las Vegas for the Motor Trend Auto Show, an early birthday present. So, my dearest friend and I went to plan “B” and used Saturday for the Sunday photo safari along Route 66 to Seligman, and Sunday for the Las Vegas trip.
A secondary reason for the Seligman excursion was the hope of locating the site of Deer Lodge, a roadside business that had consisted of cabins, a bar, service station, and store during the 1940s. I learned of Deer Lodge during the research for the Route 66 encyclopedia but its exact location remained a mystery and current sources indicated a wide array of sites between Pica and the Grand Canyon Caverns.
The first real break came in meeting the niece of the original owner. Her recollections and a couple of photographs that provided a few landmarks for reference gave me a great deal of confidence in regards to locating the site.
We hit the road early but by the time we made Hackberry the morning chill was giving way to delightful warm temperatures. Most folks visit the Hackberry General Store and never realize that directly to the south are the dusty, fast vanishing remnants of a town once given consideration for the Mohave County seat.
|The old school in Hackberry, Arizona|
Of particular note is the old school. This mission styled building with an uncertain future was the last two room school in the state of Arizona.
The drive from Hackberry to Truxton, past the ruins of Valentine, and through Crozier Canyon is always a delight as well as a stroll down Memory Lane but on Saturday it was a true pleasure as the rich fall colors transformed the rugged landscape into a stunning tapestry of reds, yellows, and greens against a backdrop of towering walls of weathered stone. Nowhere was this more breathtaking than at the old Crozier Canyon Ranch, an historic property with extensive ties to Route 66 as well territorial history.
|Hackberry General Store|
After a morning of wanderings in Hackberry, a pleasant visit with the Pritchard’s at the general store and the signing of books they had in inventory, and scrambling to the top of countless hills for photos, we had worked up a fair appetite and so decided that the lodge in Peach Springs would be the dinner (a burger and grilled cheese) stop for the day. The lodge is the one bright spot in a very tarnished, well worn old town but I have always liked Peach Springs and the folks who call it home.
After a little photography and exploration amongst the ruins of Hyde Park, we went in search of Deer Lodge and found its barely discernible remnants in an instant. Our information had been proven correct.
|Deer Lodge site on Route 66 in Arizona|
A pile of burned wood and timbers, and broken concrete, bulldozed into a pile, a section of stone wall, a portion of floor and a large sign with faded letters “Dee” on the face are about all that remain but we will return for more extensive exploration in the future. There were also a couple of 1930s era car carcasses that warrant examination.
We made Seligman as the long shadows of late afternoon were giving the town a sort of sleepy look. Still, the sidewalks were relatively busy as tourists from dozens of nations spun about taking photos, sampled the goods at the Snow Cap, and chattered with animated excitement.
The hope had been to round out dinner with a milk shake at Seligman Sundries but they were closed so we played tourist and took photos as though it were our first visit. We were debating the merits of also including Ashfork in our photographic expedition when an old friend, Angel Delgadillo, rounded the corner on his bicycle. A delightful day suddenly got even better.
The drive home was relatively uneventful with the exception of a stop to capture some of the stunning color in Crozier Canyon. Then on Sunday, I made the trip to Las Vegas, the flip side of the coin from the Saturday adventure.
Suffice to say, even though we had a grand time, the reasons why this was my first trip to Las Vegas in several years, even though we live only 100 miles to the south, were made abundantly clear.