Last evening as I spoke before an enthusiastic group about the merits of utilizing the resurgent interest in Route 66 as a catalyst for development that would make Kingman a place people would want to visit, and subsequently live, memories of previous meetings where the enthusiasm melted like ice cream in Amboy in July came to mind. But the most dominating thought that kept rushing to the forefront of my thoughts was the sage advice I received from an old miner about forty years ago.
We were feeding pine knots into an ancient pot bellied stove that was glowing cherry red in a valiant effort to dry our damp clothes before heading back into the drift. The grizzled old man turned to me and asked about ideas I might have that would make wrestling the jack leg and hoses into another drift easier.
Well, the thought that this wizened old man would ask my opinion filled my ego to a point that my buttons almost popped. That euphoria was short lived as the old man patiently listened to my ideas and then said, “Son, that is a damn good idea but you know that ideas and horse feathers are about equal in value. Unless you can find a way to sell others on your ideas they will never be more than a fart in the wind.”
Perhaps there is an element of wishful thinking in the belief that last evening we started the ball rolling on something rather spectacular – transforming a community and providing the Route 66 community with a new destination. Still, I feel the ideas presented fell on some pretty fertile ground. Time will tell.
The projects proposed are grand in scope. One will require money and time, the other, time, effort, and little money. One has been proven viable in Cuba and Pontiac but we can add a a twist as a result of our unique history. The other is a novel concept that might spread to other communities along Route 66, if can get our version off the ground.
Murals have become quite popular along the historic course of legendary Route 66. Ours will portray the rich and colorful history of the Kingman area – Louis Chevrolet and the Desert Classic race of 1914, the Kingman Army Airfield years, the movies filmed here, and, of course, the association with Route 66. Sam and Monica, owners of the El Trovatore Motel, are getting a head start and hope to have the first in a series of murals at the motel finished by the end of the week.
However, the one that really fires the imagination is the idea of creating the world’s largest Route 66 museum, a virtual recreation of the Route 66 corridor through the city with the reproduction of post cards and photographs placed at the respective sites. Information about the businesses will be archived at a website and accessed via QR codes.
For those familiar with the celebrities and characters associated with the Route 66 community it will comes as no surprise to learn the collectors extraordinaire Mike Ward and Joe Sonderman have offered their services and collections for the project. The possibilities and opportunities this project represents staggers the imagination.
A few delays have postponed but derailed the forthcoming Route 66 in Mohave County exhibit at the Powerhouse Visitor Center. This too will represent a major step toward making Kingman a destination.
So, stay tuned for details and further developments –