|Dora’s in Kingman benefits from awareness fostered by the monthly Chillin on Beale Street event that draws visitors fromneighboring communities.|
Tourism is a very poor foundation upon which to build a local economy. However, tourism can be an ideal catalyst for developing a community. Simply put, if you make a community a destination for visitors through the development of museums, restaurants, unique shops, hiking trails that accentuate the natural beauty of an area, and beautification accents, you make it a place people will want to live and that translates into a healthy local economy. That is the ideal behind the flurry of activity in Kingman sparked this summer by a series of informative organizational meetings orchestrated by Steve Wagner, a local real estate agent who sees Kingman as a truly overlooked destination for visitors as well as by those in search of a great place to live or open a business. However, as Route 66 is a community unto itself, to reach maximum potential with minimal waste of valuable resources we need to see each town along the way as neighborhoods in that community rather than as separate entities. From this perspective the successful transformation of a community is accomplished by linking development with neighboring communities, sharing events, such as in the annual Route 66 Fun Run or Missouri Motor Tour. An excellent example of how this can be accomplished is found in the recent International Route 66 Festival in Victorville that included a cruise to Barstow and an evening at the drive in theater, or the GM sponsored tour of Route 66 for the group from Shanghai, the subject of a recent article in the Kingman Daily Miner. An innovative project under development in Kingman, when perfected, would lend itself well to other communities and enhance the overall Route 66 experience for visitors. Additionally, it will foster a sense of awareness and a unified sense of community. In essence, the ideal is to create the world’s largest Route 66 museum in Kingman. Of course if other communities picked up on the project then the museum would be greatly expanded in scope. Conceivably it could be developed for the entire Route 66 corridor, even in rural areas. The museum consists of post cards and historic images of Route 66 businesses scanned and printed at an 8.5 inch by 11 inch size with a brief descriptor of the image, and a QR code that links to a site with more detailed information. These are then mounted at the closest location to where the photo was originally taken either in a free standing, wall mount, or window display manner. The end result is a series of time capsules that together form an informative walking tour. What better way to encourage visitors to see a town, to encourage beautification, and to create a project that fosters community involvement? With that said, if you have photographs or post cards of businesses along Route 66 in Kingman, and would like to contribute to the development of this project, please let me know. Several post card collectors have already made significant contributions to the project, and we have the vast archives at the Mohave Museum of History & Arts, but there are numerous businesses still unaccounted for. One of these is Hood’s Court and market that stood in what is now the intersection of Hualapai Mountain Road and Andy Devine Avenue. Another would be Richard’s Court on South Front Street, currently Topeka Street. Another way for presenting Route 66 as a community would be in the development of gift baskets that allow visitors to sample the best of what that town has to offer for the upcoming Big Palooza contest sponsored by 66 The Mother Road. I would be remiss if a reminder to enter was not given to readers as the prizes constitute the best of the Route 66 community, including a weekend for two in Kingman. In the next few months you will see exciting developments in Kingman as well as along the Route 66 corridor. As a result, next year those who travel the iconic highway will be awarded a wide array of new sights, sounds, and experiences that will enhance the adventure along the Main Street of America.