Through the wonders of the modern age I have been having some most delightful conversations with friends on Facebook, and through electronic correspondence this past few days. The topics have ranged from the alphabetical naming of railroad sidings along Route 66 in the Mojave Desert, some of which morphed into small roadside oasis, to the leap of faith required to take on the task of maintaining and operating a business on Route 66, and ideas on bringing other properties along the old road back to life.
|Cadiz Summit in California.|
As our primary subject here is Route 66, I thought some of this might be of interest to a larger audience. Let me start with a bit of history from the Route 66 corridor in the Mojave Desert of California.
Lewis Kingman, a survey engineer for the Atlantic & Pacific Railroad and namesake for Kingman in Arizona, is attributed with the alphabetical designation of sidings and stations along the railroad from Daggett to Needles. The first of these were named Amboy, site of a salt mining operation since 1858, Bristol, Cadiz, Danby, Edson, Fenner, and Goffs. In latter years others were added including Klondike, Siberia, Ibex, and Homer.
With the advent of the National Old Trails Highway, a few of these barren sidings morphed into veritable desert oasis. Additionally, men like James Chambless in 1919, saw a lucrative future in the traffic flowing along the dusty track and established businesses.
When Route 66 was routed just to the north of the tracks and the course of the National Old Trails Highway, a few enterprising owners moved their facilities to the new highway. Hence the current site of Chambless and the confusion over Cadiz Summit being called Cadiz.
Similar evolutions occurred all along the course of U.S. 66, which makes deciphering the various transitions, and the reasons for them, such a challenge. Another example can be found in Route 66 between Kingman in Arizona and the Colorado River Valley.
Before 1952, Route 66 followed the course of the National Old Trails Highway over the Black Mountains in a serious of twists and turns with precipitous drops into deep canyons on one side, and sheer walls of stone on the other. After this date the highway roughly followed the current course of I-40 through Yucca.
What makes this course for the highway a puzzle is the fact that a guide book from 1914 indicates a secondary road from the main course of the National Old Trails Highway that followed many segments of post 1952 Route 66 through Yucca. Even more interesting is the fact that Yucca during this period had a well established but small business district resultant of it being a supply center for area ranches, the Planet, Alamo, and Borianna mines, and a junction with the road to Phoenix via Alamo Crossing to the south on the Bill Williams River.
Fast forward to the modern era of resurgent interest in Route 66. The pre 1952 alignment is a destination for enthusiasts but the latter alignment is largely ignored even though there is a great deal of history and mystery associated with the roads evolution in Yucca.
Even better, the Honolulu Club in Yucca is a near perfect time capsule, a roadhouse almost unchanged since the 1950s. Yet, it is frequented by locals and seldom visited by fans of the double six.
In consideration of the blinding spot light that currently shines on Route 66 it is quite surprising that any aspect of it could be still hiding in the shadow. And yet how many travelers avail themselves of the clean but spartan offerings of the motel in Ludlow, California while exploring the area?
On occasion it is the glow of neon and the shining smile of a proprietor that outshines neighboring time capsules. Quick, what is the name of the vintage motel that basks in the glow of the sign from the Munger Moss Motel? How many people who stop at John’s Modern Cabins also visit Arlington?
In the flurry of recent conversations and correspondence I have learned a few things and had a few ideas proven. In a nutshell this would be that Route 66 is a haven for those seeking respite from the rigors and sterile sameness of the world today and in that we can understand the popularity of the Wagon Wheel Motel, Blue Swallow Motel, Wigwam Motel, Ariston Cafe, and Palms Grill Cafe.
It would also be that there are those who seek its neon lit oasis and those who seek its mysteries and forgotten places, and a few who seek them both. The final lesson would be that many fantasize about having an oasis of their own but few are willing or capable of taking the leap of faith, but those who do are an inspiration for the rest of us.
Happy motoring folks –