There is a most definite change in the air along Route 66 that indicates this may be the dawn of a new era on that iconic old highway. Truxton, Arizona, a very busy wide spot in the road during the glory days of Route 66 that is now an empty wide spot on the highway, is rising from the ashes of abandonment like the mythical Phoenix.
The Frontier Café and Motel were recently purchased by an investor in New Zealand. Alan Greer has been retained as a manager, and contractors are ready to initiate renovations.
Amanda and David Brenner have taken a bold step and are beginning a new chapter in life with the renovation of a vintage motel in Tucumcari. This dusty little outpost of civilization on the plains of eastern New Mexico is on the fast track toward becoming a destination.
The legendary Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari.
In Needles the historic El Garces is also mimicking the mythical Phoenix. This will undoubtedly spark a bit of passion in that city.
Adding to this is the tireless efforts of Linda Fitzpatrick to bring the historic theater back to life. I recently learned that she has obtained seating and other equipment, and is about to launch a fund raising initiative for renovation of the building.
Kathleen Smith, David Heward, and other passionate visionaries are working to turn back the tide of apathy that followed the bypass of Route 66 in Holbrook. Bold plans to transform the city are moving forward and include plans for a Route 66 center, promotion of the historic courthouse that houses a fascinating museum and the city as a gateway to the Painted Desert, and a major event to be held the weekend before the Route 66 International Festival in Kingman.
In Kingman another season of Chillin on Beale kicks on the evening of April 19. Held on the third Saturday evening of each month, April through October, this low key event helping fuel the dramatic transformation of the Beale Street corridor one block north of Route 66.
On the first weekend of May, downtown Kingman will be transformed as the 27th annual Route 66 Fun Run fills the historic district with pulsing crowds and a staggering array of vehicles representing a century of automotive history.
The Route 66 International Festival scheduled for the 14th through 17th of August will do more than transform Kingman. Just the two day conference featuring representatives from each of the eight Route 66 state, as well as several European associations, the Route 66 corridor preservation director from the National Park Service, historians, experts in historic property renovation and grant acquisition, leading electric vehicle proponents, manufacturers of electric vehicle infrastructure, and tour company owners will have long term ramifications for the future of this storied highway.
Plans are also underway to make this event the largest gathering of electric vehicles in the southwest. As noted previously, this will include an unprecedented display of historic electric vehicles at the Powerhouse Visitor Center.
The artists, authors, and collectors exhibition, also featuring displays from various Route 66 associations, will also be an unprecedented event this year. Bob “Boze” Bell will be showcasing a special exhibit that includes photos of the Route 66 corridor in Kingman in the mid 1950s, and his internationally acclaimed artistry.
Mr. Bell will not be the only legendary artist with work on display. Buzz Waldmire will be showcasing work by iconic artist Bob Waldmire at TNT Auto Center (the former Ford dealership) on Andy Devine Avenue (Route 66).
Route 66 and the National Old Trails Highway west of Kingman
For more information about the festival, lodging in the Kingman area, vendor space, or participation, contact the Kingman Area Chamber of Commerce at 928-753-6253. Judging by interest in the festival, I would make arrangements as soon as possible if you plan on attending.
I should also note that Kingman is served by Amtrak. That would make for an interesting way to see the USA on the way to the festival.
Here is to an exciting new year and the dawn of a new era on Route 66. See you on the road!