The last couple of weeks have been bracketed with opportunities to meet with interesting and inspirational people. One was an opportunity to experience a bit of time travel, the other was a brief glimpse into the future of Route 66. In between were more opportunities for contributing to the dramatic transition that is sweeping the historic district in Kingman.
On Thursday evening my dearest friend and I met with the legendary Lon Haldeman, and then shared dinner and fascinating conversation with his PAC Tour that was traveling Route 66 from Santa Monica to Amarillo by bicycle, and I made a presentation about Route 66 in western Arizona. For those unfamiliar with Haldeman, he pioneered ultra marathon cycling setting a wide array of records including 454-miles in twenty-four hours, and a double transcontinental time of twenty-four days and two hours.
This is the second opportunity I have had to meet with his tour during an overnight stop in Kingman. I am always left in awe of these folks and am never sure whether to be inspired or depressed by them.
The evening that we met with the group, they had just ridden their bicycles from Needles to Kingman via Oatman. The day prior they had ridden from Ludlow to Needles through Goffs, 109-miles. The youngest member of the group was 51-years old, the oldest was 81, and there were several people in their late 60’s and mid 70’s.
The week prior I was privileged with a very rare opportunity to experience a bit of time travel by traveling to Oatman with Scott and Roy Dunton.
At age eighteen, Roy went to work at his uncles garage in Goldroad in 1939, and then at Dunton Motors in Kingman immediately after World War II. As a side note, Roy’s uncle, N.R. Dunton, built Cool Springs in 1926.
Roy and Scott Dunton at Dunton Motors.
Roy was severely injured when a split rim tire assembly exploded in his face at the garage but he recovered, served in the Navy during World War II, and eventually acquired Dunton Motors.
Initially it was a Ford dealership, then Edsel, and latter a full line GM facility. Today the complex managed by his son Scott sells and restores classic vehicles, and builds a few hot rods. His voice is a bit weak, and there is an obvious frailty but Roy still comes to work several days a week and shares stories with people who stop to photograph or purchase vehicles.
In the now classic book by Jack Rittenhouse published in 1946, A Guide Book to Highway 66, the Dunton Garage in Goldroad is not mentioned by name. It is simply referred to in the passage, “For eastbound cars which cannot make the Gold Hill grade, a filling station in Goldroad offers a tow truck which will haul your car to the summit. At last inquiry their charge was $3.50, but may be higher. Cars with trailers may need the service.” Roy often drove that tow truck.
Roy Dunton at Ed’s Camp.
I have driven this old road for decades. In fact, this area and the pre 1952 alignment of Route 66 across the Sacramento Valley and through the Black Mountains is where I learned to drive, to ride a bicycle, and where I first fell in love with the raw beauty of the Arizona desert.
Even though I had a tremendous opportunity to hear a bit about the areas history while briefly employed by Ed Edgerton at Ed’s Camp, at that time I was much to young to appreciate it. So, the trip with Roy was a very rare treat.
Last evening Chillin on Beale, 2016, kicked off with a bang in spite of cool temperatures and a brisk wind. Having spent a bit of time in those nasty “M” places (Michigan, Minnesota) where snow is shoveled off the deck for a barbecue in zero degree temperatures, I am amused by folks in Arizona who bundle up with sweaters, jackets, and scarfs when temperatures plummet to sixty. It should be noted that I was wearing long johns and a flannel shirt last evening.
Ray Cullison showed a classic film (thank you Ray) on the wall of the Hotel Beale at the corner of Fourth Street and Andy Devine Avenue, the Route 66 Association of Kingman’s Cinema Under the Stars, and colorful hot rods and vintage cars lined the street. The place was really hopping, the sidewalk cafes were busy, and the micro breweries were doing a bang up business.
Chillin’ on Beale takes place on the third Saturday evening of each month, April through October. Ramada Kingman is now offering special packages for Chillin’ on Beale weekends that includes special room discounts, free breakfasts, and tickets to Grand Canyon Caverns.
If you would like more information about this event, developments in Kingman, or just want to experience a bit of the vibrant atmosphere that is sweeping the historic district, the Route 66 Association of Kingman is hosting their monthly meet and greet at House of Hops, 6:00 P.M., April 21. Open to the public this is a great opportunity to network and get inspired.
Scheduled for the weekend of April 30 is the 29th annual Route 66 Fun Run, a great way to celebrate the 90th anniversary of Route 66. This exciting and fun filled three day event transforms Route 66 into a living time capsule from the pre interstate highway era.
There are actual traffic jams in Seligman and Kingman as the highway is filled with hot rods, vintage cars and trucks cruising 160-miles of scenic Route 66. In Seligman, Peach Springs, Oatman, Valentine, Hackberry, as well as at Antares Point (Giganticus Headicus), Valley Vista, Golden Shores, and Grand Canyon Caverns, crowds gather for special events and live music.
Restaurants and diners, museums and gift shops are bustling as thousands of enthusiasts from throughout the world gather to celebrate the Route 66 experience. Kingman, especially on Saturday, is ground zero for this amazing event and once again Route 66 serves as the cities main street.
Ramada Kingman and Canyon 66 is inviting folks to stop by between April 23 and April 30, see the photos submitted for the Route 66 photo contest that will be a part of the permanent Route 66 photo display, and vote for their favorites. Winning submissions will be selected during the dinner and show on the evening of April 30, the weekend of the 29th annual Route 66 Fun Run.
The good times roll in Kingman! I hope that you will be able to join us for one or more of these events and discover why Kingman is promoted as the heart of historic Route 66.