History is a lot like a good pot of stew. If we merely skim the surface, we miss the meat and potatoes at the bottom. This leaves the impression that the stew is a bit thin, and without a great deal of flavor. Then we tell folks that the stew wasn’t very good and the story is repeated until it becomes fact.
With the passing of time, even photos are not always enough to separate myth from fact. Recently the Route 66 Association of Kingman initiated an ambitious plan to partner with property owners in the historic business district to restore facades as well as historic signage. One of these projects was the Old Trails Garage owned by the Graves family. As historic research is something I engage in regularly, I was asked to assist in determining the date of construction and to find images of the garage that would allow for a more accurate recreation.
The earliest view of the garage was a photo post card from about 1918 in the possession of the Mohave Museum of History & Arts. However, something did not seem right as the garage was supposed to have been built in 1912 or 1914, and I didn’t see the Brunswick Hotel that was built in 1909. This was accredited to a bit of photo editing, common in many early post cards. Then with assistance from Steve Rider, a prolific collector of National Old Trails Highway era post cards, a similar post card was discovered but this one indicated a Needles, California location. (more…)