This morning I have what is hoped to be an exciting post that will
encourage an Arizona adventure or two. First, however, I would like to thank the sponsors behind Jim Hinckley’s America, the multifaceted project that now includes a video series and Kingman, Arizona historic district walking tours developed in partnership with Promote Kingman, a Friday morning Facebook live program, the blog, a YouTube channel, photo gallery on Legends of America, and podcast. And, of course, there are the presentations and books, including a new release, Route 66: America’s Longest Small Town. The entire project is built around my gift for telling people where to go, and a desire to provide the information needed to make those adventures memorable and enjoyable.
So with that as the introduction, I would like to thank the folks at Grand Canyon Caverns, Promote Kingman, and the Route 66 Association of Kingman. Of course I would be quite remiss if I didn’t thank folks like you who through contributions to the Jim Hinckley’s America tip jar, as well as with comments, book purchases, and attendance at events make all of this possible.
The post office in Gold Road, Arizona on Route 66 courtesy Mohave Museum of History & Arts
From its inception dreamers, entrepreneurs, gypsies, con artists,
and visionaries were attracted to Route 66 resultant of the near constant hype and publicity. It was the highway of dream for travelers as well as for those looking for a way to make a dollar. It was the road of boundless opportunity, and, for a few, a highway paved with gold.
Ed Edgerton came from Michigan shortly after WWI. A doctor recommended suggestion that he find a drier climate and the lure of riches in the gold mining boom town of Oatman prompted his westward migration.
Over the years death has come in many forms on iconic Route 66. The
highways realignment or construction of a bypass was often the death knell for communities and businesses. The ever increasing flow of traffic, including broken down Model A Fords and powerful new Buick Roadmaster sedans, on a highway peppered with narrow bridges that left no room for error, as well as blind curves, steep grades, long stretches without a shoulder, and gas stations that offered a free six pack of beer with every fill up of the tank all contributed to the moniker “Bloody 66.”
A wreck on Route 66. Photo courtesy the Joe Sonderman collection.
Shortly after WWII, two brothers opened a service station in western Arizona. Using a homemade wrecker to fulfill a contract with the state to remove wrecks from the highway, they soon discovered that there was gold in the tangled wrecks, broken glass, and carnage. Within twelve months they were able to pay cash for a brand new truck with Holmes wrecker body. Within three years they had three trucks and operated three shifts. (more…)
In a recent interview I was asked if Route 66 was a mirror for my career as
a writer. The answer was no. The National Old Trails Highway makes for a better analogy; it was knit from a network of historic trails, the course for the “highway” often changed between Tuesday and Thursday, it was always rooted firmly in the past but served as a bridge to the future, and it enjoyed a modest degree of popularity.
Right out of the box I sold my first feature article, written on a 1948 Underwood typewriter, to a major national publication. This was followed with a period of cranking out local interest stories for a couple of rural newspapers, the writing of a few features for national publications, a short stint as associate editor for Cars & Parts (before they went out of business). Next came the books. At each and every stage, partnerships served as the foundation.