Have you had the opportunity to experience the breathtaking landscapes and scenery that embrace the pre-1952 alignment of Route 66 (National Old Trails Highway before 1927) in the Black Mountains of western Arizona? Did you know that this is where the last gold rush in Arizona began?
Surprisingly this rugged bulwark of stone that stands as a silent sentinel above the Colorado River Valley is amply peppered with water holes and springs, oasis in a harsh land where summer temperatures often exceed 112 degrees Fahrenheit. That is why the Mohave and clans of the Haulapai treasured these mountains. That is why early explorers followed what is now Sitgreaves Pass over the summit, instead of staying to the south where the desert was flat in comparison.
On the National Old Trails Road, latter Route 66, Ed Edgerton created a gold mine for himself when he set up Ed’s Camp at Little Meadows, a camping location during the Father Garces expedition of 1776. The money that flowed from the pockets of travelers into his made him a very wealthy man. Edgerton wasn’t the only man that struck it rich on this road in these mountains.
N.R. Dunton was, as the story goes, nearly penniless when he arrived in Goldroad during the early 1920’s. Dunton was a man of ambition and vision. He established Cool Springs on the eastern slope of the mountains in 1926, and later a garage in Goldroad, a hard scrabble mining camp. Jack Rittenhouse in his book A Guide Book To Highway 66 noted that Dunton offered a towing service to get vehicles over he steep pass. Dunton would establish Dunton Motors, a Ford agency, in Kingman, Arizona in 1946.
Today the dealership owned by the same family operates as Dunton Motors Dream Machines, a classic car facility. It is also home to the Route 66 Association of Kingman, and Scott Dunton is president. On display, in addition to a dazzling array of vintage cars, is a model of Mr. D’z Route 66 Diner created by internationally acclaimed artist Willem Bor, a co-founder of the Dutch Route 66 Association.
In the 1860’s soldiers stationed at Fort Mohave on the Colorado River whiled away free time by prospecting in the Black Mountains, and on occasion they would find a bit of color or a nugget or two. John Moss even made a very promising discovery that assay reports verified to be a rich strike. But the vein was fractured and so the Black Mountains were forgotten when major discoveries of gold, silver and other minerals were discovered in the Cerbat Mountains to the north.
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