Hard Times, Good Times & Changing Times

The White Cliffs wagon Trail near Kingman, Arizona

This wagon road was built by F.F. Brawn who was heavily invested in the Stockton Hill Mining District. In May 1889 he had purchased Canyon Station about 15 miles north of Kingman from W.H. Hardy. The station was an important stop on the road over the Cerbat Mountains to Mineral Park and Cerbat from Stockton Hill, and the junction of Stockton Hill Road from Kingman. It was here that coaches and wagons were double teamed to pull the steep grade.

Canyon Station figures prominently in a legend about lost treasure. As the story goes, in October of 1873 a man named McAllen learned that a payroll was being shipped over this road.  Near Canyon Station, he and an unknown partner stopped the coach, stole the strongbox, and headed into the rugged canyons of the Cerbat Mountains.

A posse of miners and livery hands set out in pursuit, and soon ran down the bandits. The legend is that in the ensuing gun battle McAllen was killed, and his partner apprehended, tried, and sent to the territorial prison in Yuma. But the strongbox was missing and has never been found.

Brawn had also leased the C.O.D. Mine located between Stockton Hill and Canyon Station. Between 1878 and 1892 the C.O.D. Mine produced $500,000 worth of gold. Silver averaged 160 ounces per ton. Lead was also found in ore bodies.

The mine was one of the largest producers in the Stockton Hill Mining District. Prospecting and mining in the area dates to the 1860s. By 1880 a small community had developed on Stockton Hill and in 1888 a post office was established using the name Stockton. The ebb and flow of the population led to the closure of the post office in 1892, but mining continued intermittently into the late 20th century.

Remnants of Stockton will soon be erased by the spread of suburbia.

The Stockton Hill Road from the railhead at Kingman hugged the foothills of the Cerbat Mountains as it coursed north through the Hualapai Valley. In 1889, it was announced that F.F. Brawn was soliciting investors for the construction of new road to Stockton and Canyon Station. An article published on December 28 noted that he had planned a road through the canyon north of town to intersect the present Stockton Hill Road near J. E. Johnston’s cattle ranch. It was to be about two miles shorter than the original Stockton Hill Road and would avoid the muddy portion of the valley. He estimated that the cost of the new road would be about $500. A section of this road that opened in May 1890 is now known as White Cliffs Wagon Road.

W.H. Taggart of W.H. Taggart Mercantile was a primary investor. He also had a vested interest in Stockon, and other Cerbat Mountain mining camps. At the junction of the Stockton Hill Road and the Beale Wagon Road, Taggart built a road through Johnson Canyon to Cerbat, Mineral Park and Chloride.

Today suburbia is encroaching on the townsie of Stockton. Stockton Hill Road is one of the primary commercial arteries in Kingman and it is lined with manifestations of the modern generic era; Walmart, McDonald’s, stip malls, mini marts, grocery stores and chain restaurants. And the remnant of the old wagon road in the shadow of towering cliffs, once an artery of commerce that represented the future, has been blended into a trail system for hikers and mountain bike enthusiasts. Times change.

The good times of the 1890s would be viewed as hard times today. The frustraitions of the late 19th century businessman was an onry mule, a broken spoke, or a muddy road. In the 21st century it is being locked out of a Facebook acocunt, the internet being down, or issues with on line banking.

A One Armed Lawman & Other Tales

A One Armed Lawman & Other Tales

The ghost towns of Arizona have an entrancing allure. ©Jim Hinckley’s America

He was a legend on the southwest frontier in the late 19th century. He had a well-deserved reputation as a fearless lawman and a career that spanned more than fifty years even though he lost use of his left arm during a gun battle in Fairbank, Arizona.

The incredible story of Jeff Davis Milton, a frontier era lawman, is the subject of the February 23rd episode of Wake Up With Jim, the Jim HInckley’s America audio podcast. And, of course, we also have to share the story of Fairbank.

The podcast is the latest manifestation of our quest to find new ways to tell people where to go. And now, as it looks like we may putting the apocalypse behind us, personal appearances are again being scheduled. Development of both projects will dominate a great deal of the spring.

There are still a few open weekends between today and the National Road Trip Day celebrations on May 27. But I expect the calendar to fill rapidly in the next  few weeks. That is a refreshing change.

Work continues on the Kingman Main Street project that includes the narrated, self gudied historic district walking tour. I am eager for the unveiling of phase one, thirty points of interest, during the festivities on May 27.

A number of Route 66 sites are being included in the tour. One of these is the tarnished relic that is the Arcadia Lodge.

As with Route 66 itself, the motel evolved with the passing of time. In the years of the highways infancy railroad hotels remained a popular option. Campgrounds and rustic cabin camps were also popular lodging choices. By the mid-1930s travelers had become more refined and to compete motels needed to offer modern amenities such as hot and cold water in the room and radios. This was also the era when luxury motels began to replace the lavish railroad hotels such as the Harvey Houses.

Then in the 1950s chains such as Holiday Inn, Ramada, and Hiway House increasingly made it difficult for the mom-and-pop motel to compete. With a decline in profits, maintenance was deferred, the property was abandoned, or the motel complex was converted into low rent apartments. The World Monuments Fund recently listed Route 66 motels as some of, quote, “America’s Most Endangered Historic Places.” Prewar motels are increasingly scarce.

In 1935, U.S. 466 was established with its eastern terminus at Route 66 in Kingman. As a result, investors looked toward Kingman and began establishing modern upscale motels.

The Arcadia Lodge in Kingman, Arizona is a rare roadside relic that opened before WWII. Photo Mike Ward collection.

John F. Miller was a pioneer in the development of modern hotels and motels. In 1905 he established the Nevada Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. A few years later he expanded the hotel and renamed it Hotel Sal Sagev, Las Vegas spelled backwards. In 1939 he built the expansive El Trovatore Motel complex and restaurant in the unincorporated community of El Trovatore along Route 66 east of Kingman.

The year before this the Arcadia Court had opened at the east end of Kingman. The Spanish hacienda styled court opened with promotion that proclaimed the motel offered the, quote, “finest appointments for the fastidious guest.”

The AAA Directory of Motor Courts & Cottages published in 1940 noted that the Arcadia was 15 air-conditioned cottages with baths, $3 to $3.50 per night. To provide perspective most motels in Kingman rented rooms for $2 to $2.50 per night.

Shortly after WWII the complex was dramatically expanded, and the name was changed to Arcadia Lodge. The addition of a second story transformed it into a 47-room motel. The 1954 edition of the Western Accommodations Directory published by AAA included an expansive listing.

An attractive Spanish style court on landscaped grounds. Air cooled units have one or two rooms, central heat and tiled showers or combination baths. Baby beds available. Jade Restaurant adjacent. Pets allowed, $4.50 to $10 per night.

A swimming pool was added a few years later to remain competitive with the chain motels and newer motels being built along Route 66. Purportedly this was the first motel in Kingman with a swimming pool.

In the fall of 1962, the motel was again remodeled. An article published on November 1 detailed some of the improvements. They included replacement of the dated neon sign with one that was more modern in appearance which towered above the sign that indicated a best Western affiliation. It was proclaimed to be the tallest promotional sign in the city. This sign remains in place at the Arcadia Lodge.




A One Armed Legend

Jeff Milton Davis, Wiki Commons

At just eighteen years of age he began honing his reputation as a fearless lawman while riding the Big Bend country as a Texas Ranger. His exploits were legendary. And neither his career or his adventures came to an end with a gunfight in Fairbank, Arizona that cost him his left arm.

The amazing story of Jeff Davis Milton, and the Fairbank gunfight, will be the subject of the Wednesday, February 23rd episode of Wake up With Jim, the audio podcast from Jim Hinckley’s America.These live interactive programs are broadcast on the Podbean platform every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings at 6:30 MST.

This program is the second in a series about ghost towns and legends of the western frontier. To be included in the series are programs about Crown King, Arizona, the railroad that was an engineering marvel, and a backroads adventure along the territorial era Senator Highway.

Also planned are stories about Oatman and Golraod, towns made famous by Route 66 that were are at the heart of Arizona’s last great gold rush. There will also be a program about the county seats in Mohave County, and the Mohave Prescott Road. Become a follower of Wake Up With Jim and never miss an episode!  (more…)

Amish Social Media

Amish Social Media

Several days ago I was locked out of my Facebook account, an integral part of the Jim HInckley’s America network. After exhausting the myriad of options for resolution presented, I called a service number.

Needless to say my sense of humor had been sorely tested by this point. Still I had to smile. The recorded message at the other end of the line said that my call was important and that all service technicians were currently busy. I could hold for the next available technician or leave a call back number. The estimated wait time was 120 hours! I wonder if anyone has actually said, I will hold?

So, I have a question. How did we allow ourselves to become so dependant on companies such as Facebook and Microsoft? Have you ever attemtped to resolve an issue such as having your Facebook account locked? Two days spent wandering through the labryinnth of issue reolution offered by Facebook has left me feeling like I walked in at the middle of a French film dubbed in Russion with Japanese subtitles.

I have come to the opinion that there is a direct correlation between our age and how frustrated we are with technology. With the passing of time, and the daily dealing with issues such as being locked out of my Facebook account with no reason given or apparent way to resolve the problem with a modicum of common sense, I am starting to think that there is a conspiracy. Is it possible that the manufacturer of blood pressure medications are the powers behind Microsoft, Facebook and other modern evils masquerading as conveniences?

Times change. I understand and accept that, but with a bit of occasional reluctance and grumpiness. And I know that to survive we must adapt, even if it is uncomfortable. To the best of my ability I have adapted to, and even embraced, a few of the conveneinces made possible with modern technologies. But dealing with these gadgets has required a little Tennessee whiskey induced patience on more than one occasion.

When I first began trading my abillity to paint word pictures for dollars, meals, or perks those words were added to paper by me pecking away on a 1948 Underwood typewriter. Now, I use Microsoft Word, and can even adjust fonts, create reports, and insert photos. And in all honesty I admit it is an improvement even though there has been a marked decline in my ability to spell since spell check has become my crutch.

In my minds eye the old ’98 Jeep Cherokee is a modern vehicle. But this is the latest model vehicle I have every owned. So, it was a rude awakening when in conversation my insurance agent noted that it was a vintage vehicle. If this had been said about the The Beast, the ’51 Chevy panel truck that is being converted into a rolling Route 66 infromation center and mobile studio for Jim Hinckley’s America programs, that statement would have made more sense, at least to me.

One of ma’s favorite adages was that I was born ninety and never aged. In retrospect I see some validity to this. The “costume” that I wore in high school, during my John Wayne period, and note in my senior years is pretty much the same. It is the same outfit I wear to the beach in Malibu or Germany.

I am most most comfortable in towns with less than three stop lights. I still enjoy driving my old trucks on back roads and old two lane highways like Route 66. And I still feel that a company, a business, has an obligation to its customers.

Apparently that is an outmoded way of thinking. It seems that many companies, tourism departments, and utilities are adapting the Amtrack principle. We are going to get paid whether we have customers or not. So, why put up with customers?

Well, those are my thoughts of the day. Here are a few more courtesy an episode of Coffee With Jim that until this morning was broadcast live every Sunday morning on the Jim Hinckley’s America page on Facebook.

Grab a cup of coffee, pull up a chair, and enjoy a couple of old codgers talking about the changing world.





Carpe Diem

The White Rock Court on Route 66 in Kingman, Arizona is a manifestation of Conrad Minka seizing the day.

Cape Diem. The Roman poet Horace used the term which translates as “pluck the day” or “sieze the day” to convey the idea that every morning dawns with new opportunities. But there is a caveat. There might not be another day. There may not be anotther chance to sieze an opportunity.

Conrad Minka, a hard rock miner by trade, saw opportunity in the traffic flowing through Kingman on Route 66. He built White Rock Court in 1935.

He saw opportunity in the African Americans denied lodging. And so his motel was the only one in Kingman that was listed in The Negro Motorist Green Book.

John T. Woodruff and Cyrus Avery saw opportunity in the newly certified U.S. 66. Working with other visionaries they created the U.S. Highway 66 Association. They were so succesful with their promotional initiatives Route 66 today is the most famous highway in America. It even has an international fan club. And officially the highhway doesn’t even exist and it hasn’t since it was decertified in 1985.

Errett Lobban Cord’s father was a grocer. His mother was a teacher. From an early age he learned about failure, and the importance of seizing opportunity. When he was ten years old his father’s general store went bankrupt.

He attended a technical school as a teeenager. His focus was on automotive technology. At age 15 he quit school, took night classes on business and management, and sold used cars by day. At age 17 with the death of his father, he became the bread winner supporting his mother and sister.

Cord moved from selling used cars to working as a supervisor and mechianc at a garage. Then he bought a used Ford for $75, refurbished the car, and sold the car for a profit. He bought a new Model T, customized it and then sold it doubling his money. Then he began modifying cars and racing them, and selling them after claiming prizes. In 1914 he married and drove a car with a for sale signon his honeymoon.

Then he partnered with a cousin, bought a truck, and began hauling ore from a remote Arizona mine to a smelter. That enterprise when bust so he began selling Paige automobiles in Phoenix, Arizona. With money from that endeavor he launched a rental car business, with just one car. And on the success of that endeavor he established a bus line that operated in southern Califronia. That was followed by another stint as a car salesman, this time it was at Hay Motors selling Chandlers in Chicago. Then he went to california and began selling a new line of home furnaces.

His former employer at Hay acquired the exclusive distributorship rights for Moon in Chicago, and offered Cord a chance to buy into the enterprise. Purportedly within two years Cord had made nearly $1000,000!

Fortuitously Cord sold a Moon automobile to member of the Board of Directors of Auburn Automobile Company, a pioneering company that was established in 1900. By 1924, however, the company was moribund. It was on the cusp of bankruptcy with a massive inventory of unswold cars and parts.

Through the association made with the sale of the Moon, Cord was invited to evaluate Auburn operations in Auburn, Indiana. When offered a top managment position Cord counter offered. He wanted full decision making powers. He wanted 20% of profits. And he wanted the first option to by controlling interest in the company.

With his demands met Cord went to work. Even though some unsold cars were two or more years old, he had the entire inventory repainted in flashy two tone paint schemes. These were then sold at bargain basement prices. With this infusion of capital he purcahsed an interest in Lycoming Engine, and added these powerful engines to new Auburns.

Within twelve months the company was showing a sizable profit. With two years, at age 32, Cord became president of the company, and bought out stock holders. This would be the foundation for an empire that would come to include the legenday Duesenburg, the revolutionary front wheel drive Cord, Checker Cab Manufacturing Company, Stinson Aircraft and a host of other manufacturing interests.

Cord understood the meaning of carpe diem. Even in failure he saw opportunity. And he made the most from each and every day.