Lessons Learned

The embryonic electric vehicle museum is the first and only museum dedicated to this style of vehicle. Credit Historic Electric Vehicle Foundation

Mention Porsche and visions of fast, sleek cars come to mind. But for the company’s namesake Ferdinand Porsche it was electricity, not gasoline, that first piqued his interest.

In 1893, at age 18, Porsche electrified his parents’ house. Before the turn of the century he was working for the Vereinigte Elektrizitäts-AG Béla Egger company in Vienna. It was that company that he first began designing and experimenting with automobiles. They were battery driven electric cars.

In 1900 he designed a highly advanced automobile. The ‘Semper Vivus’, his second car, was launched as the production-ready Lohner-Porsche ‘Mixte’. It had an internal gasoline engine powered by naptha. But rather than driving the car the engine was used to power a generator that sent a charge to the wheel hubs for propulsion.

The first decades of the 20th century, much like the first decades of the 21st century, were an era of innovation in the auto industry. But the innovators of the 21st century had a slight advantage as they were standing of the shoulders of pioneers.

Byron Carter capitalized on the bicycle mania of the 1890s and produced a quality two wheeld product in Jackson, Michigan. Still, there was little to differernate his bicycles from hundreds of others on the market at the time.

His, cars, however, were another matter. The Cartercar was friction drive, which eliminated the need for a transmission. The Carter Two Engine was even more radical in design. It was a four cylinder automobile, with conventional transmission. The selling point was reliability. Under the hood was a second four cyclinder engine, in case of mechanical failure with the first engine!

Before the introduction of the electric starter on the 1912 Cadillac, steam and electric powered cars were the industry leaders. These were the trend setters. A White steamer was the first automobile to replace carriages at the White House. A Stanley built steamer set a land speed record of nearly 150 miles an hour in 1906.

Rapid advancement of gasoline engine technology, and development of an electrical system that included starter and lights, proved the death knell for steeam powered cars. Electric cars fell out of favor, but as we see today, they still pique the interest of innovators who see a different future for the automobile.

Detroit Electric enjoyed strong brand loyalty. And they found a market in the growing number of female drivers as they were relatively clean and easy to operate, especially in comparison to cars such as the Model T Ford. Still, by 1914 the company reached its zenith when annual production topped 4,000 vehicles. The comapny continued producing vehicles into the 1930s, and even built a limited edition vehicle that used by the postal service.

The past, the present and the future of alternative energy vehicles, and supportive infrastructure are a regular topic of discussion on Car Talk From The Main Street of America, a podcast from Jim Hinckley’s America. We guarantee that the program will provide lots of fodder for trivia fueled discussions, be filled with surprising stories, and will have you looking at Tesla built cars in a whole new way.

A Tale of Ambition, Daring and Vision

A Tale of Ambition, Daring and Vision

According to legend Floyd Clymer received recognition as America’s youngest automobile dealer by Teddy Roosevelt. That is an example of what happens when you have a father that encourages, teaches with hands on experience, and instills a sense of self confidence.

With his father’s assistance, Clymer had his own dealership selling cars manufactured by REO, Cadillac, and Maxwell by the age of eleven! Clymer’s amazing career was diverse and his life was lived in the fast lane. He set speed records with motorcycle and automobile racing and spent a bit of time in prison. He pioneered the mail order auto parts business, laid the groundwork for a thousand cottage industries, and transformed the publishing industry.

And on a recent episode of Car Talk From The Main Street of America, a podcast from Jim Hinckley’s America, I shared a bit of Clymer’s story and suggested that people do some reading about this fellow that was possessed with ambition, daring and vision.

After a number of false starts, hiccups, frustrations, and months spent with a seemingly endless learning curve, podcasts (as in two) are now an integral part of the diverse Jim Hinckley’s America network. As with everything we do the idea is to share America’s story, to provide communities as well as authors and artists with a promotional boost, to inspire road trips and visionary thinking, and to tell people where to go.

Embedded players on the website allow people to enjoy both programs at their convenience, or to share them with friends. Likewise with archiving the progams on Spotify and other major podcast platforms.

Coffee With Jim has morphed into a replacement for the popular live video programs that was shut down unceremoniously when Facebook locked the Jim HInckley’s America page. The live stream program on Podbean, Sunday mornings at 7:00 MST, is travel centered. The interactive format usually adds an interesting dimension.

And for 2023, we are taking the program in a new direction. We are FINALLY able to begin adding guests on a regular basis. We attempted this about a year ago with Whitney Ortiz, the dynamic tourism director from Atlanta, Illinois.

But as I said, there has been a steep learning curve for someone that identifies as modern Amish. And that takes us to a new year and new opportunities.

Gregg Hasman (better known as Highway Hasman) will be our guest on the February 5th program. Hasman is a good friend and a fascinating young man that is an exceptionally talented photographer. He has a gift for turning a phrase and so is viewed, in my opinion, as a gifted writer. As a bonus he is an inquisitive fellow with a passion for road trips. So, this should be a rather interesting program.

And then on March 19th we will have a very special guest, Stephanie Stuckey. She is the CEO of Stuckey’s and a board member of the Society for Commerical Archaeology. So, who has fond memories of pecan logs and a stop at Stuckey’s onepic family road trips?

Car Talk From The Main Street of America is still in a formative stage. But working with producer Stan Hustad a good quality program is being developed. In essence the program is about the past, present and even the future of the auto industry. We discuss all facets of this topic from Route 66, road trips to museums, personalities such as Louis Chevrolet and Lee Iacocca, the evolution of electric vehicles, and events. Now, we just need some guests and help growing the audience.

Both programs are sponsored in part by Visit Tucumcari. We strive to give promotional partners a bang for their advertising dollar, and I am confident that this podcast will catch on soon. If you have a chance take a listen and give us your two cents worh.

Inspiration, Irritation & Infatuation

Inspiration, Irritation & Infatuation

The long shuttered Hotel Beale in Kingman, Arizona is linked to pioneering aviation history, and a number of Hollywood celebrities. Photo postcard Steve Rider collection.

He was possessed with an unbridled imagination. He was capable of visualizing amazing things, and then making them a reality. A means to balance high speed steam turbines and electric razors are two examples. Cruise control is another.

But, perhaps, the most amazing thing about Ralph Teetor wasn’t his ability to transform dreams into reality. It is that he did so while suffering from what many people would consider a debilitating handicap. As a child he had been injured in his fathers machine shop. Mr. Ralph Teetor was blind.

I stumbled on to Mr. Teetor’s story while researching stories for a monthly column entitled The Independent Thinker written during my tenure as associate editor for Cars and Parts. Even though the magazine has been defunct for more than a decade, I still recieve notes about the inspiration that inspired.

From a financial standpoint that column was not my most rewarding venture. But it remains one of the most satisfying things I have done in my career as a writer. And it has inspired everything I have done since my tenure at Cars & Parts. 

Our tag line at Jim Hinckley’s America is telling people where to go, and sharing America’s story. Linked with that is my infatuation with people that inspire. People like Ralph Teetor, Eddie Stinson, and Andy Devine, the character actor whose childhood years were linked to the Hotel Beale in Kingman, Arizona.

In my presentations, books, articles, and podcast programs it is my intent to inspire road trips as well as dreams of innovation, and to wrap these in tales that share America’s story. That often leads to irritation when a publisher wants to cut material or when there are issues with social media accounts such as the locking of the Jim Hinckley’s America Facebook page.

Recently, working with program producer Stan Hustad, I began reviving the independent thinker series as an audio podcast, Car Talk From The Main Street of America that is sponsored in part by Visit Tucumcari. On the episode for Friday, January 13, 2023, I shared the story of aeronautical pioneer Eddie Stinson.

Edward Anderson Stinson was born on July 11, 1894 in Fort Payne, Alabama. He and his sister developed a fascination for airplanes at an early age. His sister Katherine was one of the nations first licensed pilots.

Eddie, while still a teenager, traveled to St. Louis and talked his way into a job as a test pilot for an aviation company. At the time his only experience with airplanes were books that he had read!  During World War I he served as a flight instructor for the U.S. Army Air Corps, and a decade later he would launch Stinson Aircraft.

The dawn of a new year has filled me with eager anticipation. I am creating an extensive archive of inspirational stories for the podcast. And I am also working on a new series of programs for presentations. It is also my intent to dust off an idea from the pre COVID era. Stay tuned for details!



A Treasure In Holbrook

The oldest building in Holbrook, Arizona has a colorful history that includes an association with territorial and Route 66 history. ©Jim HInckley’s America

Just a few blocks off Bucket of Blood Street, in an aged neighborhood of truncated streets and weathered houses of an indeterminate ages, stands the long shuttered Higgins House. This forlorn relic is an historic treasure, a tarnished gem. It has an association with territorial Arizona history, the National Old Trails Road, Route 66, and WWII, and just may be the oldest building in Holbrook.

Records are a bit fuzzy but the main structure was built in 1881 or 1882 by Pedro Montaño. Holbrook, the Navajo County seat, was officially established in 1881 as a siding and supply center on the Atlantic & Pacific Railroad. Its namesake was Henry Randolph Holbrook, a chief engineer for that railroad.

Additions were made in 1883. Then shortly after sale of the property to James and Maggie Higgins in 1884 additional rooms were added and it operated as a boarding house. It sold again in 1889, and with further expanison became the Brunswick Hotel. The upper floor also served as a dance hall and saloon that was pressed into service as needed by the local Masons. For a brief period of time it even served as the Holbrook hospital.

With establishment of the National Old Trails Road in 1913, the hotel was given a boost. That pioneering highway crossed the Little Colorado River and entered Holbrook from the south. An ever increasing flow of traffice flowed right past the door. It is reported that in 1915 more than 20,000 people followed the National Old Trails Road. Counted among those travelers was Edsel Ford and his college buddies, and Emily Post.

The property underwent a series of changes under a variety of names. As the Arizona Hotel it was listed in the AAA Hotel, Garage, Service Station and AAA Club Directory published in 1927. Then it was renamed the Rancho and Arizona Rancho.

A wing was added at some point around 1930, and even though Route 66 flowed through town north of the railroad tracks, the motel complex still did a brisk business. By 1940, however, with construction of more modern auto courts along the Route 66 corridor a precipitous slide began. During World War II the property was leased by Fullerton Junior College to house pilot candidates training for the U.S. Navy at Park Field in Holbrook. After the war it again served as a motel, but only for a few years.

The building served a variety of purposes after the motel closed. After a small fire in the late 1980s, the building was shuttered. Neglect, time, and a lack of maintenance have taken a toll. The future of this endangered treasure is uncertain. Giving it a new lease on life would require a major investment of time and money, as well as vision and ambition.

Would a return on investment be possible? Well, the old hotel is only a few blocks from Route 66, and the beauty of the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest are only a few miles from town. Can you picture this tarnished gem as small resort hotel complex?

A Jim Hinckley’s America feature

Urban Exploration In Arizona

Urban Exploration In Arizona

The old jail in Kingman, Arizona predates statehood. ©Jim Hinckley’s America

Built between 1909 and 1910, the old Mohave County Jail is a rare tangible link to the closing years of the territorial era in Arizona. It is one of the last free-standing jails built before statehood. Surprisingly it remained in use until 1965 when a new jail in the courthouse basement was completed. Currently the building is used for storage but plans are for the Mohave Museum of History & Arts to open it for tours.

Subject of the first 2023 episode of Coffee With Jim, an audio podcast from Jim HInckley’s America, the jail is a point of interest on the narrated, self guided historic district walking tour developed by Kingman Main Street. But the old jail is more than just a tangible link to the early history of Arizona statehood.

As an example, the Pauly Jail Building Company of Missouri was awarded the construction contract for the cells. As an interesting historic footnote, still in business this company was established in 1856. It remains as the oldest single family-owned correctional facilities contractor in the United States.

The history of prior jails in Kingman, and former county seats in Cerbat, Mineral Park, and Hardyville, now forgotten ghost towns, is vague. During research for the walking tour one of the earliest references I found was in a published article dated January 1884 that noted funding approval in the amount of $1,400 for jail construction in Mineral Park.

There is ample evidence that incarceration in the Mohave County Jail after the dawn of the 20th century was considered a joke by outlaws. And it was an absolute embarrassment for the county.

Published in the fall of 1907 was a particularly comedic story. “Because all the prisoners in the Mohave County Jail, grown tired of the sameness of the menu, and their surroundings, walked away a short time ago. All of the fugitives face additional charges for the jail break. None of the escapees have yet been caught.”

An article published in September 1908 noted that, quote, “Sometime yesterday afternoon two prisoners slipped through one of the jail gratings and made their escape. They were two boys held for robbing the section house at Berry. The continual escapes are similar to the early days of Yuma when prisoners were wont to take a dinner knife and fork and carve their way to freedom through the adobe walls. Anytime a husky fellow wishes to desert the Mohave County Jail all he has to do is put his back to one of the cages and shove a hole through the walls of the buildings. But most of the prisoners are more considerate and only pull out the frame of one of the gratings and squeeze themselves through.”

But ongoing issues pertaining to incarceration were not the only crime related news stories to garner headlines in papers throughout the territory of Arizona, or even nationally. At 2:00 in the afternoon of January 19, 1907, C.C. Leigh was hung in the yard of the Mohave County Jail. This was the culmination of a two-year legal battle that had often been the subject of national headlines.And to the best of my knowledge, it was the only hanging on the square at the Mohave County Courthouse.

On September 8, 1905, Leigh had murdered Jennie Bauters, his mistress, in Goldroad, now a ghost town along Route 66 in the Black Mountains. Bauters was an immigrant that had profited greatly from running a house of ill repute in the mining town of Jerome. And she had also become well known, and even respected, in the territory for her boundless genoristy.

When Leigh’s appeals had been exhausted and the date of execution was set, his mother sent a wire to President Theodore Roosevelt and Territorial Governor Kibbey seeking clemency or a stay of execution. Neither one responded.

Throughout his trial and the subsequent appeals Leigh had played the tough guy and shown no remorse. Reportedly at several times during the trial he smirked and even laughed when testimony against him was given. He spent the morning of his execution writing letters to family and friends. But when the death warrant was read to him in the corridor of the jail, his bravado vanished.

But it was reported that when the jailer bound him, Leigh fainted and struck his head on the cell. The gash bled profusely. But he was bandaged and led to the scaffold in a nearly unconscious state. He had to be held up as the cap and noose were adjusted.

After years of scathing editorials, public arguments, and frustration with the county’s deplorable jail, on May 15, 1909, the county published an announcement that work on a new, modern jail would begin soon. John Mulligan was awarded the contract for the concrete work on the jail, and that the expected date of completion for the project was September 1910. Mulligan was well know in the community and had been the primary contractor for the Brunswick Hotel and Hotel Beale, both of which still stand along Andy Devine Avenue, Route 66.

In July 1909 an article published about the project noted that Mulligan and a fellow named Pendergast was commencing work on the foundation, and that construction of the jail was to begin within sixty days. Interestingly, the article noted that a covered bridge was to be built between the jail and courthouse.

It is not known if the bridge was built. If so, it was removed when the courthouse was moved to the west as construction on the new courthouse began.

A persistent urabn legend in Kingman is that with completion of the new courthouse, the old building was moved to Front Street, now Andy Devine Avenue, across from the railroad depot, renovated and operated as the Commercial Hotel until the early 1950s. However, apparently this courthouse was demolished.

The legend is rotted in the story of the first courthouse in Kingman, the Taggart House, a hotel and office complex on Beale Street. It was this building that was moved to Front Street, and remodeled as the Commerical Hotel.

By the end of January 1910, the walls of the new jail were complete, and the forms removed. On October 27th of that year the structure was inspected by the county’s special committee. Except for a lack of gratings on the lower windows of the sheriff’s office and main entrance, and the need for a steel door between the main corridor and the sheriff’s office and residence, they approved the project.

The jail and other points of interest on the square, including the courthouse that dates to 1914, are just a few of the dusty gems awaiting discovery with some urban exploration in Kingman, Arizona.