Incentive With Inspiration

Incentive With Inspiration

Telling people where to go and sharing America’s story. In a nutshell that is what we do at Jim Hinckley’s America. And we are always looking for new opportunities to do both. That is why we recently launched the podcast Car Talk From The Main Street of Americaand expanded the scope of the Sunday morning program, Coffee With Jim. 

But there is another facet to Jim HInckley’s America. That is the development of educational programs, speaking at schools, and even providing someone on one time for students.

These projects are almost entirely made possible through partners that provide support through our crowdfunding initiative on Patreon. As my dearest friend and I are used to eating on a regular basis, crowdfunding is key to make these type of projects relatively feasible.

We don’t talk much about these initiatives. I don’t feel comfortable giving the impression that they are done for profit.

To date I have had the distinct privilege of working with a variety of schools at all grade levels. Counted among the most memorable programs were those made at schools in Germany. I learned as much or maybe more than the students.

Incentive to continue thiese programs and projects, and the inspiration for them, often comes from students, from their parents and from teachers. A few months ago I receoved a message from a teacher at a school in Chandler, Arizona with a request to speak to her class.

Obviously that wasn’t feasible at the time. It had to wait until I had business in the area. Meanwhile one of the teachers sudents accepted my offer to assist directly via phone or Zoom. One student accepted that offer. He was working on a project about the societal impact of Route 66 in the 20th century. Did I mention that he was just eleven years of age?

Well, we talked on the phone and I answered his carefully crafted and well thought out questions. Then he talked his parents into bringing him to my program at the Performing Arts Center in Apache Junction. Well, yesterday I received this note. “I’m happy to share that I made it to state level and will be participating in the program at ASU (Arizona State University) in April.”

That, my friends is the true reward for what I do. That is the inspiration needed. To my supportring partners on Patreon, thank you. We did it. We made a difference.

In coming weeks I will be sharing an array of exciting updates about pending travel, new programs, and items associated with the fast approaching Route 66 centennial. And as I will be attending a rather dynamic conference and symposium soon, there is every confidence that we will have much to discuss.


Opportunity Is Knocking!!

Opportunity Is Knocking!!

Pontiac in Illinois is a town where the lick and promise approach isn’t good enough, and it shows. Photo Jim Hinckley’s America

The articles are a few years old, and the downturn in tourism that resulted from COVID related restrictions blunted the near vertical growth in tourism, but the evidence is still valid. “Atlanta (IL), sales tax revenue jumped 43 percent last year during the peak tourism season of April to August compared to four years ago.” From Waynesville, Missouri, “The city’s sales-tax revenue rose 7 percent last year.”  Similar stories can be found about Pontiac, Illinois, Williams, Arizona, and Tulsa, Oklahoma.

A simple Google search shows similar results in a number of Route 66 communities over the course of the past ten years. Further research indicates that the success in each of these communities has several common denominators.

Leadership that builds cooperative partnerships, that inspires and that educates. Leadership with vision. Capital investment by city government in historic district infrastructure to enhance a pedestrian friendly environment and beautification to make the area more inviting for visiotrs as well as investors. An understanding that tourism is not just heads in beds.

As Bill Thomas of the Route 66 Road Ahead Partnership is fond of saying, “Not all economic development is tourism. But all tourism is economic development.” And a key component of tourism is a city that has invested in its future by ensuring that it is inviting to tourists as well as potential new residents or business owners.

Generally I discuss these things in generalities as they are issues that many communities deal with. Today I need to be more direct in the hope that my adopted hometown of Kingman will serve as an example on how to transform the city into a destination rather than as an example of how a community with tremendous potential can languish.

Opportunity is knocking in Kingman, again. I use the term again because we are on the cusp of repeating past mistakes. The past has value but only if we learn from mistakes made. To dwell on the past, to be paralyzed by prior mistakes is counter productive. Put simply, you can’t put crap back in the donkey.

The city has invested in a comprehensive study and funds have been allocated for the Downtown Infrastructure Design Project. The point of contention is that some folks are of the opinion that monies should be diverted to street repairs.

Street repairs are needed. And they will be needed again in two years, in five years and in a decade. But there is overwhelming evidence that investment in a project such as this will serve as a catalyst for long term economic development. And in turn that generates revenues need for street repair and other services.

I am optimistic. This time there is unified support for moving the transformative project forward. The Kingman Area Chamber of Commerce has launched a petition in support, and the passionate volunteers from Kingman Main Street have been working tirelessly to educate the community about the potential benefits. The Route 66 Association of Kingman Arizona has announced their support.

Now, let’s just hope that I can make a positive and enthusiastic report after the next city council meeting.

More Route 66 Adventures

There were a wide array of exhibits on display at the Route 66 Info Fair in Needles, California. ©Jim Hinckley’s America

A nearly packed house for my presentation about Route 66 in Arizona at the Performing Arts Center in Apache Junction, Arizona, and attendance of the recent Route 66 Info Fair in Needles, California make it abundantly clear that the infectious magic of iconic Route 66 is igniting a passion for road trips. For me personally these events bod well for a very busy year as I share America’s story and tell people where to go.

When elected mayor of Needles, last year Janet Jernigan made it quite clear that she wanted to see a renaissance in the historic heart of the city that is dominated by the picturesque historic El Garces depot and hotel complex. In spite of a few unforeseen glitches the 2022 Route 66 Info Fair was a success. And as an example of leadership with vision, Jernigan and her team have already announced a date and provided preliminary details for the Route 66 Ino Fair scheduled for February 10, 2024.

“The 3rd Annual Route 66 Info Fair at the El Garces in Needles. This popular event will once again feature Route 66 vendors and businesses, El Garces tours and speaker presentations. Next year’s fair will add an art show in the west end of the El Garces and craft fair in the Santa Fe Park. Make your 2024 plans to include Needles on your calendar.”

The Route 66 Info Fair this past Saturday was a winner in my book. Aside from an opportunity to visit with old friends, a hallmark of these Route 66 events that are almost like a family reunion, it was a wonderful opportunity to inspire road trips, and to help people plan a memorable adventure on storied Route 66.

Thanks to sponsors of Jim Hinckley’s America, including the City of Tucumcari, and supporters from Cuba, Missouri, Amarillo, Texas, Atlanta, Illinois, and the Oklahoma Route 66 Association, I had an array of promotional materials to share including visitors guides. This greatly enhanced my ability to lend assistance with travel planning.

Wade Bray of SRO productions. Photo Needles Tourism

A hit at our display was a plaque that allowed us to demonstrate the narrated, Kingman Arizona historic district self guided tour developed by Kingman Main Street. I am hoping that people will be inspired to use it as a template for a similar project that assists in the revitalization of the historic district in their community.

The rich and colorful diversity of the Route 66 renaissance was on full display at the event in Needles. It also reflected the growing trend in showing Route 66 as a direct connection between past, present and even the future.

Si Garcia of the Fort Mojave Tribe performed traditional bird songs. Historical renactor Debbie Miller Marschke did a superb impression of Olive Oatman, and shared Oatman’s amazing story. Wade Bray of SRO Productions shared a video from the 2022 AAA Route 66 Road Fest in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and answered questions about the 2023 fest scheduled for June 23 – 25. Mike Thornton gave tours of the El Garces and brought the history of the complex to life with his passion for the property and for Needles.

The old double six has been charming people for nearly a century. Tourism directors in communities along the Route 66 corridor that ignore or that shrug off the popularity of that highway do so to their detriment. The old double six just may be more popular than at any time in its history. And with the centennial fast approaching I would be willing to bet my bottom dollar that this popularity is going to grow exponentially.


Legend of The Double Six

Legend of The Double Six

The National Route 66 Museum in Elk City, Oklahoma, a stop on our fall tour.

On June 27, 1985, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials decertified US 66 and voted to remove all its highway signs. So, officially Route 66 doesn’t exist. And yet an argument could easily be made that today that storied highway is more popular than at anytime in its history.

US 66 was a mere highway that connected Chicago, Illinois with downtown Los Angeles, California when it was certified in November 1926. But almost from inception, marketing and promotion ensured it was in a class all its own. It quickly evolved from highway into an icon that came to symbolize the quintessential American road trip.

In the spring of 1927 the US Highway 66 Association was formed to lobby for having the highway paved from end to end, and to market the highway. In essence it served as a sort of chamber of commerce for the linear Route 66 community.

One of the associations first initiatives that branded the highway as the Main Street of America. This tagline was borrowed from a marketing campaign for the National Old Trails Road, predecessor to Route 66 in the southwest, launched in 1913.

The Transcontinental Footrace along Route 66 that garnered international media coverage in 1928 gave he highway a promotional boost. Likewise with a promotioonal campaign that linked Route 66 with the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles. And of course there was The Grapes of Wrath, the book and the movie, the song and the television program as well as movies such as Easy Rider.

As Jim Hinckley’s America has as its foundation the sharing of America’s story, and telling people where to go, it isn’t surprising that many of the adventures that we share are linked to Route 66, especially as we draw closer to the centennial in 2026. We inspire road trips and bring history ot life through podcasts and programs, social media network and YouTube channel videos, books and feature articles, tourism development work and educational programs.

A presentation about Route 66 in Arizona at the Perfroming Arts Center in Apache Junction, Arizona ©Jim Hinckley’s America

For 2023, aside from custom programs for events or organizations, we have created a fun filled, fast paced, trivia filled presentation about the dawning of the American road trip. We are currently booking for spring and summer, and are making plans for a Route tour this coming fall.

And we are taking the Car Talk From The Main Street of America podcast in a new direction. Yes, we will still be inspiring road trips and talking about, and with, interesting people. And we will be sharing fascinating stories about the dawning of the American auto industry.

But the emphasis will be placed on steam and electric automobiles. The goal being to counter myth with fact, and highlight these vehicles role in the past, the present and the future of the auto industry.

We are also making plans to take the Jim Hinckley’s America show on the road. In the first engagement for 2023, nearly every seat in the house at the Performing Arts Center in Apache Junction, Arizona was full for the Route 66 in Arizona program. This was my first program made on behalf of the Arizona Lecturer Series.

On the weekend of February 11 at the Route 66 Info Fair in Needles, California, I will be speaking about Edsel Ford’s epic journey along the National Old Trails Road in the summer of 1915. And,of course, I will also be telling people where to go as we give assistance with their Route 66 travel planning.

It is shaping up to be quite a year. We hope to see you on the road this year. In the meantime, get out there on the road and dsicover America.




Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow

The Powers Building on the corner of Fourth and Beale Street in Kingman, Arizona opneed just a few weeks before statehood. @Mohave Museum of History & Arts

It is one of the last territorial era buildings built in Kingman, Arizona. And its history chronicles the ebb and flow of prosperity in the historic heart of the city.

On September 2, 1911, an article published in the Mohave Miner noted that, quote, “M.I. Powers of Flagstaff based Citizens Bank was in Kingman for a few days getting acquainted with the people of the town. It is Mr. Powers intention to open a bank in Kingman about the 15th of November.” It was noted that construction was scheduled to commence within ten days.

However, shortly after the cellar was dug it was announced that Lovin & Withers, the contractors for the project, had altered the buidlings plans. Quote, “Lovin & Withers Company Thursday last announced that a second story would be added to the building to be built on the corner of Fourth and Beale Streets. The ground floor will be used for the new bank, the post office, and a store. The upper floor will be used for office purposes.”

The Powers Building, or Citizens Bank Building, was completed in January 1912, mere weeks before Arizona statehood. But it was spring before all the interior details were completed.

Then in 1917, corresponding to the construction of Central Commercial a full remodel of the Powers Building and Citizens Bank commenced. A brief article in Volume 18 of Coast Banker published that year noted that, “The Citizens Bank has taken possession of its remodeled banking room, and now has one of the most modern and best equipped banking headquarters in this part of the state.”

On February 11, 1921, announcement was made that Citizens Bank and Arizona Central Bank were merging with Valley National Bank. In Mohave County this affected the Arizona Central Bank branches in Oatman, Chloride and the location on the north corner of Fourth and Beale Street. The Citizens Bank branches affected included Oatman and Kingman.

In this announcement it was noted that quote, “for the present operations will be consolidated at the Arizona Central Bank. The Citizens Bank will remain open during regular banking hours for the convenience of safe deposit patrons until arrangement for moving the boxes is completed.” With consolidation the Citizens Bank clock that had figured prominently in advertisement was transferred to the Arizona Central Bank building on the opposite corner.

The Valley National Bank operated from the Powers Building until 1957. With relocation of that bank to the corner of Fifth and Beale Streets, the Powers Building was again remodeled and was included as a part of the Central Commercial complex. In 1978 the building was purchased by Babbitt’s and the façade extensively modernized.

It was restored to its original appearance after acquisition by the Ott family. The building retains numerous original features or features added during the 1920s remodel. This includes the safe, the leaded glass windows and tile work on the floor. As the ArtHub the old bank figures prominently in the historic district renaissance.

The historic Powers Building is just one of the points of interest on the narrated self gudied historic district walking tour developed by Kingman Main Street. The entire project is another example of how Jim Hinckley’s America shares America’s stories.