The Old Trails Garage dates to 1915. It was built by J.W. Thompson for M.G. Wagner who had operated the original Old Trails Garage on South Front Street, now Topeka Street. At the time this was the course followed by the National Old Trails Road.
This is one of the oldest remaining auto repair facilities in Kingman, Arizona. It retains an unaltered façade appearance. It also has an association with a number of Kingman personalities including Jasper Brewer, a Mohave County Sheriff and state representative that was the second owner.
The building between the Brunswick Hotel and the garage was built in 1912 by J.W. Thompson. It originally housed the Arizona Stores Company, a general mercantile business that also specialized in mining supplies as well as Navajo rugs and Native American crafts.
A few years after the garage opened it was modified, and for the next several decades was used to support the garage. At different times it served as the parts department, and a showroom and sales office for the various dealerships that operated from the garage.
The garage itself was affiliated with numerous automotive franchises. These included Buick, Cadillac, LaSalle, Chevrolet, and Oldsmobile, as well as GMC and Mack Trucks. In the late 1950s and 1960s it was also used as a repair facility for U-Haul trucks.
Dawn of A New Era
Façade renovation that included adding the logos of various auto companies associated with the garage in correct script was a joint project between the property owner and the Route 66 Association of Kingman Arizona. This included the renovation of the circa 1930 Packard sign.
That signs origins and its association with the garage is a mystery. It appears in historic photos on the front of the Packard dealership and garage that was located between Sixth and Seventh Street on Front Street, now Andy Devine Avenue, the Route 66 corridor. In photos from the late 1930s it appears on Duke’s Garage, a Packard facility, located on Second Street between Front Street and Beale Street.
The sign was placed in storage at the Old Trails Garage at some point during WWII. This was the period when Duke’s relocated to this complex. However, the evidence that the Old Trails garage was associated with Packard is scant at best.
For more than forty years almost every issue of the Mohave Miner carried an advertisement for the Old Trails Garage. There is no mention of an association with Packard aside from the mention of general tune ups. As an example, “We tune up all cars including Packard, Cadillac, Dodge, Chrysler, Hudson and Studebaker.”
The registry of Packard dealerships has no listing for this address. However, Elmer Gravers owned the property for decades and who had worked in the garage in his youth had a single matchbook that shows the Old Trails Garage as a Packard sales and service facility. Speculation is that there were plans to use the facility as a Packard dealership, but these were never finalized.
The Old Trails Garage is featured as a point of interest on the innovative narrated self gudied historic walking tour developed by Kingman Main Street. The tour is another example of the diverse array of projects that Jim HInckley’s America uses to share America’s story.