The holiday weekend has been dominated by thoughts about Bob Waldmire, Route 66 and life in a desert crossroads. This deep thinking was sparked by a host that posed questions about Bob Waldmire’s association with Kingman. And then she expressed surprise that given Waldmire’s fame, especially in the Route 66 community, this mural wasn’t heavily promoted. She noted that in her quick search only the website for the narrated self guided historic district tours referenced the mural.
I found her observations interesting. But what I have been turning over in my mind was one particular comment. “I am more amazed by what is not being promoted in Kingman than what is.”
Let’s see a show of hands, how many people know that there is an original Bob Waldmire mural along Route 66 in Kingman, Arizona? How many people know that the building with the mural, now a machine shop, was a primary filming location for Roadhouse 66 starring Willem Dafoe and Judge Reinhold? And how many people know that there is a display of Waldmire’s unique pen and ink folk art at TNT Engineering in a former Ford dealership next to the mural?
This past week I sat for several interviews including one with RM World Travel Connection with Rudy Maxa. Most of them followed the set format that I have gotten used to over the years. A few questions were asked from a script, there was a set timeline, and a plug for Jim Hinckley’s America as well as my latest book.
One of the hosts surprised me. First, with the pre-program conversation that made it quite clear that she had done some homework. Then with a call afterwards to talk in even more detail.
As I meditated on the conversation, I began composing a list of Kingman attractions with an emphasis on what is not being marketed. Topping the list was the innovative walking developed by Kingman Main Street that was unveiled during National Road Trip Day festivities in May 2022.
- Oatman, Arizona has profited mightily from the marketing of the myth that the Oatman Hotel has a connection to the marriage of Clark Gable and Carol Lombard. But in Kingman it isn’t a myth. They married at the Methodist-Episcopal chruch, now county offices on the corner of Fifth and Sprintg Street. This was followed with a very brief reception at the Brunswick Hotel. This the same hotel where Edsel Ford stayed in July 1915
- J. Anne Butler is an internationally acclaimed sculptress. She was commissioned by the Queen of England, and her work graces gardens throughout the world. One of her works stands along Route 66 at the historic railroad depot. It is a statue of an author known throughout the world
- Additional public art displays include a mural by artist and animator J. C. Amberlyn, and a sculpture by Donald Gialanella
- The Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago Cubs once played in Kingman, And George Grantham that played in a 1920s World Series lived in Kingman for years, and is buried in Mountain View Cemetery
- The Route 66 corrdior was signed as Front Street until 1955. During an episode of This Is Your Life, it was renamed to honor prolific character actor Andy Devine. Devine grew up in Kingman, and his faher Thomas Devine owned the Hotel Beale for many years
- Two of the top rated, and most scenic, trail systems in Arizona are located in Kingman. One is peppered with historic sites. Another is bisected by a territorial era road
- Two award winning microbreweries
- The world’s only museum dedicated to electric vehicles
- A diverse arts community that includes performing arts, galleries, and art studios
- New and vintage neon signage including a circa 1930 Packard sign, a 1962 OK Used Car sign, and a 1930s Welcome to El Trovatore sign
The more I give thought to this, and add to the list, a question comes to mind over, and over again. Why isn’t Kingman a destination city?