The Magic That Is Route 66

Always something to see at Chillin’ on Beale in Kingman, Arizona

I never tire of the fascinating people that are met through Jim Hinckley’s America. Recently I encountered Casey McGowan at a Route 66 Association of Kingman “meet & greet” that was also a cruise to Cool Springs on the old highway to Oatman for local auto enthusiasts. Being a fan of classic cars (surprise!) and history it was easy to find common ground for easy discussion as he was a fan of Route 66 and was driving a fairly rare Rambler Rogue. He had another interest that intrigued me, a quest to photographically document the history of automobile dealerships in Kingman, Arizona.

I encountered McGowan again recently at Chillin’ on Beale, an event held on the third Saturday afternoon of each month March through September in Kingman. He had brought not one but two Rambler Rogues to the event, and a beautiful AMC Javelin. Yesterday there was a bit of a break in the schedule so I accepted his invitation to see his vast collection of all things pertaining to the now defunct American Motors Corporation and to talk Kingman dealerships. The entire venture was a most pleasant surprise. (more…)

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A Pair of Rogue’s, Cold Beer and Route 66

Always something to see at Chillin’ on Beale in Kingman, Arizona

From March to September on the third Saturday afternoon of the month, Beale Street in Kingman, Arizona, just one block north of Andy Devine Avenue (Route 66) is transformed into an automobile enthusiasts version of paradise. As a bonus there is great music, a vibrant historic district framed by stunning skylines of towering buttes, mesas, and spires of stone, cold beer served at two award winning microbreweries, and a delightful array of diverse restaurants. In October the date for the Chillin on Beale festivities is adjusted to coincide with the arrival of Craig Parish’s Route 66 Motor Tour. (more…)

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Changing Times

Buffalo Bill Cody at the tiller of a 1904 Michigan

It was a time of incredible transition. In the Arizona territory Geronimo was being pursued by the United States Army. Meanwhile in Michigan, Ransom E. Olds was tinkering with contraptions that would soon contribute to one greatest societal changes in world history. A few years later, in 1892, he detailed a few of his endeavors, and his vision for the future, in an an interview published in Scientific American. He was quoted as saying about the automobile that, “…it never kicks or bite, never tires on long runs, and never sweats in hot weather. It does not require care in the stable and only eats while on the road.”

Peerless, a company that would rise to prominence as one of the nations leading manufacturers of luxury automobiles during the teens had its origins in the production of clothes wringers. With the explosion of bicycle popularity in the last decade of the 19th century, the company diversified production to include the two-wheelers for which America had developed an insatiable appetite.

Pierce-Arrow, another leader in the manufacture of American luxury cars during the teens, had as a cornerstone Heintz, Pierce & Munschauer, a manufacturer of iceboxes, birdcages, and other assorted household goods. As with Peerless, the manufacture of bicycles served as the interim step toward automobile production, and by the teens Pierce-Arrow challenged Rolls Royce for international dominance of the luxury automobile market. (more…)

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It’s A Novelty! It’s A Wonder! It’s A Glimpse of the Future

Bicycles were all the rage. For the manufacturers of bicycles, bicycle

parts, and accessories it was a gold rush. In just four years bicycle ownership had increased by an astounding 250% and clubs organized tours that were hundreds of miles in length. The League of American Wheelmen became a powerful political force that lobbied for better roads. Astute businessmen such as Orville and Wilbur Wright were quick to capitalize on the

In the shadows of bicycle mania, a new technological wonder was being prepared for its debut. Ransom E. Olds mused on the advantages of a horseless carriage in an interview published by Scientific American in the 1880’s. In the early 1890’s the Duryea brothers became the first to begin manufacturing these horseless carriages, and Montgomery Ward noted that they were a sight to behold, something that every parent should take the children to see before the fad passed. Barnum & Bailey Circus gave a Duryea Motor Wagon top billing over the bearded lady AND the albino.  (more…)

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