2017 – An Electrifying Year on Route 66

In 2014, the city of Kingman hosted the International Route 66 Festival. The theme was

Kingman: Crossroads of the Past & Future. The opening of the world’s first electric vehicle museum, a partnership between the Historic Electric Vehicle Foundation and Kingman tourism at this event marked the beginning of a new era on Route 66, and in Kingman. Well, with the ever increasing acquisition and donation of vehicles, including an ultra rare electric 1998 Chevrolet S10 pick up truck, the museum has outgrown its current location in the Powerhouse Visitor Center and has more vehicles in storage than are on display.

In partnership with Promote Kingman, a fund raising initiative that includes solicitation of sponsors and partners will be launched in 2017 to rectify this problem. The goal is to raise adequate funds for establishment and creation of a dedicated museum that will chronicle the fascinating evolution of the electric vehicle, as well as related infrastructure. chevy-s-10

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Telling Folks Where To Go For Fun and Profit – Welcome to Jim Hinckley’s America

Even though it was often said that I had a gift for telling people where to go,

it was at least ten years after the publication of my first feature article before an attempt was made to capitalize on that talent. Well, that was almost twenty years ago and though fortune in the form of financial compensation has proven somewhat elusive, it has been a truly rewarding endeavor. It has also been an educational experience, a faith building endeavor, a grand adventure, a chance to hone my skill as a pinata impersonator, an international odyssey, and an endless opportunity to meet the most fascinating people. This and the friendships made along the way are the true reward that has come from harnessing my gift for telling folks where to go.

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Sunset in Kingman, Arizona

Now, with eager anticipation and a touch of apprehension I am turning my sights toward 2017. First, however, I need to give 2016 a proper send off. On Friday morning, at 6:15 Arizona time, there is the Jim Hinckley’s America program from Beale Street Brews on Facebook live. I will be answering readers questions (feel free to ask your questions on Friday morning, or by email) about Route 66, the road less traveled, and the infancy of the American auto industry, and talk a bit about the exciting events pending for 2017. I also plan on introducing folks to Ralph Teetor, the inventor of cruise control. That evening the Route 66 Association of Kingman will be hosting a reception for Rasheed Hooda, a fascinating gentleman who is walking Route 66 from Chicago to Santa Monica, at Calico’s on Beale Street at 6:00 PM.

Cowboys, Movie Stars, Dreamers, and The Most Famous Highway in the World

The list of celebrities, legendary cowboys, movie stars, and famous artists

that have called Kingman home, or that have stopped by for a visit or two over the years is surprisingly lengthy. However, with the exception of Pamela Anderson’s indecent exposure incident, even in Kingman, this celebrity association is often less than an historic footnote .

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Recently two of these esteemed individuals, Andy Devine and Bob Boze Bell, author of the Route 66 Kid were awarded a rather prestigious award, induction into the Arizona Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame. As a result, once again the international media spotlight focused on Kingman, just as it did in the 1950’s when the television program This Is Your Life honored Andy Devine, in 1939 when Clark Gable and Carol Lombard married here, and in 1925 when Buster Keaton selected the ranch of Tap Duncan north of Kingman as a filming location for his latest motion picture, Go West. 

Meanwhile, southwest of Laramie …

The title for today’s post was inspired by

the tag line from one of Ned Jordan’s most famous advertising campaigns. For those not familiar with Mr. Jordan, or the legendary automobile that he manufactured, suffice to say that he was a very talented salesman, a golden tongued wordsmith that transformed the business of automotive advertisement.

1923-06-23-jordan-playboyI often give thought to Mr. Jordan, William Crapo Durant, the genius beyond the founding of General Motors, and similar super salesmen when cruising along US 6, US 50, or any of the old two lane highways. How did Route 66 eclipse them in popularity, how was the highway signed with two sixes transformed into an icon, a symbol of freedom and of opportunity?

For most Route 66 enthusiasts the story is well known. However, before talking about the renaissance, the marketing behind the movement, and the people that are behind both, there is a need to provide a bit of background.

The most famous highway in the world is not America’s most historic or even its most scenic highway. However, US 66 was a favorite of Cyrus Avery‘s many, many projects. He even was instrumental in having the highway signed as US 66. 

A Few More Gift Ideas

Just in time for the holidays –

Through the magic that is “shopping on line” there is still ample time to order a gift or two, and have it arrive on Christmas. As an author I prefer the giving of books, and as I am firmly grounded in the era of the Model A Ford, my preference is for books with paper pages. Even though I applaud and encourage reading of books in any form, it seems unnatural to spend time in the reading room with a Kindle and am quite convinced that a Kindle is a very poor substitute for a Sears catalog.10347643_10154390695845296_5449585575170190089_nSo, let me begin with a sales tool. I can not attest to the validity of the statistics presented but do know that books will greatly enhance life, in spite of the impression often given in school.

These are gift suggestions for the armchair traveler in your family, or the adventurer that spends the winter reading about and planning adventures. Of course, you can always choose to let them shop for themselves with an Amazon gift card.

The first suggestion is Motoring West: Automobile Pioneers, 1900 – 1909 by Peter J. Blodgett. This book is actually a series of short stories – written in the opening years of the 20th century. They detail the adventures of early “automobilists” as they pioneered cross country travel by automobile.

Here is an excerpt. This is from the story Automobiling in the West published originally in Scientific America on August 3, 1901. “Pull out block and tackle, wade around in the mud, get soaked to the skin and chilled from the effects of the deluge, make fastenings to the fence or telegraph post and pull. Pull hard, dig your heels into the mud, and exert every effort at command. The machine moves, your feet slip, and down in the mud you go full length. Repeat the dose and continue the operation until the machine is free from the ditch and again upon the road.”

As we are talking about pioneering automobilists, another book that I highly recommend is By Motor to the Golden Gate by Emily Post. Originally published in 1916, this illustrated book presents a fascinating look at early cross country travel and it is written in a manner that places the reader in the passenger seat. As a bonus, some of Post’s trip was along sections of the National Old Trails Highway that latter become Route 66.

For another tremendous book that highlights the adventure and challenges of motoring in the American back country before the advent of the US highway system, I recommend The American Road.

This book is the chronicle of an astounding military expedition that was designed to test the viability of long distance military convoys utilizing motor vehicles, and call attention to the good roads movement that eventually resulted in the creation of the US highway system. Well written, this book almost reads like a novel filled with adventure. Amply illustrated with historic images from the 1919 convoy, and the fact that the future president Dwight David Eisenhower was involved, ensure this will be a memorable read.

The holiday season is a perfect time for telling folks where to go, and if you do it right, they will look forward to the trip. Next week, I will share one more list of gift suggestions.

Until then, take care. See you on the road or on the daily Facebook live broadcast. Adios – //rcm-na.amazon-adsystem.com/e/cm?o=1&p=12&l=ur1&category=kuft&banner=07V9YHKS4HY556H67002&f=ifr&lc=pf4&linkID=a7a0bd4c5ae9a09c3840f9dc87b221a5&t=jimhinsame-20&tracking_id=jimhinsame-20

Mysteries, Adventures, and The Passing of Time

Unraveling mysteries

History is a lot like a good pot of stew. If we merely skim the surface, we miss the meat and potatoes at the bottom. This leaves the impression that the stew is a bit thin, and without a great deal of flavor. Then we tell folks that the stew wasn’t very good and the story is repeated until it becomes fact. 

With the passing of time, even photos are not always enough to separate myth from fact. Recently the Route 66 Association of Kingman initiated an ambitious plan to partner with property owners in the historic business district to restore facades as well as historic signage. One of these projects was the Old Trails Garage owned by the Graves family. As historic research is something I engage in regularly, I was asked to assist in determining the date of construction and to find images of the garage that would allow for a more accurate recreation. old-trails

The earliest view of the garage was a photo post card from about 1918 in the possession of the Mohave Museum of History & Arts. However, something did not seem right as the garage was supposed to have been built in 1912 or 1914, and I didn’t see the Brunswick Hotel that was built in 1909. This was accredited to a bit of photo editing, common in many early post cards. Then with assistance from Steve Rider, a prolific collector of National Old Trails Highway era post cards, a similar post card was discovered but this one indicated a Needles, California location.

Good Friends, Good Food, and Grand Adventures – 2016 In Review

What an amazing year!

There are still a few weeks left before we bid adios to 2016. Indications are, at least here at our hacienda, that they will relatively quiet with the focus being placed on family, friends, the new book, the Promote Kingman initiative, tax filing preparation, and similarly mundane projects. These weeks will be in stark contrast to what has been a most incredible year. 

You might say that I hit the ground running in 2016. In January, on behalf of the Route 66 Association of Kingman, I spoke on the thrills of a Route 66 adventure in the modern era at a fund raising dinner. This was the kickoff for the associations ambitious historic signage and facade renovation initiative. 

To date, in partnership with property owners and Legacy Signs of Kingman, this program has made some rather dramatic contributions to transformation of the historic business district. Perhaps the most exciting project was the restoration of the circa 1914 Old Trails Garage facade on Andy Devine Avenue (Route 66) next to the historic Brunswick Hotel. This included the refurbishment and installation of a 1930 Packard sign – 12 towering feet of neon. 

Building A Route 66 Library, Part One

Gift ideas and suggestions for building a Route 66 reference library –

As we are drawing close to the Christmas holiday it seemed an excellent time to discuss gift ideas or hints that you can give friends and family. For the Route 66 enthusiast, nothing short of a road trip itself beats a well stocked library.

First on the list should be EZ 66 Guide For Travelers by Jerry McClanhan. Without a doubt this is THE essential guide for anyone planning a trip on the old double six. We never leave on a trip without our copy.

This is a bit of shameless self promotion but as a companion to the EZ Guide, I suggest Travel Route 66This is a guide book to Route 66 with suggestions for short detours to enhance the trip, a bit of history, and a few of our favorite stops along the way.

My next suggestion is the latest book from Joe Sonderman. Joe draws from his extensive collection of historic images and post cards, and with fascinating, crisp text and photographs provided by folks like my dearest friend and I, and Jeroen and Maggie Boersma of the Netherlands, he tells the story of Route 66 Roadside Signs and Advertisement

I also suggest that you consider the series of regional Route 66 books Joe has written for Arcadia Press. For the most part these are historic photo essays on topics such as Route 66 in Arizona and Route 66 in Texas. The photos themselves are well worth the purchase price but lengthy, informative captions present a multi dimensional portrait of Route 66 evolution.

Next I would add Route 66 Adventure Handbook by Drew Knowles. This book will inspire a trip or two, and enhance a weekend adventure on Route 66 or a grand odyssey from Chicago to Santa Monica.

For an interesting look into Route 66 at the time of decommissioning when the highways future was uncertain, I suggest Route 66: The Highway and Its People by Susan Croce Kelly and Quinta Scott.  Published in 1988, this book, as with the highway itself, is about the people. They are at the core of what makes a Route 66 experience just as they have for nine decades.

Another great little time capsule to add to the library would be A Guide Book to Highway 66 by Jack Rittenhouse. First published in 1946, and reprinted in 1989, this is more time capsule than book.

The little pocket guide gives a mile post by mile post reference to service stations, garages, attractions, hotel and motels, and trading posts along Route 66. There are also notes about history and points of interest in communities, and other details that make this book a portal in the world of Route 66 in the immediate post war years.

Not exactly Route 66 related, By Motor to The Golden Gate by Emily Post is another interesting time capsule and a most fascinating read. First published in 1916, the book chronicles Post’s adventures to California from New York. In the southwest her journey followed the National Old Trails Highway, predecessor to Route 66.

Watch for part two of this guide latter this week –

I Can Still Make Cheyenne

Reflections on changing times –

A discussion via Facebook messenger about changing times with a friend and colleague in Wyoming while listening to a little tune by George Strait seemed rather appropriate as most of the past few days have been consumed with valiant efforts to overcome the challenges associated with moving the blog to the WordPress platform.

Even though the blog is functional, pages pertaining to the Jim Hinckley’s America Gallery on the Legends of America website, and pending engagements and appearances seem to be in limbo. So, for the foreseeable future, if you would like to order prints from Jim Hinckley’s America as gifts for the holidays, please use the link above. 

And So Begins A New Adventure

There is an old adage that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

I am living proof that is a fallacy. There is, however, a caveat. You might teach the old dog to fetch a stick but there is the distinct possibility that the fetching will be a bit slow. 

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