Telling People Where to Go And Sharing America’s Story

Mountain View Cemetery in Kingman, Arizona. © Jim Hinckley’s America

An article published by the Las Vegas Review Journal in 2010 detailed a discovery that confirmed a local Kingman, Arizona urban legend was in fact true. Quote, “That bodies are buried under a high school football field and adjacent parking lot is more than folklore. Many long-term residents have known that part of the Kingman Unified School District campus was built over the top of the partially relocated Pioneer Cemetery. That was the primary burial ground from 1900 to 1917 for the city, which is about 100 miles southeast of Las Vegas.

Earlier this week they were reminded that some of the bodies are still there. Human bones and suspected coffin fragments were unearthed Wednesday as construction crews dug a trench in an effort to install a new sewer to serve the campus and portions of the downtown area. Fifteen to 20 bones and bone fragments were found in a four-foot stretch of the trench near the football field where games have been played for decades.

The disturbed remains were no longer confined to wood caskets that apparently deteriorated into dust long ago according to Oz Enderby, director of construction for the school district. The Mohave County medical examiner was called to recover the remains and work was stopped as required by law. The coroner, school district representatives and county officials huddled Thursday to determine what should be done with more than 100 feet of trench left to dig across the former cemetery plot.”

Telling Stories

As it turned out, this was only part of the story. That could be said for most points of interest at historic sites included in phase one of the narrated self guided historic district walkinng tour developed by Kingman Main Street.

Aside from the opportunity to bring Kingman’s history to life, research for the walking tour has provided ample fodder for the tellinig of fascinating and occasionally inspiration stories. It has also provided another venue for the sharing of America’s story, a specialty at Jim Hinckley’s America.

Meet John Mulligan

The National Old Trails Highway at the dawning of Route 66 in Kingman, Arizona

Giving people like John Mulligan a bit of limelight was another rewarding aspect of the walking tour project. Mulligan, a stonemason by trade, made an array of contributions to the early development of Kingman.

According to his obituary published in the Mohave Miner in 1935, Mulligan built the first house in a rough and tumble Atlantic & Pacific railroad construction tent camp that would become known as Kingman. This was in 1881 or 1882. It was located on the southwest corner of what is now Beale and Fourth Street,

Mulligan was the primary contractor for the Hotel Beale and Hotel Brunswick. He was also a charter member of the Elks Lodge. And he was the contractor that built the lodge that stands on the corner of Fourth and Oak Street. The obituary says that he laid some of the stone “with his own hands.” And he was also the concrete contractor for the Mojave County Jail built between 1909 and 1910.

Chasing The Dead

Deciphering the story of the Kingman cemeteries proved to an intriguing adventure that was full of suprises. I was aware of the cemetery under the high school football field. And I knew that many of those bodies had been relocated to Mountain View Cemetery on Stockton Hill Road.

But after telling stories with the publishing of 22 books as well as in countless interviews, podcasts, presentations made internationally and blog posts, I have learned a simple truth. The more I learn about history the more I realize how little I know.

The story in the Las Vegas Review Journal was not the first-time gruesome discoveries had been made on school grounds. During construction of the high school in 1959, human remains were unearthed in several locations. These were placed in containers beneath a monument built next to the student parking lot. Then in 1972 during expansion of the Kingman High School, more bones were unearthed.

The football field is the primary site of Pioneer Cemetery. It was used from 1900 thru 1917. After the opening of Mountain View Cemetery on Stockton Hill Road in 1917, most bodies were relocated from the old cemetery for a fee. Bodies not claimed by family or friends, and bodies in unmarked graves, were left behind in the Pioneer Cemetery that was officially abandoned in 1944.

The number of people that were left at the Pioneer Cemetery is unknown. Records were not kept for all burials, or they were inaccurate. Compounding problems associated with identifying graves as well as bodies were the pre 1909 death certificates that seldom noted a burial location or that had misspelled names. And there were also graves used for multiple unidentified bodies over a period of time.

As an example, on May 8, 1915, a published story detailed a gruesome discovery near Burn’s Ranch in the Blue Ridge Range. Quote, “They found the remains in a deep canyon, and while the bones were somewhat scattered, they were nearly all recovered. Nearly all the equipment of a prospector were found, but the blankets and canvas had rotted. An axe handle and rotted tool bag had the initials W.H.F. It is believed that the remains are those of W.H. Bill Fitch that disappeared from Burns Ranch in August 1905. If so, he would have been about age 73 at his death. The remains will be brought to Kingman and buried in the paupers’ graves at the cemetery.”

The first Kingman cemetery was located at Fifth and Spring Streets near the Mehtodist and Episcopal church where Clark Gable and Carol Lombard married in the spring of 1939. Indications are that this site was used briefly in the 1880s. A formal cemetery was established along what is now Kier Street on the south side of the railroad tracks.

Work on Mountain View Cemetery, the current cemetery, commenced in early 1916. A legal notice published in the Arizona Republican dated May 29, 1915, noted that a claim had been filed with the Department of the Interior Untied States Land Office for property to be used as a cemetery. The notice listed Mrs. J. P. Gideon, wife of Sheriff J.P. Gideon, as president of the Mountain View Cemetery Association.

In 1948, the 7th and 8th grade classes were moved to the new Kingman Junior High School near the high school on First Street and adjacent to the former Pioneer Cemetery. The complex has evolved over the years and as a result the historic abandoned cemetery was buried which gave rise to the urban legend based on truth.

A persistent part of this legend, however, has not been verified. According to some sources, when the junior high school was being constructed on the cemetery land, headstones that could not be read clearly were bulldozed into a nearby wash or were used as fill. Others were removed and stored at the county barn.

What Comes Next?

The walking tour project in Kingman was a team effort. It was also an endeavor that fostered development of a sense of community. And that is one of the primary reasons that I am hoping it is used as a template for other communities.

As to what comes next, well I am never short of ideas. Currently the walking tour has thrity eight points of interest. If funding were available, and the volunteers at Kingman Main Street that poured so much energy into this project were ready for round two, I would add another 150 points of interest.

Promotion is another aspect of the endeavor that needs to be addressed. To date, surprisingly, it hasn’t garnered the attention of the city’s tourism office or the Historic Route 66 Association of Arizona. Rectifying that might be a starting point for the tours marketing.

Meanwhile, the reasearch into Kingman’s history continues.



Not An Ordinary Joe

The Tourist Hotel in Tombstone, Arizona shortly before the devastating fire of 1942.

One of the first discoveries made in my quest for answers was this article published in the Tombstone Epitaph on July 7, 1928. “TOURIST HOTEL CHANGES HANDS HERE LAST WEEK – Joe Hood Is New Owner of Well Known Hotel Here; Will Repair Building.  The Tourist Hotel, for many years operated and owned by Mrs. Josephine Rock, pioneer resident of this city, was sold last Saturday to Mr. and Mrs. Joe Hood who took possession immediately. There has been no official announcement made as yet in regard to proposed improvements or changes in the hotel building but it is thought that the new owners will go to considerable trouble and expense in repairing, enlarging and renovating the building. Mrs. Rock left this week for California where she will visit for a short time before deciding where she will make her permanent home. She is well known here, being the widow of John rock, pioneer merchant and one time member of the Board of Supervisors from this district. The new owners announce that they will not change the rates now in effect and will run the hotel along the same lines that it has been run in the past, giving twenty four hour service to transients.”

The Search Begins

As evidenced by Jim Hinckley’s America, I am possessed with an insatiable curiosity. And so shortly after my dearest friend and I married nearly forty years ago, stories told about Joe Hood by her family piqued my interest and set me on a quest for information that continues to this day.

Joe, my wife’s great grandfather, was born in 1880. Based in Tombstone, Arizona, he served as the sheriff in Cochise County in 1921 and 1922. He owned the Tourist Hotel that burned in 1942, and later, an auto court on Route 66 in Kingman, Arizona. And he died in 1960.

So, first hand accounts of his early life were hard to find, even among family. Most recollections were little more than family lore that had been tainted by the passing of years and faded memories. Even heirlooms such as a .41 caliber Colt revolver that Joe purportedly carried during his tenure as sheriff was shrouded in mystery.

The Search Continues

Hoods Market and auto court along Route 66 in Kingman, Arizona.

A recent breakfast with artist and author Bob Boze Bell of True West magazine provided incentive to dust off my research, and to dig deeper into Joe’s story. Bob is the early stages of a book about colorful personalities associated with Route 66 in westeren Arizona. Joe Hood certainly qualifies for inclusion.

Surprisingly, Joe’s life in Kingman has been the hardest to document. Often an answered question leads to more questions. In turn, trying to answer these questions leads to interesting discoveries that raise even more questions.

Sometime after the fire in Tombstone, Joe and his family relocated to Kingman. Why? A hint of an answer was found in an unrelated research project about Oatman, Arizona. While digging through old newspapers I found a brief reference to Bert Macia, formerly of Tombstone, that had accepted as a superintendent at a local mine.

In 1906, Joe Hood had married Olive Macia in Tombstone. Her sister was Ethel, and as it turned out, her husband was Bert. So, now I had a family connection to the Kingman area. But I also had problems. Bert returned to Tombstone before 1912. He and Ethel became the owners of the historic hotel now known as the Rose Tree Inn in 1920. So, was there another family connection to the Kingman area?

Joe and his family moved to Kingman sometime in the mid 1940s. They purchased an auto court and built a market, according to family legend. But did Hoods Court exist before Joe built it? There is scant evidence that a court, but not a market was at this site in about 1940. What was its name and its history?

New Discoveries

Over the years the quest for information about Joe has had many twists and turns. A few of those side trips have uncovered amazing and suprising stories. Bert’s name was actually James. And he had a son, James Herbert Macia Jr.

James Jr. lived a most interesting life. Born in Tombstone, he joined the United States Army Air Corps on June 24, 1940. Over the course of the next twelve months he completed navigator training and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant. As a navigator he volunteered to join General Jimmy Doolittle on a daring raid on Tokyo. This daring group of aviators became known as Doolittle’s Raiders.

This suicide mission was his first, but not last, daring exploit in WWII. He served two combat tours and flew eighty combat missions in B-26 Marauders with the 320th Bomb Group in Europe from March 1943 until April 1945.

As I chase the ghost of Joe Hood, I can’t help but wonder what other stories are awaiting discovery.



Route 66 Detours

The oasis that is Beale Springs is located less than two miles from Route 66 and downtown Kingman, Arizona. ©Jim Hinckley’s America

Sharing America’s story, and telling people where to go is what we do at Jim Hinckley’s America. On yesterday’s episode of Coffee With Jim, our audio podcast, we talked a bit about the historic Bradshaw Trail in the Mojave Desert.

In this blog I want to tell you about another historic 19th century road, and a very special place that is linked to centuries of Arizona history. And I will also introudce you to a delightful hiking/mountain bike trail system that is located just a few miles off Route 66.

The center piece of this delightful desert oasis is Beale Springs. This is the site of an 1870s military outpost, an historic ranch, a territorial era hotel, and a tangible link to a very dark chapter in the history of the Hualapai people.

It is bisected by a Native American trade route that was used for centuries. That trail was followed by Father Garces and his expedition in 1776. And it was followed by Lt. Beale and his famous camel caravan that surveyed a road across northern Arizona in the 1850s.

Traces of the 1850s Hardyville Road a road built in 1913, and U.S. 466 can also be found in Coyote Pass. U.S. 93 cuts thorugh the hills and provides a more direct route to the summit. Soon that highway will be joined by I11. And now this historic pass is at the center of the Cerbat Foothills Recreation Area.

Located less than two miles from historic downtown Kingman and Route 66, the short trail from the parking lot to the springs is almost wheelchair accesible. The rest of the trails in the recreation area range from easy to moderate, with a few crossing the line into difficult.

Some Territorial History

During the mid 19th century, before the Atlantic & Pacific Railroad laid tracks across Arizona, the river was the primary artery of commerce in the southwest. Towns that sprang up around steamboat landings were rough and tumble places. They were also thriving boomtowns.

A 1913 guide book to Arizona roads shows the route of a new road that conencted Chloride with Kingman via Coyotee Pass. ©Jim Hinckley’s America

A pioneer, entrepreneur and namesake for the town of Hardyville on the Colorado River near present day Bullhead City, Arizona was William Harrison Hardy. Attesting to the town’s prominence, it was the second Mohave County seat.

Sensing opportunity, in 1864 he began construction of the Hardyville toll road that would connect the Colorado River with the territorial capital of Prescott. He obtained a charter from the legislature and began charging a toll of $2 per wagon and 25 cents per animal to use his road.

Completed in 1866, the road became a primary link for bringing supplies into north central Arizona. It was also a key military road, especially after construction of Fort Mohave a few miles south of Hardyville. During the Hualapai Wars of the 1870s, the road and Beale Springs figured prominently. A military outpost was established at the desert oasis, and this was also the site of an internment camp for the Hualapai before being marched to a reservation on the Colorado River. That incident is known as the Hualapi Trail of Tears.

With the arrival of the railroad in the early 1880s, the Hardyville Road faded from prominence. It was still used in part by ranchers and miners, and as a component in anetwork of roads connecting remote mining camps in the Cerbat and Black Mountains.

Beale Springs

As a desert oasis Beale Springs played an important role in the development of northwestern Arizona. The old fortification was used as the headquarters for a ranch. For a brief time there was a hotel at the springs. And in the formative years of Kingman, the springs served as a primary water source. Kiosks give meaning tot the stone foundations on the hillsides, and ruins of the reservoir remain as a tangible link to territorial history.

Some of the hiking trails in the Cerbat Foothills Recreation Area follow these early roads. Near the summit of the pass the Hardyville Road, U.S. 466 and the 1913 auto road converge, and then disappear under the four lanes of U.S. 93.

The Cerbat Foothills Recreation Area is anohter reason to make Kingman destination. But if your schedule isn’t conducive to spending a day or two exploring the many attractions in the Kingman area, at least pack a picnic lunch and make a detour off Route 66 to Beale Springs.

This fading old road is just one link to territorial era Arizona history at Beale Springs. ©Jim Hinckley’s America

I hope that you enjoyed this blog post. Coming soon, more shared adventures! Stay tuned and thanks for reading!


Legends of The Mojave Desert

Legends of The Mojave Desert

Prolific photographers and explorers Susie Keef Smith and Lula Mae Graves on an expedition in the California desert. Photographer unknown. Photograph from Atlas Obscura

Little is known about William David Bradshaw. A fellow named Horace Bell spent some time with Bradshaw in the gold camps of California. In his journal he called him a “most polished gentleman” and a “natural lunatic.” He may have been a bit of both. Even though the historic record is thin, there is no doubt that Bradshaw was a man that recognized opportunity. And apparently he was tougher than ironwood bark.

Well, mi amigos, if you are a fan of stories about colorful characters and forgotten chapters of southwest history, this blog is for you. Today I will be sharing the story of Bradshaw, and the Bradshaw Trail that once was a vital artery of commerce across the forbidding desert of southern California. And I will also introduce you to two very amazing women, Susie Keef Smith and Lula Mae Graves.

As a fan of western frontier history I was vaugely aware of the Bradshaw Trail. But my knowledge of the trail, and its namesake, was almost comparable to a frogs knowledge of tap dancing.

At the venerable old Auto Books Aero Books store in Burbank, California, I have a book signing every December. Afterwards it is my custom to peruse the shelves in search of new additions for my growing research library. One of the books purchsed this past December was Postcards From Mecca: The California Desert Photographs of Susie Keef Smith and Lula Mae Graves 1916-1936.

Historian Dennis Casebier best known for giving the old school in Goffs, California along Route 66 a new lease on life, and for chronicling the history of the Mojave Road, introduced me to these two adventuresome women many years ago. We were talking about early 20th century exploration in the Mojave Desert. He asked if I was familiar with Smith and Graves, daring cousins and prolific photographers. He then showed me some of their real photo postcards.

So, for several years I have picked up snippets here and there about Smith and Graves. Their story is a tale of inspiration, of adventure, and of a toughness that is rare today. Finding this book about their desert adventures was akin to finding treasure for me.

Susie had been crippled with polio as a child. But this did not hold her back. Her father taught her how to maintain and even fully rebuild a Model T Ford. He also taught her a profiency with firearms. Both of these skills served her well, first when her parents moved to a ranch near Mecca, California, and then when she became postmaster in that remote desert town. And of course, when she and her cousin began venturing deep into the desert to photograph rugged miners, prospectros and cowboys, and stark landscapes, these skills as well as horsemanship proved priceless.

By the time Smith and Graves began exploring the desert, the Bradshaw Trail was little more than an historic footnote. But they traveled it from the Colorado River to San Gorgonio Pass, which lies east of Riverside, and they documented the vanishing ruins of stage stations, ranches, and outposts.

In April 1846, William Bradshaw joined the California’s Bear Flag Rebellion that fought to overthrow Mexican rule and establish an independent California Republic. By the early 1860s, Bradshaw was a veteran of the great California gold rush, and countless other strikes.

In early 1862, as news spread about the discovery of a major gold discovery on the Arizona side of the Colorado River by Pauline Weaver, a well-known scout and trapper, Bradshaw sensed opportunity.

This time he intended to profit from the flood of miners, prospectors, sepculators, gamblers and investors rather toil away in search of richs. Weaver’s strike was about 250 miles east of Los Angeles. But this was across unexplored wilderness. The most viable route was an arduous one: down the coast of California by ship, up the Gulf of California, and then steam ship or long hike up the Colorado River.

Delmer G. Ross in his book Gold Road to La Paz: An Interpretive Guide to the Bradshaw Trail, wrote, “Bradshaw was befriended by Old Cabezon, chief of the Cahuilla Indians of the Salton Sink, and a Cocomaricopa Indian mail runner from Arizona who happened to be visiting the Cahuilla villages. The two Indians provided Bradshaw with a map showing an ancient Halchidoma Indian trade route through the Colorado Desert – the northern extension of Mexico’s Sonoran Desert – complete with the location of springs and water holes.”

With this map and infromatioon in hand, Bradshaw and eight daring men set out to chart a trail from Los Angeles to the Colorado River. Bradshaw knew that if he could cut a trail through the harsh desert and promote it, he would prosper mightily from a ferry that he would build on the river.

After mapping the route and establishing rudimentary service stops at key water holes and palm shaded oasis, he established a ferry on the Colorado River. After giving his brother Isaac the position as manager, and William Warringer as operations head, Bradshaw began promotiing the trail in Los Angeles and San Diego.

Traffic began flowing along the trail in ever growing numbers. And the ferry which could carry freight wagons as well as draft animals became a cash cow. To protect his investment Bradshw traveled to the newly established capital of Prescott in Arizona, and was awarded a 20-year exclusive franchise for his ferry service from the territorial legislature.

As was often the case, the gold strike spawned a boom town. Soon La Paz had a population of more than 1,5000 people. According to some sources within one year twelve saloons were built of adobe with canvas roofs, there were several stores, a few brothels and other businesses.

But the fabulous strike at La Paz proved to be short lived. By 1870, most of the mines had played out. Prospectors were finding little color in placer mining. La Paz faded and soon became a ghost town. With the exception of a few propsectors, and adventurers such as Susie Keef Smith and Lula Mae Graves, no one used the Bradshaw Trail.

William Bradshaw made quite a fortune. But he never had an opportunity to spend it. And he never saw the abandonment of La Paz for he committed suicide in 1864. That, however, is not the end of the Bradshaw story. His brother Issac would play a pivotal role in the development of the Arizona territory. He is the namesake for the Bradshaw Mountains near Prescott, Arizona.

This, however, is a story for another day. This is another one of America’s stories to be told by Jim Hinckley’s America.

Today, the Bradshaw Trail, like the Mojave Road, is barely discernable in many places. A few sections are maintained by BLM for four-wheel drive vehicles or hiking. If you want to learn more about the trail, you can find more information on this website:

I hope you that enjoyed this story about the 19th century Bradshaw Trail across the Mojave Desert. If you did, please leave a comment below and share it with your friends. And don’t forget to subscribe to my blog for more of America’s stories.


End of An Era

End of An Era

The Dunton Garage along Route 66 in Goldroad, Arizona.

Sales never met expectations. But in the era of renaissance on Route 66, the reprint of the little guide published by Jack Rittenhouse in 1946 is a treasure for legions of passionate U.S. 66 adventurers.

In A Guide Book To Highway 66, Rittenhouse noted, “For eastbound cars which cannot make the Gold Hill grade, a filling station in Goldroad offers a tow truck which will haul your car to the summit. At last inquiry their charge was $3.50, but may be higher. Cars with trailers may need this service.”

More often than not, the tow truck driver alluded to in the guide was Roy Dunton. In 1946, Roy was a young man that had recently returned home after serving a stint in the Navy during WWII. He simply slipped back into his prewar life.

While still in his teens in the late 1930s, Roy’s uncle, N.R. Dunton had helped him relocate from Spokane, Washington, and had given him a job at the garage. Driving the tow truck was just one of his jobs as N.R. also had the garbage and school bus contract in Goldroad. He also rented and sold mining equipment, repaired cars, sold auto parts, and had a very busy gas station.

Roy and N.R. were kept quite busy as the flow of traffic over this steep, twisted section of Route 66 in the Black Mountains of western Arizona had reached epic proportions by the late 1930s. At the end of 1939 the state highway department reported that for that calendar yer, more than one million vehicles had entered Arizona on Route 66.

On a warm spring day when Scott, Roy’s son, and I drove to Oatman with Roy, stories were shared about life in Goldroad and working on Route 66 in those pre war years. Over lunch and a cold beer at the Oatman Hotel, Roy, then about 90 years old, talked of flirting with the daughter of the owners of Snell’s Summit Station, of pumping gas at Cool Springs, about towing vehicles to the summit, and of an accident at the garage that almost ended his life.

In western Ariizona the Dunton family has played a big part in the Route 66 story since that road was the National Old Trails Road. And for more than thirty years that family has been an integral part of my work to promote Route 66, and to assist ongoing efforts to revitalize the historic heart of Kingman, Arizona, my adopted hometown.

For reasons unknown, Roy took a shine to me. And I let him drag me into some interesting political adventures. I served as the committee man for the Republican Party in my district, wrote press releases for events such as the annual party picnic. I also met some fascinating people such as Senator John McCain.

The unexpected death of Scott Dunton about ten days ago was the end of era for Kingman, for Route 66, and for me personally. Scott and I began working on projects to utilize the growing interest in Route 66 as a catalyst for historic district revitalization back in about 1992. That was shortly after he and his father had purchased the venerable old Kimo Cafe that dated to 1940, and initiated its transformation into Mr. D’z Route 66 Diner. As a bit of FYI, the “D’ in the name is for Dunton.

In 1994, Scott and I launched the Route 66 Association of Kingman Arizona. Fueled with a passion for the endeavor we hit the ground running. But as so often happens, life got in the way and the association went into a holding pattern for a few years.

But shortly after the turn of the century, Scott and I began working together in earnest. I had resigned from the associations board of directors, but this didn’t prevent Scott from using the association to help me promote Kingman, and Route 66.

We served on a few city commissions’ together. Scott was opiniated to a fault. But there was never any doubt where Scott stood. He was also generous, passionate about his hometown, Kingman, and unreservedly dedicated to his family.

Left to right, Scott Dunton, Kingman Mayor Jen Miles, author Jim Hinckley and Dries Bessles of the Dutch Route 66 Association.

I was as stubborn as Missouri mule. My weakness was the oppposite of Scott’s. I was obsessesed with diplomacy, even when it wasn’t warranted or was was detrimental to a project. So, we butted heads a bit here and there but with the passing of time we learned how to work together. Our strengths and weaknesses provided balance. The association, Scott, and I became a team.

Scott or the association often covered a portion of my travel expenses when we took Jim HInckley’s America on the road promoting Kingman and Route 66. Scott provided an office at the historic Dunton Motors dealership that I could use as a studio for live programs, or to meet with media for interviews.

The associations monthly meet and greet held at different businesses became a venue for networking, for building a sense of community, for developing a diverse array of cooperative partnerships, and for creating an awareness about Route 66 and how the interest in that road could be a transformative force in Kingman. Working with local clubs and the organizers of Chillin’ on Beale, the meet and greet was often transformed into a reception for visiting groups such as Route 66 Germany.

Neon sign acquisition and restoration, grafitti clean up, public arts projects such as the murals on the water tanks along Route 66 and the Running Hare scultpure created by Don Gianella are all manifestations of Scott’s commitment to the city of Kingman. Mr. D’z Route 66 Diner, Dunton Motors Dream Machines, and the Route 66 Association of Kingman Arizona are also manifestations of his passion for Route 66, and his desire to ensure travelers had memorable stops in Kingman.

Scott’s passing is truly the end of an era.