Death on the Double Six

Over the years death has come in many forms on iconic Route 66. The

highways realignment or construction of a bypass was often the death knell for communities and businesses. The ever increasing flow of traffic, including broken down Model A Fords and powerful new Buick Roadmaster sedans, on a highway peppered with narrow bridges that left no room for error, as well as blind curves, steep grades, long stretches without a shoulder, and gas stations that offered a free six pack of beer with every fill up of the tank all contributed to the moniker “Bloody 66.”

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A wreck on Route 66. Photo courtesy the Joe Sonderman collection.

 

Shortly after WWII, two brothers opened a service station in western Arizona. Using a homemade wrecker to fulfill a contract with the state to remove wrecks from the highway, they soon discovered that there was gold in the tangled wrecks, broken glass, and carnage. Within twelve months they were able to pay cash for a brand new truck with Holmes wrecker body. Within three years they had three trucks and operated three shifts.  (more…)

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GOING TOPLESS ON ROUTE 66

This morning I enjoyed a brief but interesting discussion

with KC Keefer, the brilliant videographer behind the Genuine Route 66 series and a series of videos on forgotten places such as the Painted Desert Trading Post and Glenrio in partnership with Dr. Nick Gerlich. The topic of conversation was Route 66 as a catalyst for economic development and revitalization in rural communities. As that has been the subject of recent Jim Hinckley’s America blog posts as well as Facebook live programs, I found his insights and thoughts to be particularly relevant.

In building the foundation for economic development in a community, tourism as a primary component is a very poor choice. However, tourism should always be considered a component in the creation of an economic development plan, especially in a community that has Route 66 as the main street through its historic business district. Additionally, in these communities all marketing should include a Route 66 element. The popularity of the road will magnify these type of initiatives. often with tremendous results.

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As important as Route 66 in in regards to marketing or revitalization initiatives, myopic focus on what Route 66 was can be as detrimental as not using it at all. It is imperative that a community also focus on the future. As an example consider the embryonic Route 66 Electric Vehicle Museum in Kingman, Arizona. In addition, Route 66 should also be utilized as a means for showcasing the unique attributes of a community. If a town can blend these components in a single package, and has the leadership needed to get community buy in, it will be transformed, regardless of rural location or size.  (more…)

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RIDE THE WAVE OR DROWN

Why do some communities along Route 66 thrive, and

others continue the decline precipitated by the highways bypass. Why is Pontiac or Cuba a destination for legions of international travelers as well as entrepreneurs? In regards to tourism development, why do some communities such as Kingman or Tucumcari move forward at glacial speeds or even stagnate even though their tourism related assets far outnumber those found in Pontiac or Cuba? Why is Seligman a beehive of activity but Ash Fork flirts with becoming a ghost town?

On numerous occasions I have addressed these thoughts and related issues in blog posts. In recent years I have also made numerous presentations on the subject in various communities, and assisted with the development and marketing of events. However, over the course of the past year my involvement with tourism as a catalyst for economic development has broadened. It has included a stint as a marketing development consultant for Ramada Kingman, a role I now play for Grand Canyon Caverns, and some representative work for the City of Kingman. I am also involved with the innovative Promote Kingman initiative, and proudly serve on the economic development committee for the Route 66 Road Ahead Partnership, formerly the Route 66: Road Ahead Initiative steering committee.

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