Death At Every Turn

Death At Every Turn

Route 66 and the words horrible crash, multiple deaths,

fatalities, and other descriptors of tragedy were often linked on the front pages of newspapers. There was a reason that the highway was known as “Bloody 66.” (more…)

Nightmare At Goodwater & Stories From The Shadows

Nightmare At Goodwater & Stories From The Shadows

In the early 1950’s, Goodwater, Arizona was the proverbial wide spot

in the road. Located on Route 66 in eastern Arizona, there was little more in Goodwater than a service station and small cafe. It didn’t even warrant mention in A Guide Book to Highway 66 penned by Jack Rittenhouse in 1946. Obscurity was erased in December 1953 when a brutal murder put this diminutive community on the front pages of newspapers throughout the country.

In appearance there was nothing to indicate that Carl J. Folk was a monster. His arrest record, however, gave clues to the darkness that he harbored in his soul. In DeKalb, Indiana, in 1930, he was arrested after car jacking a young couple, and attempting to rape the woman at gun point. In July of 1949, in Albuquerque, he was arrested for rape and “contributory delinquency.” In between the two arrests were a string of incidents, none of which resulted in conviction, for stalking, peeping in windows, and accusations of public exposure. For the 1949 incident he was committed to the New Mexico State Insane Asylum in Las Vegas. Unfortunately for Betty Faye and Raymond Bruce Allen, he was released in February 1950.

According to the testimony of Raymond Allen, the couple traveling with their ten month old son from Pennsylvania to California first encountered Folk at Cline’s Corners in New Mexico. Investigators later determined that Folk then began stalking the family. He would pass them on the highway, stop at a cafe and wait until then drove by, and then repeat the process. Sometimes he would back track to catch them. On the evening of the murder at Goodwater, Folk had stopped at Young’s store in Chambers, Arizona, and at a gas station in Navajo.

After spotting the Allen’s truck and trailer at Goodwater, he drove ahead a short distance, found a ranch road, parked his car and waited in the darkness. The Allen’s had stopped for gas and dinner, and driven a mile or so west where they found a place to park for the night. The location chosen was in site of Folk’s hideaway. Sometime around midnight on December 1, Folk surprised the Allen’s, and announced that his intent was robbery. He tied them ankles to wrist from behind, and then drove the truck with trailer to where his car was parked. After dragging Raymond from the trailer, he methodically set about raping and torturing Betty Faye.

Early the next morning, sometime around 6:30, Raymond freed his feet and staggered to the highway where he was able to flag down a truck driver. Even though his hands were swollen from being tied all through the night, he returned to his truck, recovered a gun from under the seat, and when Folk stepped from the trailer, fired six times striking Folk in the chest.

Folk would recover from his wounds and be executed by the State of Arizona. Betty Faye had died from strangulation. The child was unharmed but there is little doubt that he and Raymond were forever haunted by the nightmare at Goodwater.

The current book project has taken me into some very dark places on the Main Street of America. From traffic accidents to serial killers, from gangsters to natural disasters, this has been an endeavor that will never be forgotten.

Revive, Resuscitate, Revitalize, Restore & Renew Route 66

Revive, Resuscitate, Revitalize, Restore & Renew Route 66

Less than ten years from now Route 66, the Main Street of

America will turn 100 years of age. Arguably the old road, a highway that officially no longer exists, is more popular than at any time in its history and as a result, there is ample evidence that the iconic highway is experiencing a renaissance of sorts. Still, Route 66, surprisingly, as a living time capsule faces an uncertain future.

The White Rock Court in Kingman is counted among the rarest of historic buildings with a direct Route 66 connection.If a list were to be composed of endangered relics, the bridges that are crucial to maintaining the historic integrity and context of the Route 66 experience are near the top of the list. Another leading contender are the motels with an emphasis on the auto court. Almost as rare as leprechauns riding unicorns are the motels, auto courts,  and properties that were featured in editions of the Negro Motorist Green Book.   (more…)

Building A Route 66 Library, Part One

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 –

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