14 May 2021

RAPEA - Day 28 - Flagstaff AZ to Kingman AZ via I40 and Route 66

We departed Flaggstaff AZ and headed west via I40 (which also serves as Route 66 in this neck of the woods). The first thing I noticed was the numerous dead and dying Ponderosa Pines that covered the landscape on both sides of the road. From their gray skeleton trunks their branches sprouted willy nilly. Some looked as if beseeching the sky for rain, while others drooped toward the ground as if they had given up all hope. The only information I could find on the internet about it seemed to indicate that it was caused by a combination of beetles and drought.

The scenery was spectacular once we passed the Ponderosa Pine graveyard. You'd go over a rise and the mountains would appear in the distance with a vast valley in front that's dotted with houses only occasionally. The mountains are part of the Black Mountain Range which is approximately 75 miles long.

If any of the pictures below look familiar, it's because Seligman served as the inspiration for the storyline and topography of the little Route 66 town that had to fight for its survival after being by-passed by the interstate.
In 1987, Seligman gained its name "Birthplace of Historic Route 66" (not to be confused with the Birthplace of Route 66, which is Springfield MO) due to the efforts of Seligman residents, who convinced the State of Arizona to dedicate Route 66 a historic highway. Seligman is the first stop heading west on the longest uninterrupted stretch of historic Route 66, running around 160 miles (260 km) to Topock AZ on the east side of the Colorado River. 

Here in Seligman you'll find a variety of delightfully quirky businesses, each trying to be more ostentatious than the guy next door. Here are just a few:

The Snow Cap Drive-In – built in 1953 by Juan Delgadillo and family with scrap lumber that Juan collected while working for the Santa Fe Railway is still alive and well and has Juan's daughter and grandson now carrying on his legacy.

The Rusty Bolt – built in 1955 by Reginald Sander has adorned its roof with nearly 20 mannequins in various poses and contains a gift shop like no other dealing mainly with Route 66 memorabilia.

The Copper Cart Motoporium – built in 1952, is no longer the classic diner it once was. It's now a museum and gift shop and even has a "Mater" replica from the movie "Cars."

Canyon Shadows Motel, Comfort Lodge, Canyon Lodge – built in 1963 now boasts theme rooms honoring Marilyn Monroe, Elvis, John Wayne and Route 66. 

On the western edge of town we discovered the Roadkill Cafe. Now there's a restaurant name that makes you hungry. It was a great place filled with a lot of hard working people and the food was delicious. It's the first place that served me my sweet tea in a quart sized mason jar.

One of the kitschiest stops on the Mother Road, the Hackberry General Store, has been nicknamed "The Mother Lode of Mother Road Memorabilia" and has an internationally recognized shelter dog who is best known for his appearance on Harley Davidson and United Airlines Commercials. Route 66 Artist, Bob Waldmire, who traveled the road in his orange 1972 Volkswagen Microbus once owned and operated the store. The entire area abounds with photo opps from the rustic storefront to the nostalgic gas pumps to the old blacktop and scenic vistas. It's like a microcosm of Route 66 all rolled into one stop.

When we arrived in Kingman AZ it was still early in the day so we went exploring. Our first stop was Locomotive Park across from the old Powerhouse that's now a museum and the Visitor's Center. The locomotive on display is the Santa Fe Locomotive #3759 which was presented to the city of Kingman as a historical monument by the Santa Fe Railway in 1957. It's a "Mountain Type" coal burning steam locomotive which was built in 1927 by the Baldwin Locomotive Works. It was rebuilt and converted to oil fuel in 1941. You don't realize how huge these things are unless someone volunteers to stand next to it to show scale. Thank you MTC.

I was intrigued by the cool looking shop across from the park with all the flags so MTC and I went to take a look. I loved their signage as well. The name of the shop is Thunder-Rode and their main product is biker gear. I met Jack Alexander, the owner, and he was a really great guy. Even if you're not a motorcycle enthusiast you should check out their website. It's pretty cool.

Next we stumbled upon the Mojave Museum of History and Arts, which seems to be an interesting place. And up the road someone muralized the locomotive on a water tower.

Then we arrived at the Ramada across the street from where we stayed. They have a large variety of celebrities gracing their exterior walls which were expertly drawn by Dan and Vicky, artists from Arizona. For more information on Murals of Kingman click here.

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