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From Jerome, I drove to Prescott, another one of Arizona’s famous “old west” towns, and then to Ash Fork, where I turned west on legendary Route 66 – “The Mother Road.” I stayed on Route 66 until I reached California.
Route 66 was completed in 1926. Connecting Chicago in the east and Santa Monica in the west, it stretched for 2,400 miles across eight states: Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California.
My experience with Route 66 traces to 1956, when we drove from Virginia to California. We followed this iconic highway from Petrified Forest NP to Kingman – 260 miles total, all of it in Arizona. We then turned north on U.S. 93 to Hoover Dam.
I remember the drive. We saw the Petrified Forest, the Painted Desert, and the Meteor Crater. There were a few noteworthy towns – not many – including Holbrook (the “tipi” motel), Flagstaff (“old west” town), and Williams (gateway to the Grand Canyon). But, Route 66 was mostly miles and miles of motor courts, bungalows, greasy spoons, juke joints, feed stores, and filling stations.
The Interstate Highway system rendered almost all of Route 66 obsolete. Today, fragments of Route 66 still exist, thanks to the “Route 66 Associations.” Some of the longest unbroken stretches of road lie between Holbrook and Topock, Arizona – a distance of 289 miles.
Route 66 has been romanticized. Bobby Troup’s iconic “Get Your Kicks on Route 66” is an American standard. In truth, Route 66 has flat lined. There are lots of decaying motels and diners to shoot, but – overall – the Road is “low yield.”
From Ash Fork, I drove west to Seligman, a tourist trap specializing in schlock. There were hundreds of tourists there – French – and I wondered what they might be thinking.
I took these photos in Seligman. Despite the look of relative prosperity, just about every business in town was “for sale.” Poverty lurks just beneath the veneer.
There is a part of Route 66 that still matters: The 44-mile stretch from Kingman to Topock via Oatman. I will save those pix for last.
Thank you, everyone, for your thoughts on whether to continue using collages.
I am in the middle of a 1,300-mile drive to Maine. I will be gone for the rest of September and will have very limited access to the Internet. However, I will catch up with all of you when I find free Wi-Fi and then when I get home.
As always, thanks for stopping by!
Also by Richard Knight
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