Kingman, Barstow, San Bern….oh wait, not there yet!

Our day Wednesday started in Kingman at the Route 66 Museum in the Powerhouse. We met up with Joyce Wiley an administrative assistant at the museum and supporter of our cause for a photo shoot and introduction to the museum displays. It is a wonderful museum with two particularly interesting galleries which relate the stories of both the Harvey Girls of the Santa Fe Railroad, and the mass migration during the depression and dust bowl days as depicted in Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath”. John has posted a nice overview of the museum, and you should check it out.

In the Bobby Troup song “Get Your Kicks on Route 66” he names several of the towns you drive through on your way to Santa Monica but does not name Santa Monica, nor many other towns on the route like Oatman AZ, but drive though it you must if on old Route 66. Oatman began as a small mining town of about 100 in the early 1900’s but when two prospectors struck a $10 Million gold vein (over $170M in today’s dollars) in 1915 the town grew quickly to 3,500. It remains a gold mining town to this day and has become a significant tourist attraction but I believe possibly more for the population of wild burros who seem to be the real owners of the place.

The town is essentially one street in the middle of the very hot high desert and many of the original structures remain. One of those structures, The Oatman Hotel Restaurant & Saloon, is a very interesting place with literally hundreds of thousands of one dollar bills attached to the walls. Andy, one of the managers of the establishment, and the lady who graciously gave this parched traveler a large glass of ice water explained that the money was put there primarily by miners for the purpose of settling any debts a fellow miner might have left in the event of their untimely demise. Many tourists now sign and attach bills and nearly all have been signed, with one signed by Ronald Reagan prior to becoming president.

The landscape between Kingman and where old Route 66 meets up with I-40 is beautiful yet foreboding. It is hard to believe that this was the main east-west route in this part of the country prior to 1978. I can’t imagine large trucks navigating this portion of Route 66. Oh, and did I mention it’s HOT!

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