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Ghost Town Stretch to Kingman

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Ghost Town Stretch of Route 66

 

Peach Springs

Truxton

Valentine

Hackberry

Ghost Town Stretch Slide Show

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Route 66 east of Peach Springs, Arizona

Legends of America makes a picnic stop just east of Peach Springs, Arizona. Photo by Dave Alexander, January, 2015.

 

 

Just west the Grand Canyon Caverns, old Route 66 meanders into the lands of the Hualapai (“Wall-ah-pie”) Indians, a reservation that encompasses more than a million acres, including 108 miles of the Colorado River and a portion of the Grand Canyon. A beautiful stretch through the high-desert Hualapai Valley, the old pavement runs closely parallel to the Santa Fe Railroad tracks, passing through the ghost (or near-ghost) towns of Peach Springs, the tribal headquarters of the Hualapai Indians and the only access to the west rim of the Grand Canyon; Truxton, which was born specifically to cater to Route 66 travelers; Valentine, the home of an old Indian School; and Hackberry, which got its start as a mining town.

 

 

Peach Springs – Home of the Hualapai Indians

 

Peach Springs, Arizona Trading PostPeach Springs is about 12 miles west of Grand Canyon Caverns and is the tribal headquarters for the Hualapai Reservation.

 

The "People of the Tall Pine” have been occupying these lands for more than 1,400 years, where the west rim of the Grand Canyon and the river below, has long since provided food sources and medicinal needs to the tribe. It was from the Haulapai's west rim, that the earliest visitors accessed the wild Colorado River below.

 

Euro-Americans became aware of the springs during explorations in the 18th and 19th centuries. Beginning in 1858, emigrants along the Beale Wagon Road increasingly used Peach Springs as a rest stop and watering place.

In 1866, the U.S. government granted the Atlantic & Pacific Railroad (later known as the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad) a right-of-way to build a transcontinental railroad, and construction through northern Arizona was completed in 1883. With its abundant water, the location quickly became a "division point" for the railroad. The station was named "Peach Springs", for the many peach trees found around the spring that fed their steam engines.

 

Soon, a lively railroad town sprouted along the tracks at Peach Springs. A post office was established in 1887. It didn't take long before the settlement reportedly had ten saloons but no churches or schools. The ease of access to the Grand Canyon via Peach Springs led to the construction of a roundhouse, several shops, a stagecoach line, and a Fred Harvey restaurant and hotel for tourists. The initial period of prosperity lasted for approximately two decades.

 

 

 

At the turn of the century, the railroad constructed the Santa Fe and Grand Canyon Railway via Williams to the Grand Canyon. The decline in tourist traffic through Peach Springs led to a decline in the town. In 1907, the railroad moved its division point to Seligman, leaving Peach Springs as only a minor stop along the tracks.

An administration office is now housed in the old trading post.But, Peach Springs was saved with the "Good Roads" movement of the 1910s, which led to the establishment of the National Old Trails Road. This led to a new prosperity for the town. In 1917, a trading post was opened, which fared very well. In 1926, the National Old Trails Road became part of Route 66. With the widening and improving of the road, traffic through the town steadily increased and business thrived. Several cafes, motor courts and tourist businesses were established to service the many travelers of the road. The original Peach Tree Trading Post did so well, that the original frame building was razed and a new stone building was erected.

 

Unfortunately, when Route 66 was replaced by I-40, Peach Springs, once again declined. One local business owner recalled, “Before the bypass, Route 66 was almost like a Big City street. After completion of Interstate 40, it was ghostly quiet.”

 

Today, little is left of Route 66 era landmarks, but, the 1917 trading post building still stands, serving as a tribal administration building. It was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2003.

 

In recent years, Peach Springs has seen a large comeback, due to the promotions of the Hualapai tribe and their exclusive access to one of the last undeveloped sections of the Grand Canyon. Visitors can tour the Grand Canyon West Rim on the Hualapai Reservation, stay at the Hualapai Lodge in Peach Springs, visit an authentic Native American village, and take a walk on well-known Grand Canyon Skywalk -- a glass bridge that juts out across the canyon, providing views some 4,000 feet down to the canyon floor.

 

Truxton – A "New” Ghost Town

 

Just a few more miles down the highway, you will soon reach the town of Truxton, a relatively "new” town by Arizona standards. Unlike most cities along the Mother Road, this one has no history prior to Route 66. In fact, it started only as a café and a service station in October 1951, when Donald Dilts built the services to accommodate the many wayfarers along the road. Soon other businesses sprung up competing with Dilts, but sadly, the only ones that remain open today are the nine room Frontier Motel and the Truxton Station.

 

After a half century of operation, the Frontier Motel’s classic neon sign was beginning to show a lot of wear. However, thanks to the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program and the Historic Route 66 Association of Arizona, the sign has been rescued to shine brightly for Route 66 generations yet to come.

 

Upon leaving Truxton, you can see an older alignment of the Mother Road on the south side of the highway. Between mile markers 89 and 88 you can also get a fleeting glimpse of an old Route 66 bridge which is still used today by locals.

 

Truxton, Arizona Frontier Motel

Truxton Frontier Motel, Kathy Weiser-Alexander, January, 2015.

Image available for photo prints & editorial downloads HERE.

Valentine – A Broken Heart in the Mohave

 

Old Indian School in Valentine, ArizonaMoving along the Mother Road, parallel to the railroad tracks, you soon come upon the nearby ghost town of Valentine. Established in 1898, it showed promise when 660 additional acres were set aside for the Native Americans. In 1901, a two story Indian School was built that served as a day school for the nearby Hualapai Indians and a boarding school for children of the Apache, Havasupai, Hopi, Mohave, Navajo and Papago tribes. A separate school was built for the white children southeast of the Indian school, now referred to as "The Red Schoolhouse.” The Indian School closed in 1937 but reopened sometime later, continuing on until 1969.

 

Before I-40 bypassed this old stretch of the road in 1978, Valentine was called home to several hundred residents. Both locals and travelers alike often stopped at Bert’s Country Dancing Bar for a little two-steppin’ and a couple of brews.

 

It was also during Valentine's better days that thousands of Valentine cards and messages would flood into the tiny contract post office for its heart shaped postmark. That too ended when tragedy occurred on the afternoon of August 15, 1990. Unfortunately, even in the smallest of towns, murder and mayhem can be found. On that day, 44 year old Jacqueline Ann Grigg was working when a short stocky white man robbed the post office of its cash and left poor Jacqueline dying on the floor from a gunshot wound. Before long, Jacqueline’s husband bulldozed the building and left the area. The Valentine postmark was retired to the Kingman post office, where you can still get your special cards postmarked with the heart shaped cancellation.

 

Though there are still a few remaining residents, Valentine is a ghost town. However, both the old Indian School and the "Red Schoolhouse” still stand, along with several other remnants of Valentine's better days.

 

Route 66 T-Shirts designed exclusively for Legends of AmericaHackberry – A Silver Mining Haven

 

The oldest town along this old stretch of the road, Hackberry's origin dates back to 1874 when prospectors set up a mining camp on the east side of the Peacock Mountains. After having discovered rich deposits of silver, the Hackberry Silver Mine was soon established and named for a large Hackberry tree growing near a spring adjacent to the mine. Before long, the valuable ore warranted a 5 stamp mill, which quickly doubled its capacity. Reportedly, this rich vein was about 40 feet in width, amounting to large amounts of silver being taken from the mine.

 

When the railroad came through in 1882, the small settlement moved some four miles from the original site. The "new” town of Hackberry became an important loading point for large cattle shipments, soon ranking third in the state in volume shipped. Between the cowboys, the miners, and railroaders, the transient town inevitably boasted its share of shooting, fighting and faro. In 1917 an elementary school was built in Hackberry, which can still be seen on the eastern edge of town.

 

Though not entirely played out, the Hackberry Silver Mine closed in 1919, due to litigation among the owners, but not before it earned almost 3 million dollars in silver production. After the mine closed down, Hackberry came to a slow crawl, but was revived by Route 66, when it came through. Becoming a bit of a tourist town, it hung tight until I-40 bypassed the entire northern loop from the Crookston exit to Kingman.

 

In recent years, there has been talk of reopening the Hackberry Mine, or, at the very least, allowing new exploration of the rich vein of silver.

 

HackBerry General Store, ArizonaToday, Hackberry sits mostly silent with the exception of the revived Hackberry General Store and Visitors Center. Though the old town of Hackberry lies across the tracks from Route 66, the General Store sits right next to the highway.

 

Though there’s no gas to be purchased here, vintage gas pumps adorn the front, as well as a plethora of classic signs and hundreds of pieces of memorabilia. Inside, the store is a virtual museum, where visitors can walk through a vintage diner and see a lifetime collection of Route 66 history, as well as purchasing all kinds of Mother Road souvenirs. For photographers the store and grounds are an artistic dream come true.

 

Continue your journey onto Kingman  where you'll have a chance to stop by the Arizona Route 66  Association, say hi to all the folks, and browse their wonderful Route 66 Museum.

 

 

 

© Kathy Weiser/Legends of America, updated updated January, 2015.

 

 

 

Ghost Stretch Slideshow:

 

 

All images available for photo prints & editorial downloads HERE.

 

    Return to Route 66 

 

To Kingman

 

Return to Route 66

 

To Grand Canyon Caverns

 

 From Legends' General Store

 

Route 66 Postcard Coloring BookRoute 66 Postcard Coloring BookRoute 66 Postcard Coloring Book - If you love Route 66, enjoy coloring, and like to share with others, this book is for you! The Route 66 Postcard Coloring Book contains 20 postcards of various places along America's Mother Road, each ready for your own artistic touch. Then after you color, remove each and send as a postcard. Complete with stamp placement on the back and information on each location. Or, keep your finished work as a reminder of fun times traveling Route 66.

 

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