Today we had decided to drive parts of Route 66 .
Route 66 was established in 1926 and is one of the original US highways. The route known as the Mother Road runs between Chicago and Los Angeles, covering 2,451 miles and passing through eight states: Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California.
Our first stop for the day was Oatman, AZ. Oatman was approximately 2 hrs from our condo in Lake Las Vegas.
Along the route, we went through Searchlight. Searchlight was once the sight of a gold mining boom but now has become somewhat of a ghost town with only 500 residents.
The town still provides a peek at its mining past in a number of old buildings, head frames, mining remnants, and at the Searchlight Historic Museum and Historic Mining Park.
An old mine in Searchlight
Next, we drove through Laughlin. We didn’t stop in Laughlin but I snapped a few pictures as we were driving.
About 45 mins later, we started seeing signs for Oatman…We just had to stop and have our picture made in front of the Route 66 sign
On the road leading to Oatman, we noticed all these decorated “Christmas trees” with gifts under the trees….it was so strange that I just had to have my picture beside one. 😉
We then passed this random boat sitting out in the middle of the desert! We were starting to think that maybe we should turn back now while we still had the chance as this place was getting stranger by the minute! 😉
We kept passing what appeared to be abandoned old buildings and houses
We finally arrived to Oatman and became surprisingly shocked by the town and the amount of people that were visiting!
Oatman began as a small mining camp soon after two prospectors struck a $10 million gold find in 1915, though the vicinity had already been settled for a number of years. Oatman’s population grew to more than 3,500 in the course of a year.
Read more about the history of Oatman here
The town was full of quirky, old buildings.
Route 66 is the town’s Main Street & is only 0.4 miles from one tip of town to the other.
You will notice the donkeys roaming about, they are the famous “Burros”. They were used as pack animals to carry goods in tricky terrain, especially in the mountains.
When the mines closed in Oatman, the burros were set free and they took to the hills.
The “wild burros” roam about freely. You will see several of them in town, wandering around. They look tame but don’t fool around with them…..you could get kicked!
A Gunfighter organization has daily shootouts in the streets at 1:30 and 3:30. It’s held right in the middle of the road so if you are trying to leave, you’re out of luck! You have to wait until it’s over.
Although most of the town burned to the ground during the 1921 fire, some buildings survived.
Don’t miss the Oatman Hotel. It was rebuilt in 1922 after it burned down in the 1921 fire.
Check out the hotel’s saloon with its walls and ceilings papered with signed one-dollar bills, a practice that began with the miners, who signed and affixed their money so they could use it when they were short of funds.
After walking around checking out the shops, we decided to grab lunch at one of the restaurants. We ended up eating at Olive Oatman Restaurant.
Read the history of Olive Oatman here
We both ordered the cheeseburgers with fries for $10.50 each. The food was average.
After lunch, we continued our walk around the town admiring the old buildings.
Of course, we couldn’t leave until we purchased an Oatman coffee cup…it’s a tradition that we buy a coffee cup at each of the places we visit!
After spending a couple of hours here, we headed to our next stop on the route, Kingman.
Our drive continued through Golden Valley on a narrow, winding road out in the middle of nowhere …I highly recommend you have plenty of gas on this trip!
The views were incredible!
About 20 mins after leaving Oatman, we came across a funky old gas station called, Cool Springs Station.
The store was originally established in the 1940s.
During the golden days of Route 66 it was a stop on the road before facing the tough winding climb across the Black Mountains towards Sitgreaves Pass.
The store eventually crumbled into disrepair when traffic fell off in 1952 when Route 66 was realigned through Yucca.
Purchased in 1997 by Ned Leuchtner he restored it to its former appearance and reopened in 2004.
Of course, we had to stop. The owner, who was quite the character, came outside to greet us and offered to take our picture by the Route 66 that was painted on the road in front of the station.
I opted not to go inside but my hubby did…he said the store had some antiques, souvenirs & “Crazy Ray’s” own “crazy brittle”. Not sure I would want to try that! 😉
After a quick stop, we continued our drive to Kingman which was another 25 mins away.
Once arriving to Kingman, we drove around the town looking for Route 66 stops. This town was definitely different than Oatman. It was a more established town with a population of around 30,000.
Our first stop was a cool looking mural
We then stopped off at this old water tank to take our picture in front of it
We continued our drive through the town..this sign over the road welcomed visitors to Kingman
We then stopped off at the Powerhouse. The Powerhouse was built in three phases between 1907 and 1917 and once supplied power to surrounding towns and mines.
Now, it houses the Kingman Visitor Center, the Arizona Route 66 Museum, Route 66 Electric Vehicle Museum, and the Historic Route 66 Association of Arizona Gift Shop.
The building was really cool on the inside. It was full of historical wall hangings that told about the history of the town.
We then walked across the street to the historic locomotive park.
The park is home to famed steam engine #3759. The locomotive was built in 1928. It was rebuilt in 1941 and converted to run on oil fuel.
A colorful caboose was added in 1987
Visitors can climb up into the cab of the old steam engine while modern trains roll by on nearby tracks.
Cool bench sitting near the train
We then walked over to Mr. D’z Route 66 Diner just to snap a few pictures. This is a very popular stop with visitors based on almost 2k reviews with TripAdvisor.
The pink and turquoise paint job can’t be missed
The diner is loaded with Route 66 memoralbilia and has served notable celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey and Gayle King who made a point to stop here for lunch several years back on their televised road trip across the United States. Angus T. Jones from Two and a Half Man has also eaten at the restaurant.
The diner is housed in the former Kingman Café and Kimo Shell Station which opened in 1939. The Dunton family bought the old gas station and cafe building in the 1980s, gutted it, remodeled it, and turned it into a diner.
Sadly, we had already eaten, so we didn’t go in but now I regret that we didn’t at least go in for dessert! 🙁
We then decided to head to our next stop, Hackberry just 40 mins from Kingman.
Giganticus Headicus is a 14 foot tall Tiki style head created in 2003 and 2004 by local artist Gregg Arnold.
Just 6 miles from Hackberry, traffic was stopped by police. We sat there for 1.5 hrs hoping we would finally be allowed to go through but were later told by police that it was a standoff and they expected it to last for hours.
So, needless to say, we decided to turn around and head back to our condo.
We later read online that the standoff lasted 4 hrs.
We had planned on visiting 4 places that day but only ended up visiting 2. 🙁
After Hackberry, we were also planning on visiting Seligman which is an hours drive from Hackberry.
Total drive time from Lake Las Vegas to Seligman is 4 hrs & 6.5 hrs total drive time back to our condo.
Thanks for reading!