Thursday, October 29, 2020

“Get Your Kicks…

…on Route 66!” So go the lyrics of the 1946 song by Bobby Troup, recorded by Nat King Cole. Celebrating the road that went from Chicago to Santa Monica, it became a huge chart-topper. When I moved from Indiana to California in 1999, one of my goals was to explore the remnants of old Route 66. Once I got in my piece-of-s$%t vehicle, all I wanted to do was get to my destination and the original plan went down the toilet. Driving back from Vegas, I saw a sign for the historic Harvey House in Barstow (coming soon!) and pulled off the freeway to explore. I discovered that part of Route 66 was nearby so of course I sniffed around there as well! I can’t say that I'd get any kicks in Barstow…the place looks more like it’s been kicked. However, there were still a number of interesting things for my camera to document, like the murals that adorn the main street of town (once known as Route 66).

I love the rusted remains of this old neon sign that once touted the Village Cafe and Motel:


Like the old Route 66 itself, the main drag just looks forgotten and neglected:

In even worse shape is the El Rancho Motel:

The Yelp reviews are not encouraging: 


One of the worst hotels I've ever seen makes the tenderloin in San Francisco look like Disneyland or the Ritz-Carlton.

The ghosts of a once thriving town do remain, like this tile entryway advertising what was once a drug store:

Good thing Bobby and Nat aren't here to see this place.

See more Barstow, California photos at my main website.


Fifthrider said...

Normally your photography is so great it can make the most mundane look fabulous. I don't think any amount of photographic wizardry will help the El Rancho. Those "decorations" on the Route 66 sign post seem less like a festive touch and more like a bonafide warning that the hills have eyes. Russia has Siberian gulags. We have Barstow.

Darryl said...

I love playing a trivia question to people..."What actor on 'Emergency!' wrote the song 'Route 66'?"

JG said...

For a few years, I was driving through Barstow pretty frequently on the way back and forth to Arizona. We would camp at the Calico campground, not much need to go into town except for fuel.

The freeway bypasses pretty much killed the downtown, and there was never much going on there anyway beyond the highway services businesses, the railroad clearing yards, and down the road a ways near Yermo is a huge Marine Corps materiel dump which probably employs a few people.

It's a sad dumpy little town. That quaint little motel, in a better location, might have been renovated into something cute and worth staying in, but in Barstow, it's fate was sealed.

Thanks for this post, Dave. Did you take any pics in Kingman? I recall it had a nice old downtown 40 years ago, but we just drove right through on my more recent trips.


Daveland said...

JG - No pics of Kingman; should that be added to the bucket list?

Anonymous said...

Well this is a fascinating post. All the photos come up blank! Odd. KS

Anonymous said...

And an update. Firefox says it's a certificate issue with the website and will block them.

Anonymous said...

Dave, Kingman is not necessarily a bucket list place, no more so than Barstow. But it was an interesting place for a fuel or lunch stop, and it was on the old Route 66. I recall it from my childhood trip to the Grand Canyon in the '60's.

The modern highway bypasses most of the old town on the north, as well as the original 66 route. The old route is still there on the Google map, running right through downtown main drag, but we were bowling along with the Scout Troop to the Grand Canyon and had no time for sidetracks, so I can't tell if driving it would be worthwhile now.

Google Maps shows a Route 66 Museum there, which I didn't know about before.

Historic Route 66 then diverges from Hwy 40 and runs to the north before coming back to the 40 route near Seligman. That loop might be interesting.


Daveland said...

KS: My webhost once again screwed up the Security Certificate update. I have been assured that it will be fixed within 24-48 hours. Truly annoying.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Dave. So far no luck today Saturday at 3:45pm. Happy Halloween everyone. KS

Anonymous said...

Keep those guys on their toes Dave. No luck today at this time. KS

Anonymous said...

Great to finally be able to see the pictures! I shuddered for a moment when I read your comments about El Rancho - until realizing that this El Rancho is not to be confused with another, WONDERFUL El Rancho which I remember well from a personal visit to another Route 66 - Gal-LUP, New Mexico! :)

Anonymous said...

Yep. I fired up this morning and there they are! KS

Anonymous said...

Dave, After thinking more about this post, I remembered the motel where we stayed in Kingman, the Imperial 400 Motel.

This was a chain across the west with a Scottish tartan theme, probably to promote watching your expenses.

I googled that brand just for fun, turns out there are still some in operation under the original flag, including the one in Needles.

The Roadside Architecture site has this photo of the Kingman sign that I remember. The building is long gone.

The Roadside Architecture site is new to me, but looks like a lot of fun.

Thanks for this post, enjoyed the memories it spurred.


Daveland said...

JG: Part of me would love to check out Needles, but I also know that realistically that's not going to happen travelwise...too far out of the way.

Anonymous said...

Dave, I can't tell you much about Needles the town, I have only driven through it. May have gotten fuel once.

The Needle rock formations south of the town are remarkable to see, but again, never been off the highway, though I have passed through many times.