For those not from Arizona, the Grand Canyon is the go-to historic site. Little do the visitors know, there is a small town about two hours east from Lake Havasu City that saved the Mother Road, Route 66.
Seligman, Ariz., was established in 1882 as a railroad town. Once Interstate 40 was completed in 1985, the once-thriving community was fading into a ghost town.
Businesses began running out of local money, the 66 was growing weeds, and Seligman was lost in time.
The Delgadillo family couldn’t see their home deteriorate into shambles, so in 1987, they started the first ever Association for the Historic Route 66. Since Route 66 had been the only path from Chicago, Ill., to Los Angeles, Calif., millions of travelers grazed its pavement, and the road deserved to be a historic landmark.
“The Route 66 went around the natural mountains and curves but the freeway cut right through them. Traveling folks couldn’t beat the time,” Angel Delgadillo said.
The committee set meetings, led by Angel Delgadillo as their official first president.
RiverScene recently spoke with Delgadillo. A former barber and pool Hall owner, Delgadillo,90, still remembers like it was yesterday.
“For 10 long years, we were forgotten. We had the first association meeting Feb. 18, 1987, at the Grand Canyon Caverns, in Peach Springs. That November, Route 66 was made officially historic.” reminiscences Delgadillo. “It was the work of we the people.”
When the Route 66 was back up and running, the world began to slowly remember the pastimes of the wonder years when life was not about getting from point A to B, but enjoying the ride along the way.
Visitors were mostly International, yet, since the premiere of Disney’s “Cars,” Americans started to appreciate their pastime. Check out the Bonus Features of the original classic to see the “Angel of Route 66” himself in an interview tell the same story he shares today.
“We have never seen so many families come see us,” Delgadillo said, “The American dream is alive and well.”
Today, Seligman’s rustic setting and classic set-up gives a taste of the 1950s. Grab a bite at the famed Roadkill Café or Westside Lilo’s Restaurant. For dessert, squeeze on through the sweet treats of the Sno-Cap Café, and make sure to check out the outdoor museum in the back. With 14 souvenir shops lining the Mother Road, there is too much to explore to miss.
Seligman, Arizona is where history meets tomorrow; where the past crosses paths with the present. Those who traversed the highway at its thriving point say they feel a sense of nostalgia of a time in yesteryear. For those who explore it today, they say they begin to understand what makes America have such pride.
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