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Monday, November 30, 2009

THE FUTURE OF ROUTE 66

A spirited and potentially divisive debate is building steam among fans of the old double six. On one side of the fence are those who see themselves as preservationists, on the other those who are focused on the future more than the past. Both camps have valid points.
The former in their fervor to preserve the fast fading remnants of the legendary highway occasionally become myopic and forget that there is only one constant in the history of Route 66 and that is change. From its inception this legendary highway has been in a state of flux as evidenced by the various alignments, the towns that withered on the vine after being bypassed, and the tide of urbanization that sweeps once rural landmarks from the landscape.
The latter may be well intentioned and even in some cases visionary. It could be argued that their endeavors to develop solar and biodiesel facilities within site of the Route 66 corridor have an historical precedence in the development of dams on the rivers of the western United States and the subsequent flooding of historical sites.
This view looking east across the Sacramento Valley towards the Hualapai Mountains on the pre 1953 alignment of Route 66 is unchanged from when this was the Main Street of America with but one exception, the industrial complexes at the bottom of the valley along I40. The harsh reality is that this nation is in dire need of a new generation of energy production and the path of Route 66 across the deserts of Arizona and California is through the center of prime locations for these facilities.
In 1947, Jack Rittenhouse noted the Fig Springs station pictured here was abandoned. Thirty years ago the foundational slab was used as level support for a trailer and a small decorative stone wall outlined a garden where the pumps once stood. Today finding the site is difficult as the desert is fast reclaiming all traces.
Route 66 in its entirety will never again be a transportation corridor. That is a fact. The economic viability of property preservation and rennovation will be more of a determining factor in regards to what is preserved for future generations than historical relevance. That too is a fact.
A recent story carried by Route 66 News illuminates these realities. http://rwarn17588.wordpress.com/2009/11/30/a-dream-in-the-desert/
Does Chambless or Amboy or Cool Springs have greater historical relevance than the currently abandoned Truxton Canyon Indian Agency School at Valentine or the Painted Desert Trading Post? If millions were spent to restore the school or trading post what purpose would they then serve? How would their future upkeep be funded?
We have a responsibility to preserve remnants of Route 66 for future generations. However, all preservation be it Route 66 or the redwoods of California is a luxury that only a prosperous, secure nation can afford.
So, we stand at a crossroads. Perhaps our efforts and resources would best be spent to evaluate the economic feasibility and viability of what remains on Route 66, find ways to save these for future generations and then to encourage development of technologies that ensure future generations will also be able to drive a '57 Chevy on legendary Route 66.

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MEET JIM HINCKLEY

My Photo

I was born in North Carolina but am a product of the desert southwest with its vast, panoramic landscapes where spires of weathered stone cast long shadows under cloudless skies. It was there that I became enamored with the road less traveled, adventures on those forgotten roads, and the people you meet along the way.
For more than forty years I have explored the hidden places, the forgotten places, hungered for the colorful history found there, and sought the empty highways and dusty tracks that were once pathways to opportunity and the land of dreams.
These adventures and a fascination for the history of the formative years of the American automobile industry, and the resultant societal evolution, are the foundational elements of my published work. This work includes a former position as associate editor with Cars & Parts magazine and a monthly column, The Independent Thinker, and more than one thousand feature articles for various magazines and newspapers.
Additionally, I have written more than ten books that reflect these interests and chronicle my adventures including Checker Cab Manufacturing Company Illustrated History, The Big Book of Car Culture, Backroads of Arizona, Route 66 Backroads, Ghost Towns of the Southwest, Ghost Towns of Route 66, Route 66 Treasures, and The Route 66 Encyclopedia.
Meeting with tour groups, speaking engagements, providing travel planning assistance, and lectures round out what has become known as affectionately as Jim Hinckley's America.
In addition, my wife and I are also photographers with a lengthy and colorful resume of work appearing in magazines and books, on corporate websites, in a wide array of promotional material, and now, a photo exhibition in the Czech Republic. Our prints are currently sold through a limited partnership with Legends of America.
This would include prints of photos appearing on our blog, Route 66 Chronicles.

Jim Hinckley

Jim Hinckley
Jim Hinckley in his native habitat, the road less traveled

Author Jim Hinckley

Author Jim Hinckley
Somewhere on the road less traveled

Jim Hinckley on Legends of America

Did you know that Henry Ford played a pivotal role in the establishment of Cadillac? Did you know that the Stanley brothers of steamer fame were responsible for the creation of Eastman Kodak? Did you know the original Chevrolet was an import? Did you know that cruise control was the creation of a blind inventor? Did you know that Buffalo Bill Cody drove a Michigan? Did you know that there are two ghost towns on Route 66 that have origins linked to the Santa Fe Trail? Did you know that there was only one lynching in Tombstone? As a fan of the Legends of America website for a number of years, it gives me great pleasure to announce that as a contributor I will be able to add stories such as these to this vast online treasure trove.

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