|Seligman History - Route 66
In 1926, the idea of Route 66 was born. Although much of Route 66 was in use that first decade during
construction, it was not until 1938 that it was reported as "continuously paved" from Chicago to Los
Angeles. Originally Route 66 ran through Seligman along the railroad tracks, where Railroad Avenue lies
today. Before long it was moved one block north to where it has remained.
Because Route 66 crossed areas of the country that were mostly flat terrain with moderate climates, the new
highway provided easy driving from the Midwest to the Pacific. Route 66’s untraditional diagonal course
connected numerous rural towns bringing greater mobility to the people of the remote communities as well as
the travelers passing through.
As traffic started flowing through town, the ranch and railroad-based Seligman became linked to greater
America in another way besides the railroad. Because the birth of Route 66 coincided with the depression it
did not immediately help bring a great deal of prosperity to the small town. But later in the more prosperous
years after World War II, more mobile Americans started touring the country in their cars. Residents began
to develop new businesses and services for travelers. Motels, restaurants, gas stations, and automobile
service stations occupied the town.
Because America was becoming increasingly mobile President Eisenhower committed himself to building a
system of efficient national highways across the country. In 1956 the Federal Aid Highway Act was passed.
This led to the freeway system that we know today which runs past all the small towns that Route 66 once
connected. By 1970 almost all of the original sections of America’s Main Street were bypassed by
freeways. In 1978, Interstate 40 opened just a couple miles south of Seligman, replacing U.S. Highway 66
as the main thoroughfare across northwest Arizona. Not until 1984 did the final section of the Chicago-to-
Los Angeles highway get bypassed by the freeway system just 43 miles east of Seligman in Williams,
Arizona. The most famous road in America was no more.
|© 2008 Seligman Historical Society. All rights reserved. Site designed and maintained by Mother Road Media.
|Route 66 is known as the “Mother Road” and “America’s Main Street.” To many it represents
the heart of American culture. In the beginning, Route 66 helped Seligman to prosper.
In the end, Seligman helped Route 66 to stay alive.
Seligman is known as “The Birthplace of Historic Route
66” not because it is the birthplace of Route 66 itself but
because it is the birthplace of its rejuvenation as a historic
highway. In 1987, residents of Seligman, most notably,
Angel Delgadillo, along with fellow Route 66 lovers in
Kingman founded the Historic Route 66 Association of
Arizona and through their efforts the State of Arizona
dedicated U.S. 66 from Seligman to Kingman as “Historic
Route 66.” Now all stretches of Route 66 in Arizona are
designated as historic and Seligman is its birthplace.
Seligman has the pleasure of being the first stop heading
west on the longest uninterrupted stretch of Route 66.
For approximately 160 miles, from exit 139 on I-40 all
the way to Topock, Arizona, the nostalgic-minded can
drive back in time and experience America’s Main Street
much the same as did travelers from different eras.
Historic Route 66 has been resigned and many stretches
are scenic byways. There are even new Burma Shave
signs up to help get the full historic experience. Route 66
does indeed live on and Seligman is proud to be a part of
the living history that is “The Mother Road.”
In 1947, photographer,
as a Route 66 town in
his famous LIFE
photograph "Route 66,
Arizona". This is the
photograph ever taken
Unfortunately the exact
location of the
photograph is widely
unknown due to the fact
that Feininger did not
put Seligman in the title
of the photograph.
You may purchase a print of the of the famous
photograph of Seligman by using this link to
allposters.com. A portion of the proceeds will
go to support the Seligman Historical Society.