By Linda Kor
Every summer the main streets of Holbrook, Winslow and Joseph City experience a larger than normal traffic flow as visitors from throughout the world come to travel along every available stretch of historic Route 66.
Now those hardcore enthusiasts, as well as locals and visitors looking for something unique to participate in, will soon be able to travel a section of the Mother Road that has not been open to the public since it was bypassed by Interstate 40 and officially removed from the U.S. Highway System in 1985. The portion of the road that is within the boundaries of Petrified Forest National Park was established in 1926. It was the first paved road through the area and although no longer in use as a major highway, it has become a major attraction for people in search of a nostalgic return to a time when American travel was more about the journey than the destination.
The park is allowing visitors to take part in a free tour of sites and remnants of trading posts within the park boundaries as part of Holbrook’s Route 66 Festival scheduled Aug. 8-10. The guided tour will take travelers to many historic locations situated along the route and will cover the history of the businesses that flourished along the highway.
Tour stops will include:
* The site of the Painted Desert Point Trading Post, operated by Harry C. Osborne, which reportedly was home to illegal slot machines.
* Rocky’s Old Stage Station, owned and operated in the 1950s by Nyal Rockwell, which had cabins to the north for visitors. The development of Interstate 40 divided the cabins from the post without an access, causing the business to eventually close.
* LA-A Airway Beacon No. 51, which served as a beacon along the air mail route from Los Angeles, Calif., to Amarillo, Texas.
* The Painted Desert Tower, constructed by Charles Jacob’s in 1953, and the Painted Desert Inn, nicknamed the Stone Tree House because so much petrified wood was used in its construction. The inn was constructed by Herbert Lore, and he rented rooms for $2 to $4 per night. The building now serves as a park visitor center.
* The Petrified Forest National Monument entrance station, which opened in 1932 and where now only remnants remain.
* The Painted Desert Park, also known as the Lion Farm. It was first established in the 1920s by Harry “Indian” Miller. The facility was expanded to include a zoo and an observation tower. The only remains of the site are a large debris field.
* Painted Desert Trading Post, which was reportedly established by Dotch and Alberta Windsor in 1942. After their divorce in 1956, Dotch married Joy Nevin, who ran the post with him for several years until their divorce.
The tours will last approximately four hours, and will take place Friday, Aug. 8, and Sunday, Aug. 10. They will include the history and lore of the area, and are being offered free of charge with limited seating. Reserve your space by calling Kathleen Smith at (928) 524-6225.