A Desert Sunset
The sunset saturated the sky with deep orange, purple and red hues as we rolled up to the welcome sign before entering Seligman, Arizona. As a train was whistling in the background, I stopped to snap a photo of the sign. I felt like I was a part of an old western film. The sun was setting quickly in our rearview as we rolled into town. Lucky for us, we were able to grab a motel room from booking.com because when we got into town, it was pretty desolate. If you’ve ever read Stephen King’s, The Gunslinger, coming into this town after dusk gave me the same feelings I felt reading that story. The motel we stayed in was considered a historic landmark and was decked out with western nostalgia.
We were all so hungry and so tired from traveling all day and we were really looking forward to a good meal. However, the majority of the businesses were closed, so we settled on easy mac and passed out.
PRO TIP – Invest in a Mainstays 1.7-Liter Plastic Electric Kettle. This boils water quickly and will help you in a pinch when you don’t have a microwave and need an instant meal.
Time Stands Still
I woke up earlier than everyone else the next morning to catch some sunrise photos and explore the town. I had no idea what we drove into the evening before. Waking up in Seligman was like waking up in 1950s America. The place was like time stood still for decades.
Seligman, Arizona was first established as a railroad town encampment named Prescott Junction. It was officially named Seligman after Jesse Seligman, a railroad financier, in 1886. The town was nestled along the old Route 66, which was first established in the late 1920s. Towns like Seligman became prosperous due to the growing popularity of the highway.
An Economic Collapse
The signing of the Federal-Aid Highway Act by President Eisenhower in 1956 launched the Interstate Highway System with the purpose to provide high-speed, high-capacity system of highways without stoplights and with exits spaced, whenever possible, at least a mile apart.
Like many other towns located on the original Route 66, Seligman suffered a significant economic blow when Interstate 40 was built alongside the old route in 1978.
The first Route 66 associations was founded in Arizona in 1987 by Seligman resident and business owner, Angel Delgadillo, also known as the Route 66 “Guardian Angel”. In 1987, Seligman gained its name “Birthplace of Historic Route 66” due to the efforts of Seligman residents. His drive and influence to preserve the culture of the town and others along Route 66 inspired similar initiatives in every U.S. Route 66 state. Angel’s late brother Juan, operated the iconic and historic eatery, Delgadillo’s Snow Cap Drive-In.
It was a frigid morning but the sunrise was just as rich as the sunset and that train whistle was blowing as I was exploring. While all slept, the crows kept me company. Abandoned motels, distressed signs, old vehicles, larger than life mannequins filled both sides of the streets. I felt as though I had walked on set of an old film, and come to find out, Seligman inspired Disney- Pixar’s Cars.
I got back to the motel room just as the kids were waking up. It didn’t take us long to pack up and head out. While we were rolling out of town, we threw on the Cars DVD and began our next adventure towards Radiator Springs (Peach Springs, AZ) and the Grand Canyon West Rim.