Route 66 is home to an iconic side of America that is starting to see a new breath of life. When Interstate 40 was opened, towns and otherwise popular tourist spots saw their lives dwindle to non-existence when the new highway bypassed these places in favor of saving time. This led to many areas becoming underpopulated or completely abandoned ghost towns that can only offer a glimpse of their former lives. Here are eight such places that exist in Arizona, which has the longest stretch of the historic highway still in use.
Image via Google Maps
Founded in 1896, Adamana was a small community that sat at the edge of Petrified Forest National Park, along the railroad line, and just a couple of miles off Route 66. According to
The Route 66 Encyclopedia, the town was founded to serve the park’s visitors; at one point, the town had a store, hotel, a station house, post office, and several other buildings. The post office closed in 1969 and very little remains of the community today.
2. Canyon Diablo
Located along the canyon of the same name, Canyon Diablo lived a brief yet tumultuous life just one mile away from Route 66. Although the town operated from 1882 to 1903, years before Route 66 was established, it had a notorious history with large numbers of vice-driven buildings on its “Hell Street” that made other rough and tumble frontier towns look mild. There’s no doubt the town’s old history managed to find its way into the minds of 66 travelers especially when nearby town, Two Guns, operated.
Located in Mohave County just outside of Oatman sits the remains of Goldroad, Arizona. The town existed for approximately 45 years (1902 to 1949) and it was a miner’s paradise where, as you probably guessed, gold was mined from the hills. These days, you can still find evidence of the town’s former self with ruins of old homes and other buildings.
Hackberry has seen its life come and go as a ghost town but these days it’s managed to stay alive thanks to the eclectic Hackberry General Store and long-time residents who refuse to move elsewhere. The town was founded in 1874 as a silver mining town until it reached ghost town status in 1919 when the mines were depleted. It came alive when Route 66 opened in 1926 but nearly died when Interstate 40 took over.
I hesitate to say Oatman is a ghost town since it still has a pretty vivid life today and more than 100 residents but many sources claim it has ghost town status, including the town’s chamber of commerce. Located along a winding portion of Route 66, Oatman’s roots extend to the 1863 find of gold in the nearby Black Mountains. Most of the mines shut down in 1924 and the rest in 1941 but it managed to survive off its location on Route 66.
Sitting in between Peach Springs and Valentine, Truxton was a little stopping point for weary Route 66 travelers starting in 1951 with a nice collection of businesses. These days, those businesses are closed but the
Arizona Route 66 Association announced on their website
that Truxton’s Frontier Motel and Cafe were recently purchased and efforts will be made to restore the resting place.
7. Two Guns
Located just off the highway at exit 230, Two Guns is a relative of the aforementioned Canyon Diablo since it sits just a couple of miles away from the old town. Once an old Route 66 attraction complete with gas station, camping facilities, and caged mountain lions, Two Guns today exists in tattered, windblown ruins.
Located along the highway portion that passes the Grand Canyon, Valentine was established in 1898 along with the Hualapai Indian School that acted as both boarding and day school. When Interstate 40 was established, the town’s population slowly dwindled to just 36 residents in 2000. The town manages to stay relevant today with the Keepers of the Wild Nature Park, which is a sanctuary for exotic animals that sits outside of town.
Have you visited any of these places before? Don’t forget to check out some of our previous articles on
Route 66 and ghost towns!