About Depot Plaza
It is fitting that this narrated itself guided historic district walking tour begins with this Plaza at the Depot as this is the hub of much of the city’s rich transportation history. Kingman was established as a railroad construction camp for the Atlantic and Pacific railroad. To the south of the Depot Topeka street, carry national old trails road traffic from late 1913 to 1921. Fourth street was used by both the national old trails road and route 66.
And this was the course driven by Louis Chevrolet and Barney Oldfield and the desert classic race of 1914. In 1955 Front street, running in front of this Plaza, And part of the route 66 corridor, was renamed Andy Devine Avenue plus the Plaza and the Depot are also at the center of Kingman’s celebrity history. Many famous personalities arrived in Kingman on the train and stayed at local hotels.
The Hotel Beale has a direct connection to Andy Devine, Harry Carey, Buster Keaton, Louis Lim. Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart. The Brunswick hotel has an association with Edsel Ford, Clark Gable and Carole Lombard. Kingman’s historic downtown has even made it in the movies with the intersection of fourth street and Andy Devine appearing in an array of movies, including “Edge of eternity” and “Roadhouse 66”. With this walking tour, the city’s rich and colorful history is preserved as a living time capsule for generations of Kingman residents. But the tour and this Plaza rooted and route 66 history is also a monument to the city’s strong sense of community and Kingman association.With that iconic highway.
Jim’s association with Kingman is rooted in route 66. His family made their first trip west from Virginia in 1959. In 1966 they relocated from Michigan and followed route 66 to Kingman. That his first impression was not favorable. He felt as though it was the place warned about in Sunday school, never the less, Route 66 soon became a focal point.
His father built a house along Oatman road, the pre 1952 alignment of route 66, where he learned to ride a bicycle and drive a truck. The first ranches that he worked on were along Route 66 and his wife Judy lovingly referred to as his dearest friend, has a route 66 connection dating to 1946 and her family’s establishment of Hoods Court and market, which was east of the El Travitor motel building on the work of route 66 Renaissance pioneers, such as Michael Wallace, Jerry McClanahan, and Jim Ross, Jim began writing feature articles and books about route 66 and his adopted hometown Kingman. With his wife, Judy, they established Jim Hinckley’s America as a multifaceted network to inspire road trips and to share the history of Route 66, the American auto industry, the Southwest and Kingman. They develop cooperative partnerships and international route 66 community to ensure the highway remained relevant into the Centennial and beyond .These partnerships were also used to transform Kingman into a destination for route 66 and enthusiasts. Jim is a founding member of the Kingma Route 66 Association, and has served as the chairman of the Route 66 Fun Run committee, he has assisted with the development of numerous including the 2014 international Route 66 festival, the 2016 and 2018 European Route 66 festivals and Miles of Possibility Conferences.
Jim has also served on the economic development committee and historic preservation committee here in Kingman and the economic development advisory committee for the Route 66 road ahead partnership, an organization on which he was an original board member. At the route 66 festivals Jim facilitated creation of Route 66 information centers and was a keynote speaker.
The presentation on QR codes at the 2014 International Route 66 festival ignited Jim’s imagination. He initiated conversations about the development of a walking tour that would bring the city’s history to life. And in the process helped revitalize the historic business district. In 2021, Beth Ferry and Paul Gaines of Kingman’s Mainstreet, met with Jim and work began to transform the dream in to a reality. Tirelessly the Kingman Main Street team built a network of passionate community supporters for the project. And soon it began to manifest as an interactive outdoor museum. The concept of the Plaza as a starting point for the multi-faceted tour was also conceived during this period with the sculpture by internationally renowned sculptress J. Anne Butler., the route 66 walk of fame, and a brick garden commemorating the people and organizations that made the project possible. It is now an important part of the historic district Renaissance. We welcome you to Kingman and invite you to take a walk through our history.