Marvin's Window: Route 66 beckons tourists to Kingman

As I looked out my window Saturday at the threatening skies, I wondered what Mother Nature might do to the 16th Route 66 Fun Run.

The cooler weather was welcome to me because my first Fun Run was a sunny and hot day that left me drained for several weeks.

Still, I could have done without the wind.

The rain and more wind came about 4 p.m.

and thinned the crowd for what could become a momentous moment for historic Route 66 and take the road out of its undiscovered status.

Hampton Inns unveiled an identifying marker at the Powerhouse Visitor Center, marking it as one of the roadside attractions important to travelers along Route 66.

Of course, we all knew that, or least some folks in Kingman realize that Route 66, the Powerhouse and the Route 66 Museum are an important part of our tourism pull.

The Hampton folks went to Oatman Sunday to recognize the town as another important attraction along Route 66.

They were in Flagstaff Sunday and back to Seligman and Grand Canyon Caverns this week.

Why is all this significant to Kingman?

This Hampton caravan along Route 66 will take 66 days to mark 55 roadside attractions from Santa Monica to Chicago along the Mother Road.

The company is advertising the roadside attractions in national newspapers and a Web site and getting a huge response.

A documentary filmmaker is traveling with the RV caravan producing a film that will be available to further advertise Route 66.

A Web site guru is also on the trip developing and updating a site to further get the word out about the historic road and its roadside attractions.

Hampton Inns, a division of Hilton Hotels, did a survey of travelers staying in their properties to see what could be done to increase the enjoyment of travelers.

Number one on the list was preservation of historic roadside attractions.

Hampton began doing that on all routes and then decided to concentrate on Route 66.

The chain will include a publication that promotes the many attractions along the Santa Monica-to-Chicago route.

They are putting a lot of money into national advertising in major population centers.

The secret is out about Route 66.

Kingman is located in the heart of the longest section of Route 66 where motorists can actually drive for about 150 miles of Route 66 from Seligman to Topock.

It could be that the gold mine in this old gold mining district is now a strip of historic asphalt.

Can you think of a better place than Kingman to stay and explore the road in detail? With the Snow Cap in Seligman, Grand Canyon Caverns, the Powerhouse and Oatman all advertised nationally, travelers have a reason to spend a few days in Kingman.

That fits exactly with the efforts to renovate historic downtown Kingman.

The city hired Roger Brooks to take a look at tourism in Kingman, and Route 66 was identified as the "hook." Brooks is back in town making a list of places to put signs and what to put on them so folks can find Route 66, the golf course, parks, the Bonelli House and other attractions.

Former resident John Cook was in Kingman recently to gather data before drawing a "footprint" of what downtown could look like with changes to make Route 66 more visible.

An organization of Kingman business people who see Route 66 as important to their ventures has joined in both efforts and is recruiting members to keep the ball rolling.

The city has taken title to the Powerhouse and is looking for ways to manage it as a tourism anchor or "gateway" to the city.

The Powerhouse Gang did a great job seeing restoration of the building to completion and the opening of the Route 66 Museum.

The city has grants approved to redo the railroad depot and that project has plans about ready.

You should see construction started in the next budget cycle.

A second grant will allow for purchase of the area between the Powerhouse and the depot for a city park and place to view trains.

Add the several new murals, painting of downtown buildings and new county buildings and downtown Kingman is taking on a new appearance.

I am getting excited with the changes taking place.

It could add a lot of dollars to our local economy in the form of jobs and sales tax revenue.

I would like to see a little more excitement from folks in the local lodging and food business who stand to profit the most from increased tourism.

The crowds that show up for special events like the Fun Run, River Run, Andy Devine Days and the Air and Auto Show could be here every week.