Deal completes museum tour package

The City of Kingman has officially turned over Route 66 Museum keys to the Mohave County Historical Society.

Today marked the first day of new management of the museum, which pays homage to a legendary road in America's history.

It is in the Powerhouse Visitor's Center at 120 W.

Andy Devine Ave.

Kingman city manager Roger Swenson said he hopes local residents, Route 66 aficionados and history buffs alike will take advantage of three attractions downtown, all now managed by the historical society: the Route 66 Museum, the Mohave Museum of History and Arts, which is a little further west along Andy Devine Avenue, and the historic Bonelli House, which is a block to the east and two blocks to the north of the visitor's center along Spring Street.

Today also marked the first day visitors can see all three places by purchasing just one ticket.

"It is a great place to stop and see what America is all about," Swenson said.

"It is another component of our overall tourist approach.

Every hour a tourist stays here in Kingman increases the chances that they will stay for a meal or overnight, that they will want to come back the next day to see something else, or play golf."

The Route 66 Museum, which first opened its doors May 5, 2001, was first managed by The Powerhouse Gang, a non-profit organization that was overseeing building renovation.

When the city of Kingman officially took ownership of the Powerhouse Visitor's Center on Jan.

1, 2003, the Kingman Area Chamber of Commerce, also located in the Powerhouse, managed the museum for the city.

Route 66 Museum director Paul Snyder did a "fine job of building up the museum," Mohave Museum of History and Arts director Shannon Rossiter said.

However, Snyder is "moving on" and volunteers from the historical society will take over the management of the Route 66 Museum, Rossiter added.

For the past 10 years, the Mohave County Historical Society, a non-profit organization, has staffed the Bonelli House under agreement with the city for a fee of $8,500 per year.

Under a revised agreement, the society will receive $10,000 to manage the Bonelli House and $50,000 for operation of the Route 66 Museum.

However, Swenson said the city is still responsible for the upkeep of the Powerhouse Visitor's Center, including the museum.

"We do all the exterior and the maintenance of the interior," he said.

"If the air conditioner goes out the city pays."

Swenson said the city leases portions of the building to different Route 66-related enterprises, although the leases are not intended to make money.

"It is strictly non-profit," he said.

"The building couldn't be converted to commercial."

Volunteers from the historical society will staff the Bonelli House from 11 a.m.

to 3 p.m.

five days a week and the Route 66 Museum from 9 a.m.

to 6 p.m.

seven days a week, in addition to providing curator services.

Most exhibits at the Route 66 Museum were donated to the city, although some are privately owned, Swenson said.

One museum exhibit is a 1950 Studebaker, donated by Larry Butler, the former Kingman police chief.

Rossiter said getting the antique onto the second floor of the Powerhouse was quite a fete.

The Kingman Fire Department required that the engine and transmission be removed because they had contained flammable liquids.

Other museum exhibits include depictions of settlers migrating west over surveyed wagon roads; routes of Indian traders and Army surveyors; an exhibit that chronicles the despair of the dustbowl refugees as they journeyed along Route 66 to a better life; and "Main Street America," a look at life in the 50s.

Visitors can watch films from the Route 66 video library in the museum theater, and or visit the archive reading room.

Admission to the three museums is $3 and $2 for senior citizens.

Children 12 or younger are admitted free.