Route 66 from A to Z: New encyclopedia a 'time capsule'

Encyclopedia is author's eighth book

AHRON SHERMAN/Miner<br>
Local Route 66 author and historian Jim Hinckley’s eighth book, “The Route 66 Encyclopedia,” released in late October and has already sold half of its first printing.

AHRON SHERMAN/Miner<br> Local Route 66 author and historian Jim Hinckley’s eighth book, “The Route 66 Encyclopedia,” released in late October and has already sold half of its first printing.

KINGMAN - Combine 18 months of work, 50 years of research and a fascination with Route 66 that you'd be hard-pressed to find on this side of the Atlantic Ocean and what you have is local author Jim Hinckley's eighth book, "The Route 66 Encyclopedia."

Hinckley takes readers from the Abylee Motel, which was built in 1940 and promoted as Missouri's prettiest Route 66 location, to Zuzax, an unincorporated city east of Albuquerque, N.M. that was once home to a popular Route 66 trading post. He makes hundreds of stops along the way, telling the stories of towns, people, events and businesses that have been woven into the Route 66 fabric over the last century.

"(Route 66) is a living, breathing multifaceted time capsule with a thin layer of Disneyland over the top," Hinckley said. "From the hype and promotion to the façade - it's the illusion that it's still 1940 or '50."

The idea for the book is no different than what Hinckley relies on for each of his Route 66 endeavors: Provide depth and context.

It's a travel guide and reference book, Hinckley said. But it's also a time capsule.

The book is saturated with photographs, both old and new. Hinckley and his wife took all of the modern pictures and postcard collectors Mike Ward, Joe Sonderman and Steve Rider provided all the photos from yesteryear.

To go along with the photos, the collectors allowed Hinckley to use something else of theirs.

"Their extensive knowledge (of Route 66) was most helpful," he said.

Hinckley sees Route 66 and the communities that call it home rapidly evolving. It's become so popular in Europe, Japan, Australia and even China that on any given day in any given town along the route, it's not surprising to meet tourists from the Czech Republic, France and Austria taking pictures of landmarks, eating burgers at a themed diner or browsing artifacts in a museum.

There are Route 66 associations in more than 20 countries and numerous international tour companies provide packages that include the Mother Road and the Southwest, Hinckley said.

"It's just unbelievable," he said.

For example, Australia-based company Route 66 Tours opened five years ago, Hinckley said. It offered two tours to about 40 couples in its first year. Next year, the company is set to offer five tours.

Since its inception, Route 66 has been the basis of too many promotional activities to count. Many of those are detailed by Hinckley, but the Bunion Derby of 1928 really stands out. Billed as the International Trans-Continental Foot Race, the route took contestants from Los Angeles to New York City and passed through Kingman.

More than 200 people between the ages of 16 and 64 paid the $100 entry fee and set out on the cross-country race. Only 55 people completed the course, and Andy Payne, an unknown amateur, won with a time of 573 hours, four minutes and 34 seconds - just short of 24 days. His victory earned him $25,000.

The race was held again in 1929 but it was financially unsuccessful and never organized again.

Stories like this are scattered throughout the book, which can be purchased through Amazon and Hastings.com. People can also get signed copies through Hinckley's website, Route66chronicles.blogspot.com. It was released in late October and more than 2,500 copies have already been sold.

"Route 66 is a living time capsule complete with a century of societal evolution," Hinckley said. "And so much of it is still intact and alive."