Neon signs are center of attention

Sounds of Kingman is presenting a free program on Arizona’s history of neon signs at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Mohave County Museum of History and Arts, 400 W. Beale St.

Photo by JC Amberlyn.

Sounds of Kingman is presenting a free program on Arizona’s history of neon signs at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Mohave County Museum of History and Arts, 400 W. Beale St.

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KINGMAN – Sounds of Kingman is presenting a free program on Arizona’s history of neon signs at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Mohave County Museum of History and Arts, 400 W. Beale St.

Marshall Shore, road scholar and Arizona’s unofficial “hipstorian,” will talk about the “Signs of the Times: Arizona’s Golden Age of Neon Signs.” The event is sponsored by Kingman Furniture.

Originally from Indiana, Shore, 48, has lived in Phoenix for about 17 years and travels the state presenting programs about neon signs, Arizona’s stretch of Route 66, ghost towns and other topics of historical interest.

Neon lighting was invented by French engineer George Claude in 1910 and became a popular and artful form of advertising on storefronts from the 1930s into the 1970s, when they were seen as seedy and tacky.

“There is almost something magical about the soft glow of neon,” said Jim Hinckley, local Route 66 historian and author. “It is inviting with a veiled hint of nostalgia, even if the sign is a recreation.”

Route 66 Association of Kingman is working with Legacy Signs owner Matt Phillips to bring back some cool neon signs for downtown businesses such as Floyd & Co. restaurant and Beale Celebrations.

They also restored a circa 1930s Packard dealership sign that’s lit up at the Old Trails Garage on Andy Devine Avenue and Third Street.

“When it comes to Route 66, neon and tail fins go hand in glove,” Hinckley said. “Look at the dramatic transformation of the Old Trails Garage. Now, just imagine if the entire historic business district and Route 66 corridor looked like this.”