The whole idea of us staying at the Grand Railway RV Park was to visit cities along and ride the historic RT 66 in Northern Arizona. One of the stops we made was a town called Kingman. Naturally, the first stop was the Kingman Arizona Visitors Center. Here you will find the Route 66 museum of Kingman Arizona.
Silver & Gold
Kingman sits at an elevation of 3345’ and is one of the longest remaining preserved stretches of Historic RT 66. It is situated in the Hualapai Valley between the Cerbat and Hualapai Mountain Ranges. As with many places in the southwest mining for gold and silver was the main reason for settling into Kingman. In 1883 railroad tracks were finished being installed and Kingman was established as a mining and ranching center.
Because of its location along RT 66 and the railroad, it became a great place for commerce.
Kingman Visitor Center
The large building that is the Kingman Visitor Center is actually called “The Powerhouse Visitor Center.” This is a must-stop place if you are traveling through Kingman. There is plenty of parking. Once inside you will find all the information about Kingman’s deep history. There are gift shops, restrooms, the museum we mentioned above, and tons and tons of pamphlets that will help you plan your visit.
The building itself has a lot of history to bring it to the point of a visitor center. In 1907 groundbreaking took place to construct this building. It was originally designed to be a power plant. The project was called the “Desert Power & Water Company.” It was bought mid-way through by the Tracy Engineering Company. By mid-1909 the first building to have their lights powered by the electric from the power plant was documented. By October of that year, most of Kingman’s business and residential homes were now powered.
Sold In 1927
The power plant continued to grow and was sold in 1927 to the W.B. Forshay Company. This company set up a management company called “The Public Utilities Consolidated Corporation Of Arizona.” In 1938 the power plant was used mainly as a back up for the newly constructed Hoover Dam.
The building sat idle for many years falling apart from neglect. In 1978 a group of people formed the “Powerhouse Gang” and were determined to revive this building. After numerous fundraising projects and receiving grants the building was re-opened in 1997. The RT 66 Museum opened inside in 2001. The building is now called The Powerhouse Visitor Center.
Across the street from the visitor center sits Locomotive Park. In Locomotive Park, you will see a large coal-burning locomotive steam engine built-in 1928. It is #3759. In 1941 it was rebuilt and converted to run on oil fuel. A caboose was added to the display in 1987. You can climb up on the cab of this locomotive and check out its inner workings.
Are you hungry? Across from Locomotive Park and diagonally located from the Kingman Arizona visitor center is Mr. D’s Diner. This vintage diner is known for its homemade root beer and pizza. This diner boasts serving guests such as Oprah Winfrey and Angus T Jones from Two And A Half Men. On their Facebook page is a post from the Kingman Arizona Area Chamber Of Commerce congratulating them for being #9 out of the 11 best restaurants to eat at in Arizona!!!
El Trovatore Motel
Down the road about a mile and a half is the El Trovatore Motel. It is one of the few pre-World War II Kingman hotels that is still standing. All the rooms have been recently restored and as you walk or drive along the outside of the building it features a flowing map of Historic RT 66. The hotel boasts such visitors as Clarke Gable, Marilyn Monroe, and James Dean.
There are also some cool events that happen in Kingman. Every year around May they do a RT 66 Fun Run. It’s a car show of sorts that features all types of old cars. It usually starts in Seligman, travels through Kingman, then ends in Golden Shores. The entire route follows the Historic RT 66. It’s a 3-day event. We were there on the last day and they had already past through Kingman. The story of our life. A day late and a dollar short…lol. Seriously though, we saw some of the cars returning back as we headed out to Oatman and it was pretty cool.
RT 66 Street Drags
In September they host a festival called the Andy Devine Days which celebrates the Heritage of Kingman. This festival features a parade, classic car show, Hot Wheels Drags, and lots of street vendors.
Lastly, Kingman hosts RT 66 Street Drags in October. That’s right. 3 days of awesome drag racing right down RT 66!!! Not bad for a small historic town.
If that’s not enough or you won’t be visiting at those times of the year, there are other things to keep you busy while visiting Kingman. There is the Mohave Museum Of History and Arts just up the road from the visitor center. Heading the other way is the Kingman Railroad Museum. If you’re thirsty you could always head over to the Black Bridge Brewery. There is also Mr. D’s Diner near Locomotive Park. All of these attractions are just minutes away from each other!!!
We wound up in Kingman on our way to Oatman. We stopped at the Kingman Arizona visitor center and strolled across the street to Locomotive Park. We highly recommend you stop at the visitor center as it’s full of great information. If we had more time we would have visited some of the other stops I mentioned earlier. There are some cool activities that happen throughout the year and lots of history in this town. The next time we head out west we will be leaving a little more time to go back and fully explore this town.