Winslow Route 66
Winslow has always been about going places, not standing on a corner. The high desert town has been a transportation hub since 1882 when the Atlantic & Pacific Railroad arrived.
Forty-four years later, Route 66 was designated, launching more than a half-century of motor travel through Winslow on the legendary cross-country highway.
In 1929, the elegant La Posada Hotel was built along the tracks with a Harvey House restaurant serving passengers on the Santa Fe line, which had taken over from the Atlantic & Pacific.
That same year, Charles Lindberg came to Winslow to establish an airport as part of the new Transcontinental Air Transport's coast-to-coast flights. Travelers boarded trains at night in Winslow and then reboarded planes in the morning in Kingman since it was considered unsafe to fly at night. The original hangar from that early airline is still a fixture at the Winslow-Lindberg Regional Airport.
Trains, planes and automobiles
Winslow was left behind by much larger airline hubs. Meanwhile, air travel and automobiles all but killed passenger rail, leaving Winslow without a key pillar of its economy after World War II.
Route 66 became the so-called Main Street of America as post-war prosperity put families in station wagons driving out west to roadside attractions that competed for their attention along the highway from Chicago to Los Angeles.
Winslow had its share of Indian curio shops, diners and motels lining Route 66 through town. It was one of the first towns to split Route 66 traffic onto a one-way westbound road and another one for eastbound traffic.
By 1979, Interstate 40 replaced Route 66 and traffic through town slowed to a trickle.
Today, many of the businesses catering to travelers have fallen into disrepair, replaced by chain hotels and fast-food restaurants along I-40. You can still see some vestiges of the golden age of Route 66 in Winslow.
That includes the cottage-style Phillips 66 station on Second Street and Williamson Avenue that was converted into a real estate office. On the east end of town, is a rest area that includes
a 9-11 Memorial. There’s still a few signs, restaurants and motels that date to the Route 66 era.
Fortunately, Winslow tourism got a major boost from two endeavors: a major renovation of La Posada Hotel in the 1990s and the creation of the Standing on the Corner Park in the heart of town.
The park, highlighting the song “Take It Easy” by Jackson Browne and Glenn Frey, attracts a steady stream of travelers who take selfies while “standing on a corner of Winslow, Arizona.”
The rock ’n’ roll monument really has little to do with Route 66 but it has become one of the must-see attractions for Route 66 roadies traveling across Arizona.
Route 66 art gallery coming to town
This fall, Winslow will get another shot in the arm with the opening of the Route 66 Art Museum in the rail passenger depot adjacent to La Posada. A new modern gallery space has also been added to the historic depot.
It will add to a burgeoning art scene in Winslow connected to La Posada and a few other art spaces in town. It’s not unheard of to hear Winslow compared to Marfa, Texas, the remote town that has strangely attracted an art scene to the desolate high plains.