Listen to the Flagstaff lullaby

May 16, 2007 15:43 UTC

Motel6.jpgHave you always wanted to sleep near busy train tracks but never managed to find the right spot?

Never fear, the Motel 6 in Flagstaff just off old Route 66 or Interstate 40 (the address is 2210 E Butler Ave) is just the place for you.

This Spartan but clean establishment is located so close to the main line of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad known around here as simply the Santa Fe that you can wile away the hours watching more than 100 heavy freight trains a day pass through here, either heading east from California or going back the other way.

But the best part is yet to come. Any train coming through Flagstaff is obliged by law to sound its horn some ten times on its way through town as it passes by five rail train.jpgcrossings.

The motel does warn those who may not wish to listen to train horns all night that the main line is nearby. It’s a warning people should take seriously.

Flagstaff real estate is tough on the young

May 16, 2007 15:25 UTC

Brittney Walsh (right) is somewhat of an anomaly in this town.

At the age of 21, she haWalsh_web.jpgs been to buy a house in Flagstaff, thanks in part to inheritance money she received from her grandparents and a loan from her father.

Without that help, there is no way I would be able to afford a house, said the hostess at the Weatherford Hotel in the heart of this picturesque mountain town in northern Arizona.

Over the past few decades, Flagstaff has grown in popularity among wealthy Phoenix residents looking to escape the oppressive summer heat- its always cooler up here in the mountains and keen to buy a second home.

Flagstaff: ‘I vote for the man. Not the party’

May 16, 2007 14:29 UTC

Ed’s note: As Nick Carey and James Kelleher retrace the path of Route 66, they’re  asking some of the people to tell us — in their own words — what issues matter most to them.

We met Richard Gravdahl, a 73-year-old retired accountant from Parks, Arizona, outside City Hall in Flagstaff. He was on his cell phone, arranging to pick up his 25-year-old grandson from a local medical facility, where he was being treated for major psychiatric disorder that causes him to — among other things — mutilate himself.

“Health care is a concern. I’m in good shape and I’ve always been insured. In fact, I just had a blood test today. But I have children and grandchildren who are Gravdahl_web.jpguninsured. And I have one grandson suffering from schizoaffective disorder. His medical bills are mounting.”

Where Pluto still has weight

May 16, 2007 14:20 UTC

OldLowell_web.jpgNewLowell_web.jpgThe Lowell Observatory, located off old Route 66 in Flagstaff, Arizona, is where astronomers first discovered Pluto in 1930.

The scientitific community’s decision in 2006 to demote it from a planet to a dwarf planet was taken rather personally by the city.

(Old Lowell and new Lowell towers, left to right)

A tale of two towns on ol Route 66

May 15, 2007 18:19 UTC

Needles, Ca./Seligman, Az. Before the four-lane highway that is Interstate 40 opened up in this part of the United States, Route 66 was the main artery serving the U.S. Southwest.

roadkill.jpgThe road brought visitors and business to many small towns here and elsewhere along its route.

When the interstate came, towns like Seligman, Arizona population 456 as of 2000 continued to do well out of Route 66 and do so now even long after this famous highway was decommissioned in 1985.

This is an improbable place, Bullhead

May 15, 2007 17:57 UTC


If you look at just the numbers, Bullhead City seems like one of a number of small and upcoming towns as people move out to the suburbs.

It’s grown from around 10,000 people at the time of its incorporation as a city in 1984, to just a few dozen short of 40,000 today.

The city has just added another 14.3 square miles of land to its eastern limits and is banking on growBullheadre2.jpging to around 100,000 people within the next quarter of a century or so though according to Janice Paul, the citys development services director, the number of building permits is currently down after an intense property boom over the past few years.

America’s most expensive gasoline

May 15, 2007 17:46 UTC

As far as Mayor Jeff Williams is concerned, the town of Needles is often famous nationwiexpensivegas2.jpgde for entirely the wrong reason.

Weve been on the national news too many times as the town with the highest gas prices in the United States, Williams said with a grimace in his city hall office. Its an embarrassment.

While the average price for a gallon of gasoline has risen to record levels or just above $3, at least one gas station here showed a per gallon rate of $4.09.

Roadside poetry lives on

May 15, 2007 17:37 UTC

Sign1_a1.jpgBetween Kingman and Seligman, old Route 66 re-emerges gloriously intact, winding through Arizonas high desert, past the Hualapai Indian Nations tribal lands on the southern edge of the Grand Canyon.

Alongside this stretch of highway, every few miles or so, are cheerful reminders of a roadside advertising campaign that used the old highway as its medium — and whose life roughly coincided with Route 66s glory days.



Train approaching
Whistle squealing
Avoid that
Rundown feeling


A Man, A Miss
A Car A  Curve
He Kissed The Miss
And Missed The Curve

Drivers of aSign2_a.jpg certain age will immediately recognize the witty public service messages as vintage Burma-Shave ads though the companys name appears nowhere on the signs.

Hualapai lessons – hear how tribal language sounds

May 15, 2007 17:24 UTC

Charlie Vaughn, the 54-year-old Chairman of the Hualapai Tribal Council, thinks many in his 2,300 strong tribe have tried too hard to assimilate with the dominant English-language culture of the U.S.

Many in the tribe work seasonally in the lumber industry and elsewhere which tribal officials has contributed to an erosion of the community and the Hualapai dialect. Funding from the state of Arizona for bi-lingual courses at school has been cut, sBeecher.jpgo fewer Hualapai children are learning their native language, Vaughn said. (The  2,300 strong tribe become known worldwide earlier this year for its Skywalk over the rim of the Grand Canyon)

In response, the tribe has launched Hualapai lessons. Once a week a class meets in reservation, where teacher Cheryle Beecher (left) leads a group range from children under the age of ten to adults in basic Hualapai conversation.

Postcard from Bullhead City, Arizona

May 15, 2007 14:25 UTC

This is the start of the busy season for the employees in the animal cACoutside.jpgontrol unit of the Bullhead City Police Department.

As the mercury rises in this Arizona city, located across the Colorado River from Laughlin, Nevada so, too, does the number of emergency calls involving animals overwhelmed by the searing temperatures, which can top 130 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Leah LeahRojas2.jpgRojas, a 10-year veteran of the animal control unit, consults a white board that the unit uses to keep tabs on animals processed in the first three months of 2007. With temperatures already topping 100 degrees on some days, employees have been too busy to update the white board since April. Rojas predicts that the number will reach 5,000 by year end a new record.