Route 66 - Twin Arrows & The Museum Club

After arriving in Flagstaff from Canyon Diablo, we found a nice Hampton Inn on Lockett Road to rest our weary heads for the night. All Hampton Inns are usually pretty decent, but this one was one of the best that we stayed in the whole trip. Friendly front desk staff, clean, safe, soft toilet paper and the A/C wasn't limited to not go below 72 degrees so we were able to get the room cool enough to have a good night's sleep. This one definitely receives our recommendation if you are in the area and in need of a place to stay at a reasonable price.

The famous twin arrows
After breakfast in the hotel lobby, we had to backtrack a few miles since we took I-40 after it got dark the night before. At exit 219, we stopped to see the famous, but now abandoned Twin Arrows Trading Post. The establishment was mostly famous for the huge twin "arrows" sticking up out of the ground. Actually, the arrows were simply 2 telephone poles buried in the ground at an angle, painted yellow, with wooden pieces  attached to resemble spear points and feathers.

Opened in the early 1940's, Twin Arrows served motorists with a gas station, a general store, a gift shop and a diner. The diner, a favorite with truck drivers, served American food which went by fanciful menu names such as fried pack-rat tail, buzzard eggs, roasted jack-rabbit ears, braised rattlesnake hips, sauteed centipede legs, and lizard tongue pie.

When I-40 bypassed Twin Arrows, an exit was built for the popular stop, but business plummeted anyway. The place was sold several times, but none of the owners could make a go of it financially. In 1998, the business closed for good. The land and the ruins now belong to the Arizona State Land Trust. After years of neglect, the twin arrows were showing the effects of the Arizona sun. A couple of years ago, a group of preservationists collected materials and donated their time to restore them to their former glory so they still stand as a proud reminder of what once was.

The store and diner in the background.
An interesting side note about Twin Arrows - did you see the 1994 movie, "Forrest Gump" with Tom Hanks? Twin Arrows was the setting for one of the important scenes in that movie. While Forrest Gump was running back and forth across the country, a t-shirt salesman ran up beside him asking for help with a design that would help sell his shirts. A truck drives by splashing mud into Forrest's face. The man offered a yellow t-shirt to him to wipe off the mud. Forrest presses the t-shirt to his face and hands it back to the salesman. The mud on the t-shirt makes the infamous "smiley face." You have to look pretty close, but as Forrest runs on, you will see the distinctive Twin Arrows in the background to the left of the screen.

Getting back on I-40, at exit 211 we jumped on Route 66 and drove through Winona.  In the Bobby Troup song, Route 66, he sings "Don't forget Winona." Well, Winona today is actually pretty easy to forget as there isn't much left of the old Route 66 except the nice looking Winona bridge and it is closed to traffic. Supposedly, the only reason Troup used "Winona" is because he needed a word that rhymed with Arizona. If you are pressed for time on your Route 66 road trip, you can bypass Winona by staying on I-40 since from Twin Arrows into Flagstaff, I-40 is the post 1947 Route 66.

Heading back now into Flagstaff, the land changes from arid scrub brush to 50 miles of forests. At an elevation of 7,000 feet, the heat in the summer is not as bad as it is on the plains and in the winter, snow is not uncommon. Flagstaff came very close to being the movie capital of the world instead of Hollywood. Years before Route 66 came through town, a young man with a screenplay in his pocket was riding the train west. He was set on filming in the real west with open skies and buttes and real cowboys and Indians instead of in New York where they had no idea what the west was really like. After reading books by Zane Grey, he was sure Flagstaff would be the perfect place for his epic movie to be filmed. When the train carrying Cecil B. DeMille pulled into the Flagstaff station though, a bitter cold wind was blowing, large white flakes were falling from the sky and the platform was covered in ice and slush. Mr. DeMille stayed on the train and kept going all the way to Los Angeles where he made the world's first feature-length film using fake cowboys he found on Sunset and Vine.

The Museum Club
The large neon guitar sign in front of the Museum Club.
While in Flagstaff, be sure to visit the Museum Club. In 1931, Dean Eldridge, who was the local taxidermist, built the largest log cabin in the southwest. He filled his home with trophy heads of many animals in the region. When he died in 1936, a saddle maker, Doc Williams, bought the cabin and turned it into a nightclub. He kept all the mounted heads on the walls to add atmosphere. It is now a country music dance club and was voted "Reader's Favorite Dance Club" by the readers of Country America magazine. For years, stories have persisted that the place is haunted by the ghost of the original builder, Dean Eldridge as he hated country music.

Speaking of ghosts, our next stop was the Hotel Monte Vista, located one block north of Route 66 in the historic downtown section of Flagstaff. This hotel has a very interesting history and is supposed to be one of the most haunted places in America - a hotel with a number of guests who refuse to leave. I'll tell you all about it in the next entry.

Go to the first Route 66 entry here.
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