Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Signs of the past to help make Kingman historical today

The “Entering El Trovatore” sign has reappeared on Route 66 in Kingman. (Photo: SCOTT DUNTON)

By Hubble Ray Smith
Kingman Daily Miner

KINGMAN – For the first time since the 1940s, the “Entering El Trovatore” sign is casting a bluish glow on Route 66, one of several sign restoration projects funded by Route 66 Association of Kingman to give visitors a sense of the town’s place in history.

It once stood on Chadwick Drive, which carried traffic on the National Old Trails Highway from 1921 to 1926. The new roadway was cut through El Trovatore Hill and the sign was installed around 1936.

It’s now displayed on Andy Devine Avenue, just east of the city’s famous water tanks.

Route 66 Association of Kingman accepted the sign as a donation from the Mohave Museum of History and Arts.

It also acquired the mid-1950s Brandin’ Iron Motel sign, an old Conoco gas station sign and a Desert Drug sign from around 1935, which are next on the installation list.

The signs have been refurbished in partnership with Legacy Signs.

The Route 66 group assists local businesses with sign restoration, art projects, facade renovations and graffiti removal.

“We have done these in conjunction with property owners, the museum, the city,” said Scott Dunton, local businessman and president of Route 66 Association of Kingman. “They pay part, we pay part personally.

“The museum and city pitched in all in an effort to make Kingman beautiful and something we will all be proud of.”

Established in 1994, Route 66 Association of Kingman has more than 130 members who are passionate about leading a revitalization effort in the downtown business district and along the famous highway.

“We need a historic city, all of Kingman, not just downtown, that people want to come to weekly,” Dunton said. “And come to stay and see the wonderful things you can (see) driving to and from Kingman.”

Recent projects include refurbishment of signage and murals at Mohave Museum of History and Arts, restoration of symbols and lettering on the historic Masonic Lodge, and restoration of a circa 1914 street lamp at the 1903 Elks Lodge.

A sign designed by Scott McCoy, listing the cities noted in the song, “Get Your Kicks on Route 66,” was created and donated to the City of Kingman with assistance from Laron Engineering.

Route 66 Association of Kingman hosts a monthly mixer at member businesses in partnership with the Promote Kingman initiative.

It also sets up receptions and special events for tours led by Japanese, German, Dutch, Brazilian, Canadian and Czech Route 66 associations.

Dunton is playing up Kingman’s ties to the historic highway. His father, Roy, began working at Gold Road garage on Route 66 in 1938.

Roy Dunton’s uncle, N.R. Dunton, owned the garage and built Cool Springs in late 1926. The family established Dunton Motors, now a classic vehicle dealership and restoration business, in 1946. Roy is the “D” in Mr. D’z Route 66 Diner.