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Fun Facts & Kingman Tidbits

What do camels, Charles Lindbergh and Pamela Anderson have in common? They're all tied to Kingman History. Here are some facts and tidbits from Kingman's varied history.

Lewis Kingman: The City's namesake, was a railroad engineer in the Southwest who surveyed and oversaw 915 miles of the Atlantic & Pacific Railroad (now the Santa Fe Burlington Northern) in the Arizona Territory. In total, he built 1,353 miles of the Santa Fe System and 1,500 miles of road for the Mexican Central in Mexico.

Legend has it, that Kingman stole the County Seat in 1897. Mineral Park, located 18 miles north-west of Kingman, was the County Seat at the time. The town newspaper was not getting support from local businesses, so the owner (Mr. Anson Smith) threatened to move his paper and take the County Seat with him. One night, he followed through with the threat and took his newspaper and the County Seat to Kingman! To make it legal, an election was held and Kingman ‘won’ – this was the old west. Mineral Park no longer exists. The paper does, and so does Kingman. Read more about it!

Early 1900's: Andy Devine was raised in Kingman. He later went on to appear in over 400 films and starred in westerns with the likes of John Wayne, Guy Madison and Jimmy Stewart.

In 1924, The Chicago Cubs and Pittsburg Pirates played in a major league exhibition in Downtown Kingman at the location where the historic locomotive now stands.

While the World was between wars in 1926, the Tong War hit Kingman. It was a Chinese mafia conflict that took place in Kingman and became news Nationwide. 

Colbaugh Processing rock shop

Kingman is the Turquoise Capital of the World. One of the largest suppliers of turquoise is sourced out of a mountain just north-west of town. Kingman was coined the Turquoise Capital of the World due to a little smart marketing on the part of a man who produced and sold turquoise in Kingman - Leonard Hardy.  Mr. Hardy (of L.W. Hardy Co) developed the Turquoise Kings, a semi-professional softball team, which played in a few International Softball Congress (ISC) World Championships in the 1970's. In 1974 they won the trophy for the best uniform which can be seen on display in the Mohave Museum of History & Arts.

Stockton Hill Road (County Hwy 20) is the route taken by thousands of travelers heading out of Kingman for Grand Canyon West. The Road’s namesake hill, about 8 miles north of town, had a gold rush in the late 1800’s. At the time, Arizona did not have a facility for the mentally ill, or an “insane asylum”.  So Arizona’s mentally ill were sent to the institution in Stockton, CA. It is said, that the prospectors heading for the hills acted so crazy, that they were headed for Stockton. Thus - Stockton Hill. In the late 1800’s, Stockton Hill Road was the route used to deliver the rich oar to the railroad in Kingman so it could be railed off for processing. Ruts from these wagons can still be seen at the historic site of White Cliffs Wagon Trail.

Aviators Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart dedicated Arizona’s first commercial airport on Route 66 in Kingman in 1929.

Clark Gable and Carole Lombard were married in Kingman at the St. John Methodist Church (building still stands downtown) and honeymooned at the Oatman Hotel in 1939.

Louis L’Amour, the famous western author, spent much of his time in the Kingman area.
Santa Fe Locomotive No. 3759, located in Locomotive Park, ran 2,585,600 miles before it was retired and donated to the City of Kingman in 1957 as a Historical Landmark. It had a top speed of 100 mph and ran on steam (coal fired 1927 - 1941, oil fired 1941 - 1953). The caboose was added in 1987, Kingman children pulled it into place with such force that a backhoe had to be employed to stop it!
Power for the construction of Hoover Dam, was at least partly supplied by the Powerhouse, now housing the Kingman Visitor Center, Route 66 Museum and Arizona's Route 66 Association Headquarters.
During World War II: Kingman was the site of a the Kingman Army Airfield, an aerial gunnery training base. It became one of the USAAF's largest, training more than 36,000 gunners.  Bugs Bunny was the official mascot because of all of the rabbits running around. Several celebrities visited the base during its 2 1/2 year operation, including Bob Hope and the Three Stooges. (source Rob Chilcoat, KAA historian).
Bob ‘Boze’ Bell, western artist, author, commentator and the Executive Editor of True West Magazine, spent much of his childhood growing up in Kingman working at his dad’s gas stations.  Bell has appeared on the Learning Channel’s "Gunfighter Series" and the Discovery Channel’s “Outlaws & Lawmen”.  He’s written several docu-books on the American West and his work has appeared in Playboy, National Lampoon and Arizona Highways.

Horse Riding without Tail Lights: Rumor has it that a Kingman Police Officer once ticketed a girl for riding on a horse on Hualapai Mountain Road after dark without tail lights using a flashlight. The same officer was also repeatably responsible for issuing a speeding ticket to a freight train. This was mentioned on the Paul Harvey's 'The Rest of the Story'.

Miss Anderson

In 1992, Pamela Anderson posed for a Route 66 Playboy photo shoot and was nearly arrested for indecent exposure.  Many believe this took place at the corner of 4th Street and Andy Devine Avenue (U.S. Route 66) and that Ms. Anderson and was brought in to the Kingman Police Department and asked to write a letter of apology.  According to Mohave County Historian Dan Messersmith, she was actually in a bay of the auto shop at Andy Devine Avenue and 5th Street.  She wasn’t taken into KPD, but was asked to write a letter of apology to a minister who lived nearby and complained, or whose wife complained, about the shoot of ill repute.

Kingman is the County Seat of Mohave County, the fifth largest county in America (13,470 square miles, 34,886 square km). In 1952, Kingman was the first city in Mohave County to be incorporated (1952), and yet the last county seat in the United States to be incorporated.

Image courtesy of Mohave Museum of History & Arts

Mohave County has over 1,000 miles of shoreline along the Colorado River and its lakes – more than any county in the Nation.

Mohave County’s elevation ranges from just 482 (1,469 m) feet above sea level along the southern reaches of the Colorado River to 8,417 feet (2,565 m) at the highest peak in the Hualapai Mountains. The Historical Atlas of Arizona claims that Arizona has five climate zones, Mohave County is the only county in Arizona to incorporate all five.

Mohave County is cut into two by the Grand Canyon. One must either fly or drive out of state to get to one half of Mohave County from the other. It contains portions of Grand Canyon National Park and Grand Canyon West, home of the Skywalk.

In 1883 & 1884, Mohave County included parts of present day Nevada, including Las Vegas. Nevada became a state in 1864 and petitioned Congress for land along the Colorado River, land that was part of Mohave County in the Arizona Territory.  However, Arizona was claimed a Confederate Territory by the Confederate States of America in the Civil War (the southern parts of Arizona and New Mexico, not today’s boundaries), so Arizona was not on good terms. Congress awarded the north west chunk of Mohave County to Nevada.  (In 1881, as pictured here, what is now Arizona was part of the New Mexico Territory).


1857: Lieutenant Edward Fitzgerald Beale was appointed to survey and build a 1,000-mile wagon road from Fort Defiance, New Mexico to the Colorado River. The survey incorporated an experiment using 25 camels. According to Beale, the camels worked well in the American desert, but they were discontinued due to the soldiers disposition and pressure from the mule lobby. The wagon road helped pave the way for Route 66 in Arizona.

In 1962, Dinosaur Caverns was a popular Route 66 Attraction. Geologists let off red smoke bombs inside the caverns, looking for other possible entrances. A couple months later, reports started coming out about red smoke the Grand Canyon filled with red smoke, thus causing the renaming of a Route 66 attraction to the ‘Grand Canyon Caverns’.

The longest continuous curve on U.S. Highway 66 (approximately two miles) is a stretch of Route 66 between Valle Vista and Hackberry.

Valentine Postmarks - The post office at Valentine, Arizona (35 miles east of Kingman) received about 500 valentines to be postmarked and re-mailed according to an article in the Salt Lake Tribune in 1956. In 1952, a truck pulled in from Los Angeles with more than 9,000 pieces from the Miller Printing Machinery Company, Pittsburgh, Pa, and a request for a clear imprint of the postmark.  The booklets, saying “Greetings from Valentine, Ariz., and SW is a Sweetheart,” went to all countries except those behind the Iron Curtain. 
According to a 1982 article in the local Mohave Miner, the post office was still processing 658 in 1981 while it generally received 50-60 per day. Shortly after, the remote post office closed down.

Williams was the last Route 66 town in the U.S. bypassed by Interstate 40 in 1984.








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