Yavapai County has helped its Route 66 communities of Seligman and Ash Fork celebrate their history with new Historic US 66 shield signs painted right onto the highway, with a healthy dose of new Burma-Shave signs on the side.
That should slightly lighten the workload of the mysterious man who travels Route 66 painting the shields onto the road under cover of darkness. Seligman native Clarissa Delgadillo says the legend is widespread across the Mother Road.
“A couple times a year, the shields appear,” Delgadillo said, and then the Arizona Department of Transportation gets rid of them because ADOT has Route 66 jurisdiction in Seligman and Ash Fork.
Her sister Mirna once spotted a man leaving a safety cone in front of her family’s Route 66 Gift Shop right before the shield reappeared, but didn’t get a good description of him.
ADOT officials are concerned that tourists will stand on the road on top of the shields for photos, spokesman Dustin Krugel explained.
But Yavapai County has jurisdiction on the rest of the mostly uninhabited Route 66 segments through this county, so county Public Works employees recently painted the large shields on each end of Seligman as well as Route 66 near the Interstate 40 Crookton Exit and Ash Fork.
County Public Works employees also crafted four new sets of replica Burma-Shave signs with the blessing of the current owners of the defunct company, Yavapai County Supervisor Craig Brown said. Local citizens picked out their favorite sayings.
A brushless shaving cream company called Burma-Shave came up with the idea in 1925 to place catchy poems along America’s highways and get its name known. Route 66 was born the next year in 1926. Each of the series of typically red and white signs contains one line of a poem.
“Listen birds, these signs cost money, so roost awhile, but don’t get funny,” one of the new sets of signs reads outside Seligman.
The Historic Route 66 Association of Arizona has been working with ADOT, counties and municipalities to play up the Mother Road while also trying to make it safer, Mirna Delgadillo said.
“We definitely are trying to preserve and protect Seligman,” she added, praising the county’s help.
“Anything we can do to promote economic development, we’re going to do,” Brown said. By making the signs in-house they cost only about $1,000, he estimated. The county also rehabilitated other Burma Shave signs it originally made and placed on the highway as far back as 2002.
“They help bring nostalgia back for tourists,” librarian Charlotte Lindemuth said. “They’re so interested in the history of Route 66.”
Historic Route 66 Association of Arizona members in Seligman, including the Delgadillo family led by association founder Angel Delgadillo, are concerned about visitors from around the world being able to stroll across the four-lane highway in town, which has no stop signs or lights.
They asked ADOT for two crosswalks and a lower speed limit of 25 instead of the current 35.
ADOT’s preliminary analysis concludes the crossings don’t meet its standard requirements because there isn’t a concentrated area where pedestrians try to cross the highway, Krugel said.
Traffic speeds also seem appropriate as traffic is generally in compliance with the 35 mph limit, Krugel and the regional traffic engineer said.
Clarissa and Mirna Delgadillo say they frequently sees vehicles speeding through town, however.
ADOT hopes to have a final analysis on the crossings and speed limits sometime this year, the regional traffic engineer said.
The Seligman Historical Society also has been trying to restore the 1912 Cottage Hotel that has been serving as a visitors center, Lindemuth said. Community members would like to create a museum there, too.
The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality has awarded Seligman a grant to get asbestos and lead out of historic structure.
“Anything we can do to preserve old historic buildings, we’d better do or we’re going to lose them,” Brown said.
To support the efforts to restore the Cottage Hotel, go online to seligmanhistory.com.
By: Joanna Dodder – The Daily Courier