About Ash Fork, Arizona
Facts, Trivia and useful information
Elevation 5,160 ft (1.573 m). Population 457 (2010).
Time zone: Mountain (MST): UTC minus 7 hours. Summer (DST) no DST⁄ PDT (UTC-7).
Ash Fork is a small town in northwestern Arizona, in Yavapai County. (Map of Ash Fork).
Ash Fork's Main Street, Route 66, now and then...
An "old" postcard of the Main Street (Lewis Ave.) in the 1940s
The same spot on Main Street
This part of Arizona has been inhabited for at least ten thousand years. To the west were the Sinagua natives who farmed close to what is now Flagstaff. To the east lived the Patayan people, near the Colorado River. The Havasupai and the Hualapai people later lived along the Grand Canyon area.
Although Arizona was part of the Spanish Colonial Empire, the region was never settled by them. Francisco Vélez Escalante, a Spanish missionary explored the area in 1775. Mexico received the territory when it won its independence (1821) from Spain and later ceded it to the U.S. after its defeat in the 1846-48 war.
The Name: Ash Fork
In some early 1900 maps and even in the 1951 Shell Road Map, it appears as "Ashfork" (one word).
The town was named after the place where the three forks of Ash Creek met. And the creek got its name from the ash trees (genus Fraxinus) growing there.
In Norse Mythology, the first man, Askr, was formed from an ash.
In 1857, the U.S. government sent Lt. Edward "Ned" Fitzgerald Beale on a mission to survey and open a wagon trail from Fort Smith in Arkansas, to California. His route passed a few miles north of Ash Fork and can still be visited. (Beale Wagon Road), it was the main route used by settlers moving into California until the railway was built.
The Navajo in eastern Arizona and western New Mexico were subdued by the late 1870s and settlers moved into the area. Trade sprung up between Williams and the copper mines at Jerome, and Ash Creek was on the main road of the freight carts.
Flagstone is a variety of sandstone used for paving patios, walkways, and building facades. The word comes from Old Norse (flaga) and means slab or chip.
The Arizona House of Representatives officially named it the "Flagstone Capital of the World" in 2001.
the Atlantic & Pacific Railroad (later the Atchison Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad) reached Ash Fork in 1883 and that same year the United Verde Copper Col. was formed in Jerome.
The siding, with the post office was located at the point where the three forks of Ash Creek met and thus it was named "Ash Fork".
After the town burned down in 1893 it was relocated to the south of the tracks. The Branch railway to Prescott and Phoenix met the main line at Ash Fork.
The town never fulfilled its ambitions to become a winter resort.
The National Old Trails (N.O.T.) highway was built across Arizona in the 1910-20s and it became the basis for Route 66 in 1926.
The Mother Road was aligned through the town and a road maintenance camp was built at its western tip.
The town had no water until a well was drilled in 1975; prior to that the water was hauled in daily by train. The old steam engines used water stored in steel and stone dams built in 1900 on Johnson Creek 5 miles east of town, which was sent through a pipe to the Ash Fork station.
The relocation of the railroad 10 miles to the north of town in 1960 led to a loss of population and the 1977 fire wiped away many of the downtown buildings. It was followed by the 1987 fire which burned the business district along Route 66. Many icons of the classic Route 66 days have been lost, but there is still plenty to see.
Route 66 in the town was bypassed by I-40 in 1970.
Where to Stay in Ash Fork
There is lodging right in Ash Fork:
>> Book your Hotel in Ash Fork
Lodging Near Ash Fork along Route 66
Heading East.... In Arizona
- 19 miles. Motels and Hotels in Williams
- 42 miles. Motels and Hotels in Bellemont
- 53 miles. Motels and Hotels in Flagstaff
- 77 miles. Motels and Hotels in Twin Arrows
- 110 miles. Motels and Hotels in Winslow
- 144 miles. Motels and Hotels in Holbrook
- 190 miles. Motels and Hotels in Chambers
- 23 miles. Motels and Hotels in Seligman
- 61 miles. Motels and Hotels in Peach Springs
- 94 miles. Motels and Hotels in Kingman
West, in California...
- 159 miles Hotels and Motels in Needles
- 25 mi from Kingman, Motels and Hotels in Yucca
- 29 mi from Flagstaff Motels and Hotels in Sedona
- 30 mi from Williams Motels and Hotels in Valle
- 52 mi from Williams Motels and Hotels in Tusayan
- Motels and Hotels in Grand Canyon Region
Close to Route 66 ...
>> There is an RV campground in Ash Fork
Weather in Ash Fork
Thanks to its altitude, summer in Ash Fork is relatively cool. The climate is Medierranean.
The average high in summer (Jul) is 83.3°F (28.5°C); the average summer low is 55.1°F (12.8°C). The average high (Jan) during winter is around 46.5°F (8.1°C) and the average low is chillly 23.3°F (-4.8°C).
Rainfall is around 22.1 inches per year (562 mm). There are around 70 rainy days each year.
Snowfall is 68 inches (173 cm) starting late in October and ending in late April. On average there are 19 snowy days per year.
The region located west of the Rocky Mountains has virtually no tornado events.
Tornado Risk: read more about Tornado Risk along Route66.
Getting to Ash Fork
You can reach Ash Fork along Interstate 40 and Old Route 66 in Arizona to the south, NM-89 links it to Prescott.
Route 66 Map at Ash Fork
Map of Ash Fork and US Highway 66, Arizona.
The map below shows several alignments of Route 66 near Ash Fork, the color key For Ash Fork only is the following:
(for the other parts of the map, check the color key of the map of the corresponding city)
Pale Blue: the original alignment of Route 66 through Ash Fork town
Red: I-40, where it covers the old roadbed of Route 66.
Blue: The old alignment of Route 66 that can still be driven from Williams to I-40's exit 139 west of Ash Fork.
See Route 66's alignment in Arizona Map
Remove or restore State shading
Route 66's alignment in Arizona: Ash Fork
Route 66 across Arizona
The historic U.S. highway 66, best known as Route 66 was designated as an All-American Road and National Scenic Byway in the state of Arizona.
Click on the following link for a Full description of Route 66 across the state of Arizona.
Ash Fork, Arizona, its Sights and Attractions
Things to Do and Places to See
The Flagstone Capital of the World
Though hit by terrible fires, some of the classic Route 66 buildings can still be seen along the Mother Road in the downtown part of Ash Fork: Copper State Motel, The Hi-Line Motel, DeSoto's Salon (formerly a Texaco Station) and Martin's Motel and County Line Cafe. Drive along the Historic Rural Route 66: Pine Springs Section too.
Historic context, the classic Route 66 in Ash Fork Arizona
The best description of "classic" Route 66 can be found in Jack DeVere Rittenhouse's book ("A Guide Book to Highway 66") published in 1946. It has plenty of information on what the road had to offer travellers and listed motels, filling stations and attractions along Route 66.
Rittenhouse mentions the following places in Ash Fork: The hotels Escalante, Arizona and White House, and the Hi-Line, Copper State and McCoy's courts (motels). The White House hotel and the three motels survived the ravages of the fires of 1977 and 1987 and can still be seen.
City Tour in Ash Fork: Urban Route 66 classics
Start your tour at the eastern side of town where Park and Lewis Avenues split. Head along Lewis Ave. westbound and immediately, to the left you will see the: Cooper State Motel.
Copper State Motel
101 Lewis Ave.
It was opened by Zelma and Ezell Nelson as the "Copper State Modern Cottages", which later switched to "Copper State Court". Originally there were twelve cottages with thick stone walls and garages. They ran the place till 1975, when they sold it. The old service station that stood in the central part of the court became the office.
In those days, Arizona could well be called "The Copper State," producing (in 1966) 51.4% of all copper mined in the U.S.
There have been some minor changes: the Standard Oil pumps have gone, but the old building is still there, with the former canopy now built up as an office. But the flagstone rooms seem the same as they did back in the 1940s.
An "old" postcard of the Copper State Motel
The Copper State is still operating
The Hi-Line Motel
124 E Lewis Ave.
Right next door to the Copper State is the The Hi-Line Modern Auto Court. It was establshed in 1936 by Alton McAbee. It became the Hi Line motel in the 1950s. It called itself "Your Home Away From Home".
As you can see below, the trees need some pruning, but the site is very much the way it looked like when the postcard was printed (early 1960s? late 1950s?).
An vintage postcard of the Hi-Line Motel
Hi-Line Motel on Route 66: closed, but still with us.
Between 2nd and 3rd Streets, to the right is the Ash Fork Auto Repair. At 268 W Lewis Ave Ash Fork. Another 1950s filling station. The long canopy and the office are in very good conditions. See Google Street View.
At the corner of 3rd St., look northwards along it, just a few yards away, on the western side of the road is a wood building painted white. This is the:
Bar and Brothel
47210 N Third St.
Built in 1903 it predates Route 66 and is a relic of the wild West days. (Google Street View).
On the northwestern corner of Lewis and and 3rd St. is the famous DeSoto's Salon.
314 W Lewis Ave.
Originally the Texaco Station at Ash Fork, built in 1957 it has a Chrysler DeSoto car (an early 1960s model) on its roof (driven by Elvis).
It was restored in 2001 and turned into a Beauty Parlor and Barber Shop. (Google Street View).
A view of the old Texaco Service Station, now a Beauty Parlor
Keep westbound and on the next block, at 389 W Lewis Ave., are the (now very changed) remains of the White House Hotel, built in 1907. (See Street View).
Across the road is a historical marker followed by the Public Library. Behind it was the now gone railway station which housed the first railway hotel, the wooden "Harvey House" which burned in 1905. The Escalante Hotel replaced it but was shuttered in 1951 and demolished in 1968.
The road curves, follow it for 0.4 miles until you reach the historic site, museum and visitor center, located to your left:
Ash Fork Maintenance Camp #1
901 West Old Route 66
Listed in the National Register of Historic Places
The Camp in 1934 (Credits)
This was the road maintenance camp that dates back to 1922 when the National Old Trails highway was built. It later took over the upkeep of Route 66.
Now it houses the Ash Fork Route 66 Museum & Tourist Center Read more at the the Museum's website By clicking you will leave our Website. Come back soon!
The old warehouse (See Street View), is still standing. You can see photos and artifacts incuding a scale model of the old Escalante hotel.
Head back along Lewis and at go east along Park Ave.
Stage Coach Motel
823 W. Park Ave.
On your right, between 8th and 7th Streets, it was built around 1939, and you can clearly make out the layout of the hotel.
The Stage Coach Motel
Ahead, on the corner of 6th St., on the right is the:
487 W Park Ave.
What remains of a filling station built in 1954.
A 1950s filling station in Ash Fork
Martin's Motel and County Line Cafe
Keep eastbound and after passing the eastern end of the town get on I-40 eastbound. Just 1.3 miles east of where you enter the Interstate at exit 146, to the right are the remains of the Martin's Motel followed by the County Line Café, just west of the Yavapai - Coconino County line. You can get closer to both places at Exit 148. And use it to return to Ash Fork.
An "old" postcard of the Martin's Motel
The Martin's Motel as it looks today
Ash Fork Hollywood trivia
The 1992 movie Universal Soldier was shot in some parts of Ash Fork. A motel was built and blown up during the filming.
The Alignment of Old Route 66 from Williams to Ash Fork
The first dependable road for cars in this part of Arizona was the National Old Trails Highway, it was built from California eastward in the early 1910s and linked up with the Ozark Trail in Romeroville, New Mexico.
As the usage of automobiles grew, the National Old Trails highway had to be improved, as improved in the early 1920s with Federal funds and in 1926 it was included in the alignment of the brand new U.S. Highway 66.
Rittenhouse described the road between Williams and Ash Fork in his 1946 guidebook as being 19 miles long, "but in this distance you drop 1,700 feet down winding grades which are tricky on winter nights when the road is icy. Inquire about road conditions before starting, if driving at night". Which sounded rather challenging.
He also noted that there was a public campground 1 mile west of Williams and 5 miles further ahead, was the Pine Springs Ranch Lodge with a gas station and log cabins.
Westwards from Williams, the 1926 to 1984 alignment
It is a 2 mile stretch from the western tip of Williams and past I-40s exit 161, long the South Frontage Road. The segment ends at Mountain Spring Ranch. See a map of this segment. West from this point, the original roadbed disapp disappears under the eastbound lanes of I-40.
Go onto I-40 westbound and leave it at Exit 157, here you will reach the Historic Sector:
Rural Route 66: Pine Springs Section
Listed in the National Register of Historic Places
At Exit 157, heas south along FR 108 until the Pine Springs Camp. It is in this area that the "old Route 66" reappears on the south side of I-40 and heads west following two alignments:
- The 1926 to 1932 road (via Bixler Saddle Rd), as shown in this map.
- The 1932 to 1952 road (Bill Williams Loop Rd - Fire Rd 1089), Shown in this map.
Both alignments converge at Pine Springs Camp which had cabins, lodge and gas in those days.
From Pine Springs Camp the 1926-1952 alignment heads west for one mile (see map) and again disappears under the eastbound lanes of I-40.
Ash Fork Hill, the abandoned sections west of Pine Springs
Though US 66 is mostly buried under I-40, in some parts it surfaces to the south of the Interstate and you can still spot the old road's remains (like this concrete culvert in the forest on the south side of I-40). Then the road curves further towards the south and turns back sharply to what is now I-40, crossing it (Point where it crosses I-40), continuing to the north side of I-40 where the 1932 to 1952 segment it can be driven (the 1952 - 1979 segment is under I-40 after this point).
Ash Fork Hill
A difficult section as the old road had to cross Ash Fork Hill, which had a 1,700 foot incline -one of the steepest algon the whole of Route 66.
The original dirt road was replaced in 1932 by a new one that mor or less followed the earlier one. As traffic increased during World War II, a new less steeper alignment was built in 1950. I-40 was built on top of it. The old road was abandoned and although most of it is closed to the public, it can be walked along as it is part of the Kaibab National Forest
1932 - 1952 Ash Fork section east of Exit 149
To reach this segment, leave I-40 at Exit 149, which is next to the section's western tip and head east as shown in this map.
West from Exit 149: the 1926-1979 road more or less lies under I-40. The exception is the 1965 alignment on the south side of I-40 after Exit 148. You can drive a short 0.6 mile stretch (map here) past the remains of the classic 1960s Martin's Motel and County Line Cafe. The road then curves to the south and is not open to traffic.
All alignments entered Ash Fork westwards from what is now I-40'S Exit 146. Until 1950 it crossed the town as a two lane road (along Lewis Ave.) and from 1950 to 1979 Lewis Ave. carried the westbound traffic while Park Ave. took the eastbound flow.
Leaving Ash Fork
Map of the segment, it was used from 1926 to 1979 (westbound as the eastbound went via Park Ave.).
At Exit 144, the old alignment merges and disappears under the westbound lanes of I-40.
West of Ash Fork
The roadbed used from 1926 to 1965 then heads to the south side of I-40 and can be driven along a 3.2 mile segment (you can reach it from Exit 139). However its western tip is also under I-40; See the Map of this segment, below is what it looks like:
The 1926 to 1965 alignment of Route 66 west of Ash Fork as seen from the eastbound lanes of I-40
All the alignments then resurface at Exit 139, where they head towards Seligman as the Longest remaining segment of Route 66 in the whole of the U.S., and it ends at Topock on the Colorado River, at the California state line.
> > See the previous segment Flagstaff to Williams
> > See the next segment Ash Fork to Seligman
> > See the full Williams to Kingman segment
Outdoors, National and State Parks
There are plenty of outdoor spots where you can enjoy nature close to Ash Fork
10 mi. south of the town along US 89. It was badly looted in the past and is now conserved by a NGO and closed to all except genuine speleologists. Read more at their website: cathedralcave.org.
About 15 miles (24 km) north of Ash Fork is the historic Beale Wagon Road, the first federally funded U.S. highway.
You can reach it via FR 142 and head to Russel's Tank where there is parking and an Interpretative Site.
Russel’s Tank provided cool fresh water and was a stop used by the pioneers heading west along Beale Road. You can picnic there. Map from Ash Fork to Russel'sTank.
Special thanks to www.66postcards.com used under Fair Use.
Image Used as per Google Street View Image Api Updated Dec. 31, 2014.
Jack DeVere Rittenhouse, (1946). A Guide Book to Highway 66.
Historic Route 66 in Arizona All-American Road, National Scenic Byway, www.fhwa.dot.gov.