Williams Arizona's Route 66
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About Williams, Arizona
Facts, Trivia and useful information
Elevation 6,766 ft (2.062 m). Population 3,234 (2020).
Time zone: Mountain (MST): UTC minus 7 hours. Summer (DST) no DST⁄ PDT (UTC-7).
Williams is a city in northwestern Arizona, in Coconino County. It is best known as the "Gateway to the Grand Canyon".
The forested region around Williams has been inhabited since the end of the last Ice Age some 10,000 years ago. Later it was peopled by the "Sinagua" people, farmers who would migrate east c.1400 AD forced by a long dry spell. To the east were the Patayan natives who lived closer to the Colorado River Valley and the Grand Canyon region between 700 and 1550 AD. The Havasupai and the Hualapai people who nowadays live to the north and west of Williams are their descendants.
The area was part of the Spanish Colonies in America and passed on to Mexico after its independence in 1821. The U.S. seized the territories after defeating Mexico in a War (1848). Arizona became a separate territory in 1863.
The Name: Williams
The town is named after the mountain just south of it, which took its name from William Sherley "Old Bill" Williams (1787-1849). Explorer, scout, trapper, mountain man and guide. He led many expeditions in the Western USA. He spoke several native languages and married a woman of the Osage tribe.
In 1854 the U.S. Army commissioned Lt. Edward "Ned" Fitzgerald Beale to open a wagon trail to California, and his men passed through this area in 1857. The trail wagon can still be visited (Beale Wagon Road near Parks).
After the pacification of the Navajo in the 1870s, the area opened up the area to settlement and Charles Thomas Rogers bought a ranch in what is now Williams in 1879, becoming its first settler. A post office opened there in 1881.
The Atlantic & Pacific Railroad (later the Atchison Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad) reached Williams in 1883. A community soon grew up around the station. Saw mills producing lumber from the local forests and sheep ranches shipped out their produce by rail.
After the rail link to the Grand Canyon was built, tourism grew and by the end of the 1910s decade it was the largest source of income for the town.
During that same period, the National Old Trails (N.O.T.) highway was completed through Arizona and linked it with New Mexico and California.
Route 66 was aligned along the N.O.T. in 1926 and paved by 1935. Tourism faltered during the 1930s due to the Great Depression and during World War II. Growing steadily during the post-war period.
The last town to have Route 66 bypassed
Williams was the last town to have its section of Route 66 bypassed.
It fought in court to keep Interstate 40 from being built around the town. Dropping the suits when the state offered to build three Williams exits.
I-40 was completed on October 13, 1984, marking the end of US 66, which was decommissioned the following year.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Williams
Find your room in the motels in Williams (sponsored content):
>> Book your room in Wiliams
More Lodging Nearby along Route 66
Find more accommodation nearby; there are plenty of lodging options in the cities and towns along Route 66; click on the links below to find your accommodation in these towns:
Heading East: In Arizona
- 23 mi. Bellemont
- 34 mi. Flagstaff
- 58 mi. Twin Arrows
- 91 mi. Winslow
- 125 mi. Holbrook
- 171 mi. Chambers
- 221 mi. Gallup
- 280 mi. Grants
- 298 mi. Acomita Pueblo
You are so close to Las Vegas!
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Heading West: Hotels & Motels in AZ & CA
- 19 mi. Ash Fork
- 42 mi. Seligman
- 68 mi. Grand Canyons Caverns
- 80 mi. Peach Springs Resort
- 131 mi. Kingman
- 155 mi. Yucca
- 198 mi. Needles
- 337 mi. Barstow
- 359 mi. Helendale
Grand Canyon Hotels
Click on Deals: Opens in new window
Book your Hotel in WilliamsBooking.com
There is an RV campground in Williams
The Weather in Williams
Location of Williams AZ on Route 66
Williams has a cool-summer Mediterranean type of climate. December is the coldest month and July is the warmest one. August is the rainiest.
The summer average high is (Jul) 83.3°F (28.5°C) and the average low is 55.1°F (128°C). During winter, the average high (Jan) is a cool 46.5°F (8.1°C) and the average low is a freezing 23.3°F (-4.8°C).
Rainfall is 22.1 inches per year (562 mm). May and June are the driest months with around 0.5 in. (12 mm) each. The rest of the year sees about 2 in. monthly (50 mm). There are 72 rainy days each year.
Snowfall is 71 inches (180 cm) starting in late October and ending in early May. On average there are 19 snowy days per year.
All the area that is located to the west of Rocky Mountains hardly has any tornados.
Tornado Risk: read more about Tornado Risk along Route66
Map of Route 66 in Williams, AZ
Thumbnail of the 1910 N.O.T. map at Williams. Credits
Click on thumbnail map to enlarge
Map with the alignment of Route 66 through Williams
This is the map of U.S. Highway 66 in Williams.
Getting to Williams
You can reach Williams very easily using Interstate 40 and Old Route 66. NM-64 links it to the Grand Canyon (north) and NM-89 to Prescott (south).
The National Old Trails Highway built in the early 1910s was originally planned through Phoenix, but the local authorities managed to have it routed from Needles through Williams and then onwards to Flagstaff. It finally linked up with the Ozark Trail in Romeroville, New Mexico.
The National Old Trails highway was improved in the early 1920s with Federal funds and eventually Route 66 was aligned along it in 1926.
Work began on the interstate I-40 in 1964 and finished in 1979, replacing the older alignements. In 1984 it finally bypassed Williams.
Williams the last town to be bypassed along Route 66
Williams was the last town to have its section of Route 66 bypassed, due to lawsuits that kept the last section of Interstate 40 in Arizona from being built around the town. After settlements called for the state to build three Williams exits, the suits were dropped and I-40 was completed.
On October 13, 1984, Interstate 40 was opened around the town and newspapers the next day reported the essential end of US 66.
However Route 66 had already bypassed Williams: On June 29, 1979 the AASHTO moved the "end point" from Needles CA eastwards across most of arizona Arizona, to Sanders AZ close to its border with New Mexico. In 1985 Route 66 was decommissioned.
Williams, Arizona, its Sights and Attractions
Gateway to the Grand Canyon
Historic context, the classic Route 66 in Williams
Jack DeVere Rittenhouse rode along US 66 in 1946 and described it in his "A Guide Book to Highway 66", which is full of references to motels and filling stations (most of them now closed or demolished) along Route 66. He wrote the following about Williams:
...hotels: Fray Marcos, Grand Canyon, and El Pinado; tourist courts: Sal's, West End, Bethel's, Williams Motel, Sun Dial, Mt. Williams, Del Sue, Hull's Motel Inn, Sutton; garages: Williams Motor Co., Gateway, Campbell and Cheshire; cafes; stores; all accommodations...Rittenhouse (1946)
Into Williams from the East
On the eastern side of town, after crossing the Freeway you will encounter a steel arch with the words "Williams Gateway to the Grand Canyon - 1881". There is another one on the western side of town.
Just ahead to your right, as Rodeo Rd. curves west is the site of the "Historic Canyon Motel".
It began as the "Kaibab Motor Lodge" built in local flagstone in 1939; its postcard, pictured below places it "... on U. S. Highways 66 and 89, 1⁄2 mile east of town at the gateway to the Grand Canyon. 18 ultra modern units... Mr & Mrs. Lee O. Treece, Owners."
1950s postcard Grand Canyon Motel, Williams. Source
Later it became the Canyon Motel. The circular layout of cabins seen in the postcard and also shown in this 1958 aerial photo has survived.
It advertised itself as "100 yards off U.S. 66 - Away from Traffic noise... Heated & Enclosed Swimming Pool Closest ;otel to the Grand Canyon Turnoff."
It has been renewed and has a railcar and a 1929 Santa Fe railroad caboose restored as rooms. It also has an RV campground.
> > You can Book your room in this motel.
Old Route 66 underpass
Head west, after crossing the tracks, look to your right, there, hidden in plain sight is the old underpass, the original highway crossed the railroad with a grade crossing. In the 1930s it was upgraded and an underpass was built. Now, the 1950s Route 66 eliminated the old underpass with its sharp curves and crosses the tracks with an overpass. We marked the old road (the paving and underpass are still there) with a yellow line in our map. Below is a "Then and Now" set of pictures:
Into Williams along Route 66
The traffic followed separate courses across the city. We will drive both of them. First west along Route 66 into the town.
Westbound Route 66
El Rancho Motel
At 617 E Bill Williams Ave. It was built in 1953 and is still operating under the same name. Below is a vintage postcard. The name, means "Ranch" in Spanish. The card proclaims it had "20 Deluxe Units... Tubs and showers... Soundproof walls".
Below is how it looks today: the sign is now pale blue instead of red, but the letters are the same. The western wing of the motel has added a second floor and the trees have grown. There are more stairways.
> > You can Book your room in this motel.
Phillips 66 Gull Wing station
Double Gull wing Phillips 66 Source
Drive one block west, to your left on the SW corner with N Pine is a classic Phillips 66 gas station from the early 1960s. At that time Phillips Petroleum Co. standardized their filling stations across the US and adopted a modern "Space Age" design with a "gull-wing" canopy supported at its apex by a steel pole designed to look like an oil derrick. A revolving Phillips 66 sign stood at the top of the pole.
Notice the office's large plate glass canted windows.
It had two gull wings, one facing the westbound lanes, the other facing the eastbound traffic.
As recently as 2011 the south pylon that supported the second wing was still standing (2011 view south pylon).
> > Learn more about Phillips 66 Gull Wing stations on Route 66
Eddie's Tires (former Chevron filling station)
At 134 E Bill Williams. To your left, on the SW corner with N Taber St. It runs across the block facing both east and westbound lanes of Route 66. The part along E Bill Williams Ave. has an angled corner service bay, detached butterfly canopy and a corner office on the west side. A second building facing south has two additional garage bays.
Further down we describe its south facade facing W Bill Williams.
Next to it, at 135 E Railroad, is a large building with stone walls and an arched roof. This is now "Perfection Automoltive" at ont time it was Bowdon's garage that opened around 1940.
Ahead, as you cross 1st street, you enter the Historic Downtown District:
Historic Business District & Urban Route 66
Listed in the National Register of Historic Places
It is bounded by 1st St. on the east, 4th St. on the west, Grant Ave. to the south and the Fray Marcos Hotel on the north; it is centered around the old railroad depot and business district of Williams.
To your right are some of the original buildings dating back to the late 1800s and early 1900s.Two of them have bronze plaques on their walls:
Red Garter Inn (Tetzlaff Bldg.
Red Garter Inn, Tetzlaff Bldg.
This two story Victorian-Romanesque style brick building, it was built in 1897 by August Tetzlaff a German tailor, as a bordello and saloon. It survived the fire that razed the taverns next to the railroad and is now open as an Inn.
>> You can Book your Room in the Red Garter Inn.
Next to it, to its right, on the corner, is the Cabinet Saloon, built in 1893.
Turn left along N Grand Canyon Blvd. to visit the historic Fray Marcos Hotel:
Fray Marcos Hotel
To the left, just west of the crossing, at 235 N. Grand Canyon Blvd., Williams, AZ. It is at the old railway depot in central Williams; it was built in 1908 and named after Friar Marcos de Niza, a Franciscan priest who explored New Mexico in 1539 and returned again with Coronado's expedition to Zuni and the Rio Grande.
This hotel was a "Harvey House" (a Santa Fe Railway hotel) lodging passengers on the main railroad and the Grand Canyon line. It is built in Renaissance Revival style.
1920s postcard Fray Marcos Hotel, Williams. Source
Retrace your steps back to Route 66, at Railroad Ave. turn right to head west. Here, to your left, in front of the Visitor Information Center were the classic Garages of the early 1900s pictured below:
Old garages nowadays, US Williams. Click for Street view (Click to enlarge)
White Garage ⁄ Williams Garage
What is now the Pine Country restaurant was a garage. Located on the corner, at 107 N 2nd St. it was mentioned by Rittenhouse in 1946 and appears in the Sanborn insurance map from 1931 as "Rep & Stge Garage Elec Rep." You can see it in the black and white picture above, far left with its "White Garage Sign", below are two adverts from the Williams 1940s-50s phone directories; same place and owner, K. N. Richardson:
Williams Motor Co. advert. Route 66 Williams
K.N. Richardson motors advert. Route 66 Williams
Red Cross Garage
Next door, to the right is an ancient building built in 1913, it was a repair shop for both wagons and cars. It had entrances on Bill Williams (now gone) and Railroad Avenues. It later housed a bowling alley. The name is still visible as a Ghost Sign on its facade.
Vintage 1917 photograph from Harry Locke's Good Road Maps. Source
Gateway Garage Site
Next door was a now gone garage, at 217 W Railroad Ave, you can see it on the right side of the vintage photo further up. It was followed by the Gateway Garage mentioned by Rittenhouse at 222 W Bill Williams. It was an "FORD Authorized Sales & Service - Goodyear Tires & Batteries". It crossed the block and had an entrance at 221 W Railroad Ave. The Sanborn map of 1931 describes it as "Auto Sales & Service Gas & Oil." It sold Shell gasoline. The Cirle K occupies the property since 1972.
Drive west to the junction of both east and westbound branches of Route 66, turn back and head east into town along W Bill Williams.
Eastbound into Williams
Cross the town from west to east along W Bill Williams to see the other Classic '66 stops in town.
The Route 66 Gallery and Gift Shop
To your right at 811 W Bill Williams. It was until recently a 1960s gas station (Waggoner's Gas) selling Union 76 gasoline. Now it has been recreated and restored to become a gift shop. Pictured below as a gas station in 2016 and nowadays; click on the images for their street views:
The Union 76 station next to the gift shop (left) is an original gas station and unlike the gift shop, it appears in this 1958 aerial photo. However, it was a Chevron station as you can see in this 1992 photograph (1).
Facing it, on the triangle between east and westbound Route 66 was a gas station that now became a trading post for metal art. You can still see the detached, flat roofed, canopy and the building on the eastern side of the premises. It too appeared in the 1958 aerial photo (2008 view when it still was a gas station).
After the Safeways, to your right, where the Dairy Queen is now located, once stood Negrette's Richfield Station. Later it was a Mobil and it was part of Ed Ruscha's 1963 photographic artwork, "Twentysix Gasoline Stations" (picture of the Mobil).
Facing it, on the NE corner was the now razed "Old Smokey's Restaurant", it opened in 1950 and was torn down in 2017 (see its street view while it was there). It is still open in downtown Williams. Next to it is a classic motel:
The Bel Aire Motel
To your left at 620 W Bill Williams Ave. The old Bel Aire Motel is now the Budget Host Inn. It opened in 1953
The motel's layout is the same in the Then and Now set of pictures below.
It is a pity that the modern sign has lost some of its naive sixtyish charm. The "A-shaped" office with a steep roof survived until quite recently (see it in a 2016 Street view and in the thumbnail image -click on it to enlarge it). It was replaced by a more conventional structure.
With and without the A-shaped office:
Head east, cross 6th St. and a creek, and at 530 W Bill Williams Ave. to your right is this motel from the 1950s. Its postcard below tell us that "10 De Luxe Units, Tile Baths, Gyramatic Mattresses, Wall to Wall Carpeted Baby Cribs, Automatic Gas Heat-Vented Mr. and Mrs. Ray V. Stewart, Owners-Managers."
Below is how it looks today: the "L" shaped layout is the same; however, nowadays there is another eastern wing in the complex.
Facing the Westerner, to your right, across the street, at 533 W Bill Williams Ave is the Highlander Motel. It was built in 1953 and it is still operated under the same name. It has the same sign and the peculiar round window in the office is there, but now an ocatabon.
The postcard below announced that the motel had "Ceramic Tiled Baths... Wall to Wall Carpeting Electric and Vented Wall Heat, Individually controlled... Separate Dressing Rooms... 12 Units. Air Conditioned by nature. Gateway to Grand Canyon. Marshall and Ruth Ann Duncan, Owners."
> > You can Book your Room in this motel.
Drive west, pass the Police station. On the next block to your left is the large building that was Olson Motors at 426 W Bill Williams. The building dates back to 1915 and the local phone directory tells us it was "Where to buy ... Pontiac Sales and Service."
Ahead, to your left, on the NW corner of 4th at 400 W Bill Williams where the Outdoor store is now located, once stood Sandoval's Texaco Service, until quite recently (street view) the original Texaco pole stood next to the building.
To your right, on the SW corner, where the Mexican food restaurant is, was another gas station (Sanborn map 1931).
Sutton's Hotel Cottages and gas station - later Whiting Brothers
1950s view Sutton's Courts sign. Source
Click image to enlarge
315 W Bill Williams Ave. The place was originally known as Sutton's Hotel Cottages and had a cottage-style Conoco gas station. Later it was renamed Sutton's Courts (click on the picture for a full sized view). The business was acquired in 1965 by Whiting Brothers who converted it into a motel and converted the corner service station, by then it was a Mobil, to their brand (now closed).
In the early 1990s they sold it and it changed its name again, becoming the "Arizona 9 Motor Hotel."
Read more about Whiting Bros. & Route 66
>> You can Book a Room in this motel.
Below the original neon sign and, the remains of the old gas station.
The Whiting Bros. Motel in a late 1960s postcard. Source
Take the Train from Williams to visit the Grand Canyon
The following image from the 1940s looks east along Route 66. To the right is the old Sutton Motel's red sign to and the Mobil sign followed by the theater. On the left is "Lee's Café" which in the 1940s was the Windmill Cafe or Mills Carfe (326 W Bill Williams Ave). Further along the street is the Historic brick and stone Pollock Building. This is the Same view nowadays.
Another set of "Then and Now" photos looking along Bill Williams Ave. eastwards, in front of Sutton's:
Art Deco: Babbitt-Polson Building
Following the cafe, at 314 W. Bill Williams. You can see the building in the pictures above, in the center of the images. It is the only Art Deco style building in Williams' Historic District. Originally built in 1901 as five separate buildings, they were combined in 1930 into the current one which housed a grocery, bakery, hardware and department stores. Art Deco's distinctive feature is the clean lines, symmetry and geometric patterns. This building has been well upkept and you can see these lines on its facade (Street view).
Here at the intersection of W. Bill Williams and N 3rd St. are three interesting landmarks:
Sultana Theater and Bar
At 301 W Bill Williams Ave. (SW corner). It was built in 1912 and had a pool room and bar on the corner, the Sultana movie theater and next to it, it housed the City Hall.
At 242 W Bill Williams Ave. on the NE corner. The first floor was built in 1901 in volcanic rock. The second floor, built in brick was added by the Masonic Lodge in 1926.
Skinner's - old Mobil Gas Station
239 W. Bill Williams, on the SE corner. This station was built in the 1920s (it appears in the 1921 Sanborn map) and it was a filling station during Route 66's heyday.
In the 1950s it was Whitted Jack Union Service Station. The 1960 phone directory mentions "Mac's Gas & Diesel Service. 241 W Bill Williams Av--Williams 647" and also "Skinner's Humble Products Station & Garage See Advertisement under Service Stations 241 W Bill Williams Av." Skinner appears selling Gulf products in a later edition. Below is a 1940s photo when it was a Mobil station (behind is the Sultana):
Now it is Cruiser's Route 66 Cafe. And it has a car on top of the old flat canopy. At some time after the 1940s a second service bay was added on the left side of the building.
A touch of Wacky Route 66 Kitsch & Quirky here at the cafe:
Keep eastwards and notice the classical brick buildings that line Route 66 in this historic business district. On the southeastern corner of 2nd St. and Route 66 is a historic hotel:
Grand Canyon Hotel
At 145 W. Route 66. on the SE corner with S 2nd. It is over 130 years old. It was built in 1891 and survived a few fires. It was refurbished in 1929.
In 1936 it was acquired by Gaddis and renamed "Gaddis Hotel" as shown in the photo. By 1939 it had changed back to Grand Canyon Hotel. It is still operating as a hotel.
The Gaddis Hotel c.1930s
>> You can Book your Room in the hotel.
Head up 2nd St. for a half a block and before reaching Grant Ave. to your right is the two story brick building that was built in 1905 and housed the "Pinado Hotel" mentioned by Rittenhouse. Now it has been restored and is an apartment complex called La Piñata. The green sign is the original one. It is pictured below:
Head back to Route 66. Opposite the Grand Canyon Hotel, to your left, at 144 W Bill Williams, is a gas station that appeared in the 1931 Sanborn map, and is still standing.
It was Bennett's Auto Service, recently it has been altered and a faux canopy and vintage gas station sign added as you can see by comparing the 2011 view (in the picture) with this 2021 view. Now it is an Italian Bistro.
It had a service bay to the east, a corner office and a box-shaped layout (red arrows in the images).
Next to it was the "Grand Canyon Tabern" that is still standing (green arrows) and beside the store was the "Canyon Club". The club's tall sign is still there (blue arrows) and seems to have been erected in the 1950s as it doesn't appear in the earlier photograph.
On the eastern tip of the block was the Bowden building dating back to 1947 according to the Route 66 In Arizona Historic Resource Survey. Its flagstone came from neighboring Ash Fork. Below is a Then and now set of pictures. It housed the Beacon Cafe.
Intersection with Four Gas Stations, but only one remains
On the intersection of 1st and Route 66 there were four service stations and all appear in the 1931 Sandborn map. Now only one remains standing. You can see them in the image (click on it to enlarge it) below looking east along Bill Williams Ave from Bouden Building.
The four gas stations at 1st St. and Route 66 c.1940s. Source.
Click on image to enlarge
- Mobil. NW corner at 102 W Bill Williams. Here stood the now gone Mobil service station known as Bill Sutton's station.
- Ritchfield. SW corner, on the south side of Route 66 at 101 W Bill Williams was the second station, also gone. Mallie's Richfield according to the 1960 phone directory. It was probably a 1930-40s Sinclair due to its appearance (Spanish Mission style with pent roof parapets covered in tile, vertical tile decoration on the large cornenr columns with brackets, rectangular signage on the pedimented canopy parapets).
- Shell. SE corner next to Hull's motel (102 E Bill Williams). It had a long trapezoidal canopy extending from the box-shaped building. The 1960 telephone directory lists it as Lee's Shell Service, but it had also been also the #2 station of Johnson & Mc. Farren. Their #1 station is described further down.
- Union 76. NE corner at 101 E Bill Williams, is the only surviving building. In the 1950s it was Whitaker's Union Station, ran by "C.M. (Whit) Whitaker"; the 1960 phone directory tells us it was Sutton's Union Station.
It has been restored as "Pete's Gas Station Museum." It too had a long canopy extending from an icebox-like building, but it had disappeared long ago. It was added when the building was revamped in after 2008.
Hull's Hotel Cottages
>> You can Book your Room in the hotel.
Detail from an Aerial photo
1930s aerial photo, Williams Source.
Click on image to enlarge
East of the intersection Route 66 becomes East Bill Williams. To your right, facing Pete's Union 76 at 128 E Bill Williams Ave. is this motel, mentioned by Jack DeVere Rittenhouse in his guidebook. It was built in 1915 and refurbished in 1940 and again in 1960. Nowadays it is the "Star Hotel Route 66". Its curved windows and structure are almost the same as they were then.
You can see it in the 1930s aerial photo (right), with its original gable roof hotel building and a set of units along its eastern side. The 1931 Sanborn map mentions it as a Tourist Court, and it shows the L-shaped layout around the central building.
Vaughn's Indian Store
Opposite the motel and to the right of Pete's Union station is an ancient Trading Post (now named Trading America), but in the past it was Vaughn's Indian Store. The building has the same flagstone facade with slanting columns but has added an interesting storefront awning with its supporting columns designed to look like a bear, cowboy, sheriff, pioneer, etc.
Vauhgn's Indian Curios with its Thunderbird sign was originally located in the Pollock Building. The 1960 phone directory has it here, at 121 E Bill Williams Ave. beside the Coffee Pot Cafe.
Reese Vaughn moved to Phoenix Arizona in 1900 and opened his first curio shop in 1918. He owned stores in several towns in Arizona and employed fine silversmiths to make his native jewelery. Sal and Bernie Montgomery owned the Williams store in the 1940s.
The Coffee Pot offered the "Best Coffee In Town" and was owned by Mr. and Mrs. J. W. Duffield.
You can also see the store in the black and white image below.
Next to Vaughn's is a two story flagstone building, Bowdon's garage at 133 E Bill Williams, with its Nard's Chevron Station in the 1940s.
Eddies in a 1960s phone book advertisement
Another Chevron Station: Eddie's Tires (south facade)
We have already described the north part of Eddie's Station. Here, on the NW corner of E Rte. 66 (Grand Canyon Ave) and N Taber St. is the other building of the complex.
The 1950s phone book advertisement (pictured) tells us it was an independent station at that time.
A simple brick, gable roof building with two service bays. Its sign however is the original one, now it has been painted with a "mural", below is a "Then and Now" set of pictures, it includes adjacent Perfection Automotive.
Bethel's Tourist Court
To your right, on the south side of the street, adjacent to the old Hull's, at 134 E Bill Williams Ave. as another Tourist Court listed in the 1931 Sanborn map as having "9 units & 5 autos". It was mentioned by Rittenhouse and owned by Mr. and Mrs. Mike Starkovich and offered "moderate rates" in "units of varying sizes, each with a shower and adjoining garage". It was later Starkey's Motel (who had ran the Sun Dial motel on the next block), the Royal American Inn and now, "Celilo Inn" which although refurbished and greatly modified, has kept the original L-shaped layout. You can see it clearly in the 1930s aerial photo further up that shows it had a small gas station on the corner which does not appear in the postcard below.
Mount Williams Court
Diagonally across the street, to your left, on the northeast corner is another classic motel (201 E Bill Williams Ave.), it appears in the 1931 Sanborn map as "Tourist Court... 13 units". It was mentioned by Rittenhouse in 1946 and has changed names several times (now it is the "Downtowner Motel and Roadway Inn"). The two story building to the west was added after 1931 and at one time had only one story.
The postcard below tells us its owner-managers were Mr. and Mrs. Everett Coffee.
It still sports the same 1950s neon sign and a very similar appearance, but now opens onto both avenues, Railroad and E Bill Williams.
To the right, next to the downtowner is the former Gateway Court at 217 E Bill Williams Ave. The 1931 Sanborn map has it as a "Tourist Court & Gas & Oil 5 units". The gas station has long gone as it overlapped where the office was later built.
Its classic signage is still there and it is the Gateway plaza. The motel had access to both east and westbound lanes of Route 66.
The Gateway Motel 1950s Source
The now gone Theroux's Texaco service stood at 235 E Bill Williams, next to the Gateway Court.
Sundial Court - now The Lodge
At 200 E Bill Williams, across the street, on the south side is the former Sundial Court, also mentioned in Rittenhouse's 1946 guidebook.
The 1931 Sanborn map shows that what is now the eastern wing of the motel was the first building on the site, it had 7 units behind the office along the eastern flank of the property and 4 units at the back. There was parking space for 7 cars along what is now the center of the property. There was a gas station where the hipped roof covered patio is now located (you can also see it in the 1930s aerial photo further up).
1950s Postcard of the Sundial. Source
It was owned by J. Venable and his son. They operated it for a time.
The postcard below tells us that it had "nicely furnished, fully carpeted units with tubs and showers... Doc and Bea Starkey, Mgrs." It still has the Spanish tiled verandah roofing and white stucco walls.
Delsue Motor Inn (later Grand Motel)
Listed in the National Register of Historic Places
Next door at 234 E Bill Williams is the classic Delsue Motor Inn mentioned by Rittenhouse. As you can see in the aerial photograph further up and the 1931 Sanborn map, it also had a gas station (Chevron) in the central part of the "U-shaped" layout, at that time it had 14 units. It was named after an anagram of its owner's name (Sue Delaney).
Below is a 1950s postcard that tells us about it: "...Delsue Motel U.S. Highways 66 & 89 ... In Center of WILLIAMS, ARIZONA Reservations Telephone 161 Tiled Baths, Tubs & Showers ... Hot Water Heat Wall to Wall Carpets . . . New Furnishings Sue Delaney, Owner and Operator."
It is a U-Haul rental place, no longer operating as a motel. Below are some Then and Now views:
A street view of the motel today shows that the curved facade of the western wing is still there. The neon sign has changed but is still quite interesting.
Rod's Steak House
Catty-corner from the motel, to your left, on the NE corne at 301 East Route 66. Rodney "Rod" Graves (1904-1967) Born in Maine, bred in California, he joined the USGS and later moved to Seligman where he ran a café
He married Helen in 1938 and the following year he moved to Williams where he bought the Grand Canyon Tavern. He realized that the town needed a steak-house so he sold his tavern and on August 23, 1946 he opened Rod's Steak House.
He bought a ranch to raise Hereford Cattle and created the "MJ Bar" brand that appeared in his restaurant decor and on its menus. He sold his steak house in 1967 and died of a heart attack at his desk there, shortly after the sale.
It is still open and serving great steaks (2).
Tha part of his restaurant's sign that faced east warned those driving the wrong way (westwards along E Bill Williams) after it became one way, carrying eastbound traffic.
Next door, at 321 E Bill Williams is the site of the Williams Motel, it had a lineal lay out and according to the 1931 Sanborn map had 6 units. Now it is still open as the Drover's Inn Bed and Breakfast with Wild West themed rooms. Below is a "Then and Now" set of pictures looking west along Route 66, the red arrow marks the gable roof of Rod's and the blue one marks the motel's office.
El Coronado Motel
Facing Rod's, at 302 E Bill Williams Ave. to your right is another Tourist Court from the 1930s: the Sanborn map of 1931 tells us it had 29 units; it was owned by Mr. and Mrs. Lee Treece. Later after WWII it was upgraded and a second floor added at the back of the property. The 1960s postcard below mentions its 42 rooms. It is still operating now as Americas Best Value Inn Williams Grand Canyon.
Former Coronado Motel in the 1960s Source
Next to the old Coronado, at 334 E Bill Williams Ave. As the town had a "Sun Dial", this one was "The Clock". It was built in 1953 on the site of the old W. W. Sample and Sons Red Bluff gas station. It had different names over the years: The Clock, Red Bluff Motel, Rodeway Inn, Grand Canyon, and now the "Regency Inn".
It has lost its sign but the layout and corner office over the entrance is unchanged on its outside.
The Clock, 1960s postcard. Source
Don't miss the stone building (Indian Trading Post) across the road, on the NW corner of Route 66 and N. Lewis St., in the 1931 Sanborn map it appears as a Restaurant. It is known as Harmon House.
Pine Ridge Courts
At 110 S Lewis, half a block south of Route 66 (right) is another Tourist Court that appeared in the 1931 Sanborn map. It had 12 units.The faded sign is still there and the long gable roof building.
Johnson & Mc. Farren's #2 Shell station
Across S Lewis is an old Shell Station (at 400 E Bill Williams on the SE corner) the telephone directory lists it Johnson & Mc. Farren's #2 station. It has been modified with wood to look like a log cabin; the old canopy is still there. Below is a Then and Now set of pictures:
The Shell station c.1950s.
Panoramic view of Williams late 1950s. Source
Click on image to enlarge
Opposite the Shell, on the NE corner at 409 E Bill Williams was Godwin's Texaco in the 1940s and Miller's in the 1960s. The builidng is still standing although greatly modified. It was a Soda Fountain and now is a Thai restaurant dressed up as an American diner!
The old Denny's is now Goldie's Route 66 Diner. It has the classic "Boomerang Roof" designed by Armet & Davis to give it a Space Age look.
Facing Denny's is the TraveLodge Motel, at 430 E Bill Williams. It offered "39 Units - Television - Radios - Patio - Baby Cribbs - Telephones." Still open and still a Travelodge!
There have been some visible changes (the stairs to the second floor, the classic green neon sign has also gone).
To your left is the southern part of the double-gull-wing Phillips 66 that you saw as you entered town along E Railroad Ave.
On the next corner, to your right at 514 E Bill Williams now there is a wine and beer garage that in the past had been a Mexican supermarket. In the 1950s it was Fred's Super Service. In this 2008 Street view you can still see the box-shaped building with its central former office and service bays on each side and two entrances along S Pine St.
At 520 E Bill Williams, to your left. The company began as a Chevrolet-Buidk dealership owned by C. C. Cheshire. His brother-in-law A. T. Davis Jr. ran the Williams dealership and Cheshire the one in Flagstaff.
Cheshire was bought by Gale Tyrrell in 1962, and at that time Olson Motors took over the Williams dealership; they also owned the bodyshop on the western side of town. This property also sold Chevron gas.
Across the street, facing the south facade of El Rancho (left), to your right at 642 E. Bill Williams Ave is the former Thunderbird Inn.
This was the location of the "Grand Canyon Court and Station" owned by Hubert Clark. He ran a Mobil gas station and owned cabins in the pines -see picture below, click on it for full sized view. Later it was operated by Mr. Gribbs and had 42 cabins. It was torn down in 1957 to make room for the Thunderbird Inn.
Clark's Camp. Source Click on image to enlarge
The new motel had "56 luxurious rooms". It is now the Red Roof PLUS hotel. Compare its "Then and Now" pictures: It has the same layout and the green patch of lawn in the middle of the parking area, but the amazing 1950s sign with the thunderbird on it has been changed.
To your left at 609 E Bill Williams, where the highway split into its east and westbound lanes was the Gulf Service, later it was an Enco Humber station. Turn here, and head west to visit the sights on the westernmost part of Williams, you will drive past the sights you saw when you drove into Williams.
The Western side of Williams
Head west algong Railroad Ave. for 0.6 miles just past the point where it meets Bill Williams Ave. and on the south side of the road is the former Norris Motel.
1001 W Historic Rte 66. This hotel is now the Rodeway, and dates back to 1953. As you can see in the following "Then and Now" sequence, it has kept its original looks. It had "17 distinctively designed units - for extra comfort L. M. Thompson - George Wyatt Owners-Managers."
Just ahead is the second arch, marking the end of your journey through Williams.
Continue your Road Trip
The Hi-Line Motel neon sign in your road trip's next stop: Ash Fork. Click for street view
This marks the end of this leg of your Route 66 road trip, head west along Historic Route 66 along Ash Fork Hill to visit the next town on your journey: Ash Fork
More Attractions and things to see and do in Williams
The Grand Canyon Railway
Listed in the National Register of Historic Places
In 1901 the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway finished the branch line that linked the main line at Williams with Grand Canyon Village at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.
It is a 64 mile (103 km) lon line built in standard gauge of 4ft 1⁄2 in. (143.5 cm).
In 1905 the railway built the El Tovar Hotel a few feet from the Grand Canyon rim.
If you visit the Grand Canyon
Some tours and sightseeing
The use of automobiles caused a drop in passengers and it stopped carrying them in 1968. The line closed down in 1974.
It was recovered in 1988 and reopened in 1989 using climate-controlled coaches built in the 1950s.
There are dailly "Williams Flyer services to and from the Grand Canyon plus other services (like the winter Polar Express), which use the restored Santa Fe Railway Station in downtown Williams. There is also Amtrak's Southwest Chief trains (from Los Angeles to Chicago) at Williams Junction station 3 miles east of Williams, and a motorcoach linking both stations.
>> You can Book a Room at the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel.
Outdoors, National and State Parks
There are many outdoor options to enjoy nature in the area close to Williams:
Waterfall at Keyhole Sink. Source.
This canyon near Williams is named after its keyhole shape. There are petroglyphs carved 1,000 years ago by the local natives and waterfalls that flow during snowmelt and the rainy season. Read about the trail here.
Grand Canyon National Park
World Heritage site of UNESCO
The famous park is only 59 miles north of Williams along NM 64 and US 180. See this Map with directions.
The incredible Grand Canyon is a short drive away from Williams; plan a full day trip to visit it. You can also go by train.
>>More information at our webpage: Grand Canyon and Route 66.
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>> Book your Hotel in Lake Havasu City
Banner image: Hackberry General Store, Hackberry, Arizona by Perla Eichenblat
Jack DeVere Rittenhouse, (1946). A Guide Book to Highway 66.