Route 66 Winona to Williams Arizona
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The course of Route 66 between Winona and Williams
Part 1. The Alignment of Old Route 66 from Winona to Flagstaff
US 66 in Winona
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 Flagstaff instead. This led to it continuing on to Winslow and linking it with the Ozark Trail in Romeroville, New Mexico.
The National Old Trails highway was improved in 1922 with Federal funds and became the Flagstaff - Winona highway. The now historic Walnut Creek Bridge was built at that time.
Elden Junction satellite view. Click image to enlarge
In 1926 when U.S. 66 was created, the Winona to Flagstaff highway with its bridge became part of Route 66. And remained so until the highway was realigned in 1947. At that time the old road became what is now AZ-394.
Winona to Flagstaff 1926 - 1947 road
Leave Winona and head north. The road has a northwestern course parallel to the Rio de Flag River, curving around Turkey hill and then, after crossing the river it merged with US 89.
Map with directions from Winona to US89.
At the junction with US 89, it took a now abandoned course which ended next to the Conoco Service Station on US 89 1⁄4 mi. south of the modern junction. This is shown in the following map and in the image (click it to enlarge).
1947 - 1968 alignment
From Winona the road was realigned west towards Flagstaff with a shorter course. Now it is covered by the I-40 westbound roadbed from Exit 211 at Winona until Exit 204 (the eastbound lanes were added in 1960). Here you can still drive the 1947 to 1968 road: leave I-40 at Exit 204 and follow the road (Historic Route 66) which meets the 1926 alignment further east at E. Route 66 Ave - jct. US 80 and US 180 in Flagstaff, see this map with directions.
After 1968 Route 66 was realigned again, west of Exit 204, all the way to Exit 191 as a four-lane divided highway using the course that later became I-40.
Part 2. Route 66 through Flagstaff
The color key for the map of US 66 through Flagstaff is the following:
Pale Blue (1) East of Flagstaff: it is the Driveable 1926 to 1947 Route 66 alignment. (2)Downtown the 1934-1968 alignment. (3) West of Mikes Pike St. it is the 1926 to 1968 alignment.
So there were two alignments through the town. Both differ in the downtown alignments -shown in the image. Below are the maps with directions.
They both met on the south side of the city and headed west, and you can still drive it till it meets I-40 at Exit 191. (1926-1968 alignment west of Flagstaff).<3>Part 3. West of Flagstaff at I-40 Exit 191
Westwards from Exit 191, the original US 66 roadbed lies under the I-40 which was built over it in 1979. You have to drive to Bellemont, to Exit 185, to be able to access the older alignments.
The original National Old Trails 1926 - 1963 segment at Bellemont
From 1926 until 1963, the road passed through Bellemont on what is now the south side of I-40. Initially it spanned a 4 mile-long stretch of highway (Map through Bellemont.)
It has dead ends at its eastern tip -cut by I-40, but you access it roughly in its midpoint at Exit 185, heading to the south of I-40.
The famous Pine Breeze Inn is located on the eastern side of this segment.
1926 to 1942 Alignment
From 1926 to 1941 the road turned off towards the northwest at a 30° angle just before reaching the current western dead end; it did so at this point (See map), and is now cut by I-40, but it continues on the north side of the Interstate, and can be driven along the Historic Route 66 - Brannigan Park Road described further down.
There are three separate sections of Route 66 between the towns of Bellemont and Parks and they are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. We describe them below.
Part 4. The three historic sections from Bellemont to Parks
Leave I-40 at Exit 185 and head north along the Frontage Rd. it soon heads north towards Brannigan Park in the Kaibab National Forest.
This is the map of the 6.2 mile segment, that you can drive all the way into Parks: Map of the Brannigan Road segment.
1. The older 1926 to 1931 alignment at Brannigan Park
As the route followed by the railroad and modern I-40 from Bellemont to Parks crossed abrupt and rugged terrain with some steep climbs, this alignment which had been used by the 1917 National Old Trails alignment, was abandoned around 1920-21 in favor of a longer but less difficult one that curved to the north around Fortynine Hill (7,850 ft).
Route 66 in 1926 was aligned along this earlier 1920-21. You can still see parts of the original road winding next to US 66. At Brannigan Park, a large and well-watered meadow set in the middle of the pine tree forest, the original 1926-31 US 66 took a different alignment, now obliterated by nature.
It ran north, then west, and finally to the southwest, beyond the later Route 66 alignment built in 1931, meeting it close to Parks.
There is only one part can be driven today (See map). It finally swung to the north of the later alignments and it can be still seen close to the General Store at Parks.
2. 1931-1941 Brannigan Park Road
Built in 1931-32, it was a 24 foot-wide road, and it was paved by 1934. Now it is partly paved.
This was also the highest point of the whole Route 66, at 7,405 feet above seal level, it was not easy for the early drivers to climb Brannigan Park pass on Fortynine Hill.
3. Historic abandoned Section East of Parks
Listed in the National Register of Historic Places
This section, just east of the Parks General Store was part the road built in 1921, incorporated into US 66 in 1926, and improved by paving and widening it in 1931. (Shown in this map). Now it is a trail that can be walked. Along it are the remains of a springhouse where tourists would camp and get fresh water.
It has a asphalt paving and concrete culverts one of which has a brass plate stamped "1931". Below you can see the old alignment meet the later 1941 one (red arrow is the 1931 roadbed).
The original road alignmente continued west, passing behind the iconic Parks General Store, on its northern side, and heading westwards from there to the north of the modern highway 66. This is a very short segment, and we describe it below:
Historic abandoned Section West of Parks
Listed in the National Register of Historic Places
It is a 0.35 mile section of road built in 1921 as the National Old Trails road and incorporated into Route 66's alignment in 1926. It is a narrow road with a "paved" surface formed by tarred gravel. And it can still be seen and walked along as it lies just a few feet north of modern Old Route 66. (Satellite view.)
Dead Man's Curve
The western tip of this segment ended in a sharp curve which the local newspaper called the "Dead Man's Curve" after the accidents it caused.
The 1931 realignment improved the road and straightened its alignment west of Parks.
See the map (click on it to enlarge it), its color code is the following:
Green: 1921-1931 alignment. This is the original ection and the deadly curve.
Pale Blue: 1931-1963 alignment to the south of the older one
Red: 1941-1963 alignment which left the historic eastern section abandoned (1941 realignment map).
1963 Route 66 Bellemont to Parks
The road was shortened and made straighter, by moving it south to a lower altitude alignment roughly aligned with the railroad. In Bellemont it continued west from the point where the Brannigan Park road forked to the north. Now it ends in a dead end cut by I-40 (1963 alignment west of Bellemont.)
It is buried under I-40 after this point as it was overlain by the freeway, however you can see the part that lies closest to Parks by taking I-40 exit 178, and heading north to Older Route 66 alignments, this section is 1.4 miles long. This is the map of the extant 1941-1963 road into Parks.
Part 5. Westwards from Parks to Williams
map of driveable US66 west from Parks all the way to I-40's Exit 171; it is 5.5 miles long.
This follows the 1926 alignment of Route 66, based on the earlier 1920 road. It was improved in 1939 and 1941 to make its grades less steep, new culverts and guard rails were added too.
After exit 171, the roadbed is now under the Interstate completed in 1964, but there are three places were the original alignment can still be driven along:
On the south side of I-40 for about 0.4 miles as can be seen in this Map of this section
When you reach Williams, the original road forked to the south (you can still see a part of this abandoned section (Map) tp the south of I-40.
The road continues into the town of Williams, a through it; there still is eastbound and a westbound streets carrying US 66 through the town, see the map of Route 66 into Williams.
The interstate I-40 began construction in 1964 and finished in 1979, replacing the older alignements, and 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. The following year, Route 66 was decommissioned.
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Banner image: Hackberry General Store, Hackberry, Arizona by Perla Eichenblat.