[ Six panels are mounted on a half-moon base which tell The Story of Route 66 ]. The Story of Route 66Commissioned in 1926 and soon dubbed "The Mother Road," Route 66 was a great asphalt river linking Chicago and Los Angeles - a highway of hope that led thousands of people to a new life.
Reading from left to right:
[ Panel 1: ]
You're standing on the site of one of the original Route 66 rest stops. Four covered picnic tables were located at this stop back in the 1950's. You can still see some of the concrete post where they were anchored into the ground.
Stop a moment. Listen to the quiet. Experience the spirit of Route 66 that lives on in the travelers of today.
[ Panel No.2: ]
This section of road was one of the toughest - with searing summer temperatures averaging 100? and little water. A trek across the daunting Mojave Desert could take two days in the 1920's.
During WWII this area was part of the Desert Training Center/California-Arizona Maneuver Area, established in 1942 by General George S. Patton, Jr. Right here you would have seen the massive armada of Patton's tanks rumbling their way through the desert - and probably been delayed by passing troop movements.
Early alignments of Route 66 paralleled the railroad tracks to avoid steep grades. Many towns along this stretch of the road began as railroad water stops, and blossomed with small businesses offering hospitality and vital services to travelers. Communities such as Essex, Cadiz Summit, Chambless, and Amboy have been home to one-room schoolhouses, train depots, cafes, motorcourts, gas stations and campgrounds. Most are closed now, but here and there are remnants of the highway's past glory.
[ Panel No. 3: ]
Wilderness and GeologyYou're in a basin surrounded by the Ship, Marble, Old Woman, Piute, Little Piute and Clipper Mountains. Most are designated wilderness areas.
In front of you are the Old Woman, Piute, Little Piute and Ship Mountains. They are dominated by a core of Proterozoic through late Mesozoic-age plutonic and metamorphic rocks. These crystalline rocks record a complex history of volcanic change. The Old Woman Mountains are named for a granite monolith resembling the figures of an old woman. The Old Woman meteorite was discovered not far from here in 1975. The Piute and Little Piute Mountains vary from jagged volcanic rocks to smooth granite hills, and are a tapestry of color caused by exposed minerals. Erosion has formed deep canyons and washes.
Behind you are the Marble and Clipper Mountains. They have rugged mesas and narrow canyons with hidden springs. Clipper Mountain soars 4,625 feet, then plunges to the desert floor. To the southeast, you can see Castle Dome. The Marble Mountains are named for their Paleozoic sedimentary rocks.
[ Panel No. 4: ]
Plants and AnimalsThe Mojave Desert is home to an array of plants and animals adapted to the desert environment.
The two visible vegetation types are desert wash woodlands and desert scrub. The most common plant is the creosote bush. Desert wash woodland species occur where groundwater is present, and support small trees like Palo Verde, smoke tree and mesquite. In the spring, the basin turns bright yellow with brittlebush and other wildflowers.
Most of the annual flora of the Mojave comes from ephemeral plants - annuals that sprout only when the desert receives adequate rainfall. They blossom most often in April and May.
Wildlife includes bighorn sheep, fox, coyotes, rabbits, roadrunners, and a variety of rodents, lizards and insects. The area is also habitat for the threatened desert tortoise. Nearby mountain cliffs are home to falcons, hawks, and eagles. The best time to view wildlife is around dusk or dawn at water sources.
[ Panel No. 5: ]
PaleontologyThe paleontology of this area spans over 500 million years. Plants and animals lived and died along the ancient streams, marshes, lakes and seas. Over time, wetter, cooler conditions changed to a hotter, more arid climate, creating the playas and dry lake beds we see today.
During the Paleozoic era, over 500 million years ago, a shallow seabed covered the eastern Mohave. The beautiful formations of banded shale exposed on some of the mountainsides contain trilobites, fossilized marine crustaceans that lived in the ancient sea.
During the Age of Mammals (65 million years ago to the present), numerous species including camels, three-toed horses, saber-tooth cats, mastodons, pygmy rhinoceros and flamingos roamed the region. Three million years ago, mammoth, mastodon, giant sloth, horse, camel, bison, wolf and lion inhabited the broad valleys and wetlands.
[ Panel No. 6: ]
History/Native AmericansThe cultural history of the area extends back for thousands of years. The archaeological record shows Paleo-Indian populations in the region 10,000-12,000 years ago. These hunters lived along the ancient streams, marshes and lakes. During the last 4,000 years, the Colorado River and eastern Mojave Desert have been the territories of the ancestral Yuman tribes and later the Southern Piute. These groups developed an extensive network of routes for travel and trade. It's likely that segments of Route 66 follow these early trails.
The first written description of the area was made by Friar Francisco Garces in 1775-1776. Subsequent transportation routes were mapped by survey expeditions between 1840 and 1860. The first railroad to cross the region was the Atlantic & Pacific Railroad (later Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe) that connected central Arizona with California in 1883. The Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad still uses the original route.
Historic and archaeological resources are fragile and irreplaceable. Federal law protects them. Please don't erase the traces of America's past.