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Ash Fork, AZ

Ash Fork, Arizona (Route 66)

Ash Fork, Arizona, boasts a rich history deeply intertwined with the advent of the railroad, Route 66, and the famous Harvey House, marking it as a significant spot in the American West’s development.

The Railroad

Ash Fork’s history begins with the railroad. Established in 1882, this small community emerged as a crucial division point on the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad. The railroad was instrumental in transporting goods and people across the vast American landscape, and Ash Fork’s position made it a vital hub in the network. The town’s importance grew with the construction of the Santa Fe Railway, further solidifying its role in the expansion and development of the West.

Route 66

With the advent of the automobile and the construction of the U.S. Highway System, Ash Fork gained another claim to fame as a key stop along Route 66. Known as the “Mother Road,” Route 66 was established in 1926 and became an emblem of American culture, symbolizing freedom and the pursuit of the American Dream. Ash Fork’s location along this historic route brought travelers from across the country, contributing to its growth and development as a roadside community offering services to motorists.

The Harvey House

The Harvey House in Ash Fork, part of Fred Harvey’s chain of hotels and restaurants, further enriched the town’s historical significance. Fred Harvey is credited with creating the first restaurant chain in the United States, and his establishments were known for their high standards of quality and service, particularly in the remote and often rugged locales along the railroad. The Escalante Hotel, Ash Fork’s Harvey House, opened its doors in 1907, offering a touch of comfort and refinement to weary travelers. It symbolized the progress and civilization being brought to the American West through the railroad and later, the automobile.

The Decline and Legacy

Despite its importance in the early 20th century, Ash Fork’s prominence began to decline with the advent of the Interstate Highway System, which bypassed many towns along Route 66. The decline was further exacerbated by changes in the railroad industry. However, the town’s rich history remains a point of pride for residents and a topic of interest for historians and tourists alike.

Ash Fork continues to celebrate its heritage as a railroad town, a stop on the historic Route 66, and the site of a Harvey House. These elements of its past contribute to its identity and attract those interested in the history of the American West, transportation, and the legendary Route 66.

The town of Ash Fork was born in 1882 when the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad arrived. The Hotel Escalante was built in 1907, named for the eighteenth century Spanish padre-explorer, Silvestre Escalante who journeyed into Arizona in 1776. During its heyday, from 1907 until 1945, the Hotel Escalante was considered the most elegant hotel in Arizona. Sadly it was demolished in 1968.

Ash Fork, Arizona, is home to the Ash Fork Historical Society Museum, which showcases the town’s rich history and its connection to Route 66. In addition to the museum, Ash Fork currently has several gas stations and stores serving travelers passing through the area.

Route 66 Attractions in Ash Fork, Arizona.

  1. Ash Fork Historical Society Museum
  2. Zettler’s Store on Route 66
  3. Six Shooter Molly’s Trading Post

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