Exciting Route 66 Job Opportunities
Will Involve Local Cooperation

Some communities are lacking leadership to take advantage.
Barstow appears ready to maximize its full opportunities.

Posted: August 1, 2014

      The Newberry Springs Community Alliance has been involved with the California Historic Route 66 Association (CHR66A) in assisting as a liaison with the communities of Daggett and Newberry Springs regarding the Route 66's economic opportunities.

      The two organizations are part of a much larger movement that is currently working to expand economic development along Route 66's roadway through eight states.  By fostering an economic revival through heritage tourism, preservation, and restoration of cultural landmarks, the movement is hoping to develop jobs and provide a rebirth to declining communities through the stimulus of multi-tasking Route 66 marketing.

      The CHR66A represents Route 66 within California and is currently working closely with the Bureau of Land Management on the development of a Corridor Management Plan (CMP) for the federal establishment of a 153-mile National Scenic Byway designation for Route 66 between the Colorado River and the western boundary of Barstow.  The CMP has the support of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), the National Park Service, state, county, local municipalities, and a number of organizations.

      This CMP corridor segment is very special.  It represents a very rare opportunity for visitors to travel Route 66 and experience much of the same scenery and roadbed experienced by those fleeing the Dust Bowl and the economic woes of 80 years ago.

      Many tourists are drawn to drive Route 66 and experience the luring mystical spirit of the road; and the route between 'The River' and Barstow has maintained much of its original fabled aura.

      Of great help to the various eight state organizations supporting Route 66 has been the World Monuments Fund (WMF) placing Route 66 surprisingly upon their World Monuments Watch List in 2008.  Through the WMF, American Express provided a generous grant to Rutgers University (the State University of New Jersey) to research and develop an in-depth economic study of the entire route that has been a very helpful reference in developing the current California CMP.


      The World Monuments Fund, based in New York City, in November 2013 sponsored a special conference at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim that was titled Route 66: The Road Ahead.   The conference was attended by invitees like CHR66A and other various state groups and major Route 66 participants from Illinois to California.  The conference was centered upon the signature manifest of Disney's Cars Land and how to publicly better market the adventure, excitement and history of Historic Route 66.


Local Communities - Needles to Barstow

      The forthcoming National Scenic Byway will open up significant opportunities for communities along the scenic route to economically benefit.  Many years of work, by many people, have lead to this point.  However, for the benefits to be realized, local leaders must embrace the opportunity.  Barstow's civic leaders are following the plan and are expected to take advantage by capitalizing upon it.  Needles on the other hand, appears to be missing the boat by sitting back and expecting a free hand-out.

      Yes, increased numbers of people will be passing through Needles due to the National Scenic Byway designation; but to truly benefit, Needles needs to maximize its opportunities to prosper by engaging it.  This can be done by preparing attractions that lure visitors to spend more time within their community.  With more Route 66 attractions that grab the interest of visitors, the more time that those visitors will be spending and supporting the local economy.

      Of critical importance is vehicular signage announcing and directing vehicles from Interstate-40 to Needles's Historic Route 66 Business Loop; with highly visible placards or monuments at places of interest.

      Needles's prime attraction, which opened this year, is the fully remodeled El Garces Hotel building that was once the Crown Jewel of all the Fred Harvey railway hospitality facilities.  El Garces Hotel Built in 1908, the hotel and restaurant was closed in 1949; but the building remained an Amtrak ticketing site until 1988.  It was then vacant and in disrepair until the city undertook the renovation of the entire structure.

      The building will now serve as an intermodal transportation facility and have office spaces available for lease.  As shown in the adjacent picture taken late last February while the building was still under renovation, the city failed to hold true to the building's historical facade by unfortunately installing new present-day doors and windows.  The station is one block from Route 66.

      Further to the west, Newberry Springs and Daggett haven't demonstrated any community leadership that would attract the benefits of this fantastic opportunity of a National Scenic Byway designation.  In fact, the people in Newberry Springs (with county government support) have recently deminished their Route 66 corridor and have weakened the community's position to prosper.

      The completion of the CMP and submission to the DOT for approval is expected about this time next year which doesn't leave much time for community planning and preparation.

      While some smart places will likely blossom from this Route 66 opportunity; others will continue to wither.  Like a garden, economic growth requires nourishment and work.  Communities too lazy to put in any effort, will not harvest the jobs, and will go hungry.

Contact information.

      For more information on the Corridor Management Plan, contact Doran Sanchez at the BLM Barstow Field Office: (760) 252-6030.  For CMP participation information for Daggett or Newberry Springs, contact the Newberry Springs Community Alliance at: NSCA.

Corridor Management Plan overview
California Historic Route 66 Association

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