Meandering
Thoughts

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Enterprising Locals Can Take
Advantage Of New National
Scenic Byway Designation

Posted: March 13, 2021
Newberry Springs Community Alliance
by Ted Stimpfel

    Route 66 in Newberry Springs is a segment of a new National Scenic Byway that extends along Route 66 from the Colorado River to Barstow.

    Route 66 has been an important element in revitalizing a number of communities along its asphalt.  There is a strong tourist economy associated with Route 66 that has reinvigorated many weathering towns.

    Unfortunately, Newberry Springs has allowed much of its opportunity to capitalize upon Route 66 to rot away.  Most all of Newberry's historical structures have not been maintained.  They have decayed and disappeared.

    The biggest recent loss was the Henning Motel (adjacent to the Bagdad Cafe) that was erased nearly seven years ago.  Under repeated threats by an ignorant County, that refused to recognize the historical value of the motel to Newberry Springs, the owner was pressured into demolishing it.

    This was disappointing as there were efforts afoot at the time to restore the motel's facade and to build a tourism structure behind it.

    I was able to have the owner save the sign from demolition.  The owner later sold the property.  The sign at night originally had an altering run of neon flashing lights down its side that would be fantastic if ever restored.

    Improved highway infrastructure has detoured Route 66 traffic from many communities whose economies were dependent upon the motorists.  But, instead of allowing the transition to turn their communities to dust, some small towns have embraced their history and eco-tourism.

    While not replacing their former roadway glory, these bypassed communities have found that by pivoting and promoting their past, they can create some jobs and keep their lights on.    

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