It’s a loooong drive from Rocklin, California to the Grand Canyon. So long that we decided to leave a day early and stay the night in Bakersfield to knock out several hours of the drive. This also opened up some extra time to stop in Kingman, Arizona on the way for some Route 66 history.
Kingman, known as the Heart of Historic Route 66 and one of the hidden treasures of Arizona, is located off Interstate 40. The town offers scenic hiking, historic charm, cafes and restaurants, and popular Route 66 attractions like the Powerhouse Visitor Information Center, the Arizona Route 66 Museum, the Electric Vehicle Museum, Mr. D’z Route 66 Diner, the Route 66 Locomotive Park, and the Mohave Museum Of History And Arts.
Powerhouse Visitor Information Center
Built in three phases between 1907 and 1917, the Powerhouse once supplied power to the surrounding Arizona towns and mines. But it was put on standby in 1938, to serve as a backup to power received from the new power generating stations of the recently completed Hoover Dam. It then sat unused and neglected for many years.
In 1978 the Powerhouse Gang was formed to figure out a way to rehabilitate the old building. They incorporated in 1984 and by 1986, Citizens Utilities deeded the Powerhouse to the Gang as a tax write-off. In 1987, the City of Kingman and the Powerhouse Gang received a grant from the State Historic Preservation Office for a historic building analysis and detailed structural report. From 1990-1995 they received more grants, held more fund raising projects, and began a total renovation of Powerhouse.
The Powerhouse reopened as a Visitor Information Center in 1997 with a Memory Lane 50’s Diner, Historic Route 66 Association of Arizona Gift Shop, and a model train store. In 2001, the diner was replaced with the Route 66 Gift Shop, and while the train store is gone, a large scale model railroad still travels around the building just overhead.
A remodel of the Powerhouse was once again planned in 2008, but didn’t begin until May 2017. The quarter million dollar remodel, funded by the City of Kingman with contributions from the Historic Route 66 Association of Arizona, was completed in early October 2017, just in time for the Powerhouse Visitor Center’s 20 year anniversary.
Today the Powerhouse houses the Arizona Route 66 Museum, Kingman Area Chamber of Commerce, Hualapai Tourist (Grand Canyon Skywalk) Information Center, an Arizona Visitor Center, and the Historic Route 66 Association of Arizona. It also features the 66 Kid Gallery and the Route 66 Electric Vehicle Museum, the world’s first museum dedicated solely to electric vehicles, as well as one of the largest Arizona highway maps in the State of Arizona.
Know Before You Go
- The Powerhouse Visitor Center and Route 66 Museum is located at 120 W Andy Devine Avenue #2, Kingman, Arizona 86401 across the street from the Locomotive Park and Mr. D’z Route 66 Diner and one block from the Mohave Museum of History and Arts.
- Open seven days a week. Closed on New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Easter Day, Fourth of July, Veteran’s Day, Thanksgiving Day, the Friday after Thanksgiving, and Christmas Day.
- Hours for the Kingman Visitor Center, Historic Route 66 Association, and Arizona Route 66 Museum are 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, with the last museum tour admitted at 4:00 pm.
- Admission to the Powerhouse is free.