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|Only the signs remain from Yucca's Whiting Brothers gas station and the adjacent motel. 1-04.|
The Route 66 stepchild. The most extensive and best guide book about Arizona's Route 66, Richard and Sherry Magnum's Route 66 Across Arizona, dismisses the Yucca by saying, "Today there is nothing worthwhile to see of Route 66 while driving I-40 west from Kingman. So, the 1952 alignment is seldom mentioned today." It is true that no merchants catering to the Route 66 tourist remain along that section of the road, but Yucca has a fair collection of the artifacts of the old road, and one of the more spectacular oddities of the state.
The Yucca bypass. The route west of Kingman was in dispute even as the original alignment for Route 66 was being selected in the 1920's. A group from Oatman argued that the route should cut across the Black Mountains and go through Oatman on its way to the Colorado River and California. A competing group supported an alignment paralleling the railroad which travels south bypassing the mountains. The bypass would, not surprisingly, run through Yucca where its supporters lived.
When the selection was made, Oatman was at its peak as mining community, and its view prevailed. That alignment did not last for the duration of Route 66. In 1952 when Oatman's economic power had long since ebbed, the Yucca bypass was opened. When Interstate 40 was built, it followed the Yucca bypass.
The Whiting Brothers. In 1917 Art and Earnest Whiting began selling gasoline out of 55 gallon barrel drums. From Saint John, Arizona, the brothers expanded fulfilling the needs of motorists with gas stations and motels across the Southwest from Shamrock, Texas to Barstow, California. The Whiting stations suffered the same fate as Route 66. As Interstate 40 began to replace Route 66 section by section, the Whiting stations fell into decline. Only one Whiting Bros. station remains in operation. That station is in Moriarty, NM, on the east end of old Route 66. The signs are all that remains of the Whiting Bros gas station in Yucca.
The Yucca Proving Ground. During World War II, the US Army Air Corps trained pilots at a base just east of Yucca. In 1955, the Arizona Proving Ground took over the facility to provide a location to test earthbound vehicles. They purchased surrounding land and built a myriad of test facilities and buildings including an oval five mile high speed track, a low friction test track for testing skidding and breaking, and an 18 acre paved vehicle dynamics area for testing cornering and steering.
Life in a golf ball. Immediately south of Exit 25 on the west side of Interstate 40, an enormous geodesic sphere is perched on a standpipe. To all the traffic traveling on the Interstate, it looks like a golf ball sitting on a tee waiting to be sent off into space by some huge driver.
Located just south of the remaining artifacts of Route 66--a road that dates back to an era when buildings often took on the form of the product they were selling--one would be forgiven for looking for the golf course that goes with the ball. No golf course, not even a miniature one, will be found. The ball was built to be a night club and restaurant for a land development. The project went bust leaving an orphaned 40 foot diameter oddity sitting alongside Interstate 40.
Hank and Ardell Schimmel owned RV parks, hotels and restaurants in Wyoming. They were traveling along Interstate 40 on a winter visit to the state when they happened on the abandoned sphere. Hank bought it in 1981 and presented it to Ardell for her birthday. She says, "He's always buying something goofy." This fit right in.
In 1991, the couple moved into the sphere. They divided it into three levels with 3,400 square feet of floor space. A kitchen and den are on the lowest level. The living room and dining room are on the middle level. The bedrooms round out the top level. Each floor has its own full bath, and access by an outside stairway: 42 steps to the first level, 20 more to the second level, and 18 more to the top.