Monday, May 13, 2013

Yucca Arizona - Route 66 Ghost Towns

A short time ago I did a blog post relating to Cool Springs Arizona. I told you that the demise of Cool Springs was caused when a new alignment of Route 66 bypassed it.  Although the "new" alignment was a death sentence for Cool Springs, the small town of Yucca greatly benefited from the increased traffic. Yucca was created to be a water stop for the Atlantic & Pacific RR. In 1952, the new alignment of Route 66 changed everything. All of a sudden there was a truck stop, a store or two, a couple of cafes, two motels and a church. I'm sure the people in Yucca were feeling pretty good about things. The good feelings ended in the  early 1970's, when the new Interstate Highway (I-40) bypassed them by several miles.

As a result, every retail business in town, eventually had to close their doors. Most of the old places are gone, but there are a few still standing, mixed in with newer houses (I said "newer" not new!) and a few other places unrelated to the highway.

I have no idea what it once was, but it's very old.

This is my favorite thing about Yucca. This semi-on-a-stick stood in front of a truck stop/repair place. It went out of business and all that now remains is the truck! Only in the desert my friends, only in the desert...

One of the original residences.

The sign says Yucca Mission, but I couldn't find out anything at all about the place.

Yet another great desert find!  I'm pretty sure it was a jeep at one time. I have no idea about that rear end though. Of course like most things left sitting around in the desert for any amount of time, it has been used for target practice.

This is an odd town because in the midst of all these things, there are still people living here.  I'm not sure how though, because it is brutally hot there. The average daily temperature in Yucca from May through September is over 100 degrees. 
We are hitting the road again in the morning. This time we're going to the mountains as it's getting darn hot in the desert. The good news is, I should have a phone signal (unlike our last trip). 

Happy Mother's Day! 



  1. You find the most interesting places. Whenever I see one of those "on a stick" things I am left wondering just how hard it was to get it up there.
    And I love the 3rd last photo of the house with the iron veranda. Looks a little like some of the tumble down places we have around here

  2. Whoa..Pat, another amazing ghost town! It always amazes me that such a vibrant place at one point in life, now just totally abandoned!

    Happy Mother's Day to your wife! And have a safe trip too :-)

    1. I've lived in yucca over 9 years. Not abandoned

    2. I've lived in yucca over 9 years. Not abandoned

  3. The semi-on-a-stick is classic!

  4. If I was driving through the desert and saw that semi on a stick, I would have to stop and question whether I was hallucinating from dehydration or something. Fascinating!

  5. That is one odd looking Jeep.
    I guess it was too much effort and money to take down the truck. Eventually it will fall I'm sure.

  6. Cool pics - as always. How awful for a town to be thriving one day and then find itself suddenly in the middle of nowhere.

  7. when I first looked at the Jeep I thought it was a steamroller.

  8. A semi on a stick. Now I've seen it all!

  9. You do indeed find the cool pics -- even of sad places and Yucca is certainly sad looking! Hard to imagine people still living there! But your photos are fascinating as always, Pat! Hope you have a great week!

  10. Mynx - I also always wonder how they get those things up there! Desert ingenuity and engineering I guess. Thanks!

    Icy BC - Thanks! Yep, abandoned and left to rot. I plan on a safe trip! Just about to hit the road.

    sage - I think so too! The thing must be gutted or somebody probably would have taken it down for scrap.

    Shelly - Maybe it would be dehydration or peyote dust in the wind.

    Alex - It sure is an odd looking jeep! The front part of it might even be worth some money.

    PTM - That is exactly what I thought. A close look revealed that it's just a huge full width fender (for what purpose, I have no idea)

    Sharon - NOPE! Not yet you haven't. I've still got some even crazier stuff to post.

    Sylvia - It is sad looking. Thanks for nice words Sylvia! Its all about getting off the highway and main roads.

  11. You said it Pat...."Only in the desert!!!"
    I want to see that semi-on-a-stick!!!

  12. Wonder who was driving that semi?!?!

  13. Desert dwellers are a breed unto themselves! They are as hardy as the rust buckets left under the sun; they're never going away!

  14. Hi Pat, Interesting truck on a pole in Yucca... Like you said: Only in the desert! ha ha

    I would love the mountains --much more than that desert (with those high temps).. Have fun.


  15. I'll take mountains to heat any day! Love the truck on a stick!

  16. People are still living there?? Sounds way to Hills Have Eyes for me. If people are living there, their brains must be baked and with the signs of target practice...good idea heading for higher ground!

    Amazing what viewing 50 years of decay looks like. I am sure this could be or has been a movie set at one time or another...or at least should be.

    That semi-on-a-stick looks way too have the tires lasted all these years??

    Enjoyed your trip as usual, Pat.

  17. Very interesting and different place, I like a lot that huge stick with the truck!B&w is great!

  18. TheChieftess - That is probably a good thing.

    Brian - Yeah, and how did he drive it up there?

    Sallie - Yes, they are! I'd say that was a good description of my granny. The hotter it got, the more she liked it.

    Betsy - Hi there! We like both places. In the winter spring, winter and fall we go to the desert. In the summer we stay on the coast or go to the mountains. Where we are right now, is the best of both. We are perched on a mountain ridge over looking the amazing Anza-Borrego area of the Colorado Desert.

    Ms. A - The heat is part of what draws the unique people there. Hey, I don't want to live there, but I love being there.

    Chuck - Yep! Mostly railroad employees and retired folks, with some merchants sprinkled in. A lot of these places have been in movies. I have a list around here somewhere. I have no idea about the tires!

    Cezar and Leia - Interesting and different is a good way to describe it. Thanks Leia!

  19. Okay, as great as all the pictures are, you knew the truck on a stick was going to be the highlight of this series. I can't help but wonder at how that went down.

    "Bob, Bob, you're never going to believe the idea I just had."

    "What's that?"

    "Semi Truck on a stick!"

    "My God..."

  20. Yes, I think your series of photos of Route 66 are very good! Spectacular that truck!

  21. i love ghost towns they are so cool

  22. You're like a magician with your camera, Pat. The truck-on-a-stick is surely not only, only in the desert but it's only featured on your blog. It keeps getting better and better around it. Be well, my friend.


  23. Your image of the semi on a stick will stick in my brain for some time! Happy tripping, Pat!

  24. Tim - Ha! That might pretty close to how it happened. I actually considered giving that photo a blog post of its own.

    Mama Zen - Thanks so much!

    Leovi - Thanks Leovi! I have much more to post about Route 66.

    becca - Me too! I'm really drawn to them.

    Robyn - That was nice of you to my friend. I truly appreciate it.

    Francisca - Hey there! So nice to see your comment. Thanks and same to you Cisca.

  25. sometimes when the highway changes its route then the little towns become does look very hot hot there!

  26. This is depressing. I love it, but it's depressing. Are there ANY vibrant communities along Rte 66 in Arizona or California?

  27. Desert skeletons. Wonderful as always, Pat. Now, head for the hills!

  28. Lol! That semi-on-a-stick is awesome!! Yuck!! 100 for 5 months?? No thank you!!

  29. Nora - Yep! One day everything is going okay and then you hear the new highway is going to bypass you. Then it all changes.

    Al - I'd say the answer to that question is, not many! The vibrant sports are pretty much limited to where route 66 went through urban areas. Like through the Los Angeles basin and around Chicago. Kingman Arizona is a fair sized place, but as much as those living there might disagree, I wouldn't say its anything close to vibrant.

    altadenahiker - Yep! We're already in the mountains and on our favorite ridge top. Much to my surprise, I have 3G and 4 bars on my phone (that I use as a hotspot). I've been on my laptop most of the day looking out at totally open scenery just as far as the eye can see.

    Amanda - It sure was awesome! I'd agree, but even in the heat, there are great things in the desert. Dangerous and life threatening during the hot periods, but still beautiful.

  30. Just how many ghost towns are there out there!

    Great pictures.

    Thanks for the comments.


    Stewart M - Melbourne

  31. Pat, you do have a knack for finding ghost towns and showing them off to us in such a fascinating way... brilliant photos, as ever!

  32. It's almost impossible to imagine anyone living out there Pat. For a start HOW do the make a living and provided they do, how do the cope with those temperatures? Envy you the shot of the truck 'popsicle' , not something you see very often...or ever :)

  33. ghost towns/places always amaze me.
    that truck on on a pole is very interesting...yucca is so sad-looking though.

    thanks for your wonderful photos, pat, and safe travels!!

  34. Very intringuing shots! I really hope I will visit one of those ghost towns one day. It's so unusual to my eyes.

  35. 6 months of 100 degree days? No thanks! That is one funky jeep, I bet it goes well in the sand.

  36. I love the truck on a pole. That's cool looking. Seeing places deserted disturbs me, but there's loads to learn. Neat trips you take.

  37. These are such cool pictures!

  38. I love those ghost towns you show us. Greetings.

  39. Stewart - If I was to venture a guess, I'd say Nevada, Arizona and California combined have at least a couple of hundred. Maybe more. Most of these towns were created due to mining. Boom led to bust and all that is left are the empty towns. Thanks Stewart!

    Nat - Thanks so much! In the age of the internet, they are fairly easy to find.

    PerthDailyPhoto - Most of the towns on along Route 66 were created because of the expansion of railroads across america. Because railroads try to take the flattest routes possible, it made sense that the first major roads stuck pretty close to the rail roads. So the railroads built them and provided jobs, the early highways and automobile traffic caused them to grow and the newer interstates killed them. Surprisingly, a lot of people love the desert and know how to survive there.

    Betty M - Me too! My pleasure Betty.

    JM - Thanks! I hope you do get to visit them!

    Wayne - Yep! That's an average, but still VERY hot. Dangerously hot.

    Mary - Me too! The learning part is what I really like. Sharing what we find is icing on the cake.

    Reena - I do too! Highlight of the day.

    Gina - thanks!

    Japy - Thanks Japy! We have much fun there.

  40. That truck on a stick is a wonderment:)
    Wonder how it feels like to see all these places and to see no people around, yet the signs of lives once lived are there...

  41. Maybe the rear of that jeep was rigged up so it performed better in the sand? Love the mission and "the truck on a stick." I know what you mean about not being able to find any information on these small desert chapels. It's so frustrating! I envy your travels and love your enthusiasm. Happy Trails!

  42. I've driven I-40 several times but never made the detour to Yucca. Nice shots.

  43. Jesh - It sure was to me! That is strange, but what is stranger is to actually see people STILL living there.

    Stickup Artist - Thanks a lot! I know you travel some of the same roads and like the desert just like we do. There aren't many of us!

    Al - I'd say about 99.9% of folks driving on I-40, would say the same thing. Granny always said I was different.

  44. Bonitas fotos!
    Bom domingo!
    Ótima semana!
    °º✿✿ Beijinhos do Brasil
    º° ✿✿° ·.

  45. Magia - thank you so much! Have a great day!

  46. I can't help but feel really sorry for the people of Yucca and other towns who lost everything because the roads were moved. Life can be hard! Love the truck up in the air.

  47. Belle - I agree with you and I always wonder what became of them. Life can be especially hard in the desert.

  48. The desert is beautiful. But beautiful in a kind of an alien landscape way.

    Route 66 is on our bucket list!

    great pictures (as always)

  49. I had no idea the desert was full of so many strange and wonderful things.

    Thank you so much for all the pictures!

  50. Gingerspark - I agree that it is beautiful. Some people really do just see it as an "alien" landscape and don't like it at all. I hope you get to it on your list!

    Kato - I understand that! Most people who aren't familiar with the desert don't see how amazing it is. My pleasure on the photos! Thanks!

  51. Her I am reading your story and thinking I've heard about this town before! Then I realised that the Disney-Pixar animated movie was probably loosely based on the story of these towns that were turned into ghost towns by the rerouting of Route 66!!
    Very interesting!

  52. Great shots once more.

    I'm sure I would enjoy greatly going on one of these trips with you. Plenty of similarities between the deserts there and here in Oz with stories of decay, those who tried their luck for some time with varying forms of success before being lost to time.

  53. Liz - You are totally right about the movie! I think it got some more people interested in this great road. The part of Route 66 going through the desert in Arizona is the longest stretch of the road still remaining in the country.

    Anthony - That would be enjoyable for me too Anthony! There are so many stories in the desert. It's bittersweet to be sure.

  54. ohmygodohmygodohmygod, i changed my mind about what i need in my yard. i want a semi on a stick. ^_^

  55. Lovkyne - HA! I'm right there with you Ven. I love this thing!

  56. I lived in Yucca, Arizona for 13 years in a rental house only a couple of doors down from the Yucca Mission and the abandoned building you titled "One of the original residences". I actually still live near Yucca, but have now moved to the desert about 17 miles (25 KM) into the desert so it's even MORE isolated. ;-)

    Yucca is not a ghost town, really, The population is ~350 people, although it is a bit depressed and does indeed have more than its fair share of abandoned buildings. I-40 cruises right through town - the bypassing comes from people not seeing a reason to stop, when much larger Kingman lies only 25 miles farther north, not because it's not visible from the main highway. The summer heat isn't that bad when compared to Lake Havasu City or the other Colorado River cities, which have much larger populations as well because they have water recreation and other tourism and industry. (Seriously, it's a lot hotter there than in Yucca, actually.)

    You didn't post any photos of the single most distinctive building in town, the Golf Ball House, which is the only full geodesic sphere (also mounted on a pole, just like the semi truck) that is a private residence in the entire US. Not a half-dome - a full sphere. Google for "Golf Ball House Yucca AZ" and you'll see numerous images of it, plus aliens too. There are two major employers in town - the Chrysler Proving Ground where new model vehicles are tested, and the PVC pipe manufacturing plant which makes large-diameter piping for sewers, irrigation, and commercial construction purposes.

    Yucca isn't a bad place to live at all, and the desert foothills east and south of the town near the Hualapai Mountains is the best, most diverse blend of both Sonoran and Mojave Desert vegetation and animal life in Arizona. That's why I live there - it is a magnificently beautiful place to call home. The town itself has interesting history and blemishes, but you didn't show the many inhabited and well-maintained homes that lie between the abandoned junkers. It's a bit of a mix, to be sure. (Note: This is not a criticism, just a modification of the record after reading the comments above.) :-)

    P.S. The truck on a stick is one of the more interesting features we have here. But seriously, take a look at the Golf Ball House too....

  57. Jan Emming - I am so sorry that I'm just now responding to your comment. I just now saw it for the first time.
    Unfortunately, it's sometimes hard to tell which houses are lived in and which aren't. It's pretty clear that quite a few people live there though. I did mention the Golf Ball house, in fact I gave it it's post. I even went as far to make an appointment to tour it and talk to the owner about things. I drove a long ways to see him, and he didn't bother to show up. So, that was a missed chance for him and Yucca. So, we used that time to go up the old Boriana Mine (a hard 4WD road up into the Hualapai mountains). Have you been there? I did actually get to talk to somebody who works at the proving grounds and another who works for the railroad. I met both of them at the little market next to the golf ball house. They BOTH told me that they didn't know of any employees from either place who actually lived in Yucca. I'm sorry if it seemed that I was implying that Yucca was a bad place to live, I love the desert and have spent a good portion of my life in desert or another. I really appreciate that you took the time to read my article and comment on it. I think maybe the Golf Ball house might receive more interest if it went by the nickname. Arizona Death Star! Either, The Semi-on-a-stick is one of my favorite things ever. I saw a place in Yuma last week, that had a Giant Martini Glass-on-a-stick, a VW Bug-on-a-stick, and a Harley Chopper-on-a-stick. They were pretty cool, no where close to the Semi-on-a-stick.

    Unknown - Well then, I guess there is at least one person there! Where do you shop?

  58. Is this a place you can live if your homeless

  59. Jen Babin - I suppose a homeless person could live there, but why would they? No stores, and no services!


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