Monday, April 29, 2013

Cool Springs Camp AZ - Route 66 Ghost Towns

Although this place probably never qualified as an actual town, it was a desert oasis on the original Old Trails Highway (later renamed Route 66) until it was bypassed by a new alignment of the road that took most of the traffic elsewhere.  It consisted of a gas station, cafe and a few cabins. In 1965 the place caught fire and all that remained was the stone work. A guy named Ned Leuchtner bought the property and using the original stones, rebuilt the gas station and cafe.  The gas station doesn't pump gas and the cafe doesn't serve food, but they do offer up cold drinks, snacks and some awesome history.  Like most ghost towns and abandoned places on Route 66, Cool Springs is in the middle of desert and is very isolated.

I found the old photos on the internet and I'd love to attribute them to somebody, but was unable to find out who that would be. I took all the other photos last month.

Circa 1940

Thimble Mountain in the background. I believe this photo was taken in the early 1920s. As you can see, this is desolate and blazing hot desert. Cars in the old days couldn't stand up the desert temperatures like they can today and many people perished in the desert heat. These little outposts of civilization were literally life savers.

Thimble mountain last month 

 Another photo of Thimble Mountain I took through the window of one of the many old wrecks around the place.

Speaking of wrecks, you know I was happy to see all these old cars and trucks. 

 This may have been one of the original cabins, but I don't really know. However, I'm pretty sure that they didn't offer satellite TV back then.

What jaunt into the desert is complete without a desert oddity?  Yes, it's a Class A RV and EVERY inch is covered with paint.

It may be in the middle of nowhere, but if you've been limping across the desert trailing a plume of steam from an overheated engine, its an oasis...
While the new alignment of Route 66 led to the demise of Cool Springs and many other places; those along the new alignment, like Yucca Arizona, prospered. Eventually, a new Interstate Highway (I-40) bypassed them as well (including Yucca).  As we were on the trail of history, we went there . Yucca will be the subject of a soon to come blog post.



  1. My heart is hurting. I want to go on the road like this. At present, and for the next few years, family commitments prevent it. In a few years time, money will prevent it. A few years after that and age will prevent it. None of which will ultimately daunt me. At least, I don't intend them to!

    The top picture of the wrecked car is special.

  2. Love how you have shown the past and the present and the use of Black and White with the photos of the old wrecks looks wonderful.
    Great photos and i just love touring your desert with you

  3. Wow - it looks pretty much the same

  4. I"m so glad that guy bought the property and rebuilt using the same stones. That's just the kind of place I'd love to explore a little, particularly those old cars. Every old car has a story or two brewing in them~

  5. Amazing shots!
    And I've watched American Restoration - do you know how much those old gas pumps are worth?

  6. Those were amazing Pat and those old gas pumps are really cool!

  7. You do visit the most interesting and different places and I love your photos of "another time"! These are terrific, Pat! Hope you have a great week!

  8. Your vacation trips have brought you to many interesting areas, and many wonderful history.

    It is hard to think that there are abandoned places like those in the US.

  9. I LOVE the stonework! Love it!

  10. The view from above makes the area look so desolate... I've always heard of overheated engines in the desert... Almost scary!!!

    Sad about all of the desert towns which got 'skipped' by I-40... Talk about the death of a desert town!!!!

    Wonder what kind of life those old cars/trucks had.. Bet they had a good life at one time.

    The flag is in pretty good shape...

    Thanks for sharing.

  11. Lucy - I'm sorry Lucy! I wish you could get here now!

    Mynx - Thanks Mynx! Just doing what I love to do...

    baygirl32 - The guy did a great job. All the surroundings look the same as they did before a human even saw the place!

    Shelly - Me too! I also love old derelict cars. Usually plenty of them to be found in the desert or the edges of small towns. These places also fill me up with questions.

    Alex - Thanks Alex! Those pumps are worth a lot! I like watching American Restoration.

    Brian - Thanks Brian! I agree with you.

    Sylvia - Thanks Sylvia! I appreciate it! You have a great week also.

    Wandering Thought - There are an incredible number of these places in the southwestern part alone. I wish I could find them all.

    Ms. A - I agree! The inside is nice also. Rustic, but very nice.

    Betsy - Yep! Desolate and potentially very dangerous. Especially so in the summertime. I remember when I was young, everybody had those canvas water bags hanging on the front of their car so the air hitting the radiator would be cooler. The I-40 was great for some and sucked for others. Thanks Betsy!

  12. Your blog posts are so awesome. Anyone can just up and have look around? I wonder who owns the land and buildings now. I love this one!

  13. Like I told you last week, we saw 'Cars.' That, along with these great pictures, make me sad about the effects of the demise of Route 66. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for progress (i.e., I-40), but, still....

  14. Seriously Though - Thanks so much! Yep! They have a little store inside now. I'm sure that most of the folks who stop (and maybe even pass by) are Route 66 enthusiasts.

    Al Penwasser - I was told that this place was also one of the influences for Cars. I totally agree about roads like I-40. They make traveling much quicker, but also more boring!

  15. Yes, interesting photos of the desert. Certainly Cool Springs is a magical place. Greetings.

  16. You are such a talents photographer. I especially liked the shot through the window.

  17. Damn, you make me want to jump in my car and head for the desert. Your photos are inspiring, Pat. Thank you!

  18. Wow! Really enjoyed this post! Great desert scenery (that I truly miss). I particularly like your image of Thimble Mountain through the window of the vehicle door. Also like the image of the trio of gas pumps. One gets an appreciation for the benefit of the shaded picnic tables.


  19. I would really like you as a tour guide through the really do find the coolest places with history.

    It now makes sense why these kinds of places existed way out in the middle of nowhere. I never thought about cars breaking downing down back in the early days of autos, and people "dying" for a place to stay and get out of the sun.

    On the other hand it would be a drab place to live if you were the shop keeper.

    Great shots of the Thimble especially through the old car and truck windows.

    Thanks for the tour Pat!!

  20. The old cars, equipments are always a staple to abandoned and ghost towns. Never been that far in our travels along RTE 66.

  21. Wonderful pictures, I like a lot the differences between the old and new moment in images, very clever post!Thanks for sharing!

  22. Thought that you would like the old fort - and the two signs did make me smile!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

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  25. Loved the way you interspersed the old postcard views with your new ones...great visual way of showing the changes. This was one ghost town we've never seen; wish we could someday. These are the kind of finds that make roadtrips fun and I love knowing we're not the only ones who think that way.

  26. This is such a cool place to explore! The desert does a good job of preserving the old car bodies!

  27. The through the window shot is a keeper. Good eye Patrick!

  28. That satellite seemed a little out of place. haha

    Love the shot of the mountain through the wrecked truck. Very very cool.

  29. Belas fotos.
    O deserto tem histórias interessantes.

    Ótimo mês de maio!

  30. What a neat building. I wonder what kind of eats they used to have. Lizard maybe? lol Just kidding.

  31. What a cool place (or maybe hot) - I love the photos of it.

  32. I love seeing the old cars. It's sad to see all of these cities that have gone to waste, though.

  33. I love the old car/truck pics as much as you do. I love stone too.

  34. Wrecks.

    With you taking the pictures, more like "rex".


  35. Leovi - It was a magical place! Thank you Leovi.

    #1Nana - Thanks for saying that! I appreciate it.

    Sally in WA - Better hurry! It's heating up rapidly...

    Lindy - Thanks so much! Oh yeah! A little shade out there is a treasure.

    Chuck - Thanks Chuck! It would be my pleasure. Even in the state or federal parks today, they warn you about how dangerous the desert can be. It seems like most of the folks who are this isolate, love it. Not me!

    Ebie - You are so right! The old cars and equipment are also on the fringe areas of the "living" towns. Don't need something? Just leave it outside.

    Cezar and Leia - Thanks so much! It's very hard to find photos of some them.

    Stewart - Yep! Loved it Stewart, especially the sign...

    Sallie - I agree with you! Road trips are more about what you see and do on the trip, than about where you're going.

  36. Wayne - It sure was! You are right, stuff seems to last forever out there.

    Sharon - Thanks so much! It was one of those opportunities that just had to photographed.

    Tim - No kidding! I was wondering if somebody actually lives in that shack.

    Magia - Thanks so much Magia! So much interesting history out there.

    M Pax - I have no idea, but I'm going to try and find out.

    Al - Both! Depending on the date and time. Thanks Al.

    Amanda - I agree about it being sad. They fill me up with questions.

    PTM - I have too many old car and truck photos from the desert to count.

    Pearl - Lots of them in the desert! Wrecks, that is...

  37. You got me longing to get back to the desert! Nice photos and enough information to make me want to know more!

  38. Great post! I love your photos and the old ones too.

    I was there last May. It was a very pleasant surprise after winding my way over the mountain from Oatman, AZ. It's a fun place for picture taking. I could have sworn that that pick-up truck had huge gauge in the hood.

  39. fab photos, as always, Pat, especially the one of the mountain thru the old car window! Great job. Have a great weekend.

    ps. thanks for putting up with "google+" and making the effort to comment. Appreciate it :)

  40. wonderful road trip, love the old signs, don't make them like that anymore and those old trucks, Some creative shots in there Pat.

  41. These pictures shout "nostalgia!" I especially like the one you took through the car window. Route 66 has special meaning to me, since I was born in 66 and had a Route 66 party for my 40th birthday - with Tab soda, Funyuns, twinkies, etc. It's great getting to know the highway through your photos.


  42. So love those old truck/car pics. My dream place to shoot images!!

  43. Thought of you when I saw this picture

  44. Another very fine photo essay, Pat. I like the ones with the junked cars.

  45. Sage - I hear you! I love the desert also. It's getting hot there in a hurry right now though. Lot's of history, for sure. Thanks.

    James - Thanks James! I've got several more posts to make from that portion of of Route 66 (Oatman to Kingman). Much to see on that stretch if a person has the time.

    Rosemary - Thanks! No way I was going to pass up that shot!

    Nora - Thanks so much! I'm with about the old things. I wish people would leave all that great stuff where they find it.

    Robyn - Yes they do! They also shout History. Route 66 also means a lot to me. My grandparents were desert rats and I spent a ton of time with them because granny always tried to get me away from my mom. I was very happy that she did.

    Reena - Me too! I always keep an eye open for them.

    Lucy - Lucy, I'm thinking somebody might have compromised your blog. I'm sending you an email.

    Sheryl - Thanks so much Sheryl. Me too!

  46. Hi, Pat, I got your email. It's ok. It's not spam. My account hasn't been hacked. The link is to a black and white photo of a statue around whose face clear platic has been wound - as in the picture you use of yourself.

  47. "Patrick Tillett" has been included in the A Sunday Drive for this week. Be assured that I hope this helps to point even more new visitors in your direction.

  48. Lucy - I just followed the link! I'm going back there also. I really like it. You are right about the photo! Thanks for the link.

    Jerry - Thanks so much!

  49. The contrasting of time with the color and the black and white was a great idea. It adds so much to the post. Love all the old cars, but then I love anything old. A fascinating series, Pat. genie

  50. Amazing places you show us. Greetings.

  51. Route 66 is on my bucket list of places to go/ travel before I die!!

    Wow! You really have the coolest life you know that? I love the old gas station pumps, and that completely rusted car makes my imagination run wild with what it must have been like years and years ago.

    It must have been wonderful to stop there and grab a cold drink!

  52. Genie - Thanks Genie! If I was the only one looking at my photos, I'd probably do all of them in B&W. Especially the old things...

    Japy - Thanks so much Japy!

    Kato - Thanks for saying that! I have to agree with what you said and I feel very fortunate to be able to have this life. I hope you get to that item on your list. The whole thing is great, but I'm really partially to the portions in the Southwest. It was nice to get a cool drink there, but the most amazing thing about the place is the the owner's album collection. On the walls he has EVERY Rolling Stones album and they are all autographed and personalized to the owner.

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  54. I know this is an old blog but I thought I just had to throw in my two cents. I was looking up Cool Springs Cabins because I just got back from a trip to Arizona and we stopped in there for a visit. Somebody mentioned that it must be a drab place for the shop keeper but I disagree. This guy has it made. It's a cute little shop that almost everybody that drives by stops into and talks to him. At closing time he locks the door and walks 20 feet to his RV that has an amazing view of the desert. I was totally jealous of him and that setup. I still dream of owning that little store.

  55. Jeff Aptekar - I agree with you! It is a nice little place. Did you notice all autographed album covers on the walls? I also love the view. Totally desolate and beautiful...
    Thanks for taking the time to comment Jeff.

  56. Cool Springs was blown up in an Arnold movie, but rebuilt and alive and well. You must stop by, have a soda and hot dog and talk with the owner, he is very friendly and loves people stopping buy, even if you buy nothing, but please do....I have zero to do with the pace other than stop by regularly on my travels from time to time. More history here:

    Love ALL your postings and been reading them for years, you sir are a treasure!


    1. JB - Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. I also thank you for being a dedicated follower of my blog. I agree about Cool Springs, it is a delightful place and I wouldn't think of driving by without spending some time there. So much history out there. Again, thanks so much for the nice words...


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