The railroad parallels Route 66 for much of the way, and eventually ¬– about 17 miles since you left I-40 – the interstate gets close for a few miles before veering away again. That's when you know you're reaching Seligman in northern Arizona.
Founded by two Southern antebellum families who lost their prosperous slaughterhouse businesses in the Civil War and decided to start fresh out West, Seligman was previously a small trading post and stop along a road used for centuries by Native Americans and Spanish missionaries. It was part of Beale Road, which we'll talk about in Kingman, and was called Mint Valley for a long time.
When the railroad came through in 1886 with a connection to Prescott, the area was called Prescott Junction. Eventually, it was renamed Seligman, in honor of two brothers who helped finance the railroad.
Cowboys populated Seligman at the turn of the century – both the turn of the 20th and 21st centuries. The only difference is before the 20th century, there were gunfights in the streets, and today the loudest sounds you hear are Harleys along Route 66.
In 1926, Route 66 came through, complementing the recently built railroad. Cross-country travelers continued to have Seligman on their path until I-40 opened in the late '70s. John Lasseter, the Disney and Pixar animator and director, was researching the history of Route 66 and found himself in Seligman one day. Talking with barber Angel Delgadillo, he heard about how traffic through the town virtually disappeared the day I-40 opened, helping to inspire the film Cars.
Angel's brother Juan Delgadillo took some scrap lumber in 1953, and built one Seligman's landmarks: Delgadillo's Snow Cap Drive-In. Along with tasty food and cold drinks, enjoy old cars (including a 1936 Chevy hardtop with the top chopped off), gas pumps, outhouses, and other sundry items around the Snow Cap. The Delgadillos' quirkiness extends to the menu, i.e. "cheeseburger with cheese" and "dead chicken." A neon sign informs customers "Sorry, we're open." The inside is plastered with business cards and other items from across the world left by visitors. If you don't stop here, you're not going to get the full feel of Route 66.
Route 66 winds slowly – and enjoyably – through Seligman before you reach a ramp connector to I-40, where you'll find the memorable Roadkill Café. Beyond, you hit the wide-open desert again.