180 miles SW of Grand Canyon Village; 150 miles W of Flagstaff; 30 miles E of Laughlin, NV; 90 miles SE of Las Vegas, NV
Although Kingman is the only town of any size between the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas, it is primarily a place to gas up before heading out across the desert. However, if you have a couple of hours to spare, the city does have interesting little museums and downtown historic buildings. The town's other claim to fame is that it is on the longest extant stretch of historic Route 66.
That Kingman today is more way station than destination is not surprising, considering its history. In 1857, Lieut. Edward Fitzgerald Beale passed through this region leading a special corps of camel-mounted soldiers on a road-surveying expedition. Some 60 years later, the road Beale surveyed would become the National Old Trails Highway, the precursor to Route 66. Gold and silver were discovered in the nearby hills in the 1870s, and in the early 1880s, the railroad laid its tracks through what would become the town of Kingman. Kingman flourished briefly around the start of the 20th century as a railroad town, and today, buildings constructed during this railroading heyday give downtown a bit of historical character.
In the nearby hills, such mining towns as Oatman and Chloride sprang up and boomed until the 1920s, when the mines became unprofitable and were abandoned. Then, during the 1930s, tens of thousands of the impoverished and unemployed following Route 66 from the Midwest to Los Angeles passed through Kingman, which became an important stop on the road to the promised land of California. Route 66 has long since been replaced by I-40, but the longest remaining stretch of the old highway runs east from Kingman to Ash Fork. Over the years, Route 66 has taken on legendary status, and today people come from all over the world searching for pieces of this highway's historic past.
Remember Andy Devine? No? Well, Kingman is more than happy to tell you all about its squeaky-voiced native-son actor. Devine starred in hundreds of short films and features beginning in the silent-screen era, but he's perhaps best known as cowboy sidekick Jingles on the 1950s TV western Wild Bill Hickok. In the 1950s and 1960s, he hosted Andy's Gang, a popular children's TV show, and in the 1960s, he played Captain Hap on Flipper. Devine died in 1977, but here in Kingman his memory lives on -- in a room in the local museum and every September when the town celebrates Andy Devine Days.