Rebirth Place of the Historic Route 66

Road trip to Seligman: Meeting up with 'guardian angel' of Route 66

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(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
The longtime barber in Seligman, Angel Delgadillo was one of the original founding members of the Arizona Route 66 Association. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) The longtime barber in Seligman, Angel Delgadillo was one of the original founding members of the Arizona Route 66 Association. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
An animated Disney film celebrates and tells the story of Route 66 and Seligman to younger generations. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) An animated Disney film celebrates and tells the story of Route 66 and Seligman to younger generations. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
John Lasseter, he creator of the movie 'Cars,' left a doodle, which now hangs in Delgadillo's gift shop. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) John Lasseter, he creator of the movie 'Cars,' left a doodle, which now hangs in Delgadillo's gift shop. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
From gifts shops to restaurants, and even cowboys on horseback along the roadway, there is so much to see in this small town. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) From gifts shops to restaurants, and even cowboys on horseback along the roadway, there is so much to see in this small town. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
SELIGMAN, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

On any given day of the week, Seligman, which is in northwest Arizona, is bustling with tourists from around the world. Most are looking to experience the mystique of the historic Route 66.  

From gifts shops to restaurants, and even cowboys on horseback along the roadway, there is so much to see in this small town. But it wasn't always this way.  

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After the federal government built Interstate 40, Route 66 was decommissioned. The new freeway bypassed the small town. 

"October 1985, the bigwigs told the world the end of Route 66. It's like it doesn't exist anymore. It's dead. Goodbye Route 66. You have I-40.  Now you can travel it," recalls 91-year-old Angel Delgadillo.

The longtime barber in Seligman, Delgadillo was one of the original founding members of the Arizona Route 66 Association.  

"That is when the town died. I mean died," he said. "You don't know what it means to be used and abused -- to be forgotten."

Known as the "mayor of the Mother Road" and "guardian Angel of Route 66," Delgadillo fought for years for the historic designation of the roadway that runs through his hometown. 

"We did not know what the word 'no' meant, and finally, the state made Route 66 historic from Seligman to Kingman," he explained. "That's when Route 66 got its historic rebirth."

[SLIDESHOW: Arizona's Family Adventures: Arizona]

That would inspire others throughout the country. Eventually, Route 66 would receive the historic designation from Illinois to Los Angeles. Delgadillo was featured in a Super Bowl commercial several years ago. 

An animated Disney film celebrates and tells the story of Route 66 and Seligman, the inspiration for Radiator Springs, to younger generations. 

"John Lasseter was here to learn from me the story of Route 66," Delgadillo says. "He interviewed me for a couple of hours, and before he left, he just went like that, drew this."

The creator of the movie "Cars" left a doodle, which now hangs in Delgadillo's gift shop. Delgadillo says Lasseter wanted to leave a part of himself, as so many do, along the historic Route 66.  

[PHOTO: John Lasseter's doodle hanging in Delgadillo's gift shop]

In fact, Delgadillo has collected bills from all over the world from visitors. He even has license plates from places like East Germany. (Note: East Germany and West Germany reunited in October 1990.)

"It's a special moment to stay here. You see it on the TV, and now I'm here. It's really amazing," says Alexandra Druensch. The German tourist was thrilled to have her picture taken with Delgadillo.

[MORE: "Good Morning Arizona"]

"When they come here, they feel at home. They feel so special because we have treated them like people have forgotten how to treat people," explains Delgadillo. "It's like they're looking for America, times of yesterday. Route 66, that's what it's all about. It's yesterday."

That's why Delgadillo says coming to his hometown of Seligman is more than just a pit stop. It's an experience, a walk back in time to a special way of life. 

[GET: A Walking Tour Guide to Historic Seligman]

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