HOLBROOK, AZ (ARIZONA HIGHWAYS TV) -- When Cheyenne Harvey of Cambridge, Massachusetts, made a recent trip to Phoenix, she went out of her way to stay at one iconic Arizona destination.
In fact, she headed 200 miles northeast of the Valley – nearly a three-hour drive to Holbrook – to stay at the quirky, the kitschy Wigwam Motel.
“This is Arizona,” Harvey said with a laugh.
This mid-century getaway – with its 15 teepee-styled lodges – first opened along historic Route 66 back on June 1, 1950.
“Most of our tourists that we get are those who really love the wigwams and who are really interested in Old Route 66,” Elinor Lewis said in an interview with Arizona Highways Television.
Harvey, being from New England, said she didn’t even know what Route 66 was. But after staying at the Wigwam, “I can tell you probably more than you ever wanted to know," she said.
Lewis’ parents built this popular pit-stop six years before the modern-day interstate highway system was given the go with the passage of the Federal Aid Highway Act, signed into law by President Dwight Eisenhower in 1956.
Route 66 was officially taken off the map in the 1980s, but a long stretch of the roadway still winds its way through northern Arizona.
And though Lewis died last month at age 82 after battling cancer, her family’s beloved motel will likely live on through tourists’ continued curiosity of the quirky, the kitschy and a piece of Arizona and American history.
“I want them to take away a dream that they’ve actually slept in a Wigwam, that they’ve had a peaceful night’s rest, that they’re in a small town, located on, you know, Highway 66 and that they can take a part of it with them,” Lewis said.