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2016 Fall Mountain Trip Part 23; former US Route 66 and US Route 89 in Williams

After leaving the Grand Canyon I headed south on Arizona State Route 64 towards Williams for the night.  While Williams is famous is being part of US Route 66 it also has significance as part of US Route 89 and the south terminus of the Grand Canyon Railroad.


This article serves the 23rd entry in the 2016 Fall Mountain Trip Series.  Part 22 on Arizona State Route 64, Grand Canyon National Park, and the western terminus of US Route 180 can be found here:

2016 Fall Mountain Trip Part 22; Arizona State Route 64, Grand Canyon National Park, and the weird west terminus of US Route 180

Williams was plotted out in 1879 as a rail siding of the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad.  Williams was named after Bill Williams who was a well known traveler of what would become the American Southwest in the early 19th century.


Williams can be seen on the Third Operating Map of the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad in 1882.


Williams is famously the last town in Arizona along the alignment of US 66 to be bypassed by I-40 which occurred on October 13, 1984.  US 66 traversed Williams on Grand Canyon Avenue eastbound and Railroad Avenue westbound through downtown.  Downtown Williams is filled with all sorts of Route 66 oriented businesses and displays a huge number of trinkets from a bygone era.


Amusingly most people tend to forget regarding Williams is that during the entire service life of US 66 it was multiplexed with US 89.   US 89 northbound followed Grand Canyon Avenue whereas US 89 southbound followed Railroad Avenue.  US 89 actually outlived US 66 by almost a decade in Williams as it wasn't truncated to Flagstaff until 1992.  US 89 even multiplexed I-40 for a time when the freeway bypass of Williams opened in 1984.

Williams is also famous for the Grand Canyon Railroad which was built in 1901 by the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad 1901.  The ATSF operated the Grand Canyon Railroad for passengers until 1968 and for freight until 1974.  The Grand Canyon Railroad changed ownership various times in the ensuing decades but reopened in 1989.  The line still operates from downtown Williams north to Grand Canyon Village in Grand Canyon National Park.





Today former US 66/US 89 in Williams is signed as Historic US 66 and the I-40 Business Loop.



Upon entering Williams I followed Railroad Avenue westbound into downtown.  Even by 2016 standards using a Crown Victoria as a scarecrow Police Car was outdated.



Williams has a small park along Railroad Avenue which has a couple vintage rail cars and even a US Route 66 shield.


Railroad Avenue westbound has Historic US 66 shields and is signed as an Arizona Scenic Highway.


Turning around onto Grand Canyon Avenue eastbound the US Route 66 motif is immediately apparent on almost every business facade.  As much as I like US 66 it would be nice to see US 89 promoted as least a little by the City of Williams. 







After I arrived at my hotel I made sure to check to see if my car was leaking fluids after hitting a deer on UT 95 during the morning hours.  Thankfully the damage to my car was "mostly" cosmetic.  Nonetheless, I ended up picking an extra bottle of coolant since the radiator was slightly pushed in from the body damage.  Regardless, I made my final push for Phoenix taking the indirect way via former US Route 89A on current Arizona State Route 89A the next morning.

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