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Route 66 Wednesdays; Williams, AZ

East of Ash Fork US 66 would have entered the community of Williams.


Williams was founded in 1881 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.

1882 Atlantic and Pacific Railroad Third Operating Division Map

Williams is famously the last town in Arizona along the alignment of US 66 to be bypassed by I-40 which occurred in late 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. 








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.





Williams is generally considered to be the gateway to the Grand Canyon.  East of downtown Williams US 66 would have once had a junction with Arizona State Route 64 which is the primary route north to Grand Canyon National Park.


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