As western Arizona and the Colorado River Valley experiences some of the most extreme climates in the United States cold beer is a popular commodity, especially during the long months of summer. Mudshark Brewery and Public House in Lake Havasu City, Arizona has been meeting that need with ice cold name brand beers, and their specialty, unique craft beers since 1998.
There was a time, however, when cold beer was somewhat of a luxury. Unless a community was fortunate enough to have a brewery, beer delivery in western Arizona was a challenging endeavor in the years between WWI and WWII.
The National Old Trails Road connected Kingman with the mining towns of Oatman, Old Trails, and Goldroad to the west, and Hackberry and Seligman to the east. It was a dusty, rutted road little different from territorial era trails. The Black Mountains presented a unique challenge as grades on the west side of Sitgreaves Pass exceeded an astounding 25%!
In 1920 and 1921 a new and “improved” road was carved from the steep canyon walls. Grades of 12 and 14% were more manageable. From 1926 until 1952 this would be the course for iconic Route 66.
Passenger cars in the 1920s and 1930s were primitive with few amenities. Trucks were archaic and even Spartan.
Before 1932, Ford trucks lacked a fuel pump. And before 1926 the gas tank was under the seat. As a result, this required trucks to be backed up the steep grades.
Brakes were another issue. On Ford’s they were mechanical, like the parking or hand brake in modern cars. And they were only on the rear wheels.
Trucks produced by other manufacturers such as Mack, Dodge, International, and Republic were marginally better in regard to brakes, fuel systems, and load capacity. Still, little thought was given to the driver’s comfort.
Most large trucks lacked doors. Some had fully open cabs. There were no heaters, and air conditioning was a complete unknown.
Central Commercial Company based in Kingman, Arizona pioneered trucking and beer distribution in western Arizona. The company operated stores in Oatman, Chloride, Goldroad, and Seligman, and delivered goods to Hackberry, Wickiup, and Topock.
The Central Commercial Company on Beale and Fourth Street in Kingman opened on August 20, 1917. It was a gala celebration. A nearly full-page advertisement in the Mohave Miner read, quote, “Central Commercial Company successor to Lovin & Withers cordially invite you to the opening of their new store. Music by Los Angeles Colored Orchestra. Dance by above at open air pavilion 9:00 P.M.”
Before the end of the year the company was establishing or serving stores throughout northern and western Arizona. This was accomplished with a fleet of new Dodge trucks.
The next time you gather with friends at Mudshark Brewery and Public House on a hot summers’ afternoon, take a moment, raise a glass, and toast the unsung heroes of the past that quenched the thirst of travelers, miners, and cowboys.
Written by Jim Hinckley of Jim Hinckley’s America