Winslow has the honor of not only being a Route 66 town, but also the district headquarters of the Santa Fe, now BNSF. This meant that Winslow was not only visited by Route 66 travelers, but had such iconic Santa Fe trains as The Super Chief, and El Capitan pass through daily. One could only imagine that in the 1940's through early 60's between Route 66 and the daily precession of Santa Fe passenger trains, Winslow was a busseling travel mecca.
But did you know Winslow also has passenger aviation history as well? This fact was bought to public intetest thanks to a traveling exhibit that the Smithsonian, in conjunction with the Winslow Old Trails Museum, and La Posada Hotel, bought to Winslow last week as part of its "Journey Stories" tour. One of the exhibits and lectures made the world aware of this forgotten part of Winslow's and avaitions history. The TAT or Transcontinental Air Transport airline came to being in 1928, flying its first flights in 1929 offering a hybrid of air and rail transport to deliver passengers from New York to LA or San Francisco in 48 hours.
Winslow was a fueling stop on the second air leg of the westbound trip. But by no means was Winslow nothing more then a runway and a fuel tank. The airport itself was state of the art at the time designed by Charles Lindbergh, giving the airport part of its name Winslow-Lindbergh.
Sadly, the TAT was short lived and after an accident a few months after the first flights TAT was forced to emerge with other airlines that would eventually became TWA. By the mid-1930's non-stop passenger travel also became more prevalent, especially with the development of the sturdy DC-3 by Douglas in the late 1930's. This meant that Winslow not being a major city was bypassed by most major airlines, however the airport lived on serving the military in World War 2 as a USAAF Transport base. The airport still serves general aviation, US Forest Service fire planes, and occasionally some military.
It's interesting to note that between Route 66, Santa Fe's operations, and the potential of the TAT Winslow was in fact a Western travel hub in 1929. I would have to suggest definitely spending time in Winslow if you can, make sure to stop by and see the Old Trails Museum, and the La Posada which is worth staying and/or eating at. I would have to suggest seeing both since you can learn all about Winslows place in transportation history from both places,since they work hand and hand with each other to present a complete picture. If you in to train watching or your kids are, Winslow has a lot to offer as well.
TAT Ford Tri-motor flown by Charles Lindbergh.
I'll cover the TAT more in future blog postings