The historic Frontier Motel in Truxton, Ariz., with its adjoining cafe and nearby bar and gas station, are under contract to soon be owned by a tour operator from New Zealand.
Sam Murray, owner of Gilligan’s Wild West Tours, said during a telephone interview the transfer of licenses through Mohave County is the only holdup to him closing on the properties. He anticipates the sale to be final by January, and the motel to reopen by mid-2014.
“I’ve always had an affinity for Route 66,” Murray said. He declined to disclose the sale price.
He said the exterior of the Frontier Motel will remain the same, but the rooms will be redecorated with early 1950s furnishings. The bar across the road will be appointed in gas station decor, although the closed gas station still won’t offer fuel.
Ray and Mildred Barker bought the Frontier Motel and Cafe along U.S. 66 in Truxton in 1957. Ray died in 1990, but Mildred continued to run the cafe until shortly before her death at age 87 in August 2012.
Murray and a friend traveled in a motor home from Pennsylvania to Laughlin, Nev., a few years ago. Talking to people along the road, he realized there was a market for Route 66 travel with New Zealander and Australian clients. He started his tour company shortly afterwards, and has three major tours booked in 2014 and four more in 2015.
Murray said he wanted to buy a vintage automobile for a future road trip. While talking to a party who was selling a 1966 Oldsmobile Delta 88 in Arizona, he realized he was talking to the relatives of Mildred Barker and discovered the motel was for sale.
“I was wanting to buy an old car, and ended up buying an old motel, too,” he said.
Murray acknowledges Truxton is a sleepy village with an appeal not readily apparent. But it has its advantages.
“Between the Grand Canyon, Kingman and Seligman, it’ll be a nice little addition to the road,” he said. “It’s not going to be a money-making thing. It’s a long-term investment. As long as it can pay its way …”
Because he plans to continue living in New Zealand, Murray says he’ll soon be looking for someone to lease the property from him to act as caretakers. “It would be ideal if I can find a couple who is into Route 66,” he said.
Parties who might be interested in running the complex can contact the Frontier Motel through its Facebook page.