October 19, 2004 Volume 4 Issue 24
A special Bakers Dozen ...
Riding for Fun & Profit
Some of you will say this is a motorcycle story. And you are right. Others will see it as I did - a wonderful marketing idea.
The Dunlop Tire folks teamed up with the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) to sponsor a riding tour. Something any AMA member could do at anytime. On their own or with a group.
Okay, where's the marketing? Simple! For the AMA it is another member service. For Dunlop it is more. They sell tires. They sell more motorcycle tires when more riders ride more. So, they created a reason to ride. I, for one, bought in ... this is what happened.
"America's Smallest" Grand Tour was a 2004 riding season activity ... it officially ran from April through November. The idea was to tour as many of the 50 states as you could squeeze in, and visit the smallest incorporated 'place' within each state. For some states a non-incorporated place was chosen if there was no appropriate 'small' place that fit the rules.
Our smallest state is Rhode Island, which holds the 'largest smallest' place, Block Island with 820 people. Which doesn't sound very small to me. For Indiana the smallest place is New Amsterdam with a population of just 1. Only five states have as their smallest place a triple digit of population, like Rhode Island ... 13 states have nine or fewer living within their boundaries, like Indiana.
To get the list of towns and details of the tour cost just $13. The AMA handled all the paper work. There was a measure of success; by visiting just three of the cities/towns on the list earns you recognition. When you show proof of getting 10 or more you receive even more. If you live in the New England area ten states could be visited on a long week-end ride. For us in the west, it's a little more difficult.
The idea of riding to some of these way out of the way places tickled me, so I decided to take a look at the 17 States I was cruising through over the summer and see if I could dog-leg in a stop or more someplace along the way. Here's what I did in about 40 days in July and August.
As I headed northward from central California in late July, Granite, Oregon was way out of the way - so I skipped it. Apples are almost everywhere in central Washington state ... and that includes the area around Vantage, Washington. Vantage, sitting on I-90 at the Columbia River, was an option, so I took it ... it became my first " America's Smallest" city.
It is little more than a full service oversized truck stop - several restaurants, gasoline stations, convenience stores, and a 'resort' offering lodging. It's a busy place for the 70 residents serving travelers during vacation time - as the river draws many travelers.
Outdoor activities are close by, including rock climbing, water skiing, golf, hiking, fishing and hunting. When I went through the town was filled with boaters filling up their coolers, stomachs and water craft.
Warm River, Idaho was my second 'smallest'. Nestled on Idaho highway #47, an extremely beautiful winding road made for a motorcycle, located in the eastern part of the state.
Not sure if all 10 residents were about when I went through - there was a fly fisherman in the water - the most popular activity of the area. The close by campground was busy, filled with families. The area is just south of Targhee National Forest and looks like a wonderful area for a holiday. It is clean and green and appears inviting.
Third was Ismay, Montana, sitting on a Burlington Northern Railway line. Well, Ismay is what it says on the list and every Montana map I took a look at. Yet, the 20 something people of this small ag community have another story.
The road is off State #12, at the end of six miles of dirt, gravel, washboard ... and the day I took it, wet. From the downpour the day before. The wind was blowing it dry or it would have been a slick six mile ride.
Rounding the last bend I see what appears to be a deserted town. There is a church ahead -I ride that way and find a very beautiful building, with a large stained glass window and the services schedule posted. I take a picture, and head one block back. Several times I'd seen a sign saying ' Joe, MT'. Didn't think much of it until I met Virginia at the Post Office. Who told me the story.
In 1993 a Kansas City radio station dreamed up the idea to name a city in Montana after the NFL football quarterback, first with the San Francisco 49er's and later the Kansas City Chiefs, Joe Montana. The station called around asking which city fathers would go for the idea of a name change - to Joe, MT. Ismay did.
So, on July 3, 1993 they tossed a huge event, raised a ton of dough selling T-shirts, coffee mugs and such, built a community center, and through the year 2000 continued to celebrate. This is what happens off the beaten path.
The smallest in Wyoming is Lost Springs, a true tiny place my list says has only one resident.
It does have several buildings, including a bar, and is well marked from US highway #20, just across the railroad tracks. Yet, today Lost Spring is in a growth period. The highway sign says they have four, the fellow at the general store/post office said six. I found a marker from the 200th birthday of the USA in 1976 where they listed seven. My, how times change.
Next stop was in southern Kansas and the town of Freeport, population six. It is just north of Oklahoma, and the smallest, Lambert, population nine. My map shows these two smallest cities less than 80 miles apart ... yet, it was over 120 miles for me due to road construction.
The dirt road to Freeport goes right through farm land - like much of the rest of Kansas. The town hosts a Presbyterian Church with about 60 members. The Church is in the National Registry of Historic Places.
The Historic people might want to put the bank on their list, too. As Freeport is the smallest incorporated city in America with its own bank, founded January 2, 1902. At least there is a stenciled sign on the window that says so. Inside the bank looks like a lift from a very old grade 'B' western movie. You can "see" Billy the Kid coming through the front door.
Lambert almost doesn't exist at all any more. I doubt that nine people live there today.
There is a sign on the highway ... yet, when you follow the directions it leads to nothing. I stopped and asked a forklift driver loading an 18 wheel flatbed "is this Lambert?" His response was "yes, use to be a town here, a school and all. Now we use the gymnasium for a hay barn. " The truck being loaded with hay was taking it to a horse ranch in Florida ... I know because the driver told me.
Technically Lambert exists - really it does not.
Several days ride south of Lambert is Guerra, Texas, a place of eight people. The towns Red Barn Grocer is closed, the post office keeps banker hours, yet, there is no bank. Down the road is a small collection of over grown cattle auction pens. The place hosts a ranch that has been there since 1868. Out front are both Texas and USA flags.
During my many trips across Texas I've noticed cities and towns and counties get named after current and local personalities. I think this philosophy applies to Guerra - as a sign on a barbed wire fence advertised a Guerra for commissioner. Ah, local politics - even in a town of eight.
One thinks of Arizona and deserts. Well, Jerome, Arizona is different. It sits almost a mile high, hanging on Cleopatra Hill, with switch backs into and out of. During the 1920's Jerome had 15,000 residents ... today it is big small place with a population of 329. I lived in Arizona for a dozen years in a much smaller place - Roll - the difference is Jerome is incorporated, Roll is not.
Founded in 1876, Jerome was a copper mining town. Today it is a tourist 'trap', with bars, restaurants and curio shops filling the main street. At one time the police chief of Jerome, retired from the Phoenix PD, was a Harley rider. I know - we did a ride together to the Grand Canyon north and south rims one long September week-end. His name is mine - Ray.
The scores of times I've driven I-15 from southern California to Las Vegas and points north and east I've passed close to the good sized place of Goodsprings, Nevada, population 232. Now I've been there.
The town was named after a Mr. Joseph Good who headquartered his cattle raising operation there. At first the site was known as Good's Springs - eventually the two words came together and Goodsprings is now the name.
Goodsprings is seven miles 'behind' Jean, Nevada, at the end of state highway #161. I couldn't find the post office ... I did find the elementary school, the library trailer, a community center and a lone bar, doing light business on a Wednesday evening. My guess is most residents work the hotels and casinos in Jean ... I bet they car-pool the seven miles.
In the late 1990's Goodsprings was identified as hosting the falling down Pioneer Saloon, believed to be oldest building in Nevada. I find this interesting, as a town in northern Nevada, Genona, say they have the oldest building, also a bar. This undoubtedly makes for an interesting debate between residents.
In the heart of the Greater Los Angeles area is tiny Vernon, California. Founded in 1905, the city emblem carries these words; "Exclusively Industrial". And it is ... with scores of light manufacturing and service businesses, and a population of less than 100.
It is somewhat amazing that nearly 100 years ago there was the foresight that a business only 'city' was needed. Then, as now, many hundreds, even thousands, pass by or through Vernon. Just as I did on famous Slauson Boulevard. Every day some stay to work ... and then go home every evening to suburbia.
Today Vernon has an A class 1 Rated fire department and 60 police officers. Vernon remains industrial.
Ophir, Utah began in 1865, named after King Solomon's mines. It became a 6000 population mining town with it's own railroad spur.
Today it remains at the head of a beautiful and steep canyon, four miles off state highway #73, southwest of Salt Lake City. The Monday morning I rode in none of the 23 people who today live there were about ... the town was quiet.
Today it looks more like a summer holiday retreat, a get away place. It was most probably empty as the fall semester of school had begun in the valley below - the families had gone home and the businesses were on a week-end schedule.
Ophir appears to be a very Americana place. They recently held a 'Day', the many American red/white/blue flags still flying from every available pole. And the other 'sign' that says this is America was one posted at almost every plot; Private Property.
Bonanza, Colorado is almost in the center of the state - a place I've ridden close to many times on US highway #285. It is 14 miles in on Colorado LL#56, the first five miles black-top, and then nine miles of maintained dirt and gravel.
As with many of these out of the way places, the origin was mining. And when either the ore was gone or the need changed or the price dropped the place became a ghost town. This is the short story for Bonanza.
Much of Bonanza is falling down, yet there are nice homes - several on the market. It seems to be a serious place for the 14 folks who live there. As a posted sign reads this way; "City Requires Building and Septic Permits. Inquire - City Clerk. "
There was nobody about the day I went through - save a single parked car. Which makes the direction sign to the local cemetery all the more interesting, as above it on the same post is this black on yellow message; "Slow ... Children Playing". None were. On the gravel road, in the yards or amongst the aspen trees in the cemetery.
The 13 th smallest place visited was Grenville, New Mexico - home to 25 people, in the northeast corner of the state. Just as my first stop (Vantage, Washington) was on a major highway, Grenville sits on US highways #64 & 87 - a main route to Oklahoma and Texas.
As I drove toward the post office two people were exiting - one turned and locked the door. She is the Postmaster of this village ... the gent with her the boss from the nearby town of Des Moines. We had a nice chat - they both knew Grenville is the smallest incorporated city in New Mexico.
In another era there was a motel, restaurant and a gas station. None of these exist today. About every other building was boarded up, or should have been. The main growth of Grenville is wild sunflowers and daisy's.
For this season this is it - 13 of America's smallest cities. Although I did not keep a separate count, I know my total mileage during this time was nearly 13,000 miles. My best guess is I rode something like 15-20% MORE than the I would have without the Dunlop incentive.
And I found it so much fun I hope Dunlop sponsors the event again in 2005 and makes it year long. I'd like to begin my new search for more of these out of the way places on my ride to and from Daytona in the spring.
At the end of August I wrote an article about planning ahead. Thinking for 2005.
Several of you commented - I received more response than to any other summer thought.
For the rest - for those who still have not planned their marketing for the new year - there is this thought from Anonymous.
"If it weren't for the last minute, nothing would get done."
The RJm Story
It's common to ask people what they do. When you meet someone for the first time you often ask something like "what do you do?"
What do YOU answer? My quick response always is I am a professional speaker and a writer. If you need a speaker, and would like to know more about the marketing seminars I offer please visit www.powerdirectmarketing.com
If you're looking for a more about the creative writing the RJm team does for clients just about everywhere, visit www.rayjutkins.com
Of course, you can call Nancy or me @+1+760-376-1858. Or by sending your E-mail message to Ray@RayJutkins.com.
by ROCKINGHAM*JUTKINS*marketing, all rights reserved.