By: Paul S. Cilwa Viewed: 2/21/2020
Occurred: 5/10/2019
Posted: 1/15/2020
Topics/Keywords: #Arizona #TheThing #Thing #Travel Page Views: 181
An out-of-the-way place that's out of this world.

In 1926, the first US Highway, designated 66, was constructed, with signs going up the following year. All along its way, roadside attractions popped up, intended to separate newbie tourists from their money. The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota, Car Henge, and so on, were soon not limited to US 66 but also festooned other highways as they were designated.

The Thing, as it was called, an apparent mummified mother and child, was displayed in its current location from 1965 on. Originally, it and other dusty curiosities were displayed in three corrugated iron shacks behind the building (which housed a gift shop). The exhibit used to cost one dollar for adults and seventy-five cents for children to enter.

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In August 2018, the Bowlin Travel Centers unveiled a brand new modern museum building and other updates to house, in some order or theme, most of the items formerly "stored" in the three sheds. The new owners have also added a new Alien and Dinosaur theme that visitors first encounter upon entering the museum. In addition to the upgrades, the cost of admission has also increased to $5 per person or $10 per family, which, given today's prices, I find quite reasonable.

Of course, the modern museum is somewhat Disneyfied, with lots of well-made (and researched) models of dinosaurs...

...and well-made (but less researched) models of aliens.

In keeping with traditional conspiracy theories, aliens are blamed for every significant human event.

LOL, and what if? it wasn't?

The first time I visited The Thing was before Bowlin bought it. The "mummies" were in a deep freeze, a solid block of ice, that made them almost impossible to make out—certainly impossible to validate that they were, indeed, actual mummies.

The lighting and display are now much-improved. But the museum doesn't tell the real story.

The original origin of The Thing was reported by syndicated columnist Stan Delaplane, who interviewed the owner's wife in 1956. She told him, "[A] man came through here about six years ago. He had three of [the bodies] he got somewhere. He was selling them for $50." However, it now appears that the mummies were created by one Homer Tate, a Phoenix resident who made sideshow exhibits such as faux shrunken heads.

The area around The Thing is quite beautiful, which is why the original owner chose this location after his first didn't work out.

In conclusion, I recommend stopping here, just to break the monotony of a long drive, and because $3 admission to support a free, clean restroom is well worth the money.