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The SnoCap and Seligman Arizona

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The SnoCap and Seligman Arizona
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"You said 'ice cream,' ma'am. You said 'ice cream.'" Juan Delgadillo, owner of the Snow Cap burger shop in Seligman, AZ turns to me, with a sly expression of nonchalance on his face, and says, "This is ice cream, no?" Ask for an ice cream cone, and you will receive a cup full of ice, some soft serve, and cone to top it all off. Ice cream. Makes sense. Ask for a straw and you will get a bundle of hay. And, before you leave, you will have been squirted with fake mustard or ketchup at least twice. It is these practical jokes that bring simple joy to Juan Delgadillo and his son Robert and keep customers pouring into the Snow Cap.

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Seligman~
Route 66 Town

Arizona Route 66


Seligman, Arizona is a Route 66 town all the way. This delightful town retains all the flavor of the old road. A trip down Route 66 in Seligman is a trip back in time to the days when Route 66 was the Main Street of America. Founded in 1895 after the completion of the "Peavine" Railroad (see Ash Fork) the railroad camp known as Prescott Junction officially became Seligman and was an important railroad stop along the line. Seligman embraced Route 66 wholeheartedly upon its arrival in the late 1920’s. The railroad and tourist traffic from Route 66 became Seligman's main source of economic security. In the late 1970's Seligman was bypassed by the Interstate and the Santa Fe Railroad ceased its operations in the town in 1985. Many old towns with similar histories would have faded away once they were bypassed, but not Seligman.

 

 

Copper Cart Neon

Famous Copper Cart Restaurant in Seligman

 

The Copper Cart in Seligman is still open and going strong.

   
As I drove down Route 66, evidence of the glory days of the old road could be seen all along the main street. Motels such as the Aztec across the street from the famous Snow Cap, with its quirky tongue and cheek menu, cafes such as the Copper Cart and 66 Road Kill, and numerous Route 66 gift shops were all survivors of the Mother Road. To me, Seligman seemed to preserve the best of the fun days of Route 66. I had to get out of my car and explore Seligman on foot.
   
Supai Motel

 

Many old survivors of  Route 66 line main street in Seligman.

Road Kill Steak House

 

What's on the menu today?

No moon last night so we have a full menu today. Would you like a cup of coffee to go with your chef's surprise?

There is so much to see in Seligman. I must have looked like a regular tourist as I went up and down the street taking pictures for this web site.
   

Juan Delgadillo and the Famous Snow Cap Drive-In

Famous Delgadillo's Snow Cap Diner In 1953, working on a shoestring budget, Juan Delgadillo built the Snow Cap Drive-In from scrap lumber. Fifty years later his small Route 66 business is known worldwide. Yes it has great food, but perhaps the real reason the Snow Cap has become a Route 66 Icon is Juan himself. He has become the Route 66 Clown and loves to make people laugh. People come here to see Juan Delgadillo and to laugh with him as he amuses the Snow Cap customer with his off-the-wall antics. For Juan the customer is all-important and he promotes Route 66 one person at a time. Life is to be enjoyed and Juan enjoys it to the fullest. Let him pass some of this enjoyment on to you.

 

With a twinkle in his eye, Juan will serve up laughs as well as good old all American food!

The Snow Cap Truck

Juan and Angel Delgadillo
Juan and Angel Delgadillo have been preserving Route 66 in Seligman all their lives
~ whether they knew it or not!

Route 66 Update: On June 2, 2004 Juan Delgadillo passed away. He will be sorely missed by all who knew him. His zany antics at the Snow Cap entertained Route 66 travelers from around the world. His legacy will live on at the Snow Cap through Juan's sons John and Robert who continue the tradition of fun that made the Snow Cap and Juan a Route 66 legend.

Angel of Route 66

As I walked up the street I stopped at the Route 66 Gift Shop. I was hoping to find some more refrigerator magnets, post cards and trinkets of the Mother Road for my collection. As I was browsing among the cool memorabilia, a rear door to the shop opened and an older gentleman entered. Though I had never met him before, he looked strangely familiar. We made our introductions and it was then that I realized who he was. Angel Delgadillo! I was in the presence of a Route 66 legend. I mentioned reading his interview in Michael Wallis’s book. Angel then indicated a row of books on the counter, "I think I’m mentioned somewhere in every one of those books," he said smiling. "I must have given over 200 interviews in my day." I flipped open one of the Route 66 books and saw Angel’s picture over the caption, Mayor of Route 66. "Well, that’s what they call me in that book," he laughed. As we talked about Route 66 I could see the genuine love of the old road reflected in his eyes. (The first time I met Angel Delgadillo ~ March 2001)
Angel Delgadillo's Route 66 Gift Shop

 

You haven't been to Seligman if you haven't stopped at the Route 66 Gift Shop and said hi to Angel!

Route 66 Icons - Angel & Vilma Delgadillo

 

Angel and Vilma Delgadillo still greet visitors to their beloved Seligman.

   
When Interstate 40 bypassed the small Route 66 town of Seligman life changed for the Delgadillos forever. Seligman was in danger of becoming just another Route 66 ghost town. Angel Delgadillo, the town's barber, saw his town fading fast. Seligman was becoming a relic of another era and it made Angel angry.
     
How could life on the highway just bypass them like that? The hopes and dreams of hard working Route 66 people not just in Seligman, but all up and down the Mother Road was in jeopardy. Angel had to do something. It never ceases to amaze me how one person can make all the difference in the world. Angel was that one person and he made a big difference.

Mirna, Vilma and Angel Delgadillo
Mirna, Vilma and Angel Delgadillo

       
I don't think even Angel realized the impact he would have on Route 66 when he helped start the Historic Route 66 Association of Arizona. He brought attention to the plight of Route 66 and was instrumental in starting the Arizona Fun Run. His Route 66 Gift Shop is a Mecca to Route 66 enthusiasts from all over the world today. The spirit of the Mother Road can be found in Angel's eyes as he tells the history of Route 66 to eager travelers. Thanks to the efforts of Angel and others like him the Mother Road will not be forgotten but live again for generations to come. Honored as one of Arizona's CultureKeepers, I think Angel's philosophy of life can be summed up by something he once said:

"Arizona, the state where I was born, has been my home all my life. Seventy-six years. And like any other state in America, it is the land of the free; where opportunities are not limited, where we the people, if we choose, can make the difference."

 

Seligman Pool Hall

This old pool hall is located on the original alignment of Route 66 through Seligman, before it was moved a block north to its present location. Across the street from the railroad tracks and just down the block from the old Seligman Railroad Depot and Harvey House, this was an ideal location for this gaming establishment. Angel Delgadillo's father owned and operated the Seligman Pool Hall during the early years of Route 66. If these walls could talk, what wondrous stories they could tell of those wild old days. Seligman was alive with the hustle and bustle of  travelers from both the Railroad and Route 66.

 
 
 

 
 


 ngel was born in a house on the main thoroughfare in Seligman, AZ, April 19, 1927 on Route 66. The dirt road out front was the main east-west artery and would become the paved Route 66 within a few years after his birth. His parents, Angel and Juanita Delgadillo, raised nine children, Angel being third from the youngest.

He and his siblings attended Seligman High School, with Angel graduating in 1947.

Angel and his brothers and sisters grew up watching the traffic flow by on America's Main Street. Angel grew up seeing the folks from the Dust Bowl Era driving by in their automobiles full of everything they owned. It was an amazing caravan of poor folks heading west, seeking opportunities to better their lives.

There were tough times for the Delgadillo family and at one time they, too, considered loading up the family Model T to follow the road to the sunset. But, they hung on.


Delgadillo Family Orchestra - 1948

Angel and his brothers and sisters started playing "Big Band" music at towns and cities all along Route 66. Their musical skills kept food on the table for the close-knit family.

Angel followed his father's career. He attended the American Pacific Barber College in Pasadena, Calif., on Route 66. He served his apprenticeship in Williams, Ariz., on Route 66, from 1948 to 1950.

Angel began shaving beards and clipping hair in Seligman in 1950 and continued through 1996. In 1996, he semi-retired.


A young customer receives
his first haircut

In 1959, Angel Delgadillo and Vilma Rampelotto wed. They had four children, Angel III, Martha, Mirna, and Clarissa. They raised their children in Seligman.

On September 22, 1978, at 2:00 p.m., Angel Delgadillo the barber in Seligman, Ariz., watched his hometown begin to die when the Interstate Highway system replaced Route 66 as the primary means for automobile travel in the Western United States.

For Angel Delgadillo and many who worked and raised their families along the route, it was a sad day. Many stood on the quiet street, looking either way and realizing the world had forgotten them.

Seligman joined the list of death-row towns condemned by the very brand of progress that originally energized them - a new, faster highway system. Businesses closed, people left, buildings decayed.

There were talks of trying to attract industry to the town, but Angel Delgadillo had another idea. He was raised on Route 66. He watched caravans of farmers make their way along the road toward a new life in California. Angel knew the power of memory and myth, and he knew that the key to Seligman's survival ran down the center of town.


The original Route 66 Gift Shop

Angel was one of the moving forces in the founding of the Historic Route 66 Association of Arizona and in 1987 successfully lobbied the Arizona Legislature to designate and preserve Route 66 in Arizona as an historic highway. Thereafter, following Arizona's lead, the seven states along Route 66 formed associations (California, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, and Illinois). At last count, there are seven international associations as well.

Angel has become the unofficial spokesperson and "Guardian Angel" for Route 66. He is passionate about preserving and promoting Route 66, its stories, and its memories so that it will no longer be forgotten.

Angel has retired from cutting hair, though he often obliges visitors. He and his wife, Vilma, sit in their dimly lit museum adjacent to the barbershop, listen to songs of the "Big Band Era" on a phonograph and greet visitors.

Now and then he walks outside, tilts his plastic visor against the blazing sun and looks down the Chino Street section of old Route 66 toward the Interstate 40 ramp. And he worries no more about people and roads that pass Seligman by.

New signs, new paving, and a nostalgia for small town Americana with its mom and pop burger shops, full-service gas stations and home town atmosphere all have contributed to the rebirth of Seligman as one of the most classic and charming Route 66 towns in the West.


Juan Delgadillo's world famous
Snow Cap

A drive down Main Street Seligman today is a trip into the past with Angel's Barbershop, the Snow Cap Drive-In and the Copper Cart restaurant, just to name a few. The world-famous Snow Cap was owned and operated by Angel's brother, Juan Delgadillo, who was famous for having fun with unsuspecting tourists. Juan and Mary Delgadillo established the Snow Cap Drive-In in Seligman, Arizona in 1953 along Route 66. The building was built by Juan, along with his father and his brothers, out of scrap lumber he collected while working for the railroad. Juan retired from the railroad and worked everyday at the Snow Cap until the day he died, June 2, 2004 at the age of 88. Juan became well known through many magazines and newspaper articles as one of the co-founders of Historic Route 66. He was cherished by tourists for the antics he pulled on them while they were trying to order food and drinks.

The Snow Cap is perhaps one of the most wackiest, off-beat burger joints around. Many people will stop and say that the place is the same as it was when they came here as a young person. Today, visitors from Europe, Germany, Japan and other countries, as well as those from the United States seek the nostalgia of Historic Route 66 and the jokes that are famous at the Snow Cap. Juan’s two sons, Robert and John, along with his daughter Cecilia and wife Mary continue the tradition of serving up a generous dose of humor along with some of the best red chiliburgers and tacos, not to mention great shakes and soft ice cream.


Angel and Vilma Delgadillo

Angel and Vilma Delgadillo's memorabilia and barbershop attract thousands of visitors each year from all over the world - from families traveling through.

The building's décor hasn't changed in fifty years. It is filled with antiques, Route 66 memorabilia, an enormous business card collection and stacks of photo albums with pictures sent from visitors who immediately become part of the Route 66 legacy.

Come and visit Angel and Vilma's old-fashioned Route 66 Gift Shop and Museum. We appreciate you stopping by and we thank you for helping to keep Route 66 alive.



Gift Shop | The History of Route 66 | Seligman, AZ
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Seligman, Arizona - Delgadillo's Snow Cap Drive-In

Address: 301 E Chino Ave, Seligman, AZ [Show Map]
Directions: On old Route 66 at the east end of town on the south side of the street. Take either exit #121 or #123 from I-40.
Phone: 988-422-3291
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Vacation and road trip planning caution: Visitor tips may not be verified. Call attractions for most current hours and admission. Send Updates.

 Seligman, Arizona - Delgadillo's Snow Cap

My uncle was the clown prince of Route 66, in Seligman, Arizona. As a boy growing up there I watched Juan, my grandfather, uncles, and my dad help build the Snow Cap.

From the start, Juan pulled his tricks on all who came in; as the years went by, things were added to the Snow Cap. Each time we went to visit there was always something new, whether it was a trick or the outside decor.

My cousins are taking up where my uncle left off. It is great fun and good food, even if you are served dead chicken sandwiches or cheese burgers with cheese.

We all miss Juan, we know he watches over the place at all times. [Ted Moore (Phoenix, Arizona), 12/18/2006]



Seligman, Arizona - Delgadillo's Snow Cap Drive-In

I was saddened to hear about Juan's death on the radio back in June of 2004. We had been planning a Route 66 trip for several years, and meeting Juan was one of the "musts." We thought when we made our trip in 2006 that the Sno Cap might not be the same, and may not even be open for business. Imagine our great surprise when we not only found the Sno Cap alive and well, but Juan's clone as well! I got "squirted" with the yellow mustard, and was offered real sucky, sucky straws! I purchased a print of the Sno Cap and had Juan's son ship it to me (we were on motorcycles) and to my delight, the postage was all Jim Hensen's Muppet stamps. He made me laugh 1,000 miles away! Thanks Delgadillo's! Juan would be proud! [Becky Collins, 11/23/2006]



 Seligman, Arizona - Delgadillo's Snow Cap Drive-In

I convinced my girlfriend to stop by Seligman with me on our way back from the Grand Canyon, after reading about the Snow Cap on this site.

I had a good laugh though when we walked up and my girlfriend saw the "Closed" sign to which her first reaction was "Wait, is this place open?" despite the people we saw eating when we pulled up. Fortunately, I had heard about some of the jokes before going, so I did not fall for the fake doorknob. My girlfriend, however, did.

We got inside, and we realized we only had about 13 bucks cash on us. She asked Juan's son if they take credit card (Juan's son is a spitting image of his father). In true friendly fashion, he said "what do you want, we'll make it work." I, of course, responded, "Ok, then we'll take one of everything...", to which he squirt the mustard at us. I'll admit that even though I had read about it, I was still caught by surprise. Juan's son laughed and we agreed that it was an "oldie but a goodie."

I knew the place was historic, but I was surprised to see a famous Route 66 painting and realize that it was the Snow Cap pictured in the painting. It was also a bit surprising when a bus full of British tourists pulled up, but I'm glad because I'm sure it helps keep the business going. The food was great, and we had a good time. Man, those cheesebrugers with cheese sure are fantastic! [James C, 09/10/2006]



 Seligman, Arizona - Delgadillo's Snow Cap Drive-In

My wife and I visited the Snow Cap this summer and enjoyed our visit. We arrived before the restaurant was open so we went up the road to the Delgadillo gift store and barber shop. I had a haircut by Angel, Juan's brother, and my wife strolled the store. The store is a bastion of the history of Seligman and the Delgadillo family.

Even though Juan has passed away, his comic legacy has indeed continued with the whole Snow Cap crew. The gags and fake door continue to fool people, even me, and I was warned before I went. Careful about asking for a straw when you are there. The burger and the malt was great. [Gary R., 08/31/2006]



Seligman, Arizona - Delgadillo Snow Cap - Family Continues Practical Joke Legacy

Thanks for the kind words about my dad. Just wanting to see the memories my father left, I came across this web site. My father left me and my brothers (and 82 year old mom) a hard act to follow, but we certainly are having fun trying. We will continue to make cheeseburgers with cheese, give you dirty and used napkins and serve my dad's famous dead chicken, even squirt mustard at you...in memory of him. He did it for 52 years; we will carry his legacy 52 more. We miss him dearly too, but he is still there. We feel him watching our every move, making sure we put a smile on every customer that comes back for more, or first time visitors. Everyone, come by and have a little fun and a small coke (you'll see what I mean...). - Cecilia, Daughter of Juan [Cecilia Alvarado, 01/29/2005]

 

We made our usual trip to the SnoCap for the best food and entertainment on the planet! The food was excellent, the entertainment was fabulous, but one thing was missing. Above the order window was a letter from the Governor of the State of Arizona sending her condolences to the family of Juan Degadillo on his passing. I was so saddened by this because Juan was the Sno Cap!

His daughter and son were running the place and they are doing a wonderful job of it , keeping all the old jokes and tricks alive, but Juan will be missed so much by so many. We toured his garden, and took some photos etc on our visit. When we sat down to eat a young man was coming around the corner and tried to open the fake door to the restaurant. he finally figured it out went to the real door and grabbed the fake doornob (this always gets me too ) and tried to gain entry. After a few tries, he finally figured it out and went inside giggling at himself. We were laughing too. I felt a little better because I knew at that moment Juan was around, looking at us and laughing, too.

My deepest sympathies goes out to the family of this man, but I know that as long as this place is around, Juan will never be gone. Now everyone: Go get that Cheeseburger with Cheese and dont be surprised about the little extras you get with it . And be sure to laugh for Juan ! He'd appreciate that ! [Joe and Vikki Rhoan, 09/12/2004]



Seligman, Arizona - Delgadillo's Snow Cap Drive-In - Farewell Juan

Juan Delgadillo passed away June 2, 2004, and will be missed dearly. He was my uncle, and even though I didn't see him too often lately, I love and miss him and his fun take on life. The Sno Cap will live on just as Juans' spirit and we all will laugh and tell our stories of our time with him, but a legend has gone on. God Bless you Juan. [Dale Rincon, 06/03/2004]



Seligman, Arizona - Delgadillo's Snow Cap Drive-In

We just took a road trip to Arizona. On the way back from northern AZ, we stopped at the Sno Cap Cafe. It didn't look like much at first but we gave it a try. It was on a Monday and pretty quiet. However, once we walked in and Mr. Delgadillo started his crazy jokes, our four year old went wild. It was almost the best part of our trip for him. He loved Mr. Delgado's antics and for days after was talking about them and would get into hysterical laughing in remembrance. When he asked for an ice-cream cone, Mr. Delgadillo gave him a cup of ice with "cream" on it. When my son said he asked for a cone, he stuck a cone on top. When we asked for a whole cone, he showed up with a cone with a hole in it. Our son couldn't stop laughing. This is definitely a chapter in his scrapbook to remember days gone by on Route 66 and a very friendly and funny gentleman who made a road trip very fun. [Rose Wesley, 05/16/2004]



Seligman, Arizona - Delgadillo's Snow Cap Drive-In

The Snow Cap is still alive and kicking. Juan was present as always. We never miss an opportunity to stop by when we travel. We crave those Cheeseburgers with Cheese and those malts! This time we got a special treat -- little happy face french fries with our order as well as the bail of straw, slightly used napkins, and the usual squirt from the mustard container. After one of the sons took our order, Juan came out to greet us and politely asked us if we were ready to order. I ( Vikki) explained that we had just ordered from one of his sons. He looked at me totally straight faced and said "M'am, I'm the only one here." Well I had to think about it for a minute because we had just driven a straight 25 hours and I was just loopy enough to believe him. Then we all busted out laughing! What a great guy! [Vikki and Joe Rhoan, 09/19/2003]



Seligman, Arizona - Delgadillo's Snow Cap Drive-In

This would be a typical mom and pop hamburger stand if it weren'r for one Juan Delgadillo who is a real practical joker. The door to the store has several doorknobs on either side of it. You are greeted with a sign in the window that says, "Sorry, We're Open." The menu includes "Hamburgers without Ham," "Cheeseburgers with Cheese," and the ever popular "Dead Chicken." Snow Cap is across from the Route 66 Roadkill Cafe and a Chinese fast food place which also sells hamburgers (the sign says, "If you really want hamburgers, go to Snow Cap!" [Bill Long, 07/06/2002]

 

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