One of the most iconic roads in the world, and most definitely the most iconic of in the USA runs through 8 different states and for over 2400 miles from Chicago in Illinois to Santa Monica in California.

Even though it no longer officially exists, it is well loved and you can still drive on some parts of it. The most common travelers on this road are tourists looking to recreate some great film or television moments and truck drivers.

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History of Route 66

Before the existence of USA’s highway network, parts of this road have been commissioned by various states and counties. The first road which was later incorporated into the Route 66 was commissioned by the War Department in 1857. The rest of the route was developed in the first part of the 20th century.

Numeric designations to the roads in the USA were adopted in 1926, and that is when this particular road got its iconic designation as Route 66. Even though it was one of the original highways, it wasn’t fully paved until 1938. There were some initial disputes over this designation since some of the authorities wanted it to have a rounded up designation 60.

The name really stuck only after the ad was placed on national television calling people to take Route 66 to the Olympic Games in Los Angeles in 1932. The road saw increased use by many people including truckers and families fleeing the Dustbowl.

The Decline

Even though this route was very popular and useful, the civil engineers in the 1950s started creating more sophisticated and direct roads between cities and states, making Route 66 fairly obsolete. Gradually, most major cities were connected by different roads and had bypasses for the Route 66. In some cases, new roads went parallel with the old Route 66, whereas some of these new roads actually incorporated swathes of it.

The road was finally decommissioned in 1985, replaced by a network of modern highways. However, many people who lived and had businesses along this road didn’t agree with this decision.

The Revival

There were several organizations in the states with ties to the Route 66 which wanted to preserve the road and the businesses which depended on it. The first designation of the road as ‘Historic Route 66’ appeared in Missouri in 1990. Since then, many parts of the road which are still operational have this designation and depend on tourists and enthusiasts for profit.

Famous Sights

Since then, it has received government support, as well as being portrayed in various films, books, and TV series. The road has been called ‘America’s Mother Road’since it is able to capture the spirit of America through its vast spaces and cultural differences.

There are many famous sights you can see, but these are probably the most famous and popular.

Cadillac Ranch

This Texas site is just a bunch of old Cadillacs half-buried in the dirt. What makes it iconic is that visitors are encouraged to paint these cars in ways they see fit.

Ed Galloway’s Totem Pole Park

This landmark is just what its name suggests. Just outside Foyil in Oklahoma, this site boasts world’s largest concrete totem pole.

Desert Landscapes

If you’re not into the 50’s and 60’s Americana, the Route has something else to offer – desert landscapes of immeasurable beauty. Places like the Painted Desert and the Petrified Forest are a must-see for any outdoorsman, and with the Grand Canyon not far off from the road, you’ve got a full desert experience.

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18 replies on “The Historic Route 66

  1. That was an interesting read, Kally. In Australia new highways have been commissioned leaving the old businesses, and towns in some cases, obsolete. You have to drive off the highways, these days, to get to many once profitable commercial businesses. My man has always wanted to drive Route 66! I doubt he’ll ever do it, but the dream is a good one.. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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