History Of Route 66 | Americans Move West
U.S. Highway 66 has been given numerous names over the course of its history. Although the most popular and recognizable name is Route 66, it has also been called the Will Rogers Highway, The Main Street of America and The Mother Road. Since it was originally conceived, it has become an American icon that represents the open highway and freedom of travel. It has also been immortalized in both music and film, as well as in books. Route 66 was born from the need for a us highway system to travel from one U.S. coast to the other. It would also make travel easier for, and to, many rural towns and communities. The highway was also needed to support the incredible growth of the automobile industry in the United States. In addition, for states such as Oklahoma, the home state of Cyrus Avery, the so-called “Father of Route 66,” it also meant a necessary boost to the economy. Springfield, Missouri has been designated as where the history of Route 66 began. One of the reasons for this was because it was also the state where the name was first proposed on April 30, 1926. The highway was officially established on November 11, 1926.
Consisting of over 2,000 miles of highway, U.S. Highway 66 created a winding path across numerous states and their small rural towns as it led travelers from Chicago, Illinois to Los Angeles, California. It took several years for the construction of the road to be completed, however upgrades and repairs to the highway were an ongoing thing. In 1938 it gained the distinction of became the first interstate highway in the country that was fully paved. It was built through the states of Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona, New Mexico, and ended in Los Angeles, California. This route took drivers through many rural towns and communities. As a result it boosted the economies of small areas as drivers stopped for gas, dining and places to sleep. In addition, Route 66 allowed farmers to transport their produce and grain. While it was not the only path from coast to coast, its diagonal path was the shortest. During the Great Depression, Route 66 provided a pathway for people to immigrate. The travel of people along the road led them to better living conditions and life. World War II kept the highway busy with the movement of military troops and travelers heading to industries in the west that were war-related.
Surprisingly, the increase of traffic on the roads eventually led to the demise of Route 66. Although the automobile helped make Route 66 popular, the need for more room and faster roads grew. To meet this need the government built the Interstates us highway system. Over a three decade period I-55, I-44, I-40, I-10, and I-15 slowly replaced Highway 66 in sections. This led to its decommissioning in 1985. Associations were developed by people who understood the historical significance of Route 66. These associations have worked with various state agencies and have marked sections of the Route with signs and to mark areas as Scenic Byways on a state or national level. Since then, laws have been passed to help preserve the remaining Route 66 corridor and it has been listed on the Watch List of 100 Most Endangered Sites by the World Monuments Fund.
For more information on the history of Route 66, please read the following links.
- Route 66: The Main Stream of America – Paving the Way
- Route 66: A History
- Time: A Brief History of Route 66
- Smithsonian Magazine: Endangered Site: Historic Route 66, USA
- Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History & Culture: Route 66
- CNN: Get Your Kicks on Route 66
- University of Oregon: Cadiz Summit CA Route 66 Links
- The Route 66 Oral History Office
- Road Trip America – Route 66: Online Resources and Books
- Midpoint Cafe: Route 66 Links
- Byways: Historic Route 66 Links
- Joe Sonderman’s OnLine Route 66 Archive: Route 66 Links
- Sell 66 Stuff – Route 66 Links
- Skippy’s Route 66: Links to Local Attractions
- Oklahoma Route 66 Association Links
- National Park Service Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program: Links, RT 66 State Organizations
- Route 66 Recommissioning Initiative Links
- Route 66 Lost and Found: Route 66 Links
- Henry’s Route 66: Hare It Is ~ Our Favorite Rabbit Ranch Links
- Illinois Route 66 Links
- Oklahoma Route 66 Association: Route 66 Web Links
- CarlinVilla â€“ Links
- Wigwam Motel Route 66 Favorite Links
- Postcards From The Road Links
- Route 66: On the Road Again Links
- Bygone Byways: Links
- Route 66 Wings and Wheels: Weblinks
- Crocodile Lile: Favorite Links
- Route 66 Magazine Links
- The Mother Road: Route 66 – Links
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Check out articles written by Jeanne Longhorne.