Let us put "JOY" in your travel!
creative Commons Photo by Chuck Coker
Route 66 is known by many names, including the Mother Road; other names include the Will Rogers Highway and, of course, the Main Street of America. It was first established in 1926, although it took another year for road signs to be added. It is by far the most famous road in America and it is a seriously long road as well. It covers 2,448 miles, going through a range of different states. It starts in Chicago and ends in Los Angeles. It was the subject of a song (it’s the route where you get your kicks, evidently) and of a popular television show and it has made many other appearances in popular culture.
Route 66 wasn’t constructed to become a famous road, of course. It was there to help people who wanted to migrate to the West, particularly when the Dust Bowl happened in the 1930s. Also, it was a main driver for the economy of all the towns and cities it passed. They built this road at just the right time as well, as this was the period that cars started to become somewhat faster (nothing compared to now of course) and people wanted to be able to drive on highways.
The people who were so happy with Route 66 became diehard fans, fighting to keep the Interstate Highway System away from their favourite road. It was improved and realigned countless times and by the 27th of June 1985, it was actually removed from the highway system. However, some parts of it have been kept and these pieces are now known as the Historic Route 66, passing through Arizona, Illinois, New Mexico and Missouri. Also, quite a few states jumped on the opportunity of having a good quality road and changed pieces of it into State Route 66.
Creative Commons Photo by Kevin
In 1987, the very first Route 66 Association was started in Arizona. Missouri quickly followed some two years later and more followed suit. There are many historic markers along the entire route now and many people like driving down the road and trying to find the many different markers. They can be hard to find, or at least recognise. Some local groups have painted on the road surface and come back regularly to paint it again. Also, it is very difficult to find an official “Historic Route 66” sign, because they keep getting stolen!
There are still a number of places where you can find these signs, as well as original Route 66 signs, but beware that they are heavily guarded so don’t try to be an original souvenir hunter, it won’t be appreciated! The Route 66 Associations are now mainly involved in fighting to keep historic landmarks along the route alive, including motels with old neon signs. Bill Clinton was obviously a Route 66 lover, since he allocated $10 million to the preservation of the road and its landmarks. And, since then, the road has been added to the World Monuments Watch.
If you want to drive along Route 66 too, you need a lot of time and a good car. For a really great car book in advance through www.erentals.co.uk