Also known as the “Will Rogers Highway”, Route 66 was built on November 11th, 1926 and became one of the original highways within the U.S. Highway System. After it’s construction, Route 66 soon became one of the most famous roads in America. When it was first created, it ran from Chicago, Illinois through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and ended in Santa Monica, California. This historic road has been the inspiration behind many songs and television shows in pop culture, and also served as a major path for people who migrated west, especially during the 1930’s Dust Bowl. Once it started to gain more fame, it also helped bring in a lot of business for some folks. This was threatened, however, when the new Interstate Highway System was created. But the people fought back, and tried very hard to keep their beloved road alive. So now it’s our time to celebrate what this great road has done for the people of America!
Even though it had underwent many improvements before it was officially removed from the United States Highway System in 1985, there are still portions of the original Route 66 road that have now been designated as a National Scenic Byway with the name “Historic Route 66”. This road has been a big part of our American culture, and we should all take a moment to appreciate the amount of impact it has had in history. If you were wanting to learn more about it’s history, there are so many of Route 66 exhibits you can visit to do so! For starters, the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. has a section on US 66 in its “America on the Move” exhibition. In this exhibit there is a portion of pavement of the route taken from Bridgeport, Oklahoma and a restored car and truck of the same kind that would have been driven on the road in the 1930’s. There is also a “Hamons Court” neon sign on display, this sign was hung at a gas station and tourist cabins near Hydro, Oklahoma.
Route 66 Tourist Attractions
There are many places across the country that are dedicated to remembering the original Route 66. Besides the National Museum of History in Washington D.C., other areas that have attractions include Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California. If you were wanting to check out any of these attractions, here is a list of all the most popular places you should visit!
Grant Park, Illinois
Having been around since the early 1830’s, Grant Park is one of the oldest parks in the city of Chicago. At the intersection of Jackson and Michigan Avenues is the famous “End Historic Route 66” sign. Many vintage icons from the Route 66 era have been lost, but not Grant Park. This is the historic road’s official eastern terminus.
Route 66 Historic District-East Galena, Kansas
The town of Galena was born in 1876 when Galena, the natural mineral form of lead sulfite, was discovered in the town. Incorporated in 1877, Galena is the oldest mining town in Kansas. The road would later become Route 66 was initially an important corridor for the mining network. The establishment of Route 66 along the town’s main street in 1926 added greatly to Galena’s prosperity. As more and more adventure-seeking travelers began to make their way through town, gasoline stations, restaurants, and hotels eagerly opened for business from their new customers.
Wigwam Village Motel #6, Arizona
Originally constructed in 1937 by an architect named Frank Redford, the WigWam Village Motel was bought by a man named Chester E. Lewis while he was passing through Cave City, Kentucky and was impressed by the unique design of the establishment. You may notice that the Wigwam Village is not composed of wigwams but of teepees. Redford, who patented the wigwam village design in 1936, disliked the word ‘teepee’ and used ‘wigwam’ instead. Chester E. Lewis successfully operated the motel until Interstate 40 bypassed downtown Holbrook in the late 1970’s. Lewis then sold the business and it remained open, but only to sell gas. Two years after Lewis’ death, his wife and grown children re-purchased the property and reopened the motel in 1988. They removed the gas pumps and converted part of the main office into a museum, which is now open to the public.