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Article Teaser: Route 66 (1926-1985) is probably the most famous highway in the United States. This highway remains in the consciousness of Americans, even in this day and age, 23 years after the road ceased to carry the designation of an official U.S. Highway.

Keep reading below...

A Brief History Of America's Route 66

Copyright (c) 2008-2017

Route 66 (1926-1985) is probably the most famous highway in the United States. This highway remains in the consciousness of Americans, even in this day and age, 23 years after the road ceased to carry the designation of an official U.S. Highway.

Route 66 was made famous in movies and songs, after its creation in 1926. It was most traveled during the Great Depression of the 1930's, and then later during the 1950's and 1960's as Americans began to travel to the western U.S.

Its Role In America's Transportation Network

The 2,448 miles of this great highway ran from Chicago, Illinois to Los Angeles, California, carrying travelers through Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and into California.

Route 66 was designed to travel near large cities, without actually passing through those same cities. The road was long and straight in places, providing one of the safest roads in America, capable of moving great volumes of people across this great land of ours.

Ironically, the features that made Route 66 famous, safe and well traveled were many of the features that would later be incorporated into the Interstate Highway system, which later proved the death-knell for U.S. Highway 66. In 1985, when Route 66 lost its designation as a U.S. Hwy, transportation officials cited the increased use of the Interstate system as the reason why Route 66 was no longer necessary to the American transportation network.

The Interstate system took the best features from Route 66, long stretches of straight and flat roadway, a limited number of intersections, and combined with these features special exit points to better control the flow of traffic.

Ironically, the old Route 66 highway remains today within just a few miles of the new Interstate system that would eventually replace it.

To follow the near path of the old Route 66, one would drive out of Chicago on I-55, driving towards St. Louis Missouri. From Saint Louis, one would catch I-44 through Tulsa, Oklahoma to Oklahoma City. Then one would need to follow I-40 from OKC, through the western states, to downtown Los Angeles and beyond to Santa Monica, California.

Serving The Travelers

Route 66 was just a road, but what made it such an iconic part of the American experience were the businesses that popped up along its length to service travelers moving through the area. There were restaurants, motels, parks, campgrounds, gas stations and tourist attractions to serve the needs of travelers. As a result, when people of earlier generations think back to the experience of Route 66, it is not the road that comes to mind, but the many stops along the way and the people they met at those stops.

One of the most well known businesses that appeared on Route 66 was Stuckey's. At its peak, Stuckey's had more than 350 roadside stores across the United States, selling food, pecan-candies and novelty items to travelers. After founder W.S. Stuckey passed away in 1977, the chain suffered greatly and started disappearing from the landscape of America. But, Stuckey's has been seeing resurgence since 1985, when W.S. Stuckey's son Bill Stuckey, Jr. managed to buy the company back from the corporation his father had merged with in 1964.

By the time Bill Stuckey had stepped back into the company, the Stuckey's retail outlets had dropped back down to just 80 stores. Under Bill Stuckey's leadership, Stuckey's has been reborn as Stuckey's Express Stops, with restaurants such as Dairy Queen under the same roof to better serve its customers. Today, Stuckey's Express Stops now have more than 200 locations in 19 states, from Pennsylvania to Florida in the east and Arizona to the west. (Find a location near you at: http://www.stuckeys.com)

Distinctive Architecture Of The Age

Route 66 motels were much different than the kinds of motels that are sprinkled across the American landscape in the modern age. Many motels like the Flamingo Motor Court in Flagstaff, Arizona, the Western Motel in Sayre, Oklahoma, or the Streid's gas station, restaurant, cocktail lounge and motel in Bloomington, Illinois reflect the unique Americana architectural styling of the 1950's, that has come to represent the era of the Route 66, better than most other architecture of the age.

To view the many historic landmarks of the Route 66 era, one should visit the Legends Of America website. My favorite part of the website is the Ghost Towns of Route 66, which displays a few photos of towns I have actually visited as Route 66 winds through Oklahoma, near my hometown. (http://www.legendsofamerica.com)

A Plethora Of Route 66 Information Online

Today, the old Route 66 carries signs that read "Historical Route 66" through most of its length, and "State Route 66" in southern California.

If you like exploring history as I do, you will find a large selection of websites dedicated to American history and Route 66 history specifically. I especially enjoy looking at the photos of the once famous stops, and its signage, along Highway 66.




About The Author: Shop Amazon - Top Gift Ideas
Chuck Saddler has traveled America most of his life. As a writer, he has decided to share with his audience another a different view of the places and attractions he has visited and might like to visit in the future. With three young children, Chuck's view of family travel has changed to reflect how to enjoy his travels with three young children in tow. Read more of Chuck's American Travel Ideas on the website: http://www.americantravelideas.com/blog

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Internal ID: #6383
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