Route 66

Steven Dutch, Professor Emeritus, Natural and Applied Sciences, Universityof Wisconsin - Green Bay

The Kansas Cutoff

For some reason or other the people who planned Route 66 jogged a few miles west into Kansas and then a few miles south to Oklahoma, making it the shortest state segment of the route.

Elk City, Oklahoma

What was just another highway took on mythic status during the Depression, when it became the route out of the Dust Bowl to Southern California. It didn't work out so well for some (See Grapes of Wrath) but it did for many others.

The television show Route 66 (aired 1960-64) further fixed Route 66 in American consciousness.

U.S. 99 up the West Coast has disappeared and hardly anyone cares, but what remains of Route 66 is preserved.

The National Route 66 Museum is in Elk City, Oklahoma, not far east of the Texas state line.

Starting in Chicago and connecting St. Louis, Oklahoma City, Amarillo, Albuquerque and Los Angeles, Route 66 was nicknamed "America's Main Street." In the boom growth years of California it symbolized opportunity.

Vintage license plates.
Burma Shave signs have long since disappeared from the roads but live on in folklore.
More than just an old truck - a recreation of the set from the film Grapes of Wrath.
Nice touch. The backs of the chairs read "Henry Fonda" and "Director John Ford."
Behind the museum is the Old Town exhibit, a collection of old buildings.
Water lilies the the garden pool in Old Town.
Above: signs along an intact stretch of Route 66 on the edge of town.

Left: New Mexico preserves pieces of the route as well. This stretch, predating a rerouting and straightening of the road, is at Pecos east of Santa Fe.

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Created 28 February 2009, Last Update 04 June 2020