Some Beautiful Paths Can’t Be Discovered Without First Getting Lost – the Story of U.S. Route 66

Wherever You Go Becomes a Part of You Somehow

The U.S Route 66 was one of the most iconic highways in the world. Covering a stretch of 2,448 miles or 3,940 kilometers, it ran through a total of eight different US states. This ranged from Chicago, Illinois, going through Kansas, Kentucky, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and finally to California.


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Over the years, it has been made famous by some different writers and artists in their creations. Also known as the Will Rogers Highway, this route was first established and opened on November 11, 1926, and was decommissioned on June 26, 1985. Even after 90 years, it still is one of the most celebrated routes or highways in the United States.

The all-famous Route 66 was not called Route 66 initially. It was originally known as Route 60. However, a few years from its inception, the three states of Virginia, West Virginia and Kentucky together decided to rename the route as per the interstate. And that is when the route was rechristened to Route 66 which later became quite a popular name.

The Father of Route 66

Behind the famous Route 66 in America, there comes up the name of a Tulsa business, Cyrus Avery. He is known as the Father of the Route 66. This is because he was the one who came up with this idea, saw through the establishment phase and later promoted this route. He was the sole reason why this esteemed route passed through Oklahoma during its construction phase. Further, he was also instrumental in getting the highway ready by 1930.


Route 66. New Mexico, USA

Working Through the Time Zones

How did it feel like driving through Route 66? It was one of the longest highways in the world. It covered a total of eight states in the United States. As a result, going through this highway made you cross three different time zones.


Route 66. Amboy Area. California, USA

Route 66 Crosses Itself

This is one of the most interesting facts about this highway that runs across so many states in the United States. There is a strange location on the road where the route crosses itself. If you are driving up this highway and happen to park on Central Avenue and 4th street in New Mexico, you would be right at that juncture. In this position, the highway crosses itself.


Nuevo Mexico, USA

Route 66 or Bloody 66?!

There were several parts of the highway which were quite tricky for traveling, especially for motorists. This was mainly because there was much uneven land on the road that needed repairing. For this reason, Route 66 was also called as Bloody 66 for a long time owing to the dangerous driving conditions of the road. Over the years, however, this unevenness was fixed, and the roads were smoothened out. This evolving route, thus, got rid of the curves which made it easier for motorists to take the highway.


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One of the Most Endangered Sites

Route 66 has always been an area of interest for people across the US. However, it came into the limelight even more strongly in 2008 when it was listed in the 100 most endangered sites in the world by the World Monuments Funded. This is when people started recognizing this route even more and have been working towards its preservation in the long run.


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Route 66 and Its Tryst with Us Culture

Route 66 has been often noted and named in popular US songs, TV series and other cultural aspects. The most notable of these is the TV drama called ‘Route 66’ which aired between the years of 1960 and 1964. The show revolved around the story of two drifters who happened to encounter different celebrity guests and a range of other characters during their journey. Even though this series is based on the famous highway passing through eight states, it was shot in more than 20 states, extending to Canada. Thus, the series did go beyond the original Route 66.


11/25/1960-Hollywood, CA: Scene from the TV show ‘Route 66’, starring Martin Milner and George Maharis. Basically ‘Route 66’ is an adventure series built around a pair of young fellows wandering around the country in a sports car. This scene shows Martin Milner (L) & George laughing together seated on the car.

“..Travel My Way, Take the Highway That Is Best”

The legendary highway was also made famous in the song ‘(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66,’ in 1946. This is all thanks to Bobby Troup from Pennsylvania. He was essentially a part of the US Marines after his college days and had participated in the war. Once he was back from there, he wanted to experiment a new life as a songwriter and thus took frequent trips with his wife. In one of these trips when he was traveling through the Route 66, he was inspired to pen this song, basing it entirely on the highway. Many artists later recorded this at that time. Route 66 gained much popularity with the help of this song.


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Connection to The National Book Award

Apart from this, the famous highway was also featured in the 1939 novel that was called ‘The Grapes of Wrath.’ Written by John Steinbeck, this novel was also turned into a popular motion picture three years later in 1940. The movie described the journey of a group of people traveling from Oklahoma to California via Route 66 and also their observations of this highway. A nickname ‘the mother road’ was used in the book of route 66 and is still popular among people.


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The Decline of Route 66

Route 66 was at its peak during the 1950s and the 1960s. It had much cultural significance and also was popular among the people, but its utility was on the downfall. This highway had connected the Midwest region to the western coast very efficiently. However, Interstate 40 had an even more efficient and well-planned route that connected the regions, very similar to Route 66. In effect, this highway covered a major portion of the southwest. As a result, most of the old highway was rendered unnecessary and its importance gradually diminished.


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