Route 66 History
Route 66 (U.S. highway 66) is a legendary highway, a worldwide symbol of lost dreams and hope, and an icon to the open road. Established in November of 1926, by 1937 Route 66 had become the first national highway to be completely paved end-to-end.
Route 66 became the main East-West highway, its two-lane concrete running along farmlands, mountains and deserts for 2,248 miles between Chicago, IL, and Santa Monica, CA. It ran through eight states, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California, and crossed three time zones. Route 66 was one of America’s busiest roads for 50 years, connecting many rural areas to cities for the first time, creating prosperity for people doing business along the route and a boon to farmers. During The Great Depression, Route 66 became an opportunity for folks to migrate west from the “Dust Bowl” of the 1930s in hopes of a better and more prosperous life on the West Coast.
Route 66 came to be called “America’s Main Street”, as millions traveled the two-lane road on vacations to such national treasures such as the Petrified Forest, Meteor Canyon, Pike’s Peak, and the Grand Canyon. Sleeping in inexpensive wooden cabins or motels with flashy neon signs, eating in metal diners or roadside cafes, and enjoying the colorful road signs, friendly service stations, and odd roadside attractions became a permanent part of America’s fascination with Route 66.
Route 66 was officially removed from the United States Highway System on June 27, 1985, after it had been replaced in its entirety by interstates.