Rt 66 – A Trip Along the ”Mother Road”
Rt 66 – The Mother Road, the highway to the west, the Main Street of America, The Will Rogers highway. Whatever you choose to call it, Route 66 is one of the most famous thoroughfares ever built.
Rt 66, a 2400 mile span of highway from Chicago, Illinois to Santa Monica, California which cuts across 8 states was carved out in 1926. At the time, “The Mother Road” as it became known, finally made it possible to travel from coast to coast by car.
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Rt 66 – The New Highway
This new highway soon became the most popular route from the midwest to the west coast because it was the shortest and the quickest. This one road also helped to bring about a significant amount of commerce to the desolate southwest, and thus, began the growth that built up that part of the country to where it is today.
Entrepreneurs quickly capitalized on the newly paved spans across the country. Before long, innovative and classic sites began to crop up along the roadside. These welcoming tourist attractions further helped to popularize the famous highway. It was no longer just a means of getting from one point to another. It was now an extravaganza of scenic stops which, to many, was a vacation adventure in and of itself.
Rt 66 – The 10 Most Popular Stops Along The Road
1. Cadillac Ranch Amarillo, Texas
Cadillac Ranch is perhaps one of the most unique sites along Route 66. When you pull up to this attraction there will be no mistaking the reason for its name. Along the side of the road you will see, standing on end and nose first in the ground, 10 half buried graffiti covered Cadillacs. Visitors are encouraged to pick their favorite Cadillac and spray paint a part of the car, forever leaving their mark in this part of history.
2. The Painted Desert Indian Hills, Arizona
Along the highway a visitor will suddenly come upon a section of mountains in the desert hills of Arizona. This breathtaking landscape is made up of layers upon layers of different types of rocks in varying colors. These colors range in tones from pink to orange, to brown to green with hints of lavender and yellow. It has been said that there is nothing more gorgeous than seeing this colorful landscape against the backdrop of the early morning sky at sunrise.
3. The Milk Bottle Grocery Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Now a Vietnamese cafe, this traditional brick building, seemingly out in the middle of nowhere, used to be a grocery store. Apparently this was a convenient stop for travelers along their way across the country. As a memorable landmark the plain brick building sports a giant milk bottle on its rooftop. In earlier days travelers who were in need of some amenities couldn’t miss this enormous welcoming symbol of their favorite grocery stop along the Mother Road. Today it serves as a tourist attraction and ever popular photo op.
4. St. Louis and The Gateway Arch St. Louis, Missouri
This awe-inspiring monument marks the second stop on route 66 coming from Chicago, Illinois. The landmark has been called the “Gateway to the West” and was founded in honor of Thomas Jefferson’s vision of a transcontinental United States. Visitors can take a 630 foot ride to the top of the arch and look out over the city and the land beyond.
5. Rt. 66 Hall of Fame Museum Pontiac, Illinois
This famous museum tells the story about the building of Route 66 and features artifacts from attractions along the road. A trip through this museum is like a trip down memory lane on Rt. 66. Visitors are able to learn about life when this iconic route was the most important highway in America.
6. Ed Galloways’s Totem Pole Park Foyil, Oklahoma
A park of totem poles? That’s right. This visionary design of the great folk artist, Ed Galloway, was under construction from 1937-1961. Galloway constructed the totem poles out of stone and concrete and painted them in colorful designs depicting living creatures and Native American art. The park sits 3.5 miles off the highway. It may not come as a surprise that the park holds the record for being the home of the world’s largest totem pole!
7. Petrified Forest Holbrook, Arizona
The Petrified Forest National Park is the largest collection of petrified wood in the world. Some pieces of wood date back as much as 225 million years. The forest is known for its fossils. There are plenty of places to hike and explore in the park and even take a guided tour. Visitors can also spend time at the Painted Desert Visitor Center and the Rainbow Forest Museum.
8. Santa Monica Pier Los Angeles, California
Coming off of Rt. 66 onto the Santa Monica Pier in Los Angeles, California visitors can see a sign that reads, “The End of the Trail”. This sign is placed here to mark the point at which the Mother Road comes to an end. The Santa Monica Pier is famous for its boardwalk that spans the beach and features well known restaurants, diners and shops. Perhaps the Santa Monica Pier is most famous for its amusement park with its historic carousel and enormous ferris wheel whose backdrop is the sandy beaches of the Pacific Ocean.
9. The Blue Whale of Catoosa Catoosa, Oklahoma
Just before visitors hit Oklahoma City they will come upon a famous roadside attraction. In a beautiful pond surrounded by an inviting picnic area, there can be seen basking in the sun an enormous blue whale. This adorable whale made of iron and cement is 80 feet long and 20 feet tall. The adorable giant fish has steps leading up its huge tail and a walkway along its body and through its mouth leading into the family picnic area. At night the whale is lit up with small blue lights. This continues to be an especially favorite stop for families with little children.
10. The Wigwam Motel San Bernardino, California
Traveling down the open road of America’s Main Street visitors will soon come upon a roadside motel unlike one they have ever seen before. From their car, visitors will be able to spot a motel and Native American museum. Surrounding the main building is the motel lodging, but it’s just not ordinary lodging. These motel units have been modeled after teepees. The teepees are constructed out of concrete with a wood frame and a stucco exterior. The Wigwam Motel is actually a chain and if traveling a significant distance on Route 66 visitors will actually pass two of these motels, one in Holbrook, Arizona and the other in San Bernardino, California. The other motels in the chain are in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, and Kentucky.
Rt. 66 – The TV Show
Route 66 is more than just the most famous highway in America, however, It is part of America’s culture. Given this, over the years many movies, books, television shows and even artwork has been influenced by the culture and history of The Mother Road. Movies like Easy Rider and Thelma and Louise were filmed along Rt. 66. Famous novels like The Grapes of Wrath depicted the historic highway in the book.
From 1960-1964, the television show Rt. 66, memorialized the highway. Throughout the episodes viewers followed the two main characters, Tod Stiles (Martin Milner) and Buz Murdock (George Maharis), as they shared exciting adventures along the well known route 66.
The tv show was so popular that there have even been whispers to this day of some studios wanting to produce a remake of the show
More About The Wigwam Motel in San Bernardino, California
It’s a unique and historic motel that has been around since the 1940s. It is located on historic Route 66 and is a great place to stay for those looking for a unique and nostalgic experience. The motel features 15 individual teepee-shaped cabins, each with its own unique decor and amenities. The cabins are equipped with air conditioning, cable TV, and free Wi-Fi. The motel also offers a variety of amenities, including a swimming pool, a restaurant, and a gift shop. The Wigwam Motel is a great place to stay for those looking for a unique and memorable experience. The motel is conveniently located near many attractions, including the San Bernardino National Forest, the San Bernardino Zoo, and the San Bernardino Mountains. The Wigwam Motel is a great place to stay for those looking for a unique and nostalgic experience
Rt 66 Trivia
1. Route 66 was the first highway to be completely paved in the United States.
2. Rt 66 was the first highway to be designated as a national highway in 1926.
3. It was the first highway to be marked with a distinctive shield-shaped sign.
4. Route 66 was the first highway to be featured in a popular song, “Get Your Kicks on Route 66”.
5. Rt 66 was the first highway to be featured in a television show, Route 66.
6. It was the first highway to be featured in a movie, The Grapes of Wrath.
7. Route 66 was the first highway to be featured in a video game, OutRun 2006: Coast 2 Coast.
8. Rt 66 was the first highway to be featured in a comic book, The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers.
9. It was the first highway to be featured in a novel, On the Road.
10. Route 66 was the first highway to be featured in a video game, Crazy Taxi.