Today in History, June 27, 1985:
Route 66, The Mother Road, Main Street of America, Will Rogers Highway, is decommissioned in the National Highway System, bypassed by more modern “interstate highways.”
In 1857, Navy Lt. Edward Fitzgerald Beale, working for the US Army Topographical Engineers, charted a wagon road across the western US.
In the 1920’s, amidst Congressional acts creating a national highway system, Tulsa businessman Cyrus Avery and businessmen in Springfield, Missouri began lobbying for a highway that would roughly follow Beale’s route, and incidentally draw business away from Wichita to Tulsa, OKC and numerous other small cities between Chicago and L.A.
In 1926 they got their way and Route 66 was born.
For the next several decades small communities were connected by the highway, the trucking industry took off due to it’s influence, travelers stopped at new motels, drive-ins, etc…the entire culture of America was changed as Americans were able to see their country on vacations easily.
In the 50’s, Congress approved President Eisenhower’s proposals for an interstate highway system, born from his youth as an Army officer when he traveled across the country on insufficient roads.
By the 70’s, the interstates had rendered Route 66 obsolete, and by 1985 it was decommissioned.
85% of the route still exists, and has become a tourist hotspot for those that miss the romanticism it engendered. Traveling it’s route is definitely on my bucket list!