Route 66 USA~ A History of a Great Road

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Travel Features >> Route 66 USA~ A History of a Great Road

Route 66 USA~ A History of a Great Road

January 28, 2013

Immortalized in song and a popular part of culture, not just in America but the world over, the legendary Route 66 has a long and fascinating history.

Connecting America
Despite no longer officially appearing on road maps under its original name, U.S. Route 66 remains an iconic part of American geography, a highway that not only connected east to west, but also stood for the traditional American value of freedom. Running for a total length of 2,448 miles, this celebrated road originally ran from Chicago, Illinois to Los Angeles in California, taking in such slices of Americana on the way as Missouri, Kansas and Texas.

Also known as the Mother Road, construction of Route 66 was completed in 1926. Quickly becoming the established way for travellers to migrate west, the route soon became a prosperous location for businesses, with many bars, diners and service stations opening along its length. As more and more people began to travel the highway, many of these businesses, which were mostly family concerns, became familiar and welcome sights. In time, many of them would take on iconic status. Stretching as it did across the vast expanse of the USA, Route 66 would take in many small towns along the way, towns that would otherwise have remained largely unknown. As it turned out, to trek Route 66 was to trek America, as often the true heart of the country lay in these traditional smaller communities.

True Culture
It could be argued that much of what is considered today as American culture was born because of Route 66. America's long-held fascination with the car seems intertwined with the history of the Mother Road. Nowhere is the image of travelling the open road, living the American dream and free to pursue any desire or whim, more prevalent than on Route 66. People who wanted to trek America by car were now free to do so. During the fifties, Route 66 became a regular thoroughfare for holidaymakers visiting Los Angeles and taking in the sights along the way. The popularity of the Grand Canyon in Arizona as a tourist attraction exploded because of its proximity to Route 66. The start of the fast-food revolution can also be credited to this iconic highway, with the first-ever drive-through restaura
nt opening along its length.

Route 66 Today
The advent of the Interstate during the fifties would soon see Route 66 in decline, with much of it bypassed by the new roads. Businesses would suffer, as would the fortunes of the local towns that depended on tourism from travellers traversing the highway. By the start of the eighties, much of Route 66 had been decommissioned and by 1984, it had ceased to exist altogether. Thankfully, due to the efforts of a number of associations, much of Route 66 has now been designated as of historical importance, with some sections even appearing on the National Register of Historic Places.

Although it no longer exists officially, much of the route is still be travelled by intrepid tourists. The place that Route 66 has in the hearts of many is safe, its name forever etched into the annals of American folklore.
Author Bio: John Rush writes regularly on the subject of travel for a range of holiday websites and blogs. This article has been written on behalf of Trek America

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