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Route 66

What Is It?

US Route 66 or US Highway 66 (US 66 or Route 66) was one of the first roadways in the United States.1)

Other Names

It is sometimes referred to as the Will Rogers Highway, Main Street America, or the Mother Road.2)

Formed And With Signs

On November 11, 1926, US 66 was formed, and road signs were constructed the next year.3)


The roadway quickly became one of the most well-known in the United States. It began in Chicago, Illinois, and traveled through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona before ending in Santa Monica, Los Angeles County, California, a distance of 2,448 miles (3,940 km).4)

Song And Series

Both the 1946 hit song “(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66” and the Route 66 television series, which aired on CBS from 1960 to 1964, helped to popularize it.5)

The Grapes of Wrath

The route “Highway 66” signified escape and loss in John Steinbeck's famous American novel The Grapes of Wrath (1939).6)

Major Route During 1930s

US 66 was a major route for migrants migrating west, particularly during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s.7)

Valuable For Business

The route helped the economics of the villages it went through. People doing business along the road became affluent as the highway grew in popularity.8)

Saving The Highway

Those same individuals later pushed to save the roadway from being bypassed by the new Interstate Highway System.9)

Improvements And Withdrawal

US 66 received several modifications and realignments over its history, but it was formally withdrawn from the United States Highway System in 1985 after being completely replaced by elements of the Interstate Highway System.10)

Historic Route 66

Portions of the road that ran through Illinois, Missouri, New Mexico, and Arizona have been classified as a National Scenic Byway under the name “Historic Route 66,” and the name has been restored on certain maps.11)

State Route 66

Several states have absorbed substantial bypassed parts of the former US 66 as State Route 66 into their state road networks. The corridor is also being renovated as part of the United States Bicycle Route System, which was created in the 2010s.12)

Numerous Nicknames

US 66 has been given several nicknames over the years. Because the Chicago-to-Oklahoma City portion went northeast to southwest, US 66 was once dubbed “The Great Diagonal Way”. The US Highway 66 Association later marketed US 66 as “America's Main Street”. Supporters of US 40 had previously claimed the title, but the US 66 organization was more successful.13)

The Will Rogers Highway

Finally, the US Highway 66 Association informally designated US 66 “The Will Rogers Highway” in 1952, despite the fact that a sign along the route with that name appeared in the John Ford picture The Grapes of Wrath. This was issued in 1940, twelve years before the route was given that name by the organization. A plaque honoring Will Rogers may still be found in Santa Monica, California.14)

More Plaques

There are several plaques like this one. Galena, Kansas is home to one. It was formerly situated on the Kansas-Missouri border. In 2001, it was relocated to the Howard Litch Memorial Park.15)

route_66.txt · Last modified: 2022/09/22 00:37 by eziothekilla34