Perhaps no road or route in the world is as famous as Route 66. Travel around the world and one will see Route 66 adorning pubs and bars in the most unlikely locations. It was one of the original highways of the US Highway System. Originally it ran from Chicago to Los Angeles. Today there are numerous museums and attractions along the old route, perhaps one of the best to see is the Oklahoma Route 66 Museum
It was first established in 1926 in the infant years of the burgeoning car industry that was so revolutionizing travel across America as it was revolutionizing the American way of life. It passed through many states including Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California. Route 66 is a route with many unusual stops along the way.
This History Of Route 66
- Length: 2,448 Miles or 3,940 Kilometers
- Established: 1926
- Disestablished: 1985
- Number Of States: 8
In its day it was the primary route for those Americans migrating west (especially during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s). Over time it was increasingly bypassed by the growing Interstate Highway System. By the mid-80s it had been replaced in its entirety by various segments of the Interstate Highway System and it ceased to be, having been officially stricken from the highway system.
Parts of the old road have been redesignated as a National Scenic Byway called "Historic Route 66".
Over its years, the route was constantly realigned and modified so in many cases there isn't just one route. The route became even more important during World War II as America was fighting the resource-intensive War in the Pacific. By the outbreak of the war, California wasn't the large, developed and important state it is today. More migration moved west to the war-related industries in California. By the outbreak of the war, it was already fully paved and it was one of the main routes for moving military equipment across the nation.
Significance Of Route 66
Route 66 was the nation's first all-weather highway linking Chicago with Los Angeles. When compared with its other transcontinental corridors like the Lincoln Highway the US Highway 40, it doesn't seem so special. It was neither the oldest nor longest road in the US. But it was popular being the shortest route and was eventually romanticized like none other.
It is also an example of the evolution of how dirt tracks were transformed into superhighways. It symbolizes the newfound freedom of the automobile and age where everyone could afford to own and operate a car. Not to mention the many stunning landscapes the route passes through.
Today there is some nostalgia about the route with it in some cases symbolizing escape and loss. It can represent a time gone by with the ghost towns along the route that have been bypassed by modern highways. Internationally it can also represent America and America's driving culture.
Oklahoma Route 66 Museum
If one is passing through Oklahoma or following the old Route 66 be sure to pop into the Oklahoma Route 66 Museum. It is located off I-40 in Clinton. It is the state's official showcase of the legendary Route 66 and visitors are offered a "spirited tour of pure Americana" according to the City of Clinton. The tour guide details the rise and fall of Route 66 and traces the social and cultural changes of a nation in transition.
The museum was themed the Old West, but that changed in 1995 and it was replaced with a new Old West theme - the Mother Road, Route 66. If one is nostalgic about this period of US history, then this museum pushes all the buttons - down to a cherry-red '57 Chevy in the front bay window.
- Address: 2229 West Gary Boulevard, Clinton, OK 73601
At the museum, each exhibit room is themed by legendary music like "Will Rogers Highways" by Woody Guthrie and the Eagle's "Hotel California".
- Adults: $7.00 (Aged 19 to 61 Years Old)
- Seniors: $5.00 (Aged 62 and Up)
- Students: $4.00 (Aged 6 to 18)
- Kids: $0.00 (Under 6)
The hours vary by season and it is closed on various public holidays.
- Spring: (February 1 - April 31) Tuesday-Saturday: 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Sunday-Monday: CLOSED
- Summer Hours: (May 1 - August 31), Monday–Saturday: 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., Sunday: 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
- Autumn Hours: (September 1 - November 30), Monday-Saturday: 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., Sunday: 1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
- Winter Hours: (December 1 - January 31), Tuesday–Saturday: 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Closed Sundays & Mondays
National Route 66 Museum
One should not confuse the Oklahoma Route 66 Museum with the National Route 66 Museum also in Oklahoma. This is another of Oklahoma's many Route 66 museums and it is about the whole route - not just a segment of the route running through the state.
- Admission: $5.00 Per Person
- Hours: Tuesday to Saturday, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
- Closed: Sunday and Monday
Oklahoma alone boasts many Route 66 museums across the state, there are too many to list here. A full list can be found on Oklahoma Route 66 Association. When driving Route 66, one will be spoiled for old motels that look surprisingly cozy.