Posted on Jul 31, 2012 | Comments 0
The old American highway known as Route 66 is undoubtedly one of the most storied in the world even though it’ hadn’t been used as a real roadway for about 30 years now. This famous route runs all the way from Chicago, Illinois down to Santa Monica, California, but in 1984 the government dropped it as one of the nation’s federal highways. However, a drive along the road these days will still bring you to a series of diners, theaters, motels, gas stations, and interesting souvenir shops etc.
Federal grants have helped Route 66 stay alive and traveling down it is still one of the very best ways to explore the real America. In fact, so many people still journey down the old highway that a study by Rutgers University showed that visitors spend about $132 million each year while driving down it. In total, Route 66 passes through eight different states and they all have their own charms to offer.
One of the most popular sites is the Boots Motel in Carthage, Missouri, which was quite famous during the 1940s. It used to be a stopover spot for some of the country’s most famous entertainers such as Gene Autry and Clark Gable back then. It then fell into disrepair and has just been renovated and re-opened. It’s meant to remind people of the 1940s and does an excellent job of it. You’ll find built-in dressers, monogrammed towels, chenille bedspreads, chrome light fixtures, and old radios that play songs of the era.
The construction of Route 66 was finished during the mid-1920s, but didn’t really become famous until about 10 years later. It was introduced to the American public in the book ‘The Grapes of Wrath’, which was written by novelist John Steinbeck. Since then it became a busy road for people who were heading to California on vacation and it was also romanticized time and time again in various television shows, films, and songs.
There were other routes to take and Route 66 wasn’t always the most convenient to take, but it became famous through pop culture. If you’d like to learn more about its rich history one of the best places to visit is the Route 66 Museum, which is located in the town of Lebanon, Missouri. If you visit the route today, it’s a bit difficult to stay along the original highway unless you have a reliable map.
Many of the highway signs have been stolen for souvenirs and some sections of the roadway have now deteriorated. Still, some areas are in good condition while other sections were actually dug up years ago and cornfields were placed on the land. It’s estimated that visitors can still navigate about 80% of the original highway though by automobile.
Various local communities now take care of Route 66 since the government doesn’t maintain it anymore. However, some owners of businesses along the road are eligible for federal grants for renovations and these are then matched privately. It’s been reported that a total of 230 of the route’s building are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
There are several attractions along the highway and the scenery is quite amazing too as you’ll pass some gorgeous rivers, plains, and mountains. Route 66 is definitely an American adventure that takes you back in time.
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