Historic Route 66

Historic Route 66
Route 66, Main Street USA or the Mother Road as its often called is probably the most well-known highway in the world. The 2,448 mile road stretching from Chicago to Los Angeles is essentially a living museum - open at anytime to anyone in search of the spirit of adventure. Route 66 began as a dream of Cyrus Avery's - a businessman, Oklahoma State Highway Commissioner and a member of the American Association of State Highway Officials. In the 1920s he envisioned a road that would connect the upper Midwest with the riches of California (and passing through Tulsa in the process). On July 23rd, 1926 Route 66 officially opened up the way from Chicago, Illinois to Los Angeles, California. Although principally a road of commerce, the mid-thirties saw it become more synonymous with the Midwest exodus. The Great Depression held America in the grip of economic turmoil, and poor agriculture practices and years of sustained drought gave rise to the Midwest becoming a Dust Bowl. In 1934 a massive dust storm, blew an estimated 300 million tonnes of topsoil off the parched, open lands of Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma and Colorado. A series of further dust storms continued for the next five years - with the sun becoming so obscured by the fine, airborne dust that it was often difficult to tell night from day. The Dust Bowl years saw countless farmers losing their lands to banks, and with nothing left lose, they took to the road in search of a new life in California. In 1939 the novelist John Steinbeck first referred to Route 66 as being the mother road in his novel The Grapes of Wrath - the mother road, the road of flight - describing the importance it played in helping thousands escaping the Dust Bowl. 1941 saw America's inclusion in World War II bringing with it massive truck and train convoys carrying troops across the country. During these war years travel on Route 66 almost came to a halt. With petrol and tyres rationed and the manufacture of cars shutdown - the general public were effectively kept from travelling until 1945 when the war ended. The end of the war saw another exodus, albeit on a smaller scale with G.I's returning from the war, passing through California and seeing the opportunity of a new life. They returned to their Midwest homes, collected their young families and headed west on Route 66 to live the dream. The road now symbolising a new and more prosperous life.

The fifties were the heyday of Route 66 - with a new and wealthy America, people were taking to the road in megasized motor vehicles and rediscovering the Midwest. Route 66 soon became an icon of travel with it's roadside cafés and motels with their garish neon signs and inviting swimming pools. The 1960s brought with it sex, drugs and rock and roll and California called once again - the Love generation boarded their camper vans, buses or hitchhiked along Route 66 to a new life of love on the west coast. The 1970s saw a boom in recreational vehicles with retirees and hardworking baby-boomers taking to the road in assorted forms of motorised transport. This period was short-lived though with the late seventies seeing a petrol crisis that put paid to long road trips. Although Route 66 had experienced hard times in the past it had always recovered, but the next big turnaround just never came. And by the mid 1980s the American government removed the road signs and Route 66 was deemed officially dead. Thankfully dreams and memories don't die so easily, with Route 66 continuing to live on in the memories of those who had travelled her, and those who still wanted to experience the mother road. As for the present? Well, Route 66 is alive and well (complete with new road signs!) and awaiting all those with the spirit for adventure. View images of Prescott here. Menu: wildlife, trees.National Parks: Grand Canyon, Grand Canyon Info, Grand Canyon Map, Walnut Canyon, Walnut Canyon Info, Sunset Crater and Wutapki Monument, Sunset Crater Info, Wupatki Monument Info, Montezuma Castle and Well, Montezuma Castle Info, Montezuma Well Info, Petrified Forest, Petrified Forest Info, Painted Desert Info. Attractions: Apache Trail, Apache Trail Info, Apache Trail Map, Phoenix Desert Botanical Garden, Desert Botanical Garden Info, Meteor Crater, Meteor Crater Info, Monument Valley Tribal Park, Monument Valley Info, Oak Creek Canyon, Oak Creek Info, Slide Rocks State Park, Slide Rocks Info, Taliesin West, Taliesin West, Arboretum at Flagstaff, Arboretum at Flagstaff Info. and Towns and Cities: Flagstaff and envrions, Flagstaff Info, Prescott, Prescott Info.

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