Get your kicks, on Route 66!
I get asked all the time if there is a favorite place that I have been or if there is one particular place I want to go. Well honestly, this is not a single destination for me - it is a journey and an adventure! One of the biggest adventures I would love to take is seeing all of Rt. 66 - and I mean ALL of it!
This is not an easy task though, as Route 66 has long since been decommissioned, and there are some states that maintain the Rt. 66 history very well, and some states that have lost most of it. Some people ask where do you begin a trip, or even researching for a trip like this? Truth be known I am not sure if there is a good answer. There is the road, there are landmarks, there are significant historic events, and there are gaps in the road. There are some very old sites and some new things out there, and I am not trying to map out certain periods - they are all part of the unique Rt. 66 experience, both old and new! Of course the older sites are becoming fewer and farther between, but in many places there is a push to keep Old Rt. 66 alive, and new things have popped up even after the official decommissioning, like Pops 66 in Arcadia, OK.
You will want to remember that much of old Route 66 is still there, but some of these historic landmarks have changed location as the Interstate systems have changed the location of travelers. As an example, the Big Texan Steak Ranch was originally on old Route 66 in Amarillo, TX, and currently sits just off of I-40 in Amarillo - a few miles from where it got its start. Another thing to keep in mind are the different "alignments" - places where Rt. 66 used to be at one point or another. The Blue line on the map is about the most accurate that I could put together for the current route you can take to travel Route. 66, but the purple lines are locations where the route used to run (or at least pretty close to it).
Some of Route 66 has been lost, as many of these roads started as dirt, got paved, and went back to dirt - some are now dead ends, and some of the old alignments are on private property no longer accessible by the public. You will not find a single path from East to West, but many variations. The landmarks shown here are also from all different eras of Route 66 - some traditional cannot miss stops and many others that have even been built after the road was decommissioned. Now matter from what time in history, I hope that this provides some good searchable guidance for getting on the Mother Road and seeing something uniquely American!
Here are some facts about the road:
Total Length = 2,448 miles
Start and End Point = Chicago, IL to Santa Monica, CA
Commissioned = November 26, 1926 as US Highway 66
Decommissioned = June 26, 1985
Route 66 goes through 8 states
Kansas has the shortest section of the highway at 14 miles
I am continuing to put this together, and am by no means a Rt. 66 historian like Michael Wallis or Jerry McClanahan - please grab some of their books on the topic, and then go watch the movie Cars. If you know of a stop to add or know of some alignment updates, please feel free to reach out to me and let me know so that I can update it for everyone!