Discovering Route 66

Wednesday 25 May - 2:00pm
Stuart Winton will give a talk at the Braeport Centre. Please let Donald know if you wish to attend and remember a mug if you wish a refreshment. Email:

US Highway 66, popularly known as Route 66, is significant as the nation’s first all-weather highway linking Chicago to Los Angeles, a distance of roughly 2500 miles. Like other highways of its day, Route 66 reflected the origin and evolution of road transportation in the United States. The often-romanticised highway represented an outstanding example of the transition from dirt track to superhighway. Not only did Route 66 underscore the importance of the automobile as a technological achievement, it also symbolised unprecedented freedom and mobility for every citizen who could afford to own and operate a car. Escalating numbers of motor vehicles and the rise of the trucking industry increased the need for improved highways. In response the federal government pledged to link small town USA with all the metropolitan capitals.More than any other American highway, Route 66 symbolised the new optimism that pervaded the nation’s postwar economic recovery. For thousands of returning American servicemen and their families, Route 66 represented more than just another highway. “It became,” according to one contemporary admirer, “an icon of free-spirited independence linking the United States across the Rocky Mountain divide to the Pacific Ocean.” In recent years Route 66 has come to represent the essence of the American highway culture to countless motorists who traversed its course during the more than fifty years of its lifetime.After the road was decommissioned in 1985, federal and state agencies, private organisations, and numerous members of public realised that remnants of the road were quickly disappearing, and that the remaining significant structures, features, and artefacts associated with the road should be preserved.