Route 66 Celebrates its 95th Anniversary
The allure of Route 66 has never faded since it was designated in November 1926. This iconic American highway is famous the world over, as visitors flock to it, to drive on it, by the millions every year. Still to this day, it remains a main road between Williams and Flagstaff, Arizona.
The famed pianist and composer Bobby Troup wrote the iconic hit song; “Get Your Kicks on Route 66.” As a former pianist with the renowned Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, Troup headed west with millions of other World War II veterans. He was inspired to write the song which suggested that the “get-your-kicks” journey was an end unto itself. It became a hit for Troup, but also immortalized the two-lane highway that commenced in Chicago, and ended in Los Angeles-Santa Monica. Route 66 covered three time zones.
From its starting point in “The Windy City,” route 66 headed southwest to Oklahoma City, then due west to the sun and surf of the Pacific Ocean. A very famous part of its history is the section that goes through the wonderful state of Arizona, a section that is still heavily traveled today.
Route 66 was inaugurated in the 1920’s (officially designated in 1926), by a group of businessmen when the automobile was rapidly becoming the main preference for family vacation travel, however, its lifespan was short lived, as it lasted less than 50 years. Route 66 was “decommissioned” in 1985, but it’s legend certainly lives on in Northern Arizona, where it remains a main road between Williams and Flagstaff.
John Steinbeck referenced Route 66 as “The Mother Road” in his classic book and movie, The Grapes of Wrath. An iconic scene from the movie finds Henry Fonda at the wheel of a broken-down auto laden with family and their life belongings leaving the Dust Bowl for California. During the “Great Depression” Route 66 served as a main conduit for over 200,000 poverty-ridden rural inhabitants to their Garden of Eden (California) on the Pacific Coast.
Route 66 received further recognition when CBS launched its TV show by the same name (1960-1964). For baby-boomers, we can all remember those two young guys as they drove across America in their red hot corvette convertible. Each episode (116 in all) chronicled their weekly journey. Martin Milner starred as Tod Stiles, and his friend Buz Murdock was played by George Maharis until he left midway through the third season due to an illness. Then Stiles met a recently discharged Vietnam veteran named Lincoln Case (played by Glenn Corbett) who decided to follow Tod on his travels, staying with him until the final episode. Few, if any highways in America will have the everlasting allure as will “Route 66.”