Throwback Thursday: Route 66 Decertified 1985

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Route 66 Image One
Photo Credit: Vicky McClain on Unsplash

Thirty-four years ago, today, the scenic U.S. Route 66 was decertified by the Route Numbering Committee.

After 59 years, the iconic Route 66 enters the realm of history on this day in 1985, when the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials decertifies the road and votes to remove all its highway signs. Measuring some 2,200 miles in its heyday, Route 66 stretched from Chicago, Illinois to Santa Monica, California, passing through eight states. According to a New York Times article about its decertification, most of Route 66 followed a path through the wilderness forged in 1857 by U.S. Navy Lieutenant Edward Beale at the head of a caravan of camels. Over the years, wagon trains and cattlemen eventually made way for trucks and passenger automobiles.

The idea of building a highway along this route surfaced in Oklahoma in the mid-1920s as a way to link the state to cities like Chicago and Los Angeles. Highway Commissioner Cyrus S. Avery touted it as a way of diverting traffic from Kansas City, Missouri and Denver. In 1926, the highway earned its official designation as Route 66. The diagonal course of Route 66 linked hundreds of mostly rural communities to the cities along its route, allowing farmers to more easily transport grain and other types of produce for distribution. The highway was also a lifeline for the long-distance trucking industry, which by 1930 was competing with the railroad for dominance in the shipping market.

Route 66 Image Two
Photo Credit: Can Ahtam on Upsplash

Route 66 was the scene of a mass westward migration during the 1930s, when more than 200,000 people traveled from the poverty-stricken Dust Bowl to California. John Steinbeck immortalized the highway, which he called the “Mother Road”, in his classic 1939 novel The Grapes of Wrath. Beginning in the 1950s, the building of a massive system of interstate highways made older roads increasingly obsolete and, by 1970, modern four-lane highways had bypassed nearly all sections of Route 66. In October 1984, Interstate-40 bypassed the last original stretch of Route 66 at Williams, Arizona and, the following year, the road was decertified. According to the National Historic Route 66 Federation, drivers can still use 85 percent of the road and Route 66 has become a destination for tourists from all over the world.

Often called the Main Street of America, Route 66 became a pop culture mainstay over the years, inspiring its own song (written in 1947 [sic] by Bobby Troup, Route 66 was later recorded by artists as varied as Nat King Cole, Chuck Berry and The Rolling Stones) as well as a 1960s television series. More recently, the historic highway was featured prominently in the hit animated film Cars (2006).


Interesting Links:
Driving Route 66
Historic 66
Rockin’ Route 66

13 thoughts on “Throwback Thursday: Route 66 Decertified 1985

    MichaelStephenWills said:
    June 28, 2019 at 7:45 AM

    de-certifying route 66 was a bad move by the bureaucrats.

      The Hinoeuma responded:
      June 28, 2019 at 11:49 PM

      I agree. And, I think they did their best to point that out in Cars.

    Rusty Armor said:
    June 29, 2019 at 3:15 PM

    Some eons ago, I went frequently back and forth on 66 from Albuquerque to ‘Berdoo. Burma-Shave signs were the salvation, along with a few stuffed jackalopes and rattlesnake ranches. And people actually sold water for a living!

      The Hinoeuma responded:
      June 29, 2019 at 4:16 PM

      Wow. I’ve never been on it.

    badfinger20 said:
    July 11, 2019 at 12:35 AM

    That is just sad…What I wouldn’t give to go down 100 percent of it now. Europe, for the most part, has buildings hundreds of years old and we close or tear down anything with age.

      The Hinoeuma responded:
      July 11, 2019 at 12:47 AM

      That is a stark contrast. Cambridge was founded in, what, 1209?

      Americans have a tendency to treat everything like an ant hill in the backyard.

        badfinger20 said:
        July 11, 2019 at 12:49 AM

        That is a perfect description.

        American’s don’t appreciate history. Well that is not a fair statement…we do but many don’t appreciate it.

          The Hinoeuma responded:
          July 11, 2019 at 12:54 AM

          Most don’t care. Give them the latest & greatest. Plus, as a nation, we have a short history, anyway.

            badfinger20 said:
            July 11, 2019 at 12:56 AM

            I sound old but I love old applicances, cars, guitars etc….they are built better…they can be fixed and not just thrown away.

              The Hinoeuma responded:
              July 11, 2019 at 1:03 AM

              Oh, dear, GOD…don’t even get me started. I’d love to have my paternal GM’s old washing machine. The agitator went up and down. That thing lasted 30 years. I’d like to use my *new* GE for target practice.

              We’re both old. And, I don’t care if I sound old or not. I’d take old & well built over new & shiny.

                badfinger20 said:
                July 11, 2019 at 1:05 AM

                We get our applicances at yard slaes and good will…We bought new for so long and a life span of 5 years got old… I have a commercial blender from 1969 that is chrome…it would mix iron lol….real motor.

                  The Hinoeuma responded:
                  July 11, 2019 at 1:09 AM

                  I’d love to have an older blender. Most suck.

                    badfinger20 said:
                    July 11, 2019 at 1:10 AM

                    We have had ours for years now…works great.

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