Route 66: an American cultural icon. Since 1926, Route 66 has been captivating the minds of traveling, adventurous, and sometimes desperate Americans who some imagined better life 'out west'. For some, the road was a way to get from here to there, for others, an ideal: the embodiment of a dream.
At first a trickle, then eventually a flood, 66 has seen literally millions of Americans on the move. In the early years, drivers were on their own. They needed to carry their own food, bedroll and tools. Inevitably, whole industries sprang up to service these hungry, tired travelers and their vehicles. In their efforts to bring in the tourist/traveler dollar, motels, gas stations and cafes tried all sorts of tricks to get people to notice and frequent their establishment . Gimmicks such as traveling restroom inspectors, huge, gaudy neon, and buildings shaped like sombreros were once the norm. But as time and the interstates progressed, far too many of these establishments found themselves in the backwaters of the U.S. highway system. Travelers and businesses dwindled. Paint peeled, broken neon flickered, then went out forever. A long twilight seemed destined to bring nightfall to the once proud, lively road.
However, the generations that grew up with 66 are starting to rekindle their love for the cherished route. As a seeping sameness spreads across the land, people are remembering the fun of what once was. I'm thankful for that sunny Flagstaff afternoon when I first met Route 66. At first, I was only vaguely aware of old 66, but as time went on, I became fascinated by its history and flair. Its stories and images of a different time evokek a not-so-vague longing. In my mind's eye, I can, for awhile at least, take a drive in a Marlin Rambler, swing on in to a drive in, and spend the night in a room with blinking, buzzing neon out front. It's been a fun trip, and I hope you enjoy these pages as well.
Note that many of these images come from my first forays into the field back around 2000-2002, so many of these relics have now passed beyond. Never miss the chance to stop and cherish a favorite stop along the road...it may not be there next time you pass by.