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Route 66 Info

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TOWANDA, IL

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ILLINOIS

  • Route Distance: 300 Miles

Route 66 began life in Illinois originally as the Pontiac Trail.   Stretching from Chicago to East St. Louis, this route was named after Pontiac, the famous Native American leader of the Ottawa people. The Pontiac Trail evolved into Illinois Route 4 and then into U.S. Route 66 in 1927.

Historical Locations

Be sure to check out these Route 66 destinations in Illinois.

Located in Chicago Illinois, Lou Mitchell’s became one of the first attractions along Route 66.

The original Steak n’ Shake (famous for its Steak Burgers!) was located along Route 66 in Normal, Illinois. The original restaurant, built in 1934, no longer exists, but its slogan lives on. “In sight, it must be right!”

  • Funks Grove

Since 1824, the folks in Funks Grove have been selling some of the best home made maple syrup around.

  • Dixie Trucker’s Home

Located in Mclean, Illinois, this served as a rest stop for truckers during the 1940s as they transported equipment for the war effort to the west. Today, the building contains a museum of Historic Route 66, including the famous Wall of Fame.

  • Lincoln’s Home

In Springfield Illinois, former President Abraham Lincoln owned his first and only home. Today, along Route 66, you can still visit the Lincoln home and tour his old law office.

  • World’s Largest Catsup bottle [website]

Located in Collinsville, Illinois.

MISSOURI (The Birthplace of the Mother Road)

  • Route Distance: 300 Miles

Missouri’s journey on Route 66 begins under the Gatweay Arch. The 630 foot structure was completed on October 28, 1965 establishing St. Louis’ nickname as “Gateway to the West.”

Historical Locations

Be sure to check out these Missouri Route 66 destinations.

  • Ted Drewe’s Frozen Custard Stand [website]

Located in St. Louis, Ted Drewe’s offers many flavors of Frozen Custard. Be sure to check out Terramizzou or the Dutchman Delight!

  • Meramac Caverns

Located outside of Stanton Missouri, these caverns extend over 26 miles underground and are 7 stories deep. These caves were at one time a source of shelter for local Native Amercians and might have been part of the Undergound Railroad. Today you can tour these caverns as you pass through Missouri.

  • Mark Twain National Forest [website]

Located all throughout southeastern Missouri.

  • Springfield

In 1926, officials from Missouri and Oklahoma met in Springfield to discuss contruction of a new highway. They sent a letter to Washington D.C. requesting the number 66. When the highway was commissioned on November 11 of that same year, Springfield became the official birthplace of Route 66.

  • Joplin

Joplin contains several favorite stops of travelers, including Dale’s Old “66” Barber Shop, and Schifferdecker Park. You can also visit the Joplin Museum Complex to learn about the mining history of the city.

KANSAS (The Yellow Brick Mother Road)

  • Route Distance: 13 Miles

Route 66 skirts through a very brief portion of the state of Kansas. Although there are only 13 miles of the Mother Road in Kansas, there’s plenty to see.

Historical Locations

Be sure to check out these Kansas Route 66 destinations:

  • Galena

In Galena there was an old, crumbled bridge that once was a part of the original road until it fell into disrepair. The citizens of Galena have recently renovated and beautified the historic bridge. Also keep an eye out for the old abandoned Palace Drug Store. While you can no longer fill a prescription, take note of the ghost signage painted on the side of the building.

  • Murphey’s Restaurant

Located in Baxter Springs, legend has it that Murphey’s is located in a former bank building that was robbed by Jesse James’ gang.

OKLAHOMA (The Heart of Old 66)

  • Route Distance: 400 Miles

Thanks to preservation efforts, Oklahoma contains more miles of the original Route 66 than any other state. With over 400 miles, there are plenty of sites to see in Oklahoma.

Historical Locations

Be sure to check out these Oklahoma Route 66 destinations.

Located in Miami, Oklahoma, you can check out this historic old theater. If you had dropped by in 1929, you would have seen both famous stars and athletes of the day. As a result of renovation, you can still see the original pipe organ, the “Mighty Wurlitzer.”

  • Ed Galloway’s Totem Pole Park [wikipedia]

Near Foyil, this attraction boasts the world’s largest totem pole and is mounted firmly on the back of a giant turtle.

  • Will Rogers Memorial Museums [website]

Located in Claremore, the Will Rogers Memorial Museums chronicle the life of Will Rogers.

Located in Catoosa, Route 66 travelers could cool off with a swim near the friendly mammal. The waters are a little calmer these days, but travelers still enjoy looking at the famous Blue Whale.

TEXAS (The Road to Opportunity)

  • Route Distance: 178 Miles

Yee-Haw! Welcome to Texas! Route 66 runs through only the panhandle of Texas, but nearly 90% of the original Mother Road can still be seen today. There is plenty to explore, so continue on your journey, remember the Alamo, and enjoy the sights along the Mother Road in Texas.

Historical Locations

Be sure to check out these Texas Route 66 destinations.

Currently being restored as a museum and visitors center, this building is a unique example of architecture along Route 66.

Devil’s Rope contains the largest collection of barbed wire, but it also finds room to house the Texas Old Route 66 Museum. This Museum contains souvenirs, road signs, and a remake of an old “grassy spoon” cafe.

  • McLean

McLean contains the first Phillips 66 Service Station in Texas, which was built in the 1920s.

  • Groom

There are several sites to be seen in Groom, including the Leaning Water Tower and the Cross.

  • Amarillo

Among other sites the city of Amarillo contains the fun loving Dynamite Museum. The favorite activity of the museum is to sneak diamond shaped road signs into the neighborhoods of Amarillo. If you’re hungry, stop at the Big Texan Steak Ranch which began on Old Rt 66 before moving nearer to I-40. Lastly, be sure to check out the creative Cadillac Ranch [wikipedia] located west of town.

NEW MEXICO (Tucumcari Tonight)

  • Route Distance: 604 Miles

New Mexico contains more mileage of Route 66 than any other state by far, so there are lots of stops and sites to see. But even a short visit is sure to make the trip well worth your while.

Historical Locations

Be sure to check out these New Mexico Route 66 destinations.

Legend has it that Tucumcari was named for two Native American lovers who died tragic deaths. In the 50s, it was known as “The town of 2000 motel rooms” and urged travelers to stay the night with the slogan “Tucumcari … tonight!” Be sure to check out the famous Blue Swallow Motel. For a glimpse into the town’s rowdy history, check in on the Monarch Saloon.

  • Grants

In Grants, you can visit a national park and tour the world’s only underground uranium mining museum.

ARIZONA (Gateway to the Grand Canyon)

  • Route Distance: 400 Miles

Arizona has much to offer in terms of tourist attractions, but its greatest attribute is, by far, its awe-inspiring scenery. From national parks and barren deserts to the Grand Canyon, it is certain that Arizona and your trip down this section of “The Mother Road”  will leave your mind with many amazing memories.

Historical Locations

Be sure to check out these Arizona Route 66 destinations.

  • Petrified Forest National Park [wikipedia]

Along I-40 between Holbrook and Navajo, theory has it that 200 million years ago trees that fell into the river would get buried by silt preventing air from reaching the wood. Consequently, the usual decay process did not occur, and the wood crystalized. Eventually, the silt was washed away, leaving behind a rare collection of rock-hard timber.

Have you slept in a wigwam lately? With an overnight stay in Holbrook’s famous Wigwam Motel, you can say “Yes!”

  • Meteor Impact Crater ( a big hole in the ground)

Located just 22 miles southwest of Winslow is a large hole in the grount that became the first recognized meteor impact crater thanks to the efforts of Eugene Shoemaker.

  • Flagstaff

Flagstaff is home to the Museum Club, an Old Rt. 66 landmark waterhole … but be careful.  It’s rumored to be haunted!

  • Peach Springs/Grand Canyon Caverns

As you approach Peach Springs from the East, make sure to watch out for dinosaurs. A 12-foot tyrannosaurus rex looms large on the horizon, but don’t be afraid. It is fiberglass. This also marks the entrance to the Grand Canyon Caverns. These caverns not only display the many natural wonders that Arizona has to offer, but they also represent the countless number of fossils and prehistoric bones that have been discovered under the state’s dusty surface.

Located just north of Peach Springs on Old Rt. 66, the Grand Canyon is one of the most recognized landmarks in the world.

CALIFORNIA (The Promise Land)

  • Route Distance: 320 Miles

California is the end of the road for Route 66. California was the beginning of a new life for struggling farmers in the 1930s.  So, as you cross the Colorado River into “The Promised Land”, let the water wash you free of your past burdens and fill your heart with opportunity.

Historical Locations

Be sure to check out these California Route 66 destinations.

  • Needles

As soon as you enter California, you’ll come to Needles. At first, people could only get to this town by rail, but with the opening of the Arch Bridge, travelers could now come by highway. The bridge is no longer open, but you can still go back and take a look. You can check out the fabulous El Carces Hotel. Also be sure to cool down in the Colorado River, as this is one of the hottest towns in America.

If Needles wasn’t hot enough for you, the Mojave will be sure to warm you up. The Mojave Desert boasts over 300 species of animals and many unique plants.

  • California Route 66 Museum [website]

Located in Victorville, this musueum is a true educational experience that presents the history of the “Mother Road.”

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