About Route 66
How long is Route 66?
The common approximation puts Route 66 at 2,448 miles long (roughly 4,000 km), but the road has changed alignments since it was "born" in 1926.
How many states does it cover?
Eight: Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California. The road crosses three time zones.
What is the history of the road?
Route 66 was established in 1926 connecting Chicago to Los Angeles. The road has been improved, re-aligned, abandoned, and restored at various points along the way, and there is no one set road to follow because of this. In the 1930s, the road became synonymous with the Great Depression and the promise of the west when many migrants traveled to California in search of a better life.
Why is the road no longer on modern maps?
The road was decommissioned in 1985 when it was taken off the U.S. Highway System and replaced with the Interstate Highway System. Sections of the road have returned to maps under the newly assigned title "Historic Route 66," having been designated a National Scenic Byway.
Why is it called the Mother Road?
John Steinbeck's 1939 novel The Grapes of Wrath deals with the fictional Joad family as they leave behind the poverty in Oklahoma in search of a better life in California. Along the way they meet up with many more migrants heading west along Route 66, which they name the "Mother Road."
What are some of the iconic images associated with Route 66?
The Corvette, as driven in the 1960s CBS TV show Route 66, starring Martin Milner and George Maharis, is the car classically assigned to the route. A new generation has discovered Route 66 through the immensely popular 2006 animated feature, Cars.
What good books and travel guides are there for planning a Route 66 trip?
Historian Michael Wallis is considered by many to be the foremost Route 66 expert, and has written books and made DVD documentaries about his experiences on the road. For the 75th anniversary of the road itself, he published a book titled Route 66: The Mother Road 75th Anniversary Edition hailed by The New York Times as "a colorful paean to a most romantic byway."
Drew Knowles has produced two useful guides to traveling across the Mother Road, that are both informative and easy to dip into:
Route 66 Adventure Handbook, which Michael Wallis calls "useful and fascinating."
A handy encyclopedia of Route 66 information: Route 66 Quick Reference Encyclopedia (May 2008).
Including driving directions, the map collection from Jim Ross and Jerry McClanahan, Here It Is! The Route 66 Map Series, contains a map for each of the eight states on the route.
The Route 66 Dining & Lodging Guide from the National Historic Route 66 Federation contains over 500 places to wine, dine, and rest your head after a long day of driving.
For a fictional account of Route 66 during the Great Depression, John Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath is a classic Americana tale of desperate families traveling west to escape poverty.
What DVDs capture the essence of the Route 66 experience?
Author Michael Wallis has also produced a DVD collection, Route 66 - The Ultimate DVD Collection, featuring a three-disc package of places to see, eat, and experience.
Martin Milner, star of the 1960s CBS show Route 66, takes a road trip with Michael Wallis and Bobby Troup in the 2002 documentary Route 66: Return to the Road with Martin Milner. He returns to the road that made him famous, and meets the people along the way that give the route its character.
Another DVD from Michael Wallis, Route 66: An American Odyssey, was called "the ultimate tribute to the Mother Road" by Route 66 Magazine. It contains rare historical footage of the road.
The Disney-Pixar animated film Cars (2006) is about the journey of a car (voiced by Owen Wilson) on the old route. He ends up in Radiator Springs – a decaying Route 66 tumbleweed town.
The classic 1960s CBS show Route 66 followed two young men (Martin Milner and George Maharis) as they journeyed across America in their iconic Corvette.