Route 66 was commissioned in 1926 and crosses 8 states and 3 time zones. It starts in Chicago and ends in L.A. (Santa Monica). Route 66 is known as “The Mother Road”, “The Main Street of America” and “The Will Rogers Highway”.
Route 66 was officially decommissioned in 1985, but for daily use it was replaced far earlier by the Interstates. History has this road starting out as mostly gravel and graded dirt. Then in 1938, thanks to the US Highway Route 66 association, it became the first highway completely paved.
"Get Your Kicks on Route 66" written by Bobby Troup
“If you ever plan to motor West
Travel my way, take the highway that’s the best
Get your kicks on Route 66
It winds from Chicago to LA
More than 2,000 miles all the way
Get your kicks on Route 66
You go through St. Louie, Joplin, Missouri
And Oklahoma City looks mighty pretty
You’ll see Amirillo, Gallup, New Mexico
Flagstaf, Arizona, don’t forget Winona
Kingman, Bartsow, San Bernadino
Won’t you get hip to this timely tip
When you make that California Trip
Get your kicks on Route 66.”
Bobby Troup wrote "Get Your Kicks on Route 66" in 1946. He was driving across the country from Pennsylvania to California, where he had dreams of making it big in music. He chose to travel on Route 66.
His initial thought was to write a tune about Highway 40, but his wife, Cynthia, suggested the title, "Get Your Kicks on Route 66".
As his song says: ''If you ever plan to motor West: Travel my way, take the highway that's the best. Get your kicks on Route 66!'' The song became a big hit for the King Cole Trio and was also recorded by Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters.
Over the entire existence for Route 66, its path continued to change and evolve. Many sections of the road were notoriously dangerous for motorists. Some were even referred to as “Bloody 66.” Over the years, Route 66 was straightened to remove these dangerous curves.
Parts of Route 66 were rerouted as part of this straightening process, which resulted in some cities being bypassed, and a shorter drive for travelers along the route. In 1956, the Interstate Highway Act was signed by President Eisenhower, which created a new system of expressways across the country. Route 66 was moved around, repaved, and ultimately decommissioned.
Route 66 was divided up and made into several different Interstates in the new system:
Interstate 55 – From Chicago, Illinois to St. Louis, Missouri
Interstate 44 – From St. Louis to Oklahoma City
Interstate 40 – From Oklahoma City to Barstow, California (the longest stretch of former Route 66)
Interstate 15 – From Barstow, California to San Bernadino, California
Interstate 210/10 & State Route 2 – From San Bernadino, California to Santa Monica, California
Many of the original windy roads of Route 66 became “Business loops,” and some are now just local roads.