Route 66: The Mother Road
We have all heard of it: A road that stretches from the Windy City of Chicago, Il to the Sunny California beaches. Bobby Troup, Chuck Berry, Nat King Cole and others have sung songs about it. Movies have featured it and most of our parents had driven it at some point in their lives. If you haven’t guessed it yet, I am talking about Route 66, otherwise known as the Mother Road.
Originally commissioned in 1926, U.S. Route 66 stretches 2,448 miles and was completed in 1937,when the last parts of the Mother Road were finally paved. During the Great Depression, Route 66 (which was then mostly unpaved) served as a migratory route for many folks trying to move west away from the Dust Bowl. The highway became immensely popular and businesses were booming. However, as time went on and the government began building interstates for long distance travel, the Mother Road started to suffer. In 1985, the government officially decommissioned Route 66 and the rule of the interstate has held sway ever since. Like a light at the end of the tunnel, many states have begun to make Route 66 a national scenic byway or state road, in an effort to preserve such an important piece in automotive and travel history.
Route 66 embodies the free spirit of early America and the desire to just drive and see where one ends up. On my drive from Ca to Tx, I drove the I-40 most of the way. The I-40 runs fairly closely along the elderly Mother Road, and the whole time I could get a sense of what it was like to drive the open highway. I felt sorry for the businesses, the homes and the lives that were affected by the advent of the interstate. It seems that we have forgotten what it was to just hop in the hot rod and drive ‘til the wheels fall off. I think everyone that loves cars and the freedom of driving down a road, “cruisin’ and playin’ the radio with no particular place to go” should take a trip on the Mother Road and “get your kicks on Route 66.”