A header like this is a hard way to start a post. Some might even find it offensive. However, the answer has a direct bearing to the discussion of the day. It doesn’t matter what you call him, he will not come any way.
For most of the past dozen years or so I have puzzled over the ever increasing popularity of legendary Route 66. I marveled at the intense, almost myopic focus instilled by this amazing old highway.
Why has this highway transcended its original purpose to become an icon, a destination unto itself? Why has US 6 remained a virtual unknown entity even though it is more than 90% intact, is the highest US highway, and is lined with a staggering array of historic and scenic sites?
The cold hard fact is this. Route 66 has had a head start in regards to the publicity needed for a highway, business, or person to become legendary. In fact, the publicity actually predates the creation of US 66 by a year or two.
During the teens, the Lincoln Highway rose in popularity like a Roman candle on the Fourth of July but by 1936 it was on the fast track to becoming an historic footnote. Its fans, its supporters, unlike proponents of Route 66, were unable to keep it relevant to the times.
As a result of this relevancy US 6 or US 50, or any of a dozen other highways, can only languish in the shadows. Even fans of the legendary, historic Lincoln Highway, a road once as famous and popular as the double six, can only hope that by emulating what made US 66 the Main Street of America can they siphon a bit of its fame and international acclaim.
Michael Wallis, the author whose seminal work, Rhttp://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=1968adventurer&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=0393059383&fc1=000000&IS2=1<1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifroute 66: The Mother Road http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=1968adventurer&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=0312281617&fc1=000000&IS2=1<1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifris a foundational element in the resurgent interest in Route 66, recently turned his talents toward heralding the history and charms of the Lincoln Highway. There is no doubt this work kept the ember glowing, it might have even sparked a small flame of interest but still this wonderful old highway remains an after thought to many who seek the road less traveled.
And so Route 66 continues to evolve, to become a 2,000 plus mile time capsule where the past, present, and future of the American love affair with the road trip and the automobile blend seamlessly. A near perfect example of this is found in Arcadia, Oklahoma where a century old round barn and a futuristic soda pop store firmly anchor the past and future to the ribbon of asphalt that connects them, Route 66.
The Lincoln Highway is steeped in history, much of which predates the automobile by decades. It passes through some of the most majestic scenery in America. It is an historic highway that struggles for an identity in the modern era.
Route 66 is an historic highway. It is a relevant highway. Stop by Pops in Arcadia on a warm summer evening, feel the excitement as a new generation discovers its charm, and you will see the future of Route 66.
The Lincoln Highway, like the Santa Fe Trail and Old Spanish Trail, are to often overlooked by those in search of the road less traveled. All are storied roads with much to offer but there is only one legendary Route 66.
I suppose the upcoming Chillin’ on Beale Street in Kingman can serve as an excellent automotive analogy. For most old roads, time stopped around 1961 when they pulled the plug on the De Soto and Edsel. On Route 66 the orphan automobile includes the De Soto and the Edsel, the Packard and the Hudson, but it also includes the Saturn, Pontiac, Mercury, Plymouth, and Oldsmobile.