It is the dawn of a new year and, possibly, a new era on Route 66. Please, let me explain what I envision and then, perhaps, together we can unleash the Phoenix from the glowing embers that is the resurgent interest in America’s most famous highway.
With the exception of Mr. Knudesn’s National Historic Route 66 Federation, the various organizations and publications created in the past two decades to promote and preserve Route 66 have met with limited degrees of success. The reasons for this are as varied as the landscapes through which this highway passes.
Some were initiated with good intentions but lacked the resources to make the vision a reality. Others were blatant, self serving attempts to profit from the resurgent interest in the highway and as a result stifled honest efforts to create a unified, linear Route 66 community that mirrored the one created by the U.S. Highway 66 Association launched in February of 1927.
Now, more than ever, the Route 66 community needs that unified voice, an organization that stitches together the wide array of individual and state association efforts into a cohesive element. So, here is a summary of what I propose. Please, feel free to provide your thoughts, ideas, and suggestions.
1) This organization would not supplant or intrude into the affairs of existent state associations, city promotional efforts, or organizations such as the National Historic Route 66 Federation. Instead, it would serve to coordinate efforts between these various entities.
2) This organization would consist of an eight member board, one representative from each state, and a director. Preferably the state representative would be appointed by the Route 66 association in each state.
3) As examples of how this organization would benefit the Route 66 community, and serve as unifying element –
a) maintain a list of speakers, authors, and artists to expedite the organizational efforts of city or state associations to create events –
b) in a manner similar to that of Tripadvisor, allow travelers to provide reviews of dining and lodging establishments, as well as museums, attractions, and events. Complaints would be forwarded directly to the owners or managers of properties and their response would also be published –
c) the organization could serve as the information clearing house for film crews, tour companies etc. seeking information about the highway, planing a trip on the highway, looking for site specific information, contact information, etc. –
d) assist organizations in the promotion of events through press releases, the publication of articles written about the event for appropriate publications, etc. –
4) The organization could create a much needed electronic archive of historic photographs, post cards, maps, etc.
5) The organization could assist in the design of programs for dissemination through schools and universities. In addition, it could provide contact information for speakers to present these programs.
6) The organization could provide key distributors of information, such as Route 66 News, with press releases for events, updates on artists and authors, reports with accompanying photographs and other pertinent information.
7) Funding for the organization, including a salary or travel reimbursement for board members and the director, would be derived through membership dues, and state tourism monies.
8) As incentive for businesses to join, the association would publish a yearly directory of member businesses with an overall rating derived from traveler reviews. These businesses would be asked to provide organization members a 10% discount on services which would serve as individual incentive for membership.
Okay, thoughts, ideas, suggestions?

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Jim Hinckley's America is a grand adventure on the back roads and two lane highways. It is an odyssey seasoned with fascinating people, and memory making discoveries. As made evident by the publication of fourteen books on subjects as diverse as diverse as Ghost Towns of the Southwest, The Illustrated History of the Checker Cab Manufacturing Company, Travel Route 66, Backroads of Arizona, and The Route 66 Encyclopedia, I enjoy sharing adventures and helping people plan for their own memory making journeys.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. I love the idea and have sent your link to the Illinois Route 66 Association president and other board members. I think this is exactly what 66 needs and is lacking.

  2. Did you just say that the emperor has no cloths? Thought so. One of my earliest Route 66 disappointments was realizing that the National Historic Route 66 Federation wasn't exactly, as Merriam-Webster would have us believe, “a union of organizations”. When David understandably decided to stop organizing the party, there was no organization to carry it on so a Route 66 Alliance, which kind of sounds like “an association to further the common interests of the members” except that there are no members, arose to take it over. Both the Federation and the Alliance and every other Route 66 organization that claims to cross state boundaries have owners not members.

    I believe that what you propose is an organization with members and dues and elected officers whose existence would not depend on one or a few entrepreneurs. It's an excellent idea. It would give people like me, who do not live along the route, a chance to become members rather than subscribers. That's a wish I've heard from others living outside the magic eight states.

    I'm not all that familiar with the 1927 Highway 66 Association. I'll take your word that your proposal mirrors it. I'm more familiar with today's Lincoln Highway Association and, to a lesser degree, with the Lincoln Highway Association that disbanded about the time the Highway 66 Association was forming. A big difference between forming those organizations and following through with your proposal is that they were able to start at the top. The slate was much much cleaner. Both Lincoln Highway Associations started at the national level and established state chapters under that umbrella. The Highway 66 Association may have done something similar. Just getting the eight (or nine) state organization to take part in non-binding chats seems pretty tough. Getting them to actually sign-on and support a national organization with anything beyond lip service is a whole lot tougher. If all or even a majority of state organizations actually ratified a constitution (or other legally binding document) for a national organization, I'd send in my dues the next day. Herding cats is a bitch and you've got some really big cats here.

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