In 1926, Route 66 was just one of many newly minted U.S. highways. As with so many of those other highways, it was also knit together from auto trails, historic roads, and even old cow trails.
Even though Route 66 wove the 20th century National Old Trails Highway and Trail to Sunset, and historic roads including the Santa Fe Trail, the Wire Road, Pontiac Trail, Mormon Road, Mojave Road, and Spanish Trail into one linear highway, initially there was nothing to set it apart from the other roads in the U.S. highway system.
In February of 1927, all of that changed. Cyrus Avery grabbed the reigns of the newly formed U.S. Highway 66 Association and charged into the creation of an advertising campaign that centered on proclaiming the highway signed with two sixes was “The Main Street of America.”
The rest, as they say, is history. Fast forward almost a century. Technically Route 66 no longer exists, at least officially. Yet it lives on in the imagination, in the very fiber of American society, and in the dreams of countless people throughout the world who equate the old road with rock and roll, tail fins, and the freedom of the open road.
Manifestations of the roads allure, its mystery, and its magic are found most everywhere. Those familiar with its charms know that this old highway that connects the shining sea of Lake Michigan with the shining sea of the Pacific Ocean is a linear community unlike anything in the world.
Those unfamiliar with iconic Route 66 are baffled by this fascination and struggle to understand why people would spend their hard earned money to spend a holiday on a broken, truncated highway lined with broken vestiges of better times, refurbished time capsules where colorful neon casts a haunting glow, and in towns with ghostly empty streets.
Yesterday, I granted an interview to Sarah Bergeron-Ouellet, a travel writer for Canoe. I can no longer count the times effort have been made to explaining the magic of Route 66. As with the majesty of the Grand Canyon, mere words or photographs are inadequate descriptors. Both must be experienced.
I am quite confident my words and photography were the portal to Sarah’s voyage of discovery. However, as she was on the road to Williams, with planned stops in Hackberry, Peach Springs, and in Seligman to visit with Angel, that is where the awakening will occur.
If you have been puzzled by the allure of this storied old road, or are a veteran traveler eager to know more, I have initiated a service to assist. It includes various tours of the Kingman area that run the gamut from day trips to an evening of relaxed conversation, as well as assistance in planning a Route 66 adventure tailor made to your special interests, or that of your tour group.
Here is to a year of adventure on the double six. Here is to the allure of the open road.