French magazine cover courtesy
Blue Swallow Motel

If I were a gambling man the homestead would be bet on Route 66 being more popular today than at anytime in its storied history. During the glory days of the highway, roughly the years between 1947 and 1960, were there international Route 66 associations or companies that specialized in tours of that highway? And what about the tsunami of national and international media stories pertaining to Route 66, stories that feature Route 66, or stories that are linked to Route 66 published in the past couple of years?

Unless you have been hiding under under a rock or living on a remote island cut off from the rest of the world these past few weeks your probably aware that photography locations for the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition are all on Route 66. Did you know that estimated exposure to Route 66 through the magazine, video about the photo shoot, and a television program on the making of the issue is expected be around 70 million people?
Author Jim Hinckley with Chinese media.

I, for one, find all of this absolutely astounding. Now, how about this number. I recently was interviewed by a Chinese film crew who were traveling Route 66 on a tour organized by Open Road Productions and was informed that viewership for their program was in the neighborhood of 90 million people.

Apparently we the international Route 66 community don’t really have a problem with promoting the highway. What we have is a problem ensuring that the essence of the Route 66 experience isn’t drowned by its ever increasing international popularity, that the promotion and publicity is accurate, and that preservation ensures tangible links to the roads history remain for future generations. 
Author Jim Hinckley meeting with an Open Road
Productions led Chinese tour at the Powerhouse
in Kingman, Arizona.

That, of course, takes us to the bold and ambitious plans of the steering committee that were detailed in yesterday’s blog post. As a crucial key to the success of that endeavor is public input and involvement, I spent a great deal of time in the past few days sharing the press release, as well as the mission and goals statement, with state and international Route 66 associations, key stakeholders and contributors in the Route 66 community such as Ron Hart of the Route 66 Chamber of Commerce, and Scott Piotrowski, organizer of the 90th anniversary international event at the original western terminus of Route 66 in the very heart of historic Los Angeles, media contacts, and elected representatives on the state, federal, and local level.

Needless to say, the generally positive feedback has been most encouraging. The long awaited support structure for the Route 66 community may be at hand. That is but one manifestation of the change sweeping Route 66. 
From its inception Route 66 has been in a state of evolution. Historic sites were preserved, the road changed to meet the needs of the motoring public, and it served as a showcase for the future that loomed just over the horizon. That did not end when the double six was removed from the roster of U.S. Highways. 
In yesterday’s blog post I noted the increasing international interest in the Route 66 Electric Vehicle Museum that opened in Kingman during the 2014 Route 66 International Festival. This morning the Kingman Daily Miner published a feature about the museum and forthcoming additions. Shortly after publishing that post I received notification from the Historic Electric Vehicle Foundation that additional acquisitions were on the way including Willie Nelson’s Rolls Royce styled golf cart.

Topock Resort

Pop’s, the face of the modern era on Route 66 that became a destination in Arcadia, Oklahoma, has announced plans for another location in Oklahoma City. Topock in Arizona has morphed from a dusty gas station, cafe, and fishing supply store into a destination with plans for a resort hotel on the drawing board.
From Webb City in Missouri to Rancho Cucamonga in California old and abandoned gas stations are being given a new lease on life as gift shops, visitor centers, and an array of creative new uses. Abandoned or forlorn motels are rising from the ashes like the mythical Phoenix. 

So, again, I pose the question. Do you think that Route 66 is more popular than at any time in its history?     

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