Six Decades On Route 66

Six Decades On Route 66

Photo Oregon Museum of History

Ezra Manning Meeker was born on December 29, 1830. He died on December 3, 1928. He is a role model for anyone that struggles to adapt to new technologies, or make sense of a rapidly changing world.

In an ox cart he, his new bride and an infant son traveled west over the Oregon Trail in 1852. He built an empire with the growing of hops, and was the first mayor of Puyallup, Washington. Meeker made four trips into the Yukon country during the gold rush of the late 1890s.

In the first years of the 20th century, as America embraced the automobile and technologies that promised a bright, new future, Meeker worried that the Oregon Trail and its role in the development of the country was being forgotten. And so he launched a publicity campaign to have it marked awith monuments.

In the years 1906, 1907, and 1908 he retraced his steps along the Oregon Trail by wagon. He gave interviews along the way, and spoke in communities along the trail as well as in towns during his journey to New York City. And in Washington, D.C. he met with President Theodore Roosevelt.

His fame, and public awareness about his campaign to erect monuments along the Oregon Trail, grew exponentially as launched a national speaking tour, began writing books, and worked to establish the Oregon-California Trails Association. And he traveled the Oregon Trail again by oxcart in 1910, 1911 and 1912.

With a friend and an automobile donated by National, he expanded on his speaking tour. And he took time in the late teens to assist his son with construction of the first service station and campground complex in the Cajon Pass along the National Old Trails Road, predecessor to Route 66.

In 1924 he traveled by airplane to Dayton, Ohio for an event honoring pioneers. And in 1928, during a trip to Michigan where he was to meet Henry Ford and discuss a promotional campaign for the new Model A, Meeker fell ill. Henry Ford personally saw to his care.

Meeker recovered, and traveled home to Washington. Shortly after his return, he again took ill nad passed away shortly afterwards.

When I encounter issues with Facebook, a seemingly necessary evil, my thoughts turn to Mr. Meeker. I reflect on his ability to adapt, to even thrive, in changing times. That gives me a broader perspective, which in turn helps me think of new and creative ways to inspire road trips and to tell people where to go.

Facebook has become an integral component in marketing. But it is far from being a dependable promotional venue. Quite the opposite. The Jim Hinckley’s America page with nearly 8,000 followers has been locked since February 18. Countless hours have been spent on attempts to resolve the issue, and I have yet to receive a response. These were hours that could have been spent on telling people where to go. And now, the James Hinckley page on Facebook has been locked on several occassions. Fortunately I have been able to resolve this problem with minimal effort and expenditure of time.

Now, I may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer. Hit me in the head with 2 x 4 and tell me it was an accident. Chances are that I will believe you. But around the fifth time, I start to get suspicious. Suffice to say, Facebook and I are about to part ways.

We become so dependant on a tool or something that we accept as a service, it becomes difficult to imagine life without it. But as I step back, and as I reflect on Mr. Meeker, I see alternatives. So, we are going to continue developing this website. As per Mr. Meeker, I will be pursuing interviews and speaking engagements. I will be taking the show on the road. And I will be tapping into other opportunities’ for sharing adventures and inspiring road trips such as our podcasts, Coffee With Jim and Car Talk From The Main Street of America. 

Enough time has been spent in frustration. Now it is time to see the issues with Facebook as an opportunity. It is time to find other means of sharing stories from my six decades on Route 66.