Getting our kicks on Route 66

Wednesday, June 10, 2015
Along the route of Missouri Historic Route 66, one will come upon a unique curved bridge, located at Devil's Elbow, located between Rolla and St. Louis.

I don't know about you, but back in the day as a young teenager after getting my driver's license and coming in late on a school night, one of the first questions from my mother was, "Where in the world have you been?" Then came the spanking-- yes, at 16 with her bare hand.

As many of you may be keeping up with me on Facebook, my wife and I are traveling the Historic Route 66.

Last year, we decided to begin our adventure in Chicago and take in Illinois Route 66. We began at Buckingham Fountain and through twists and turns ended up at the Chain of Rocks Bridge. Route 66 follows I-55 in Illinois as its side road, and other designated state roads. In many places, you can actually drive on the original Route 66 pavement.

This month, we began our Missouri Route 66 adventure, beginning in St. Louis at Ted Drewe's and ended up at Afton, Oklahoma, with Kansas in between. Only 13 miles of Rt. 66 were in Kansas. In Missouri, Route 66 follows I-44 from St. Louis to Joplin. Again, Route 66 used the interstate side roads, or designated state roads on both sides of the interstate.

Today, each state and many of the towns along Route 66 has really played up on the historic road. Some, not so well, but some, go all out. I applaud the town of Cuba, Missouri for their Route 66 themes and murals. In fact, the town is called "The City of Murals;" at least 12 are painted on office buildings and some store fronts depicting the times of the day, and other historic events. Illinois has by far made a big show of attractions. Cuba, Mo. comes in second and Galena, Kan., also tops the list.

In the movie, "Cars", the original tow truck for Tow Mater was found in Galena as was the car garage used in Radiator Springs. Both concepts came from that small town on Route 66.

Just a little ways from Cuba is another well known Route 66 stop, the Route 66 Outpost in Fanning, Mo. It is the home of the world's largest rocking chair. Although, Portageville does have something similar in size, it is not a rocking chair. The chair I am referring to is one made my Rodney Walls, and is located behind his house.

For those you that do not know what or where Historic Route 66 is, below is a brief history of what is known by several names throughout the years including the "Mother Road," "Main Street of America," and the "Will Rogers Highway."

Route 66 served travelers for some 50 years before totally succumbing to the "new and improved" interstate system. Established in 1926, road signs began to be erected the following year, but, it would be several years before the 2,448 mile highway would be continuously paved from Chicago to Los Angeles.

Running through the states of Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California, the highway became one of the most famous roads in America.

Route 66 served as a major path for those who migrated west, especially during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, and it supported the economies of the communities through which the road passed. People doing business along the route became prosperous due to the growing popularity of the highway, and those same people later fought to keep the highway alive in the face of the growing threat of being bypassed by the new interstate highway system

It was recognized in popular culture by both the hit song "(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66" and the Route 66 television show in the 1960s.

Over the years, the road underwent many improvements and realignments, changing its path and overall length, and moving its endpoint farther west to Santa Monica, Calif.

Route 66 was officially decommissioned and the familiar highway markers came down.

But, it was not the end for this historic path. New generations wanted to travel this old road. Signs began to go back up, and today, thousands enjoy these vintage peeks along the old highway. However, the original road is not indicated on most maps today, but most of the state visitor centers do have maps and information available for Route 66.

Our main reasoning for wanting to drive Route 66 is, not only did we want to, but because of our Mini Cooper. Just how iconic would it be to take our Mini on Route 66. With our Mini, we can get our "Kicks on Route 66".