U.S. Route 66 (US 66 or Route 66), also known as the Will Rogers Highway, the Main Street of America or the Mother Road, was one of the original highways in the U.S. Highway System. US 66 was established on November 11, 1926, with road signs erected the following year.
The highway, which became one of the most famous roads in the United States, originally ran from Chicago, Illinois, through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona before ending in Santa Monica in Los Angeles County, California, covering a total of 2,448 miles (3,940 km).
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. In John Steinbeck’s classic-American novel, The Grapes of Wrath (1939), the road, “Highway 66”, was turned into a powerful symbol of escape and loss.
It was the major travel route during the Dust Bowl in the 1930s. Over time most of the original route has been replaced by Interstates.
The numerical designation 66 was assigned to the Chicago-to-Los Angeles route on April 30, 1926, in Springfield, Missouri. A placard in Park Central Square was dedicated to the city by the Route 66 Association of Missouri, and traces of the “Mother Road” are still visible in downtown Springfield along Kearney Street, Glenstone Avenue, College, and St. Louis streets and on Route 266 to Halltown, Missouri.
When visiting St. Louis there are 14 different ways to get your kicks:
- Old Chain of Rocks Bridge– Get Directions – The original Mississippi River Crossing for Route 66.
- MotoMuseum – Get Directions – A tribute to the history of motorbikes.
- Ted Drewes Frozen Custard – Get Directions– Serving frozen custard to Route 66 travelers and to the residents of St. Louis sing the 1920s.
- Route 66 State Park – Get Directions – Lots of collectibles and a well stocked gift store.
- Purina Farms–Get Directions– Great place for “City slickers” to get up close and personal with the wonders of farm life.