Get your travel kicks on Route 66
In 1926, America's first paved highway, Route 66, also known as "The Main Street of America" opened. People took the roads and flooded to California to escape the Dust bowl. Stretching across 8 States, this 2,448-mile length of road started in the Midwest in Chicago, Illinois, led travellers south through St, Louis, Missouri over to Tulsa and Oklahoma City, cutting through Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, and eventually ending in Los Angeles, California.
Dietmar Rabich - Wikimedia
In the 1950's, the route filled with people that were itching to get to LA for a break. Along Route 66, there are several breathtaking natural attractions that have helped to make the road even more attractive to tourists.
The Painted Desert in Arizona is a 7,500 square mile area that covers much of the Rocky Badlands and stretches from Grand Canyon National Park all the way east to Petrified Forest National Park. The Meteor Crater near Winslow, Arizona is a unique place to visit for those that are interested in seeing the impact a giant meteor did 50,000 years ago. Meramec Caverns in Stanton, Missouri offers something different and you can see the notorious James' brothers hideout.
Due to the number of natural attractions, the route was becoming more and more popular so locals decided to take advantage of the traffic. This led to the setting up of restaurants, shops and random tourist sights that would entice visitors to stop off and spend a few bucks. Some of the best tourist attractions that are still around include the diners and curio shops in Tucumacari, New Mexico, the Blue Whale in Catoosa, Oklahoma which was built in the 70's and the Route 66 Museum in Clinton, Oklahoma. If you want to pull in and watch a film, stop in at the 66 Drive-in in Cathage, Missouri and sit back and relax under the giant outdoor screen.
Texas is home to the famous 1973 art installation done by Stanley Marsh consisting of 10 half buried vintage Cadillacs, a very unique sight indeed. While driving through Groom, Texas, keep your eyes peeled for an intentionally built leaning water tower. In hopes of attracting more people into this town, they decided to build this unique sight as yet another gimmick.
President Eisenhower was so impressed with the German Autobahn during the Second World War that he launched the "National Highway Program" in 1972, which slowly but surely ended Route 66. In June of 1985 Route 66 was decommissioned, but people can still drive about 85% of the road still. There are preservation groups that are fighting to keep this part of American road and migration history intact and in a vibrant state.