Route 66 was referred to as “the super-highway” during its planning stages in 1926, and the idea represented freedom for Americans to travel West. While other east-west highways already existed, most were linear and didn’t access rural communities. By 1938, the 2,300 mile super-highway connecting Chicago and Los Angeles was complete, connecting the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean.
John Steinbeck called Route 66 the “Mother Road” in his 1939 novel “The Grapes of Wrath.” The movie of the same name immortalized the road in American consciousness a year later. Over 200,000 people used it to migrate to California for new opportunities and to leave the Dust Bowl of the Midwest behind. During World War II, Route 66 helped to transport troops, products and equipment.
After the war, Route 66 symbolized promise, a positive outlook and free-spirited independence as the economy slowly recovered. However, by the mid-1950s, the National Interstate and Defense Highways Act was enacted, allowing for the construction of more than 40,000 miles of new interstates. By 1970, nearly all of Route 66 was bypassed by the efficient four-lane highways Quick Transfer USA now uses. Today, just a few Historic Route 66 signs mark portions of the road, and Route 66 Historical Associations and private groups preserve some of its vintage treasures.
To follow Route 66 today, you’ll need a good map to help you navigate where highway signs fail to mark where the original route veers off the interstate.