Route 66: The Mother Road
Route 66 was the first highway to cross America, at a time when travelling from one coast to another was highly difficult, and when other highways of its time, such as Lincoln or Dixie, were linear and much shorter.
The so-called "Mother Road of America" encompassed a total of 2 447 miles, three time zones, eight states and soon after its complete pavement, in the 1930s, it started its rise as an icon in that troubled era. Route 66 opened the West for adventurers and entrepreneurs to accomplish their own "American Dream". The completion of the highway saw the beginning of the Dust Bowl, a series of violent dust storms, caused by draught and the intensive farming in Southern and Central States. Thus, more than a million farmers started fleeing towards California, and used the newly paved Route 66. Driven by despair and hunger, they were saved by the Mother Road, that they were also calling "the road to opportunity". And for some, who were not afraid to build a roadside business, it really was. It was the rising time of the iconic gas stations, motels, restaurants and drive inns, these road milestones that will later gather real communities around them, along with the prosperity drawn from the immense amount of traffic from Route 66. It was this type of business that enlivened the highway, and rendered a unique charm that was gone when the Interstate system was initiated.
The motorists that once drove on uncharted terrain, with nothing but a compass and developed orientation sense as their main tools, could now immerse into pleasures of a modern highway. They could be sheltered by lazy motels with large neon signs that were showing the way. They could stop at a drive in cinema, buy souvenirs, refill and have their cars fixed by professionals. In a way Route 66 was no longer the road to a certain destination. It WAS the destination.
This golden era left traces even in literature or cinema. John Steinbeck.s .Grapes of Wrath. is set when the Dust Bowl occurs, and mentions for the first time the name "Mother Road", as a relief path for the many migrants. The notoriety of the road also materialized with the airing of a TV series, called "Route 66". However, the freedom of automobile travel was celebrated best in Bob Troup's famous song, "Get your kicks on the Route 66".
Besides serving as a road for migrants, holiday travellers or young adventurers, Route 66 was strategically used in the World War II. Transporting troops and equipment proved to be a lot easier on the new highway. Also, because the war industry and several military bases were set in California, the road was heavily used by Army and civilians with related jobs.
Though the Route 66 was eventually decommissioned in 1984, since it could no longer bear the amount of traffic and the Interstate Highways were already functional, it still lives today in the hearts of many people. Portions of the road are being restored, and its legacy keeps on going, under the supervising of Route 66 Historical Associations. During the rime, the Route 66 spirit transferred to objects of everyday use, signs, commercials or drawings form that époque. However, these remnants from the distant past of the Mother Road proved to be timeless, thus inspiring for the creation of the Route 66 Collection.