Route 66

Route 66 or the 'Mother Road' provided American drivers with the ultimate 2000-mile road trip from Chicago to Los Angeles.

In 1928 a foot race dubbed the Bunion Derby helped publicize Route 66.

The $25,000 prize brought 275 runners to the starting line. Some ran barefooted. One played a ukulele.

Winner, Andrew Payne, crossed the finish line at Madison Square Garden 84 days later (running time of 573 hours).

(More about the Bunion Derby)

One-of-kind restaurants, motels, changing landscapes and curious attractions could be found around each curve.

Route 66 Missouri
Joe Sonderman.
Otglen, Penn : Schiffer Pub., c2010.
Route 66 Highway, first built in 1926-32, offers a fantastic variety of scenery and history. This segment of the highway, from the Gateway to the West through the beautiful Ozarks, is organized in over 300 vintage postcards and color photos that capture travel on The Mother Road across the Show Me State. There are stops at no-tell motels, gas stations, cafes, roadside stands, and good, old-fashioned tourist traps. The detailed text provides histories at each stop, including icons such as Coral Court, The Diamonds, Meramec Caverns, and many more. This book is organized first chronologically and then features a tour through the Meramec Valley, from Leasburg to Rolla, the Ozarks, Lebanon to Springfield, and Springfield to the Ghost Section. Postcard values are included in the captions. For all who enjoy the romance of the open road, this book is a treasure.
Greetings from Route 66 : the ultimate road trip back through time along America's main street
[editor, Michael Dregni].
Minneapolis, Minn. : Voyageur Press, 2010.
John Steinbeck famously christened Route 66 America’s “Mother Road” in The Grapes of Wrath , and that chapter about Tom Joad’s exodus is just one of the classic pieces collected in this ultimate anthology. Here’s history, roadside attractions, pop culture, ghost stories-even recipes from famous greasy spoons. And it’s all illustrated with the largest collection of vintage art, postcards, travel decals, collectibles, and other memorabilia ever amassed. This is a truly a worthy tribute to the Main Street of America.
Missouri's haunted Route 66 : ghosts along the Mother Road
Janice Tremeear.
Charleston, SC : History Press, 2010.
  1. Includes bibliographical references.
  2. St. Louis -- Eureka, Mo. -- Defiance, Mo. -- Stanton, Mo. -- Sullivan, Mo. -- Rolla, Mo. -- Springfield, Mo. -- Buffalo, Mo. -- Carthage, Mo. -- Joplin, Mo.
The Route 66 St. Louis cookbook : the mother lode of recipes from the mother road
[by Norma Maret Bolin].
St. Louis, MO : St. Louis Transitions, c2009.
  1. Statement of responsibility from cover.
  2. Includes bibliographical references (p. 170).

Originally dedicated on November 11, 1926, Route 66 would pass through Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California.  Linking small towns and large cities, Route 66 changed the way Americans traveled, lived, and did business.

In the Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck's 1939 novel, Route 66 became the 'Mother Road'.  It symbolized opportunity to the thousands of people migrating from the Dust Bowl to California. 

On a lighter note a Nat King Cole recording in 1946 invited travelers to 'get their kicks on Route 66'.  Then in the 1960's the television series 'Route 66' followed the weekly adventures of Martin Milner and George Maharis.

The growth of interstate road system led to end of Route 66's official designation by 1985. Today's maps do not include old Route 66. 

Yet the highway's lore and legend continues helped by clubs and associations throughout the eight Route 66 states.  Members work to preserve the attractions and provide the opportunity for new generations to experience the great highway.   Collectors look for memorabilia. 

Car enthusiasts meet annually and drive the old Route 66 once again experiencing the adventure it offers.

Article by: St. Louis Public Library staff