What is Route 66?
Learn about this historic highway and why Route 66 is an American treasure worth preserving.
Route 66 was one of the original U.S. highways, established November 11, 1926. Beginning in the city of Chicago, IL, running westward through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California, ending in Los Angeles. In one of its realignments, that end point was moved to Santa Monica, where it remains today.
Route 66 was a significant roadway over which westward-bound migrants traveled, beginning during the Dust Bowl days of the 1930’s. Many communities sprang up along the road, supporting the travelers and providing for their needs. For decades, Route 66 remained a vibrant and scenic roadway through the heartland of America. Throughout the years, Route 66 had undergone improvements and realignments as it changed with the burgeoning American population and westward movement of that population. As the Interstate highway system was developed, however, Route 66’s popularity and practicatlity waned until, on June 27, 1985, it was officially decommissioned, officially removing from the U.S. Highway System.
Since that time, the remaining Route 66 communities have striven to keep this “Main Street of America” alive and well. They honor the nostalgia and lifestyle which existed during the heyday of Route 66. There are numerous organizations and associations across America – and the world – who are dedicated to keeping the spirit of Route 66 in all its glory going strong. We, the Route 66 Association of Illinois – are one of those organizations who have vowed to do all we can to preserve and protect the Mother Road.
Preservation is the means by which the past is linked to the present for the future. Our association combines creative thinking with a “can do” attitude to take on projects that represent Route 66 and restore and maintain them so that present and future generations can have a glimpse of Illinois’ Route 66 in its heyday for themselves. Our Preservation Committee is an all-volunteer enterprise; our motto is, “We work for food.”
Our efforts keep the spirit of the Mother Road alive and well. We believe that what we are enjoying today is the history of yesterday. What we do today will become the history of tomorrow.
Our Association is dedicated to educating the public about the history, purpose, significance and appeal of Route 66, especially in Illinois – where the road begins! Through the establishment of our Hall of Fame and Museum in Pontiac, Illinois, we offer a taste of the icons, lifestyle and the historical timeframe of the Mother Road throughout the years. On our website, we share information, news and stories about Route 66, spreading the word about events along America’s Main Street, her destinations and significant individuals. Through organized events throughout the year, we celebrate the culture of transportation and the freedom of the open road.
From the members who volunteer at our Hall of Fame and Museum in Pontiac, Illinois to those who man the Association booth at events and festivals; on our website and via social media – we are dedicated to publicizing and patronizing the attractions, events and businesses along our state’s segment of Route 66. Each June, we organize and sponsor a Motor Tour – our Association’s signature event – which tours a segment Illinois’ Route 66, to sample and appreciate all that the road has to offer travelers.
We also promote with merchandise! Purchase Route 66 T-shirts, jackets, collectable pins, our own exclusive cookbook and more items to declare that you’re a fan of our efforts. One hundred percent of the profits from the sale of these promotional items go toward funding our Preservation efforts.
Route 66 provides an enjoyable experience for the whole family, combining the best of Americana and nostalgia! If you’re looking for a unique destination in the Midwest chock-full of quaint attractions (think giant rabbits and hot dog-holding lumberjacks) and out-of-the-ordinary points of interest (do you like home-grown maple sirup or mural art?), diners (got a taste for “horseshoes” and pies?) Illinois’ Route 66 is where to want to travel! Fine, friendly folks await, more than happy to avail you of their own adventures living or traveling along Route 66!
We are particularly proud of our segment of Route 66 and we enjoy helping you enjoy her too!