Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Route 66 Celebrates 75 Years as `America's Main Street'

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Route 66 Celebrates 75 Years as `America's Main Street'

Article excerpt

Ever since its official beginning on Nov. 11, 1926, Route 66 has been embraced by the American public. In the 75 years since, it has become an indelible icon of our nation's culture -- a symbol of our mobile society at its best and of our society's enduring love for the automobile.

Oklahoma is blessed to have more miles of this historic 2,400- mile roadway than any other state, and our histories are strongly intertwined. We are home to both the state Route 66 Museum in Clinton and the National Route 66 Museum in Elk City, plus many of the road's most well-known symbols, such as the round barn in Arcadia, the outdoor Totem Pole Park in Foyil, and the newly refurbished Coleman Theater in Miami.

Route 66 was more than a cross-country passage for early auto travelers. It exemplified the open road, beckoning adventurers with the promise of freedom. It carried people through bustling cities and into neon-lit small towns in the heart of America, and to places where telephone poles and train tracks were all that broke the scenery for miles. Scattered in between were mom-and-pop truck stops, roadside diners and motor courts with a new luxury- refrigerated air.

Americana at its most intriguing can be found along Oklahoma's stretch of our famed roadway. Dozens of Oklahoma cities along Route 66 have kept their downtowns vibrant. Many today boast a diverse assemblage of restaurants and shops featuring antiques, collectibles and Route 66 memorabilia. A prime example is the Coleman Theatre in Miami, an original landmark, which recently was refurbished to the original grandeur of its Spanish Mission-style architecture and Louis XV furnishings. Another is the Round Barn in Arcadia, a restored 1898 landmark and the only wooden round barn in Oklahoma.

Built in 1993, the Oklahoma Route 66 Museum in Clinton draws tens of thousands of visitors from around the world each year. Here you can hear historian Michael Wallis narrate a decade-by-decade journey through the rise and fall of America's Main Street and see the World's Largest Curio Cabinet, filled with the kind of "kitchy" souvenirs Route 66 travelers have been collecting since the 1920s. …

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