History of Route 66 | Springfield/Route 66 KOA Holiday

History of Route 66 | Springfield/Route 66 KOA Holiday

History and Significance of Route 66

U.S. Highway 66 — better known as Route 66 — is one of the most famous attractions in the United States. Both a crucial route of transportation and a symbol of American history, Route 66 is home to millions of travelers each year. The road runs from Chicago to Los Angeles and links a crucial part of the United States.

Route 66 has a vivid history. Read on for more about the significance of Route 66 and its many attractions.

Route 66 with mountains in the background

History of Route 66

Route 66 was established in 1926 when the Bureau of Public Roads started America's first Federal highway system. It consists of local, state and national roads that are combined into a single, accessible highway. The U.S. 66 Highway Association quickly promoted the route as the best path for traveling between Chicago and Los Angeles.

As the road grew in popularity, small businesses and vendors began opening new locations alongside it. Attractions like hotels, diners and entertainment features began sprouting up along Route 66, which drew more visitors to the highway.

Route 66 During Major Historical Events

During the Great Depression, many used Route 66 as an exit path from lost homes or businesses. The new travelers actually boosted the highway businesses' popularity despite the poor economic circumstances.

World War II also introduced new travelers to Route 66. It served as a military transport route for moving troops and supplies during the war. After the war ended, traffic increased along the highway as travel restrictions eased. More people were also able to buy cars, which brought more traffic to national roads.

Route 66's Cultural Significance

Travel along Route 66 decreased incrementally in the 60s, 70s and 80s with the arrival of five new interstates. These new developments negatively impacted businesses and lodgings on Route 66. 

After its popularity decreased, organizations and government officials started campaigns to boost Route 66's status. Many worked to preserve and honor the road's significance. By 1990, Congress passed legislation recognizing Route 66's cultural significance and importance to the United States. Many preservation projects for the road remain active today.

Route 66 continues to be an important symbol of American culture and remains a popular travel destination. 

Why Route 66 Is Famous

Route 66 is a crucial symbol of American history. Its legendary fame is due to a variety of reasons:

  • History: Route 66 was historically significant for reducing the distance between Chicago and Los Angeles by nearly 200 miles. It also represents a historical period of geographic connection and economic prosperity. For many Americans, Route 66 is also a symbol of hope and freedom.
  • Diners and food: The highway is also noteworthy because of its wide array of dining options. Many small restaurants and places of lodging grew famous because of their proximity to Route 66. These historic dining establishments continue to be popular travel spots today.
  • Other attractions: Lastly, Route 66 is also home to many famous attractions that encourage more visitors. From iconic spots like the Gateway Arch to unforgettable statues like a giant milk bottle, Route 66 has many iconic landmarks for travelers to see.

Major Attractions Along Route 66

Route 66's many attractions engage new visitors from across the country and worldwide. It has become a popular road trip destination for many Americans and their families. If you are interested in planning a Route 66 road trip, you have many landmarks to choose from. From dining at a famous restaurant to exploring notable attractions, you are sure to have an exciting time.

These are some Route 66 attractions you will not want to miss:

  • Cadillac Ranch: The Cadillac Ranch is a unique public art installation located alongside Route 66. The sculpture features 10 Cadillacs nose-down in a field in Amarillo, Texas. The cars are arranged at the same angle as the Giza Pyramids. This feature opened in 1974, and you can access this attraction at all hours of the day, every day of the year.
  • The Painted Desert: Another beautiful attraction of Route 66 is Arizona's Painted Desert. These badlands extend from the eastern Grand Canyon to Petrified Forest National Park. This desert is famous for its vivid and varied colors, from red rock to shades of lavender. A historic portion of Route 66 runs through the Painted Desert, making it an unforgettable stop. 
  • The Milk Bottle Grocery: If you are interested in unique landmarks, this milk bottle sculpture might be perfect for your Route 66 trip. This attraction is located in Oklahoma City and includes a small, red-bricked building and a massive milk bottle sitting on top. Built in 1930, the Milk Bottle Grocery has been a popular Route 66 destination for nearly a century. In 1998, this attraction was added to the National Registry of Historic Places. 
  • The St. Louis Gateway Arch: The Gateway Arch is an iconic American attraction, and it is also located along Route 66. Whether you ride the tram to the top, explore the museum or try a nearby river cruise, you can experience many of the Gateway Arch's unforgettable features. Many visitors spend an entire day at the attraction, so be sure to plan enough time for your stop.
  • Santa Monica Pier: Route 66 stretches from Chicago to Los Angeles. This makes the Santa Monica pier one of the most exciting attractions as the road comes to an end. The beautiful and historic pier juts into the Pacific Ocean. You can spend a day at the nearby beach or try one of the fun attractions on the boardwalk. 

RV campsite

Springfield/Route 66 KOA Holiday

One essential part of your Route 66 road trip is having a place to stay, and Springfield/Route 66 KOA Holiday in Springfield, Missouri, is an excellent option. Our campground is located near Route 66 and is a great resting spot during your exciting trip. Whether you want to park your RVset up a tent or try a cabin, you have a variety of ways to stay — and with amenities like Wi-Fi, cable TV, a snack bar and a pool, you are sure to enjoy your time here. 

Make Your Reservation Today

Exploring Route 66 is an unforgettable journey. From the road's historical significance to its fun attractions, you and your travel companions can have an exhilarating experience. 

If you are planning a Route 66 trip, consider booking your site at Springfield/Route 66 KOA Holiday today. We are close to Route 66, so we are a perfect place to stay if you are visiting for one night or several. You can enjoy attractions like:

  • Golf courses
  • Nearby shopping
  • Fantastic Caverns, a nearby cave exploration
  • Nearby museums
  • And more!

To get started, book your campsite today. 

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