When I started mapping out our first journey in the Casita, it looked like I was going to be traveling many miles on interstates. From my home in Surprise, Arizona to Flagstaff on I-17 and then for a couple of hundred miles on I-40.
I-40 has a rich history… Known as Route 66
The superhighway I-40 was the brainchild of President Eisenhower. He modeled it after Germany’s effective free-flowing highway system. The 47,800-mile Interstate Highway System eventually led to Route 66 becoming obsolete.
Elizabeth Nix wrote a fascinating article 8 Things You May Not Know About Route 66. Most of this post I quote her.
“One of America’s most iconic highways, Route 66 stretched 2,448 miles from Chicago to Los Angeles. Pieced together in 1926 from existing roads, it wound through Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California. Dust Bowl migrants headed west on the roadway in the 1930s, while tourists flocked to its mom-and-pop businesses and kitschy attractions in the 1950s. The two-lane highway was memorialized in the literature (“The Grapes of Wrath”) and song (“Get Your Kicks on Route 66”) and came to symbolize freedom and adventure. Explore the celebrated roadway, which was made obsolete by high-speed interstates and decommissioned by the federal government in 1985—although much of it remains drivable today.”
Were you aware that as early as 1928 runners participated in a 3,400-mile marathon from Los Angeles to New York? This grueling event was nicknamed the Bunion Derby.
Route 66 cartoon map. (Credit: drmakkoy/www.istockphoto.com) <from Elizabeth Nix article>
Unfortunately, a portion of Route 66 was part of the northern route of the Trail of Tears. The Cherokee Indians were forced in 1838 to relocate from their traditional homelands in the southern Appalachians. About 16,000 began the trek. An estimated almost 4,000 died along the way. Harsh conditions included disease, malnutrition, and exposure.
<from Elizabeth Nix article>
My first and only time traveling on the original Route 66 road. It was about a half mile to the Jackrabbit Trading Post on the far left.
We stopped so Bernie and Chris could have their picture taken next to the large fiberglass Jackrabbit. Over the years, thousands of folks had their photo taken on that statute. Many had never seen a jackrabbit before. The actual animal isn’t a rabbit but a hare. It got its name because the ears resemble a jackass.
Today, it was a lonely place. In fact, it was the only thing in many miles. However, all along Route 66 during the 50’s there were dozens of mom and pop establishments hawking food and souvenirs.
Landmark Delgadillo’s Snow Cap Drive- eatery and roadside attraction located along Route 66 in Seligman, Arizona. (Credit: littleny/www.istockphoto.com) <from Elizabeth Nix article>
In the 60’s television featured American actors George Maharis (standing) and Martin Milner pose with their blue Corvette from the television show ‘Route 66.’ (Credit: CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images)
<from Elizabeth Nix article>
As we traveled along I-40, sometimes I could see rough patches of grass that lined old Route 66. There were some buildings, long past lived in and impossible to make out what commercial enterprise thrived in that yesteryear era of Route 66.