What Makes a Good Waymark?
Noted Route 66 author Jerry McClanahan calls Route 66, "The legendary emblem of 20th century roadside America." In this Waymarking category, that's the spirit we're trying to capture. The ordinary is not welcome here.
So what qualifies? Well, generally speaking it's something that captures the distinct culture of the period when Route 66 flourished, 1926 to 1984. A classic motor hotel, a diner, or maybe a curio shop.
It could also be something that really stands out as significant along the route. Roadside art, Route 66 museums or decommissioned bridges would all qualify.
Then there are those progress markers or memorials such as the Route 66 midpoint sign, or a Roy Roger Dedication plaques, or the Mojave Desert plaques. Any of these would also be welcome here.
An example of something that would not be acceptable is a church which happened to have been built along Route 66 during the period but which is not Americana nor otherwise significant. It could be a modern building or a gothic structure but neither would qualify.
History of Route 66
U.S. Route 66 was pieced together in 1926 from existing trails and paths to complete a span of road which ran from Chicago, IL to Santa Monica, CA. This "Main Street of America" spanned three time zones, crossed eight States, and covered more than 2,000 miles. It was the country's first two lane road to connect the shores of Lake Michigan to the the palisades of the Pacific Ocean.
Over time its popularity grew. Early on it was an escape path for midwesterners fleeing the horrors of the dust bowl years. After WWII, the route was driven by young war veterans wanting to head West to seek their fortunes. The 1946 song "Get Your Kicks on Route 66" inspired renewed interest in the road for vacations as did the 1960 show "Route 66". It grew to become the prominent East-West thoroughfare until it slowly became eclipsed by the Interstate Highway System.
Though it was decertified as an official U.S. highway in 1985, an interesting thing has happened. Unlike other historic trails which disappeared from everywhere but written memory, Route 66 has experienced a resurgence of interest. Associations in each State continue to promote Route 66. Books, articles, and other print media continue to reflect positively on its history. Even movies themed on Route 66 have been successful, "Cars" by Pixar Studios being the most prominent example. The result is a resurgence of interest and tourism along the path of Route 66.
About 85 percent of Route 66 can still be traveled in one form or another. Much of what was not absorbed into the Interstate Freeway System remains undisturbed by modernization. This results in absolutely special icons from the past remaining viewable for those who are looking for them.
Traveling Route 66 is like a treasure hunt where you are constantly discovering gems!