I can’t believe our final day of traveling Route 66 has come and gone! The time flew by!
We got to sleep in a little bit on Day Four(We didn’t start until 8:45 WOOHOO!!). We had a lot to do on day four though. We set off west on 66.
Our first stop depicted another dying part of our culture: The Drive-In.
Restoration had started on this site, but for some unknown reason it stopped and has since fallen into disrepair again.
This Drive In is in Weatherford(where we departed from). Weatherford is also home to a huge wind farm.
The I-40 Interstate(seen on the left) runs next to 66 in many areas.
Our final destination of the day was Clinton, which is in far western Oklahoma. You can really see the impact that the heat and drought is having on western Oklahoma. It the ground was so dry. One resident(who was 94 years old) told us it hadn’t been that dry since the Dust Bowl. So, needless to say, they are praying for rain in western OK.
Our first stop in Clinton was the Oklahoma Route 66 Museum.
This museum was great! It’s a must see if you are ever in western Oklahoma. The museum was opened in 1995 and was designed to look like an old diner.
As I have said before, when Route 66 was decommissioned they took down all the signs on the route. These are some of the signs that were saved. The headquarters of Route 66 used to be in Clinton, Oklahoma.
The road was built in the 20s and became a national highway in 1926. In 1928, they held the Great American Bunion Derby to promote Route 66. This was a race from Chicago to L.A. 355 people entered and the prize was 25,000 dollars. A man from Foyle, Oklahoma won the derby. It took 83 days!
Unfortunatly, soon after 66 was made a highway the crash of 29 brought America into a deep depression. In the 1930s terrible drought hit the midwest, including Oklahoma. Families fled Oklahoma in hopes of a better life in California. Sadly, for most that was not what happened. In California, the new Oklahoma residents were called “Okies” a term that was once considered derogatory.
In the 1940s things began to look up. When the U.S. got involved in World War II, Route 66 again had a change in it’s traffic.
Gasoline was rationed and most of the traffic on 66 was trucks carrying military supplies. There were lots of changes going on! Highway patrol was created and it was considered a person’s patriotic duty to pick up a hitch-hiker as he was often a soldier.
The 1950s began Route 66’s Hay-Day
Suddenly there was a new focus on family. Military men, home from WWII, wanted to take their families on vacations down Route 66. It was in this decade that the diner became popular.
In the 1960s Route 66 was still thriving. You could find two types of people on the Mother Road during this decade: Hippies and Families.
Paul McCartney is a huge fan of Route 66. He has even toured this very museum!
In the 1970s we began to see the decline of Route 66. The interstate was built. 5 different interstates eventually replaced Route 66.
Sadly Route 66 was decomissioned in the 80s.
However, things are looking up. More families than ever are looking to Route 66 as a way to simplify their vacations. In these economic times more families are turning to road trips again.
People are coming from all over the world to experience Route 66. Next week, a tour of 68 people for Norway and Finland will be stopping at this museum. While we were in the museum we met a couple from Spain that was taken Route 66 to L.A.
We continued our journey down to the downtown area of Clinton, and interviewed a lot of people about the history of the town.
We finally traveled back to Edmond, tired, but so excited about our trip.
I have a new appreciation for Route 66 after this trip. There is nothing like it in the world and it’s part of our history. Everyone should travel at least one part of Route 66 sometime in their lives.
Thank you so much to Oklahoma Alliance for Geographic Education. They never fail to provide quality learning experiences for ALL teachers.
Traveling Teacher signing off from the Mother Road!