• Congress Completes Final Passage of the Route 66 Centennial Commission Act

    December 23, 2020

    On December 8, the House unanimously passed by voice vote the Route 66 Centennial Commission Act (S. 1014), which establishes a commission to honor Route 66 on its centennial anniversary beginning next year. The House had previously passed the companion bill (H.R. 66) in February 2019, and after the reconciliation of both versions. It was signed by the president on December 23, 2020.

    Historic Route 66 stretches approximately 2,400 miles from Chicago to Los Angeles, passing through eight states and more than 300 communities. This vital transportation corridor between the Midwest and southern California has endured as a symbol of freedom and mobility while epitomizing a new optimism that pervaded the nation’s economic recovery following World War II.

    The National Trust endorsed this legislation introduced by Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and James Inhofe (R-OK) in the Senate and Representatives Rodney Davis (R-IL) and Grace Napolitano (D-CA) in the House during several committee hearings and previous floor votes.

  • Legislation to Designate Route 66 as a National Historic Trail Introduced

    September 17, 2020

    Legislation to designate Route 66 as a National Historic Trail was introduced by Representatives Darin LaHood (R-IL) and Grace R. Napolitano (D-CA) on September 16, 2020. This new legislation, H.R. 8240, is similar to legislation that was introduced and unanimously supported by the House of Representatives in 2018.

    “Historic Route 66 is internationally recognized as an iconic symbol representing America’s love of the open road. Its rich history as a Dustbowl migration route, World War II strategic military route, and a vacation travel route has been celebrated in music, literature, television, movies, and popular lore,” said Pam Bowman, pirector of public lands policy at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “We enthusiastically endorse the bipartisan approach of H.R. 8240 that would designate Route 66 as a national historic trail and appreciate Representatives Darin LaHood and Grace Napolitano for their years of leadership supporting preservation of this nationally significant route.”

  • Progress on Legislation to Create Route 66 Centennial Commission

    August 19, 2020

    While efforts to secure a permanent, federal National Historic Trail designation for Route 66 are still being explored, progress has been made on legislation to create a Route 66 Centennial Commission.

    The Route 66 Centennial Commission Act (S1014) passed by unanimous consent out of the US Senate on August 10, 2020. After the measure is reconciled with the bill already passed by the House, it will go to President Trump for his signature.

    Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) introduced the bill on April 3, 2019, in celebration of the 100th anniversary of historic Route 66. The Commission will help plan this historic event for this iconic road that symbolized the heritage of travel and the shared legacy of Americans seeking a better life.

  • Heroes of Route 66

    July 11, 2018

    This year, the July 4th holiday had me thinking about the heroes who gave so much for our county—and the heroes who have done so much for Route 66, the most famous road in America. The heroes of Route 66 include mom and pop business owners, community leaders, Route 66 association leaders, artists, authors, historians, Route 66 media, and many others. And few other historic places have such a loyal and committed fan club of active enthusiasts and experts as the Route 66 roadies. Thanks to the commitment of these passionate and dedicated heroes—many of whom have contributed their time and resources as volunteers—much of Route 66 survives today. Other authentic Route 66 places have escaped demolition and still have a chance of being saved and revitalized in the future. Public awareness and consciousness of Route 66 has never been higher.

    While there are too many Route 66 heroes to mention them all, I’d like to highlight just a few.

    The Father of Route 66, Cyrus Avery, helped create Route 66 in the mid-1920s, and he established the U.S. Highway 66 Association during his time as a board member of the Federal Highway System. This Tulsa businessman knew that a connected interstate system of highways would help communities along the Route prosper, but it’s unclear if he could have foreseen the national and international interest that has endured even after the road was decommissioned in 1985.

    Angel Delgadillo, a barber from Seligman, Arizona has been called the “Guardian Angel” of Route 66 for his pioneering efforts to advocate “Historic Route 66” signage shortly after the road was decommissioned, and for his tireless work as the main founder of the Route 66 Association of Arizona. Following Arizona’s example, all eight Route 66 states now have a state Route 66 association. Through the work of these associations, numerous historic buildings have been saved, businesses have been revitalized, and travelers have been supported over three decades of dedicated and passionate efforts.

    As the founder of the National Historic Route 66 Federation, David Knudsen and his wife Mary Lou helped to support the knowledgeable and dedicated roadies who have prepared detailed travel guides and maps to document the road and make it possible for travelers to navigate the route. Likewise, he has supported thousands of domestic and international visitors by making these publications available to travelers. The multi-day events he helped produce continue as annual Route 66 festivals. Significantly, David rallied roadies in the late 1990s to contact Congress to get the National Route 66 Preservation Bill passed and signed into law by President Bill Clinton.

    In 1990, Tulsa-based writer and historian Michael Wallis authored the seminal book, Route 66: The Mother Road, to commemorate the route's 75th anniversary, though he may be more well-known to younger audiences as the voice of the Sheriff in Pixar's Cars. Michael’s inspirational and poetic descriptions of Route 66 have been critical to its success, setting the stage for its revitalization over the past few decades

    More recently, new heroes have emerged to help address the threat created with the pending expiration of the National Park Service’s Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program. Through the work of the Route 66 Road Ahead Partnership and others, efforts to support the designation of Route 66 as a National Historic Trail are underway and gaining support. This permanent federal designation will reinforce the efforts of Route 66’s heroes to recognize and sustain this iconic American road.

    These are just a few of the many heroes who have dedicated their time and efforts to Route 66, and it is through their collective efforts that the route was created and survives today. We hope that their legacy will inspire a future generation of new Route 66 heroes, who will continue their good work to preserve, promote, and revitalize this American legend. To honor and support the Route 66 heroes of the past, present, and future, we hope you will join the National Trust in supporting the creation of a well-deserved National Historic Trail designation by checking out our road campaign and signing our petition.

  • Introducing Historic Route 66

    July 3, 2018

    The inspiration for this National Treasure came from the 2013 Route 66: Road Ahead roundtable in Anaheim, California. This event, organized by the World Monuments Fund (WMF) and supported by American Express, provided an opportunity to meet the passionate and dedicated individuals who have done so much for Route 66. Through their efforts, vintage businesses and attractions have been brought back to life, the route has been promoted to national and international audiences, and stories of Route 66 have been shared around the world. It is thanks to these committed individuals and Route 66 organizations that Route 66 is still alive.

    At the same time, there were looming threats on the horizon. While some vintage businesses and authentic Route 66 attractions had been revitalized, others stood vacant or were demolished for new development. Significantly, the National Park Service’s Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program (CPP), which has provided technical and financial assistance since 1999 to bolster private efforts, was scheduled to end in 2019.

    I was honored to be invited to be part of a smaller Road Ahead Steering Committee following the Anaheim roundtable. The discussions of this committee resulted in the formation of the Route 66 Road Ahead Partnership as a new nonprofit to provide a unified voice for Route 66. The group also evaluated a number of possible federal designations for Route 66. After much deliberation, the group unanimously agreed that seeking a permanent federal National Historic Trail designation was the best option to replace the CPP.

    Since that time, the Trust has been working with the Route 66 Road Ahead Partnership towards this goal. Legislation (HR 801) to create a National Historic Trail was introduced by Rep. Darin LaHood in 2017, and a total of 21 bipartisan cosponsors were secured. The legislation passed the House Natural Resources Committee and the House in the first half of 2018. The legislation now moves on to the Senate, and ultimately must be signed into law by the President before the bill expires at the end of the year.

    The National Trust is excited to shine a spotlight on Route 66 at this critical moment. In addition to listing Route 66 on the 2018 list of 11 Most Endangered Places, we’re thrilled that Route 66 will become our newest National Treasure. We are helping to secure letters of support and resolutions from local governments in support of the National Historic Trail designation. We have ambitious plans for the summer of 2018, including a branded road campaign traveling from Chicago to Los Angeles. Finally, we have an online petition to demonstrate to Congress just how many Americans support a Route 66 National Historic Trail.

    We invite you to sign the petition and encourage your friends and family to do the same. If your summer travels bring you near Route 66, we would love to have you join one of our meet ups in July. You can sign the petition and learn more about the campaign at PreserveRoute66.org.

All 5 updates

Announcing the 2021 list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places.

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