National Trust for Historic Preservation Launches the Preserve Route 66: Share Your Story Campaign
Thousands of Publicly Submitted Stories Will Be Featured in New Interactive History Map For Route 66 Centennial
This month, the National Trust for Historic Preservation is launching the Preserve Route 66: Share Your Story campaign, an effort to collect stories about the people and places that make America’s “Mother Road” so special. The campaign aims to gather 2,026 public story submissions in time for Route 66’s centennial in 2026. These stories will then be used to develop an interactive online map that highlights the quirky roadside attractions, beloved small businesses, family histories, and personal memories that collectively help tell a more complete story of this iconic highway.
Originally commissioned in 1926 as a vital link between the Midwest and Western U.S., Route 66 quickly came to occupy a near-mythic spot in the public imagination and popular culture. After Route 66 was decommissioned as a federal highway in the 1980s, shifting economic patterns have left many communities along the route struggling to survive. Now, as we near its 100th anniversary, many supporters are championing Route 66’s designation as a National Historic Trail, but irreplaceable historical assets continue to slip away at an alarming rate along this 2,400-mile roadway.
The Preserve Route 66: Share Your Story campaign is a public invitation for community members, travelers, historians, and enthusiasts to share their stories and photos about Route 66. The goal is to tell the full story of Route 66 through places that contribute to its unique history and identity. That can include a personal story about a well-known business or place, a tribute to a business along Route 66 that is operating today or one that is no longer operating. It does not need to be precisely on the current or former alignment of Route 66. The public submission site can be found here: Savingplaces.org/Your-Route66-Story.
From these public submissions, the National Trust will develop an interactive online map that helps visitors explore the history of Route 66 on their own virtual road trip, and preserves these stories for future generations. The map will show changes along Route 66, illustrate the wide ranging types of historic places histories along its route. Together, these memories will help us tell a more complete story of this iconic highway, ensuring that no story, no place, and no memory along Route 66 is left in the shadows.
About Preserve Route 66
The Preserve Route 66: Share Your Story campaign and its resulting GIS/mapping resource are made possible with the generous financial support of David & Julia Uihlein. This campaign is one component of the National Trust’s larger Preserve Route 66 initiative, which helps preserve historic sites along Route 66 with grant awards, technical assistance, outreach and other activities. Find out more about these projects at SavingPlaces.org/Preserve-Route-66.