Arizona Route 66 – The Mother Road
A few weeks ago, we had the time of our life driving a good deal of Arizona’s famed Route 66! What a treat and a treasure it is! I belong to a yahoo group devoted to the topic and before we left, I asked them a question about what to see while passing through this marvelous state on one of the world’s most famous highways. A delightful woman named Sharlene Fouser answered my question (as one of the leaders of the Historic Route 66 Association of Arizona). “Do you have your Arizona Route 66 Passport”, she asked. The answer was “no”, so I gave her my address and a few days later I received in the mail a gorgeous blue passport that looks like a perfect replica of a US passport! They did a great job of detailing every town across the state with important historic sights to see! And as someone from the northeast who had never driven on Route 66 before (a “newbie”) this little document and the attached literature really made it feel like we were partaking on a grand adventure! Which of course we were!
Once again, I am in awe of those who are dedicated to preserving these icons of our roadside past and say a big “thank you”!!
A brief history for those of you who aren’t familiar from their literature:
“In the early 1900′s, the Federal government felt the need for a national highway system, and in 1927, the National Highway System was formed. People from eight states formed a Route 66 Highway Association to expedite the building of their highway. the theme name “Main Street of America” was adopted. By 1937 Route 66 was completely paved from Chicago to Santa Monica, California.”
“in 1939, John Steinbeck proclaimed Route 66 as “The Mother Road” in his classic novel, The Grapes of Wrath, which depicted life in the Great Depression. When the movie was made just a year later, it immortalized Route 66 in the American consciousness. Then on the heels of the Great Depression came the Dust Bowl of the Midwest, where 200,000 people traveled Route 66, the road to opportunity,migrating to California in search of a new life.
As World War II broke out, troops, equipment and products were Route 66 to California, and when the war ended in 1945, The Mother Road brought home thousands of servicemen. For these returning servicemen and their families, Route 66 became more than just a highway, it was a link to Americas wonders experienced through family road trips.”
The Historic Route 66 Association of Arizona has a lot to be proud of! Originally organized in 1987 by 15 passionate folks, it was originally led by a barber named Angel Delgadillo who grew up on the route. Their mission is to “preserve, protect, and promote the Route” and one of their huge milestones was the designation of “Arizona Historic Road” and “All-American Road” from The National Scenic Byway Program.
We were visiting family in the Phoenix area (Mesa, to be specific, the subject of a number of other posts!!) and it would have been most expeditious to go straight north to Flagstaff to pick up 66, but I knew The Wigwam Motel was one of my top picks to see, located in Holbrook. So we took a path up the Beeline to Payson traversing through the stunning Superstition Mountains under a full moon before dawn. The silhouettes of giant saguaro cacti loomed in the surrounding desert as we continued to climb arriving in Payson for a green chile omelette for breakfast at a non-descript roadside diner. From Payson, we headed up Route 260 to Heber, and then veered off on Route 377 the rest of the way to Holbrook. This section was pretty desolate and uneventful save the blowing snow, which made the road icy and we were quite happy to reach the delightful Western town of Holbrook. Like many of the towns along Route 66, it’s full of touristy, kitschy shops and details from bygone years that made me smile! At the top of the list of course was The Wigwam Motel. That, my friends is a blog unto itself! Coming soon! Enjoy these photos from Holbrook, Arizona – our entry point onto the grand Mother Road, Route 66!
Tags:Arizona, Arizona Historic Road, Historic Route 66 Association of Arizona, Holbrook, Main Street of America, National Scenic Byway Program, Route 66, Route 66 Passport, The Mother Road, Wigwam Motel
This entry was posted on Tuesday, January 31st, 2012 at 7:18 pm
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