It’s all about The Mother Road today… Happy 90th anniversary Route 66!
Editor’s Note: Many Boomers know Route 66 as the road immortalized by the old TV show with the same name. Surely you remember the catchphrase “Get your kicks on Route 66”. But for others, it may just be a road with a number. For roadtrippers Rorie and Bart, being on Route 66 for the first time really was a dream come true!
Today we’ll continue to explore some segments of the old highway that was established on November 20, 1926. Route 66 runs from Chicago to St. Louis, hits a corner of Kansas, and continues through Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California, ending in Santa Monica, CA. The highway became an anachronism and ushered in a series of ghosts towns when it was unceremoniously replaced by today’s interstate highway system, a hallmark of President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s administration.
Leaving Oklahoma City and heading towards Texas, we still had some more places along Route 66 in the Sooner State we wanted to explore. First on the agenda of course was some nourishment and a confession. While your Tour guides prefer eating at local establishments, every now and again we need an Egg McMuffin (Mmm) and the other “services” available at a place like Micky Ds.
About 25 miles west of Oklahoma City we stopped in El Reno (pop. 16,700). The historic landmark, Fort Reno, was built in 1874 during the Indian Wars and named for Gen. Jesse Reno. During WWII the Fort was the site of a prisoner of war camp, and today contains a P.O.W. cemetery.
The town is famous for it’s annual Fried Onion Burger Day Festival where the worlds largest fried onion burger is cooked. Weighing in at over 850 pounds, we’re pretty sure it could feed all of El Reno’s residents and those in most of the surrounding towns too. Given the above-mentioned fast food we devoured, and what was to come, it was a good thing we weren’t in El Reno for the festival…
This ain’t your daddy’s grill.
Bart is sure some famous relative of his once resided in El Reno.
Sometimes up is down, down is up and we just don’t know where we are.
El Reno is the only town in OK where there is still a streetcar operating in the downtown area. This mural shows the original trolley cars and tracks which are embedded in the downtown streets.
Old time movie theaters are alive and, sometimes, kickin in small town America.
Time to continue our journey on Route 66 and head on over to the nearby town of Clinton, OK (pop. approx. 9,000). This popular tourist destination is home to the Route 66 Museum, a state-sponsored center of memorabilia. This “ultimate Route 66 experience” provides a nostalgic glimpse of the most revered highway in the nation…The Mother Road.
This little restored 1950s diner was made by the Valentine Company and could be purchased new for just $5,000 through the company’s catalogue.
This iconic road sign found along The Mother Road.
This iconic Mother found along the historic road sign. The matching shirt was a nice touch.
Moving on down Route 66, we headed to our last stop in OK, Elk City (approx. pop. 12,700). By 1902 the prairie community of Elk City became one of the largest towns in western OK and continued to grow into a major transportation and commercial hub.
Tourists can “get their kicks” at a variety of historical sites in Elk City including the National Route 66 & Transportation Museum. Where else can you “drive” down Route 66 in a pink caddy or watch a black and white movie at a mock drive-in theater while sitting in a classic Chevy Impala? This museum is a great experience for all ages.
One of the buildings in the preserved “town square”.
Every town needs it drinking hole.
Time to leave Oklahoma and head further west to the Lone Star state, a giant of a state where Texans are known for their big welcomes, expansive ranches and gigantic steaks. See y’all!