Whether the car in your garage is a classic muscle machine from America’s automotive renaissance or a brand new beauty straight out of the hottest exotic destination, the pavement that kisses your four wheels is ensconced in the veins of U.S. heritage.
The history of Route 66 is a rich one. Spanning from the southern tip of Lake Michigan to Los Angeles, CA, Route 66 embodied freedom — the first opportunity to travel to the west coast by vehicle. With an average speed of 25 mph when the route was completed on November 11, 1926, it would take up to 98 hours, or 4 full days (without sleep) to travel the highway’s 2,451 miles of asphalt.
Today, at the maximum legal limit of 70 mph, Route 66 can be conquered in as little as 35 hours without stopping, although much more time is recommended. It is also important to note that speed limits can vary per state.
Although it may no longer be the lengthiest route in the United States, the history of Route 66 embodies more than it’s physical magnitude. It inspired a nation of car owners to start their engines and drive!
Route 66 empowered people to travel to places and see wonders that their eyes had never seen before — central Americans could view the Pacific Ocean, and west coasterners could witness the vast plains of Oklahoma or the rolling hills of Missouri. Furthermore, Route 66 inspired America’s automotive industry to produce vehicles that were faster and more comfortable to drive.
Similar to the revelation that Route 66 cast upon the interstate system and vehicle manufacturers alike, simply talking about it all isn’t enough; you must experience it for yourself!
For a limited time, the Missouri History Museum is hosting a free internationally recognized exhibit that pays homage to Route 66. On this tour, you will be immersed within authentic artifacts and location highlights that made the original Route 66 the most celebrated roadway of all time. The best part? It is possible – depending on your starting location – to take Route 66 to reach the Missouri History Museum.
In retrospect, the history of Route 66 embodies the most significant innovation to ever come out of the automotive transportation industry. It started an American renaissance of wonder, inspiration and established the freedom of the open road. More importantly, though, it showed Americans why it is so important to get out of their homes and drive.