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Key Landmarks on Route 66 Part I

posted in: North America  |  posted by: Ian Harrison on July 11, 2009  |  1 Comment

U.S. Route 66 is for many, the original, iconic highway. As such, from Chicago to Santa Monica, “The Main Street of America” is indelibly linked with the country’s turbulent history and rapid development over the 20th century.

From The Grapes of Wrath, Dust Bowl migrant era to the post-World War II, middle class era of relative affluence – when all of suburbia went to California on summer vacation – Route 66 is a veritable history lesson on how America became America.

Historic Route 66

Kitschy souvenir shops, the fast-food industry, diners, motels, quirky landmarks, the ubiquity of roadside neon and indeed, automobile culture – all of this now as America as baseball, apple pie and the National Rifle Association in part because of the development of Route 66. A lost relic of the past for a spell, interest in the National Scenic Biway is on the rise. As a new generation looks to recapture what has been lost in the name of “progress”, a Route 66 road trip is a throwback, authentic experience. So hit the road, turn your car into a time machine and discover some of the best landmarks on Route 66.

Round Red Barn in Arcadia, Oklahoma

Chain of Rocks Bridge, St. Louis, Missouri

Built in 1929 on the north edge of St. Louis, Chain of Rocks Bridge was the span of choice to cross the Mississippi River on Route 66. On the U.S. National Register of Historic Places since 2006, the bridge is now a pedestrian and bicycle path. But you can admire it from the comfort of your car on Route 66.

Chain of Rocks Bridge over the Mississippi River in St. Louis

Gateway Arch, St. Louis, Missouri

The Gateway Arch is the symbol of St. Louis, Missouri and a fabulous U.S. National Landmark. A stop at the Arch and Jefferson National Expansion Memorial is a must.

Gateway Arch, St. Louis, Missouri

Ted Drewes Frozen Custard

When you get hungry on Route 66, skip the predictable fast-food chains and hit some authentic diners instead. Ted Drewes Frozen Custard has been a St. Louis and Route 66 landmark since 1930. Pull the car over, get in line and order a “concrete”.

Ted Drewes Frozen Custard on Route 66

Meramec Caverns, Stanton, Missouri

Home to Pre-Columbian Native artifacts, the Ozarks limestone cave system outside of Stanton, Missouri is a phenomenal Route 66 attraction. Over 150,000 people visit Meramec Caverns every year.

Old Meramec Caverns sign on Route 66

Route 66 Drive-In, Carthage, Missouri

The drive-in is classic Americana all the way. One of the best is the Route 66 Drive-In in Carthage, Missouri. A fabulous gem on the historic highway.

Route 66 Drive-In, Carthage, Missouri

Rainbow Bridge, Riverton, Kansas

Built in 1923, Rainbow Bridge provides the tiny town of Riverton, Kansas with a monument on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.

Rainbow Bridge, Riverton, Kansas

Oklahoma State Capitol, Oklahoma City

A great stop on Route 66, Oklahoma City has a lot of charm and landmarks in store for visitors. The State Capitol is one of the best. In town for more than one day? Check out the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.

Oklahoma State Capitol, Oklahoma City

Route 66 Museum, Clinton, Oklahoma

The Route 66 Museum in Clinton, Oklahoma is home to a vast collection of curios and knickknacks that all relate somehow to the National Scenic Biway. A must-see stop on Route 66, in a Tornado Alley town of less than 9,000 people no less. From 1936 until a severe fire in 1999, Clinton’s Pop Hicks was one of the most popular restaurants on the Mother Road.

Route 66 Museum, Clinton, Oklahoma

U-Drop Inn, Shamrock, Texas

Known as Tower Station, the U-Drop Inn in tiny Shamrock, Texas is a major attraction on Route 66. Superb Art Deco architecture makes the former gas station, restaurant and motel quite special in the town of just over 2,000 people. The U-Drop Inn now operates as a museum and chamber of commerce. Like many landmarks on Route 66, the 1930s-era structure was a source of inspiration to animators on the 2006 Pixar hit Cars.

Old gas pump at the U-Drop Inn, Shamrock, Texas

Check out great hotel deals all over America.

Photo credits: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11


Responses to this Article


One Response to “Key Landmarks on Route 66 Part I”

  1. reise says on

    I was on the gateway arch in 2003 and it was great. It is just impressiv what was build there. And the museum is worth a look.

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