History of Route 66

Arts Motel, Farmersville IL
Above: Art's Motel & Restaurant in Farmersville, Illinois.

Mythical. Evocative of a long gone, mythical atmosphere, this ghostly Route 66 symbolizes alone all the gigantism of the United States. It offers, along a unique path, a string of striking postcard-like scenarios. Gigantic cities, nature reserves, Cowboys, Indians, deserts and their cactus forests, mountains and coniferous forests, canyons, the ocean, rivers, and the Great Lakes. See all of this and more as you travel on legendary Route 66. That's if you could still do so, of course.

Twin Arrows in Arizona
Above: Twin Arrows, Arizona. Once a popular resort on Route 66, the buildings in the ghost town of Twin Arrows, Arizona slowly dissolve in utter decay. Not unlike the Route 66 segment leading there, gradually disappearing under the vegetation and no longer passable.

Indeed, since 1985, the Route 66 does no longer exist -at least from an official standpoint. It was decommissioned over time until all left was a patchy memory, a slowly sinking Proust's madeleine, a silent witness of a long gone era. That of motels with neon signs shining brightly in the night, of cocktail-lounges, formica diners and songs playing on the Juke box. The times of $ 1 gas gallons, motels, pervasive advertising, and the all-powerful automobile. The same one that shaped the country ... which will finally sign the death warrant of the road who crowned it.

The Tropics, Lincoln IL
Above: The Tropics Dining Room & Cocktail Lounge in Lincoln, Illinois.

Currently, only the ruins and ghost signs of these establishments remain, which sometimes were among the most innovative and the largest in the world. Abandoned motels overgrown by weeds, ghost towns, and torn down gas stations have become icons of a Route that only survives in the hearts of its nostalgic fans. Each year, new buildings are abandoned along Route 66. Unsurprisingly, the World Monument Fund ranked Route 66 among the 100 most endangered historic structures in the world.

Zia Motor Lodge in Albuquerque, NM
Above: Ghost sign of Zia Motor Lodge in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

As you travel down the most mythical road in the world, you join a very exclusive club, that of the "Sixty-sixters", who like to acknowledge themselves and share their memories -as seen in the numerous websites they run. By the same token, you become the privileged witness of a piece of ephemeral memory, because the road signs and abandoned buildings deteriorate and eventually, too, will inexorably disappear. Photos, videos, drawings, anecdotes, meetings are small pieces of history that your contribution saves from oblivion.