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A Chronology of the Construction History of Route 66 in Oklahoma





Construction History

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Since the decommission of US Route 66 in 1985, the Oklahoma Department of Transportation has had numerous requests for information concerning the history and construction of this famous highway.  As an outgrowth of the questions posed by the National Park Service, Federal Highway Administration, historians, Route 66 enthusiasts and the general public, the Current Planning and Traffic Studies Branches of the Planning Division have compiled a chronological construction history of Route 66 in Oklahoma.  Planning Division records were assembled in a format denoting the county, year, project, location and contractor for each project constructed.  The year 1940 was selected as the cut off for this report since by that time Route 66 had been completely paved across the state and in several locations was on second and third generation alignment.

The compilation of this historical chronology required the volunteer effort and support of many individuals.  Planning Engineers, Roger Driskill and Terry McFall are to be thanked for their support and encouragement to pursue this project.  Jim Ross, historian and author, provided a special Foreword for the publication and followed our work with great enthusiasm.  Jim's extensive fieldwork clarified many questions concerning projects that had been modified from the original plans during the early construction years of the old highway.  David Gaines and his Route 66 study staff of the National Park Service enhanced our knowledge of the importance Route 66 played in Oklahoma's transportation history and offered guidance for continued research and preservation.

Molly Kertzer of Microsoft is acknowledged for her inclusion of Oklahoma's Mother Road in Microsoft's Automap Road Atlas.  Johnny A. Wade, Planning Engineer (FHWA/Oklahoma Division) is recognized for steering us to Richard Weingroff, writer and historian, of the Federal Highway Administration in Washington, D.C.  Mr. Weingroff provided the Department with numerous articles and historical data on the Ozark Trails and the formative years of the development of AASHTO's U.S. numbered interstate system.

Charlie Younger and Marty Neal, Programs Division, were most helpful in our pursuit of early ODOT construction records and project programming data.  Ken Corder, Reproduction Branch, provided vintage photographs of the old highway.  All of these individuals are greatly acknowledged for their time and assistance.

With respect, this construction history is dedicated to Arthur Krim and Johnny A. Wade.  Mr. Krim is a founding member of the Society for Commercial Archaeology and renowned national authority on Route 66.  Without Arthur's expertise and advice this project could not have been successfully completed.  Johnny Wade perished in the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 1995.  Johnny's assistance and encouragement will not be forgotten.

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